Thoughts today on social networks, chatting to friends about issues stemming from the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the hostage saga in Paris’s 11th arrondissement.
In response to an Australian friend of Chinese heritage:
[Muslims] have been [speaking out against violence] since 9-11 and probably before but no one cared or no one could be bothered translating it into English.
As to why [certain members of this religion engage in violence], it’s an accident of history.
Had air travel and the internet been around 100 years ago, I’m sure we would be the ones doing some of this because of the way colonial powers were carving China up.
Extremists will use whatever they have as a means to unite others behind their cause. If plain old sympathy does not work, then they will make it religious, or at least, about ideology. It’s why there are even Buddhist terrorists in history. Yes, this is being done in the name of Islam, just like the Troubles were in the name of Christ. There’s plenty of killing going on in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Without social media it certainly seemed that mainstream Protestant and Catholic voices were silent in that conﬂict, and by this logic, endorsing the violence.
And not everyone has the privilege to make these statements. We can in a free society but some of these people live in fear.
But we in the west have played directly into their hands anyway with the changes in our laws and clamping down on free speech, when we should have held ﬁrm with our own traditions and beliefs, and told these folks to get with the programme in a globalized society.
The more confused the occident becomes and the greater the economic chasms in our own society, the more the disaffected youths might think: you do not have the answer and maybe these nut jobs do. Hence you see them come from poor areas where religion is one of the things they feel some fellowship with.
And with the negative sides of western civilization, as there are some, no doubt they will seize on that to get recruits. For politicians who do not believe that inequality (real or actual) is a problem, then they had better wake up fast, as no amount of legislation about stripping foreign ﬁghters of citizenship is going to stem the tide.
Like I said in an earlier thread, no Muslim I know would engage in or endorse this stuff, but I’m in a privileged position as are the Muslims I have met. Not so these guys, and they have a wonderful target—us, living in comfort—to sell others on.
Muslims are the stereotyped bogeymen for now, and then in another age the mainstream will have chosen another minority to pick on, telling us how their beliefs are evil.
And to an American friend and colleague, who points out MEMRI has been translating, in some ways a postscript:
I’m definitely not denying that there are plenty of nut jobs in that part of the world who push their crazy on to others. You only need to get a sense of what gets broadcast on al-Jazeera (as opposed to al-Jazeera English) where they get a ready platform.
But, once again, it is where we are technologically as a people, with many disunited and hypocritical.
When you’re a minority, you can see how majority thought can work against you. I’ve heard, depending on where I am, that Muslims (or even all Arabs) are terrorists, whites are undisciplined, or Jews are stingey, and at some point you just have to say no to stereotypes when you realize that you could be the next group to be singled out and targeted. Remember when Chinese were Triads, a popular one that was within the lifetimes of most New Zealanders reading this blog? That was the mid-1990s, when a few years before I was denied service at Woolworths because of the logic that trade was not supplied and all Chinese must be greengrocers.
It beats being called a Triad or a terrorist.