Saturday, 23 July 2016

The price of prejudice: The holistic nature of hate.

I shall arrange my footing: the following is not in the name of justification; I am not making excuses for the actions of terrorists. Nor is it religious apology. I am not a supporter of the Abrahamic faiths, any of them. I don't like the legacy of homophobia and misogyny that spills from the old testament, I don't believe in flying horses, bisected moons or unicorns. Searching for, or providing, reasons for actions is not the same as excusing them.

Fundamentalism is a problem, and is frequently referred to as the soul cause of grotesque behaviour: look at the word for a moment. It means, when applied to Christians, Jews, Muslims or any of the multitude of faiths, that they follow the fundamental elements of the religion. Moderates skim over elements of the religion that have been disproved and are now unacceptable due to being ridiculous, cruel or both. Fundamentalism, from which ever faith, is merely a sprouting twig from the main stem of its host religion.

Abrahamic faith has been in a major influence upon the western world in one form or another for well over millennium. If it could sweepingly lift up an arm, gesturing at the years gone by, to proudly announce: "Look at the peace it has brought" then I might be more open to persuasion than I am of of it being of some intrinsic benefit. However, fundamentalism, indeed religion, however frequently at fault, is not the root nor solitary cause of contemporary terrorist attacks.

The attacks in Europe have been portrayed in a false manner, everyone knows that history is written by the victors, but contemporary information is also biased in a myriad of differing ways. From the portrayal of the same information, carefully selected information and completely invented information; actual facts belong in neither the left nor right wing category, in fact neither do most people. Despite what we are led to believe people are intelligent and are aware that black and white answers are over simplified.

Using the fox news report from July 15th to comment on the Nice massacre is an example, the headline ran: "This is war. It is aimed at the west. And we must fight back." It portrays the west as just sitting, having picnics and skipping through the surf, when all of a sudden there was an attack on our way of life out of nowhere: It is monumentally naive to think that this was the case.

In every conflict propaganda is key to the argument and the stance of the populace; in conflicts in which it was not controlled In Vietnam, for example, the peoples opinion quickly turned against the conflict and consequently the state. No western country has made the same mistake since. Journalists have been carefully guided and controlled during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and politicians that stood against the conflict were derided before it started despite a strong public opinion that shared the same view.

Baghdad. 2002
It is easy to formulate propaganda against terrorists, in the digital age it is one of their tools and we help them with this without pause. However it is also easy to provide propaganda against the west and we also help to provide it: Barack Obama is the fourth consecutive president to order the bombing of Iraq. The same country, with allied assistance, has bombed 12 Muslim majority countries since 1980. (I am not including Kosovo and Kuwait in this list as the circumstances of those incidents are more complex.) I am not putting this information forward to say that the west deserves these terrorist attacks, just to make it clear if a newspaper from a differing nation to Fox news wrote: "This is a war. it is a war on Islam. We must fight back." they would have a good supply of data to back up that argument.

When it comes to the killing of innocents it simply isn't religious fundamentalists that have achieved the big numbers. Admittedly the two leaders most fervent in regard to their faiths: Bush Junior and Tony Blair, were responsible for the unprovoked wars that led to the destabilization of the countries which are now the key source of the problem. I am not putting this forward to compare "good" and "bad": I am putting them together as these actions are a direct cause for the state of affairs that exists today.

In 2007 the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, warned of repercussions due to the high level of civilian deaths caused by allied operations. The key question is: why wouldn't there be any? As in Iraq: if you are the cause of 100,000 deaths and are unable, or in fact, unwilling to provide a valid explanation for these actions what consequence would you expect? After the attacks on a Paris nightclub Britain was very quick to bomb Syria in what seemed more like random retaliation than strategy. When someone attacks your home country, not mentioning your country has attacked others, or pretending that the two events are unconnected, is either imbecilic or deliberate misdirection.

The bombing of Baghdad was incredible: it was a capital city with a population of over five million people; there was no way that were going to be no, or even a low, amount of civilian casualties. Do the people of Iraq know that we did if for no valid reason other than the privatization of the countries resources? Even the censorship of western papers couldn't keep the horror of what we had done down to a minimum. We know how we view the perpetrators of bombings in London and Paris and other peoples view of the people that bombed their cities isn't any different. I know the victims of the bombings in the west were innocent; the victims of our western bombs were innocent too.

2000.000 People in London march for peace. 2003.
Do the people of Afghanistan know that we chased an individual pointlessly through their country for a decade before finding him in a different one and labeling the operation a success? Despite the fact that British and American troops are still there today and the country is in ruins. We took away their schools, their hospitals, their friends and their relations. Imagine it was your country, imagine you were eight years old ten years ago. These children from 2003, they haven't met you or I, they have never seen a kind or gentle westerner. They have only seen Englishmen high above dropping bombs or driving by in armored vehicles with weapons pointed, at them and at their loved ones. Many have seen death first hand, our country has made it unlikely that they wouldn't have done.

We had a war on drugs and the drug problem increased exponentially; was anyone optimistic about the war on terror from the start? Terror is not an enemy it is a strategy. We certainly encouraged it among the french and other occupied countries during world war two and the Germans definitely called it terrorism.

Baghdad. 2003.
There are other elements: The refugee crisis not least among them. The idea that we can "solve" the largest displacement of human beings since world war two by closing the borders of the UK is a nonsense that cannot be upheld with any level of in-depth consideration.

Since this this war on a concept began more than a million people have died in Iraq alone, more than a million. This does not include those among the three million displaced by the conflict who faced unimaginable hardship and died as a result of that. More than two hundred thousand innocent people have been killed in Afghanistan  since the invasion began. These people, like those in Europe, had nothing to do with the war on terror, or 911, and were in no way a threat to our freedom or philosophy. The people that survived a bombing in one country are just as angry as the ones that survived in another.

Volunteers bring hope to the displaced of the refugee camps.
We have created a generation of millennials, very different to the ones from Chiswick and Croydon, and they are misinformed, understandably angry and above all traumatized, traumatized by experiences that we, as western adults would be immediately given therapy to recover from if we experienced. This, if anything, is a conflict born of greed and malice.

It can be simplified: The innocents of the west are being killed because the innocents of the east were killed, and the people that caused it are rich.

The numbers still roll in, over one hundred innocent people killed by allied bombing in Syria in a week. There will be survivors, there will be children among them. Will there be people in ten years time wondering what the cause of radicalization might be? As Leaders today declare terrorism a "sickness" without voicing the consideration that the events in the Middle East are remotely connected to the horrific events that are now taking place in Europe.

I have met some of the children of this war: mute, wide eyed and rocking. Flinching at sudden movements and noises, the bombs that fell around them still loud in their heads. I promise, without kindness now there will be anger later on.

I am not suggesting for a moment that contemporary violence can be stopped by kindness, that is as naive as thinking that terrorist acts are based on faith alone. Future acts of violence are a very different matter, as can be seen by the obvious, yet ignored, cause of our present suffering.

We must feed the refugees that we have caused. We must stop the killing and save the children lost in the horror we have created. Otherwise we condemn future generations to the same anger and retribution that we face today. Not only to save ourselves, but because what the western countries have done is a crime against humanity.

I don't believe in flying horses, bisected moons or unicorns. But I do believe in the holistic effects of a negative long term foreign policy and I do believe in people. In the same way that there is no dark, only an absence of light: there is no such thing as evil, only an absence of kindness.

In the arsenal of war kindness is not regarded as key, but in this surreal war of our own making, unless you wish the next decade to look as horrific and disappointing as the one that you are in, it is the only weapon we can wield that can strike the only enemy there is. And we have it. We have it in abundance.