On Monday morning news reports came through that there had been not one but two explosions at the Boston Marathon, the worst incident of terror on U.S. soil since September 11th 2001, leaving three people dead and hundreds injured. Within the first couple of hours the news was quick to start using the words terrorist and Al Qaeda. President Barack Obama decided not to jump straight into the the debate using such language. The Internet has been full of discussion questioning whether or not this was Muslim extremists or militant Islam (as is one of their other favourite phrases) or whether or not this was a false flag attack in much the same vein as divided opinion over September 11th. What is sure is that we have people who have lost loved ones and that have had their worlds changed forever with the realisation that they have lost limbs.
Social media networks and media outlets shared stories of runners finishing the race continuing on to the nearest hospitals to give blood, other stories told of heroism as people ran towards the blasts to help and there were International outpourings of grief and 'solidarity' with the victims in Boston. Obama preached on the heroism of the first responders at length but the U.S. favours attacks on first responders in Pakistan with their drone strikes, killing potentially innocent people based on the knowledge that humans have an innate desire to help one another in times of need.
Less than 24hrs later, but a couple of thousand miles away, there were a series of bomb blasts that again tore through Iraq leaving more than 30 people dead and hundreds of people seriously wounded. Strangely enough there was not nearly the same International outpouring of grief.
Why is this we should ask ourselves?
Is it because supposed middle class white people do not care about brown people? Is it because they brought it upon themselves and are doing it to themselves? Or is it because, as the Joker said in The Dark Knight, that "Nobody panics when things are going according to plan, even if the plan is horrifying..." but if something other than the plan occurs, in this case an eight year old American boy being killed by a bomb, the whole world loses their minds. Is someone else's eight year old child in a war torn country just collateral damage and is their life worth less than that of you or I, here in the so called civilised world?
Some reports this week suggested that the atrocity in Boston was made worse because these people were largely 'normal people' raising money for charity or running with messages 'for dad' on their running jerseys. I have found this difficult to stomach because as horrific as the scenes were in Boston, are they any more or less 'normal' than the families in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine or Bahrain? Obama claimed that Americans refused to be terrorised, if only the same could be said of people in other nations. In countries like these the people have no choice due to the foreign policies of our governments.
For the last seven days we have had continuous live feeds and updates, wall to wall, on the Boston bombings that culminated in the Boston manhunt, which left the city in what was more or less under martial law. The armoury that was deployed on the streets looked like they were straight out of down town Baghdad. Two brothers were identified by a victim, Jeff Bauman, as being the main suspects, this was despite the Internet launching an investigation of its own. The fact that mainstream media outlets seem to be almost gloating over this form of investigative deductive reasoning, they should themselves remember that they were the ones that paved the way for the illegal imperialist wars in Afghanistan, and particularly Iraq, with their regurgitation of the Tony Blair lies on weapons of mass destruction. Jeff Bauman has featured in an iconic image and lost both his legs below the knee as a result of the explosions.
The suspects turned out to be from Chechnya but raised in the States and had the Twitter world reeling, wondering if it would result in the change in definition of the term 'caucasian'. You see terrorists are usually brown people with beards, living in caves in the Middle East, or so I used to be told on a daily basis by everyday humans. For America to be faced with home grown suspects that were decreed 'caucasian' must have hurt. Of course it was not long until the rhetoric surrounding religion surfaced, being described as a 'devout Muslim' has been a popular description of one of the suspects. Being devoted to a religion does not make you an extremist or indeed a terrorist by their definition of the word. The careful, relentless and methodical demonisation of Muslim's since September 11th has lead to the witch hunt we have witnessed with the Reddit 'who dunnit' web search and the outrageous comments from a Fox News commentator, Erik Rush who seemed to suggest early on that the suspects must be Saudi. Fox News of course is that corner stone of fair and balanced debate we sorely need.
|Fair and balanced or fear and unbalanced?|
The capture of the Tsarmaev brothers reads like something from a badly scripted Hollywood movie, gun fights with hundreds of rounds discharged, bombs being thrown out of moving vehicles followed by a stand off in a boat on someones drive way. The eldest brother was declared dead upon arrival at hospital and the youngest brother was in a critical condition awaiting interrogation from a specialist team. Fox News have reported that the the surviving suspect may be deemed an enemy combatant to enable them to extend the period of time they have to interrogate him without reading him his Miranda rights.
As a teenager I once believed that a terrorist wavered their human rights if they took the lives of others in the course of their actions but thankfully, as I began to question things more and not read things in isolation, it soon dawned on me the naivety of this thinking. Today any one of us can be declared a terrorist if the state decides so, as with the Occupy Movement in 2011, and with legislation such as CISPA (passed by the House of Representatives whilst the Boston Manhunt has been going on) and the Communication and Data Bill being passed or re-drafted. We are living in extremely troubling times indeed.
It does not help when we have comments such as those from CNN Columnist LZ Granderson who said: "If September 11th 2001 was the day our innocence was taken away then April 15th 2013 is the reminder that it is never coming back." With one dimensional thinking such as this we will never change the world we are living in.
Noam Chomsky famously said that one way for us to stop the terrorism is to first stop participating in it. Rather than fighting for our countries we should be fighting for our planet, the only one we are going to live on.