A Terrorised World…
There’s a lot of terrorism and tragedy in the world today, be it the atrocities of Da’esh in Syria/Iraq, the brutal assault on Yemen by Saudi Arabia, the quagmire of Libya, ongoing terrorist drone attacks by the US, state terrorism and Apartheid from Israel, and so on and so forth. Far too many for me to really address in detail in a single post.
I do want to touch on this morning’s terrorist attack in Charleston, South Carolina though, primarily because it allows a segue into Bermuda’s racial issues. I don’t mean at all to ignore, or diminish, the terror attacks elsewhere, such as the tragedy that befell San’aa yesterday on the eve of Ramadan.
Terror or Tragedy?
Was the attack on the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston a terrorist attack? I think so. It seems pretty clearly pre-meditated and designed to spread terror and targeted civilians. I’m not sure how else to describe it other than being a terrorist attack, and the perpetrator, a young White male, fits the bill as a terrorist.
While the State and media representation of what constitutes a ‘terrorist attack’ and a ‘terrorist’ generally colours it as an attack by an Islamic extremist and by someone who is non-White, Muslim and likely wearing a beard or a hijab/niqab/burqa, personally I see such as only one version of terrorism/terrorists, and at that probably not even the dominant form.
I reckon the true face of terror is actually quite White, male and clean-shaven – be they far-right extremists like Timothy McVeigh, Anders Breivik or Dylann Roof, or State terrorists in the form of Western (including Israeli and Russian) military commanders and politicians, or even economic terrorists that dominate Wall Street.
So, was it terrorism? Yes. I don’t see how one can possibly rationalise it as not terrorism.
I won’t be holding my breath for the perpetrator to be whisked off to Gitmo or otherwise charged with terrorism offences though, and I’m fully prepared to see explanations of the individual being ‘mentally disturbed’, while those more representative of the American narrative of terrorists (non-White and Muslim) don’t get such apologisms.
Was it a tragedy? Yes, of course.
It was a tragedy for those personally involved, for their surviving loved ones, and for the wider community, no question.
A Wider Tragedy
The wider tragedy though is that the underlying structural racism in the USA (and this is where a parallel can be drawn with Bermuda) has not been addressed; this structural racism is a direct result of a failure to address the legacy of both slavery and segregation, as well as overt but non-State racial discrimination of the past.
By failing to address this legacy, structural racism provides the latent potential to re-create and/or sustain ‘traditional’ racism.
Covert ‘unconcsious’ racism, which is one way of looking at structural racism, serves as a refuge or generator for overt ‘conscious’ racism. The two cannot be eradicated without addressing both simultaneously.
In Bermuda, a good chunk of the population, of both races (although one gets the impression it is most pervasive within the White population) seems to think that because we’ve got away from official racism, that we’ve established racial equality in a legal sense, that we are no longer a racist society. And that those who still cling to overtly racist beliefs are an aged and dying group who had their prejudices formed in a different era.
Personally, I think there’s a lot more ‘traditional’ racists out there, but many of them have convinced themselves that their views aren’t racist.
Nonetheless, that we continue to not address the legacy of our overtly racist past and live in a very racist (structurally) society, there continues to be the potential for ‘traditional’ racism to reproduce itself in new generations.
I’m not saying at all that we’re likely to see a similar racial terrorist incident in Bermuda. Not at all.
Just recognising that we do risk seeing new generations holding racist beliefs as long as we fail to tackle structural racism in Bermuda. And this is doubly so in the USA.