“35 people dead in Paris. They don’t know what it is yet. Not sure if there were bombs.” That was the text message I received on Friday during my walk home from Rice University.
Here we go again, I thought…
My first reaction: the media will instantly assume Muslims carried out the attack, regardless of whether Muslims were even involved. That is standard fare these days in the media. Violence = Islam = Terrorism. My second reaction concerned my social media feeds. I had a gut feeling that my Facebook “friends” were going to pour their hearts out for the killings in Paris.
I was right. And I was a bit annoyed by that.
“TERROR.” That was the first word that I saw on CNN when I got home. Go figure. Twenty minutes after the attack, and the media made sure to let me know that this attack deserves the word “terrorism.” Never mind the recent Charleston shooting, where a white man killed two handful of black people in a predominantly black church. That was not terrorism. That was just violence carried out by a “crazy white dude.” This “crazy white dude” is not a terrorist. Because he is white. White people do not commit terrorism. Only brown people can do that. And brown Muslims at that.
Let us have an honest discussion for once. When people die in Paris, the media calls it “horrific.” When hundreds of Syrians die on any given day, the media hardly flinches. Events in Syria do not get labeled “horrific.” That is because Syrians dying is considered “normal,” their deaths simply pass us by. No big deal.
About an hour after the attacks were first reported, I started to wonder, “how long before these events are linked to ISIS? How long before these deaths are used to justify Western imperialism in the Middle East?” In my head, I gave it twenty-four hours. In reality, it was about twenty-four minutes.
My Facebook feed confirmed my fear. “Friends” posted things like “the terrorists shouted ‘Allah Akbar.’ See it is terrorism! Fuck terrorism! Screw ISIS.” Yet, when a Christian kills an Afghan to “protect and preserve American values,” none of these “friends” label that “terrorism.” How dare someone even suggest Americans are terrorists! Our violence is completely justified because it is our violence. We are never terrorists, only anti-terrorists. We are civilized, they are uncivilized. So the argument goes.
Hardly any of my “friends” shared their outrage when a dead Syrian baby washed up on a beach in the Mediterranean. Hardly any of them shed a tear. Did any of my “friends” even notice? That is the bigger question. And yet, what happens when Paris is attacked? When Parisians die? People are enraged.
The double standards are ridiculous.
And what about President Obama? His initial response, which came up on my Facebook feed, condemned the horrible attack that terrorized Parisian civilians. Yet Obama has killed too many civilians to count. Where are my Americans “friends” condemning the President? Is it okay when our President is responsible for the deaths of babies in Pakistan? It appears so. The silence confirms that. The silence is deafening.
Let us count the civilian death toll in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan. The number is high. Shockingly high! These deaths occur in the face of imperialism. Our imperialism. It is our terrorism, but nobody thinks of it that way. That, in itself, is racist.
Then there are my “friends” who say, “the terrorists in Paris attacked our values, our Western values. That was their intention!” Really? I doubt that. And even if that were true, that is a racist argument. It suggests that Muslims are backward, pre-modern, and incapable of progress. It suggests that “our” way of life is inherently better than “theirs.” That is racist too. It suggests that “the West” and “Islam” are fundamentally incompatible. That is racist. Make no mistake about it.
Again, let us be honest. There is only outrage on Facebook when “we” suffer from “terrorism.” “We” meaning the so-called “civilized West.” There exists a hierarchy of human life on Facebook and elsewhere. Some people are valued, while others are not. An American life is worth more than an Iraqi life. A French life is worth more than a Palestinian life. Somehow, what happened in Paris is unjustified. It is “barbaric.” Yet everything the “West” has inflicted on others, the extreme state-sponsored violence, the imperialism, the destruction, is somehow justified. This deeply ingrained racism is real. Very real.
My Facebook “friends” criticize me for asking the question, “Why are some lives valued, while others are not?” They are particularly upset with the timing of this question. But let me ask you: when is the right time or wrong time to talk about racism or humanity? Should I just sit back and wait for a bright sunny day, when nobody gives a crap, to share my views, or should I cut right to the chase, during the heat of the moment, and call out racism when I see it?
NOW is always the time to talk about the value of human life. If not now, when?
6 thoughts on “The Paris Attack and My Racist Facebook “Friends””
Craig, you seem to mix and by so doing, confuse racism with being anti terrorism. Not everyone, least of all me, who are outraged by what has happened in Paris are at all racist and as you are into being honest, I honestly think you are using this as a platform to promote you, your views and you are taking a very high minded view. You seem to think that you have the monopoly on what justice looks like. Well cousin, you do not. I fully understand the points you make but the way you do so and the timing is only stirring up hate, not doing anything to quell it.
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I was as upset when the people were bombed in the Lebanon as in Paris. I am upset when civilians suffer during war. However, that does not make me racist. If these war crimes (deliberately killing civilians is a war crime) were committed by anyone of any race or religion I’d oppose and fight it. Unfortunately there is a strand of fascism which has grown out of Islam. This does not make all muslins fascists. However, it is a major problem and islamofascism is incompatible with modern western culture. They say so themselves. Attempts to avoid bigotry are leading you to side with extreme fascists who would destroy many rights we currently enjoy. Remember these are people who kill people who are homosexual, people who commit adultery and those who speak freely if they are held to be heretical. We need to speak out against this and I know of many muslims who also do so. Look at the actions and words of these groups and then think again if you are really in alignment with them.
I agree with most of what you said, I often think why are some lives values more than others, when they should all be considered equal regardless of where they come from. Thank you for being brave enough to post your thoughts
The media that you imply made irrational assumptions of Muslims in carrying out the Paris attacks reacted thusly because human beings naturally recount & react according to memory. For example, whenever my heart sinks with breaking news of a school campus shooting, I usually assume it was a severely narcissistic, young, white male with a rifle and a couple of handguns. And, it usually is. Not always that exact description, but usually. So, does that make me a racist? Or, does it just make me a normal human being, albeit imperfect? I ask because by your logic, mere assumptions = racism. But, what makes your piece even more troubling is that Islam is not a race.
And I am a bit annoyed by that.
Of course, violence does not equal Islam and therefore Islam does not equal terrorism. And, no reasonable person is saying that (except you to create a narrative). Even if they are, I concede you might call them uninformed, or foolish, or upset, but racist? Not quite. Nonetheless, the violence that is seemingly at the heart of Islam and the percentages of followers who advocate violent means is staggering, and very much worth highlighting, and certainly shouldn’t be deflected out of some politically correct notion of hurting someone’s feelings… just as we shouldn’t ignore the severely narcissistic, young, white (or otherwise) males in our own country who act out violently. We should instead seek the truth in spite of its inconvenience and discomfort. Furthermore, the continual meddling that the U.S. has engaged in is also worth discussing, but you’re way out of line in calling it imperialism. No Western nation today is imposing their authority on other non-Western nations. Show me where that is the case. Let’s keep it on the level, shall we?
But, I know you’re focused on imaginary double standards. For instance, why do we call one violent act terrorism and the other a mass shooting? I really don’t know. But, I don’t think it’s racism. There are probably all sorts of reasons. First, if the media calls a mass shooting terrorism that would quell any anti-gun agenda frenzy and focus blame more on politics rather than on gun regulation. Second, ever heard of domestic terrorism? The mass murder of the nine black people at the Charleston church was indeed an act of terrorism. It was domestic terrorism. He was a terrorist. He was also a racist, unlike everyone else you’re falsely accusing here. Third, colloquialisms happen organically. Looking at most examples of domestic terror vs. Islamic terror, there are some important distinctions to be made. One being clinical derangement and the other being political indoctrination… two very distinct states of being, and perhaps even sometimes crossing paths. Regardless, they both pose a real threat not only to physical safety, but yes to our Western values in the broad sense. I think Francois Hollande put it as “Western culture”. It is what allows you the freedom to write such foolishness and for me to call you out on it. And your assertion of this being a racist argument is absurd.
So, yes… let us have an honest discussion for once. But let’s begin with you, Craig. Let go of your condescension and political correctness. Apologize to your Facebook friends for calling them all racists and for having opinions different from yours. Then maybe we can find a way to help end not only the round-the-clock reports of sectarian violence, suicide bombings, rapes, beheadings, hangings, and public floggings occurring in every country that embraces Sharia, but all the unfair double standards that the mean old Western culture has created for everyone else in the world.
In closing, and to be 100% clear, when groups of people die or suffer en masse in any country, it is horrific. All human life is valuable, and just in case I need to spell it out for you that includes brown people. Do we in the West experience desensitization and fatigue with the constant barrage of death and destruction across our screens? Of course, but please spare us the lecture on how racist all of us are for not using the right words, at just the right moment. Maybe it is you who is the racist here, since you are so consumed by it.
In the West, racism and antisemitism go side by side. In the good-old Europe, the Christians who hated Jews for ‘right or wrong reasons’ were called ‘antisemite’ – a term coined by Wilhelm Marr in the 1870s. However, these days, one is “antisemite” if he/she is hated by the Organized Jewry.
You will never find an Israeli Jew to admit that he is racist even if he/she had spit or kicked Blacks and Palestinians in Israel on daily basis.
“Gentiles (non-Jews) exist only to serve Jews,” Ovadia Yosef, former Chief Rabbi of Israel.
Racism goes hand in hand with terrorism. Let no one fool you by saying that a certain strand of Islam or any religion for that matter, promotes terrorism or extremism. No, the foundation of terrorism/extremism comes from the racist elite who happen to rule at any given point in time. Religion unfortunately has always been used to herd the sheeple, leaders throughout history have interpreted religion in their favor and those who stood against them have always been termed as extremists or rebels.
Don`t tell me that Islam supports extremism when from Chechnya to Kashmir to Palestine almost all the major Muslim populations have been constantly under Western oppression. Religion doesn`t breed extremism, oppression does! Injustice and inequality breed terrorism. Iraq was doing just fine under Saddam, then came the Americans who abducted women and brutally tortured and murdered innocent Iraqi`s, Americans who tortured and abused innocent Iraqi men and women with impunity in Abu Ghraib. Someone should go and interview the families of the detainees of Abu Ghraib, they`ll tell you who the real terrorist is.
The people of Iraq were oppressed systematically under American occupation and then they left a crippled government in charge. A perfect recipe for the incubation of CIA engineered ISIS. Before grieving over the unfortunate deaths in Paris and other countries, people in the West should ask their leaders why they funded ISIS, whom they termed as “Moderate rebels” 3 years ago! Yesterday the “Nuruddin al Zinqi” brigade in Syria, which is currently being funded by USA and EU, being trained and armed by the US, they decapitated a 10 year old boy and yes, USA and EU term these child decapitators as “moderate rebels” . As if we haven`t heard that one before.
It is only a matter of time before this brigade turns rogue, US will stop the funding and then they`ll cook up another brigade whom they`ll turn as moderate rebels. This my friend is the SOP to make sure ISIS never runs out of fighters.
One more thing, USA conducted an act of grave terror today by bombing civilians in Syria. Yes, just like last year when American jets “accidentally” bombed the MSF hospital in Kunduz, today they “accidentally” bombed civilians in Syria, mistaking them for ISIS fighter. Really America? Do you think we are so gullible? You kill 85 civilians, with all the high tech equipment in the world, this is what you came up with? “We mistakenly bombed 85 civilians (Again)”. US government is openly supporting ISIS in Syria and Iraq by clearing out civilians and any possible resistance. Before calling Muslims as terrorists, dear people living in the West look at your own leaders, you`ll find plenty of bin ladens and abu bakr Baghdadi`s in the Oval office and 10 downing street.
Dr. Craig you are doing an outstanding job at setting the narrative right. Bless you for the courage and efforts!