Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Imagine ... there is no war

Today I read a post on Facebook by a Galway man who said he “did not feel safe near any Muslim” following the appalling terrorist attacks in Brussels.

“Can anyone blame me?” he asked, mulling over the fact that the person beside him in an airport, cinema, or train station could be just about to detonate a bomb.

When taken to task by anti-racism activists, concerned that he has a prominent position at a Galway sports club, the man refused to withdraw his words.

Imagine, just imagine, how disgusted people would be if a British person made such a sweeping generalisation about all Irish people during the height of the IRA bombing campaigns in the 1970s or 1980s.

Imagine how awful it would sound if someone made a comment about how unsafe they’d feel beside Jewish people. We saw how the demonization of that particular religion led to the insane killings of six million people in Europe in the 1940s. Well, never again.

There are 1.7 billion Muslims all across the globe, yet now some people in the US or Europe are prepared to demonise them all.

US Presidential candidate Donald Trump would prefer to turn all 1.7 billion of them away at the border, while ordinary people in Galway now say they don't feel comfortable standing beside them at the cinema or the bus queue.

Racism is unacceptable, so is ignorance. Views like that, based on nothing but racism and fear, lead to the kind of mentality which allows people like Donald Trump to demonise minorities.

There is no war between Muslims and non-Muslims.

How can we hate all Muslims? I spent three weeks on a Muslim island in January and the only thing that made me fearful was how crazy some of them were on the roads.

A few extremist yobs use the name of Islam to destroy innocent lives, just as the US military bastardises the word “freedom” when it bombs the hell out of innocent people in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, or Iraq.

What happened in Brussels yesterday is appalling and, yes, we should mourn the dead. 

But some lives are more important than others and we can be so selective in our grief. 
What kind of message does it send out when we mourn the loss of innocent lives in Paris or Brussels, but ignore those lost in Yemen or Syria?

George Orwell was right. Some animals are more equal than others. The media make that very clear in the wake of each and every atrocity. Some get wall-to-wall coverage, some are conveniently ignored. Sky News spend a full week reporting on a tragedy in Brussels, but hardly bother to mention the loss of innocent lives in Beirut.

We will have images from Brussels on our TV screens for the next week, before the networks move on to the next 'big story'. But we never, ever see the pain on the faces of ordinary children in Syria or Iraq. We hardly ever get to hear their stories, in contrast to the saturation coverage from the streets of Brussels, including interviews with neighbours where the Islamist terrorists lived.

We should mourn the loss of all innocent lives. 

How ISIS attacks are reported in the news
Most people, whether they are white Europeans or Iraqi Muslims, just want to bring up their children in peace and get on with their lives.
We should ask what motivates young men to blow people up in train stations or airports.

Just as we should ask why innocent people thousands of kilometres away are slaughtered in the name of freedom – and why we never see their anguished faces on our TV screens.

Often the truth is too uncomfortable to face. The young men who commit these atrocities in Europe grow up in our cities, attend our schools, and yet seem so alienated from the Western world. 

Most of them are not, as the Daily Mail might suggest, refugees from the war-torn Middle East who sneaked into Europe along with thousands of migrants, hell bent on destruction.

It's scary that these young Muslim men, after growing up in Europe, can be brainwashed into thinking that they will be whisked to Paradise if they blow up 20 innocent people in a busy airport or train station.

It's equally scary to think that they've seen through the hypocrisy of it all, that spilling blood in some cities generates far more publicity than the loss of life in other parts of the world. Because, most of the media tell us, that's just the way it is. 

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