Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Elephant in the Room: Western Violence

The elephant in the room: western violence
The Islamophobes are out in number, warning the world about ‘Muslim violence’ in the wake of the attack in London.

They are finding the roots of Muslim violence in Islam and the Qur’an (Sheehan, Twisting Islam to justify cruelty), demanding that Muslims take responsibility and help deal with the problem (Howe, Muslims must help fight these terrorists), and impressing on Muslims the need to face the history of Islam and get rid of its bad bits (Kessler, Muslims must face history of Islam).

It has already been shown how Islamic texts are purposefully misread and misrepresented to arrive at the above-mentioned conclusions. But something far more sinister is exposed by simply applying the methodology of the above writers – searching for causal-relation between the observations of violence and the beliefs of its perpetrators – to a different, but culpably-related, subject: western violence (violence perpetrated by western states).

The observations list of western violence, even if restricted to the last couple of decades, is as long as it is ugly, featuring one nation-destroying war after another, support for dictators who make life hell for millions of people via brute violence, military bases littered all over the world, extrajudicial killing and imprisonment, and drone attacks, all of which kill incomparably more women, children and innocent civilians than combatants.

Indeed, if we were to tally a list of civilian deaths caused by western violence - as Alan Howe has done with Muslim violence - we would need much more space and use many more four, five and six digit figures in place of his two and three-digit ones. The bottom line: Muslim violence pales in comparison to western violence in all respects: numbers of people injured and killed, extent of economic and social impact, and brutality.

Any objective assessment of the facts shows this. If the subjective western conscience is unaware of this reality this is due to a carefully constructed false narrative about terrorism being repeated ad nausuem.

It is because when a Muslim kills a British soldier in the streets of London the entire world is informed of every minute detail for days on end, but when a British soldier stabs a Muslim child in Afghanistan (or when anelderly Muslim is brutally killed in London), there is little more than blip of coverage. The western victim is humanised through positive portrayals and family photos; the Muslim victim is but a statistic.
It is because events in which Muslims kill innocent people are ingrained in the public conscience, but events like half a million children dying due to hunger and malnutrition caused by western sanctions are unknown to many (justified as a worthy price by Madeline Albright). The Muslim perpetrator is dehumanised as irrational savage; the western perpetrator is excused as responsible policymaker making tough decisions.

It is because attacks against Muslims are given context, explanations and analysis, but attacks against western interests can only be condemned and apologised for; any discussion of explanations or root causes is shunned as an apologist justification.

In rejecting this sort of fallacious discourse and placing the focus where it should be – and by doing little more than flipping on their head claims made by Sheehan, Howe and Klesser in their above-cited pieces – we find the roots of western violence in the “extremist” beliefs of its perpetrators.

They attack in the name of freedom and democracy, armed with the meaningless platitudes found in their “sacred” texts such as the US constitution or the UDHR, seeking to impose their secular liberal ideologies disguised as universal values (“human rights”) – irrational values that belong in medieval Europe insofar as their substantiation rests on empty appeals to self-evident intuition devoid of ontological reality.

The existence of such imposition and systemic repression of opposing views (these days justified as the “intolerance of intolerance”) demolish the absurd claim that secular liberalism is a neutral position and belie the hollow slogans of freedom and equality.

Most westerners are peaceful, but western ideology groans under the weight of its own contradictions, as entreaties to freedom and equality are juxtaposed with imposition of values and war to install or maintain client regimes.

Those who gravitate to the wrathful policy of secular liberal states bring their own pathologies with them (e.g. George Bush Jnr, John Howard), which they then cloak in zealous piety. Apologists argue that those who use UN conventions and appeals to human rights to justify violence and war are not actually liberal; they represent anomalous abuses of power (worse apologists, like Sheehan et al, simply turn a blind eye to western violence).

But whilst it is correct to point that the difference between secular liberals and secular liberalism, it is no good to say that western violence has nothing to do with secular liberalism. Westerners must face their violent history, acknowledge the links between their values and the systemic violence these produce, and help to deal with the problem.

Modern westerners must be prepared to clearly acknowledge from where the evils, such as those mentioned above, have come. They must stand up openly against those otherwise well meaning westerners who will not do so. They must stand openly against the claims “extremist” policymakers make of a legitimate ideological basis for their depraved actions.

We need the non-Muslim community to energetically police itself. We need our fellow human beings who happen to be westerners - that vast majority of whom we are constantly assured just wish to live in peace - to aggressively root out the Obamas, Camerons and Gillards leading them. Condemning aggressive wars and protesting once in a while is not enough.

The secular liberal West is in need of more than a little housekeeping.

And those in-house must help.

Uthman Badar is the media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Australia. He tweets @Uthmanb and can be reached at  media@hizb-australia.org.

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