Why our modern culture leads us to excuse terrorism

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

Terrorism in its current form, primarily carried out by right wing Islamist extremists, is a form of mass murder and serial killing and religious-supremacism combined. It’s as if you combined the KKK with the people who carried out the Salem Witch Trial, the Nazis and the Inquisition all into one kind of ideology. Terrorism in its basic form encourages the lone wolf attacker to view himself as superior to others and ascribe to himself the right to be judge, jury and executioner, often on a massive scale. His goal is extermination of sub-humans, in his view those are “non-believers” or “kuffar” or any number of other enemies.

In its more complex form this terror takes the form of mass enslavement of people, trading in women, ethnic-cleansing, genocide, rape as a weapon, dehumanization of the other, torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity, the suppression of women’s rights and minority rights, the carrying out of the death penalty, extreme chauvinism and patriarchy, the creation of controlled societies akin in many ways to Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia in their means of control and even in their methods of mass execution of “undesirables.”

In the last thirty years the methods of Islamist terrorism have grown more complex and hellish. Their desire to dominate and dehumanize people, the joy they get out of executions, the neo-colonial style sex tourism and murder tourism they promise followers to entice them, the extreme hate and bigotry they propagate via new media, have all grown. The crimes of Boko Haram and ISIS have included kidnapping and mass rape and trading in young girls, the genocide and ethnic cleansing of ancient and indigenous minorities such as Assyrians, Yazidis, Kurds and others. We have seen a new atrocity-laden style of attack in Mumbai, Westgate (Kenya), Bangladesh, and other places where the murderers have singled out non-Muslims, forcing them to recite prayers in order to prove who they are, carrying out a Nazi-style or Inquisiton-style selection process in a sense, before torturing and murdering, sometimes literally bathing in the blood as they rejoice in their acts. In other incidents such as in Paris, Orlando or the truck ramming attacks in Nice and Germany, they suffice simply to murder as many as possible with whatever means at their disposal.

They purposely target religious symbols as part of the their genocidal campaign, blowing up Sufi shrines in Pakistan, targeting Christians in Egypt, blowing up sheikh’s tombs in the Sinai, demolishing monasteries in Iraq and blowing up Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, their target is always to intimidate and cleanse the other. Whether it is the executions of Shia at Camp Speicher, or killings of Druze in Syria, blowing up Kurds in Turkey, or plots against Christian and Easter, their targets are religious and ethnic symbols. Like the Nazis on Kristallnacht their plan is to strike at the heart of diverse communities, and when they are done the goal of organizations such as the Taliban is to erase any evidence that others existed. In place like Yemen and Somalia they have murdered nuns. A priest was beheaded in France and Jews have been targets throughout Europe, including an attack on children in Toulouse and in Denmark. They attack Ahmadis and Shia.

Western leaders have urged the public to discount all this as “non-Islamic.” Commentators and reporters, such as Anne Barnard, have even reversed the victims, so that the victims of terror are those least likely to be victims. One article quoted a man as saying the whole point of this terror is “to create a backlash against Muslims, divide societies…make Sunnis feel that no matter what happens, they don’t have any other option.” This is part of the narrative that claims every time there is terror and then there is an uptick in intolerance towards refugees, Muslims or others, that we hear “the terrorists have won,” and right wing politicians such as Le Pen are portrayed as actually helping ISIS. Donald Trump’s travel ban was said to be a boon for ISIS recruitment.

It’s a bit of a strange logic, it’s like turning every KKK church bombing into a story about how “white people are the real victims of the KKK, because it creates a backlash against white southerners, divides societies, makes whites feel they have no other choice.”  But of course people do have a choice. An article in the New York Times noted that Trinidad was trying to staunch the flow of fighters to ISIS. These were converts to Islamism, either people born Muslim who became radicalized or converted to Islam. They weren’t John Kerry’s mythical “non-Muslims,” they were simply radicalized, right-wing, intolerant, Islamists. Yet there was no Le Pen in Trinidad. No Donald Trump. A caribbean island was producing hate-filled bigots. Why? Consider the story of the British jihadist who died in Iraq. A convert, he first went to Pakistan and Afghanistan to fulfill fantasies, ended up in Guantanamo in 2002, received more than $500,000 in compensation, and then chose to join ISIS. This is not a victim of Trump’s travel ban, these are people with the utmost agency in their lives who desire supremacy and will use any means to get it. There is no difference between the wanna-be Jihadist and the serial killer, or the KKK church bomber. Not suppression, but supremacism drives them. The Berlin attacker had previously come as a “refugee” and then immediately began attacking the place he was taking “refuge” in. This fits a profile of migrants who hate their host societies just as 19th century immigrants to America became radicalized.

Why does our society brainwash us to feel sorry for them?

In a speech to parliament an actor claimed that people were being forced into the hands of ISIS because of a lack of diversity on TV. He claimed “Have you seen some of those Isis propaganda videos, they are cut like action movies. Where is the counter narrative? Where are we telling these kids they can be heroes in our stories, that they are valued?” He concluded “if we fail to represent, we are in danger of losing people to extremism.”

This is the logic that underpins why our society always sympathizes and excuses serial killing terrorists. Can anyone imagine someone giving a speech in Congress saying that the lack of having southern white men in cinema would drive them to join the KKK? Not enough Germans portrayed positively, they have to join the Nazis? Why is it that if you don’t have enough Korean actors portrayed in cinema in the UK, that Koreans don’t all become “extreme”?

Because our society always tries to turn murderers into victims, genociders into victims, wife-abusers, chauvinists, rapists, those who fantisize about ethnic-cleansing, into victims. We don’t conclude that they are the problem, but instead they need help.

This was also the case in the 1990s with Timothy Mcveigh. Some writers wanted to know “who he was” and understand what drove him.  The perpetrator in the West is almost always the kind of demi-hero. We don’t want to admit this, but no where in our modern culture are those like Bin Laden truly hated and despised. Instead they are seen as almost acceptable. We don’t passionately hate the Taliban or ISIS, we want to “understand” it.

Why is this? We understand the KKK as purely evil. When a man commits a lynching we don’t sympathize with him. Historically we don’t sympathize. So why do we accept the modern version? In 2016 the Saudi Arabian foreign minister said “ISIS is as much Islamic as the KKK is Christian.” This is the general response of society. Whenever there is a genocidal view growing, the idea is to excuse it and pretend it has nothing to do with the society that produces it. Those like the Saudis always want to pretend ISIS is some sort of alien ideology. But then at the same time we are told that lack of diversity drives people to join it. But if it’s such an alien ideology, then why would anyone join it? Why would converts join it and people from Trinidad and Bangladesh and 5,000 European citizens? If ISIS is not Islamic at all then why aren’t its members charged with blasphemy? Pakistan charges other people with blasphemy, but not members of ISIS.

So here’s the thing. The Saudi is correct, ISIS is to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity, and precisely because that is correct, you have to hate ISIS the way you hate the KKK. Except we don’t. ISIS flags aren’t offensive when they were flown in Europe in 2014. KKK outfits are offensive, but ISIS dress-up isn’t.

How was the KK defeated? By excusing it. By constantly saying “the KKK is not real white pride”? Did we fight the KKK by finding other “white nationalist moderates” to preach in church? No. We eradicated the KKK by going after it and its ideology and arresting and making its view unpalatable and teaching tolerance and de-segregation. But that’s not how ISIS is fought.  Hundreds of ISIS members return to Europe and are not prosecuted for war crimes, ISIS is not charged with genocide.

A recent show of The Good Fight featured a story about a doctor who was treating terrorist wounded via Skype. In the program the doctor is presented as the victim. The man he was treating was the brother of a wanted American-born Jihadist. He had gone to Syria to bring back his brother. And through the show we are almost led to believe the real victim here is the terrorist and of course we must not judge the doctor for wanting to help.

Our culture teaches that we are not allowed to hate, seek revenge or judge. No matter the level of genocide, the loathsome acts, the inhuman acts, such as selling young girls to be raped, and genociding elderly women, we are never allowed to hate. We are told that any hatred for groups like ISIS, any desire to do to them what they do to others is wrong, because we are “superior” and we don’t “behave like them.”

Our entire culture has been geared toward deracinating us from normal human emotions. We should never have gotten to the point where ISIS flags were flying in our streets and we turned a blind eye. Hate preachers give hate sermons and we turn a blind eye. We have allowed the modern version of Nazism, the KKK, the Inquisition, the Crusaders, the Salem Witch Trials, to teach generations that it is ok to worship genocide and supremacism, and murder.  We excuse mass serial killing right wing murder but turning Jihadists into “militants.” Our media downplays their actions. They won’t show videos of photos from the crime scenes, the scenes of torture and beheadings, because they don’t want to “inflame” the public. That’s like hiding details of Auschwitz lest we might hate the Nazis.

Our entire modern society is engineered to excuse terrorism and obfuscate the nature of terror and its crimes. It refuses to call jihadists “right wing” and often tries to present those who join as “crazy” or victims. It doesn’t prosecute them when they return. It refuses to grapple with their religious and right wing hate motivations. It refuses to charge them with crimes against humanity. It pretend that somehow their victims are not the real victims. It never wants to talk about who is being killed and why.

We are constantly shown in popular culture, from Homeland to every other show about terror, that terrorists have “motivations” that almost always involve their being terrorists as the fault of someone else. It’s like pretending the KKK was a reaction to “Yankee imperialism” or presenting every Nazi as some misguided young recruit, radicalized “by mistake” and who just happens to end up in the SS. No where do we hold terrorists responsible for their actions and admit what they are. The are not minorities, they are wanna-be majority, wanna be judge, jury and executioner who relish in their crimes likes serial killers and seek to join a pornographic fantasy of murder among a fraternity of like minded rapists and killers. They openly boast of the love for murder and hate for minorities and joys of ethnic-cleansing. They view killing as an orgy and they have a love for it like colonialists of old and slave-traders of the 18th century. They want to be in charge, they want to be Nazis in charge of a Nazi province, raping and murdering. This is the sole desire of a terrorist, to bully and control and have patriarchy.

However we are afraid to speak truth to power and talk about terrorism. We are afraid of causing offense or being accused of Islamophobia. But ISIS is not Islamic, then it’s not Islamophobia. It’s hatred of the KKK-ISIS. The KKK-Taliban. The Nazi-Al-Shabab. The fascist Boko Haram, Abu Sayyaf and hundreds of others groups. Just add KKK to their name. Our society teaches that its better to be self critical than critical of others. It views terrorists as minorities, rather than what they are , neo-colonial, majorities. We have inculcated a view that “we are always to blame,” because we have a kind of euro-centric culture that always wants to feel “we made it happen.” So we “caused the Taliban” by defeating the Soviets, and then “we funded Bin Laden” and then we caused Bin Laden by basing troops in Saudi and we created ISIS by invading Iraq, the list is never ending. But the reality is that those who join these organizations did so of their own accord. They are not poor victims, almost all terrorists are middle class, many of them are upper class, members of elites or former elites or wanna-be elites. They are not poor refugees, they are bourgeois, almost all of them. Poor people can’t afford plane tickets to go back and forth to Syria. Rich kids can. And these terrorists have classic colonial notions of dominance and abuse of the poor, in Raqqa and Mosul the foreign volunteers were the most cruel, they savaged local culture. So why can’t we admit the truth. Our modern terrorists come from a KKK-like supremacism being bred around the world, it is wealthy, educated, with access to technology and often jet-set around the world with cells and jihadists in different places. It preys on women and loves rape. It is classic terror rape-culture. Every supremacist ideology, like Nazism and the KKK, sees sub-humans as not only inferior but sees their women as a target for rape. ISIS does it. Along with its fellow travelers, it is a KKK-Nazi-rape culture. That’s what it is. Not people who didn’t see diversity on TV and decided to kill others because of it. If that was remotely true than we’d see lots of Sikh and Buddhist and Hindu extremists in our midst. But we see almost none, except of course the converts from those religions.

And yet our society has turned this murderous cult of right wing hate intolerance, into some kind of victim. Because it is part of our modern society’s overall war on natural human tendency. It is not natural to have 5,000 terrorists growing up in a wealthy society like Europe, more and more and more running off to commit genocide in the Middle East. It is natural to hate those who commit the crimes and demand they be executed or jailed for life, not get gym memberships and re-education. It’s true, they are like the KKK, so stop excusing their actions, start humanizing their victims. And stop making jokes about this evil.

One response to “Why our modern culture leads us to excuse terrorism

  1. Some excellent points here. I wouldn’t be so cavalier about describing them as “right wing”. The Islamic world is a world away from Western culture. Describing IS as “right wing” could appear to some to be equating them to right wingers in Europe or America. And justifies attacks on the legitimacy of the Republican party in US or the Conservative Party in the UK. Another phrase is needed imo.

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