Monday morning, April 22, 2013.
In Syria the killing goes on, hundreds a week; in Myanmar ethnic cleansing is resulting in hundreds dead and in Nigeria 200 people were killed in Abuja over the last few days. Not much about any of that on the news because we are still in grip of ‘excessive concentration on a single issue.’
There was a horrific act of terrorism here last week, three people were killed, many injured. Apparently the act was carried out by two young men whose new-found belief in a disgusting and twisted version of Islam provided them with the impetus.
But my god people…stop with the navel-gazing…with the ‘it’s all about us’ (Bostonians, Americans, Christians, whatever.) I imagine most of those Syrians, Burmese, and Nigerians are unimpressed with the extent of our tragedy. In fact I’m wondering if the people of Newton, Aurora, Tucson—all of whom have experienced fairly recent acts of terrorism of one kind or the other—are feeling quite as shocked by the events in Boston as the rest of us seem to be.
Of course every city or country or ethnic group or religion believes “it’s all about us.” So Bostonians/Americans are not alone on that front. But we need to be careful. As they captured the boy in the boat, people were already filling the streets chanting “USA USA USA….” This is not a game and that is a dangerous road to go down because at the end lies a condition called xenophobia (“fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign”) and we do not want to go there as a nation. That’s where the Germans and the Serbs and the Cambodians and the Rwandans went—and the final destination of a xenophobic journey is always murder.
But back to navel-gazing. The ‘all about us’ mindset is encouraged by the endless “news” channels’ day-after-day focus on an event that is sad; complicated; birthed in suspicion, confusion, hatred. Unfortunately however the event is largely portrayed in the media as a struggle of us against them, good against evil. It is a mindset that sees only ‘us’ as valid…Bostonians; Americans; Christians…. You know. US. “USA USA USA…”
The reality is that tragic unwarranted unexplained unmourned deaths are so common in this world that if we actually gave a damn, we would probably take a stand somewhere somehow against violence. Usually however we only take action when there is an ‘other’ to blame.
Another reality is that cutting back on global violence would be bad for American business (our defense industries would complain mightily) and we are definitely also all about capitalism—so I guess we can navel-gaze all we want as long as ours are bigger than theirs and the dollars flow in.
USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA USA ………………..
THIS IS NOT A RANT!