Who’s The Terrorists Now?

Israel is blowing up hospitals while Hamas blows up tanks. This ain’t hard

indi.ca

--

This is a soldier. “Our fight continues
By land, by sea and by air” Image from Saraya Al-Quds Brigades, Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Terrorism is a deeply racialized word which broadly means othered violence. The self has a state and has reasons for its violence, whereas the other is (usually) stateless and is completely irrational. State violence is a necessary evil, whereas stateless violence is just evil. Before you have a state — like the founding of Israel, or the American oligarch rebellion — you are ‘terrorists’ (née savages). Once you do have a state, then you have a self, you are no longer ‘other’. The blood washes clean from your hands and you can liberally point to others, doing the same shit you were just doing, except it’s bad now.

Whiteness

Terrorism is racialized because it maps onto the hierarchy of whiteness, the fluid racial order that colonialism used to map order onto the world, with corporations at the top, Europeans under them, and everyone else clambering up and kicking down for favor and resources. Animals and the natural world are, of course, at the bottom, because white supremacism is just a subsection of human supremacism over all. Terrorism is violence which flows the wrong way along the hierarchy. The problem is not violence per se but violence out of order. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s hierarchy, as the saying goes.

Hence the USA calls many groups terrorist, but never the KKK, which instead gets invited to the White House. Or Israel lies about their enemies beheading babies, while actually killing babies in incubators. There’s no inconsistency here because the hierarchy is preserved. The feeling of ‘terror’ is reserved for ‘white’ people (and humans), and what native or natural beings feel simply doesn’t register. Hence Israel refers to its periodic pogroms of Palestine as dealing with ‘human animals’ or ‘mowing the lawn’, just as America culled the ‘merciless savages’ and animals of Turtle Island.

Frightness

These are, of course, academic definitions of terrorism, whereas how it is experienced has a more specific meaning in modern times. While, politically, on an unconscious level, terrorism is racialized, on the personal, conscious level, terrorism is deeply emotionalized. Terrorism is perceived as attacks on civilians

--

--

indi.ca

Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at www.indi.ca, or just email me at indi@indi.ca.