Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

The Lie of Terrorism

As I sat in Memorial Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 25th, the students surrounding me called for President Sarah Bolton to recognize the Palestinian genocide occurring in Gaza. In response, President Bolton said, “What is happening in Gaza is terrible,” not extending their message anything beyond this. This was a neglect of the real death we are witnessing each and every day in the Gaza Strip, which includes 3,195 children, which has been justified by the prior attack by Hamas, labeled as terrorism.

My entire life has taken place within the United States’ “War on Terror” and yet somehow the world continues to use the word “terrorism” discriminatorily. Recently, the world was incredibly quick to label Hamas as a terrorist organization, yet the Proud Boys have yet to be classified as a terrorist organization by the United States government despite clearly fulfilling the definition of terrorist that they have. 

Throughout its history, U.S. Department of State has named only foreign groups as terrorists. Americans have been spared from the label of terrorist my entire life yet, as time goes on, violence in America only seems to increase exponentially. On Oct. 28 2023, a white man by the name of Robert Card shot and killed 18 people at a bowling alley in Maine. However, despite the high death count and clear right-wing ideology, this has not been labeled a terrorist attack; the media will continue to call this a “tragedy.” I’m sure we will see Republican lawmakers send “thoughts and prayers” to the victims’ families, but we will not see the same collective punishment that we saw for the “purely evil terrorists,” for example, who attacked innocent people in Israel.

After legal Palestinian reform against Britain failed in the 1930’s, Palestine resistance took the form of violent revolt to avoid the colonial oppression of the British, the epitome of colonizers. Britain immediately spun this fight and characterized it as “terrorism” and proceeded to suppress these people with incredible amounts of militarization, killing 9000 people and injuring nearly 30,000. We are in the same position we were in almost 100 years ago, and still people cannot understand what the fight against colonialism truly is. The anti-colonial fight has never been peaceful; the Haitian Revolution was not peaceful, the Madagascar nationalist uprising was not peaceful and the Indian Rebellion was not peaceful. 

The difference between these two instances of killing innocent people include two things; a motive and the color of the aggressor’s skin. Why is terrorism inherently politically motivated? The anti-state and status quo violence threatens the Western viewpoint of the world and introduces hate that is opposed by a Western view of the world being at peace, so therefore it pushes a political message because it opposes the natural Western belief. I would argue that killing innocent people for NO reason is the real terror we need to focus on, but that’s not the point I’m making here. If Robert Card were a Black man in America, the news would label him as a “thug” or a “terrorist”, but instead he’s a white guy and this is a tragedy. 79 of the 148 mass shootings in the United States since 1987 have been committed by white people, 141 of them were committed by men. These shootings are not considered terrorist attacks because a majority of them are committed by white men.

When we look back in history, armed uprisings are typically viewed as positive rebellions against oppression; generally considered good for the world. Yet somehow, the use of violence in modern times to overcome colonialism and Western overreach has become terrorism. “Terrorist” groups are typically found outside of Western and developed countries. The only time I have seen the use of the word “terrorist” and “terrorism” being used to describe something that occurs in the Western world was during Black Lives Matter protests where a majority of the people involved were minorities. To borrow a point from theorist Slovaj Žižek’s in his book “Violence: Six Sideways Reflections,” “Responsibility for Communist crimes is easy to allocate: we are dealing with subjective evil, with agents who did wrong … but when one draws attention to the millions who died as a result of the capitalist globalisation … responsibility is largely denied.”

We constantly ignore the violence that occurs to people all across the globe. White privilege has brought us to a constant state of misrepresentation of what true revolution looks like; all because we are allowed the ability to ignore the violence and injustice that occurs throughout the globe. If we are to condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization, then we must also look inwardly at things happening in our borders and be asked to label them as terrorism as well.

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