Nothing is as insufferable as social media evangelism and self-righteous liberalism. It is dumbfounding, the immediacy with which a new hashtag emerges to commemorate tragedy, e.g. #PrayforMunich, #PrayforNice, #PrayforOrlando, #PrayforParis or #PrayforBrussels etc. Nevermind the minimal media attention to the sufferings of non-white people globally, the constant warfare and raging tragedies in West Africa as Boko Haram runs rampant, or the continued and less-newsworthy bombing of civilians by Russian and American jets in Syria and Iraq. Instead, the futility of these trends is the biggest tragedy, with the evangelists never even considering preventative prayer as more useful to the dead, missing and broken survivors of atrocities. I hope someone begins a #PrayforLondon, and legions of Pentecostal Christians reverberate with the holy power of the word. At least then, I might not fear a truck rampage in Leicester Square, or a mass shooting in Westfield.
The logical ineptitude of mumbled prayers and half-hearted repeated affirmation of liberal values of tolerance, diversity, liberty, individualism in light of every terrorist attack, the flawed reasoning that lip service to Western principles will guilt Isis into surrender. It is silly and frankly, the reason governments globally, and particularly in the West, have been unable to tackle extremism is down to liberal, if not conservative reluctance to radically reconfigure the state, society and international relations.
With every extremist attack, whether of Islamic Origin, the Far Right, be it the State terrorism of Erdogan against democratic activists and journalists, or Western-backed forcible regime change, I am immediately reminded of the Turner Diaries. A white supremacist fictional account detailing attempts by a neo-nazi group to ignite race war. Their success appears after continual attacks on symbols and ideals of multiculturalism, tolerance, civic nationalism and unity. These tactics used in fiction, are precisely the same tactics used by Islamic extremists and other terror groupings, dedicated to make us question our common humanity by erecting walls and xenophobia against other communities. When politicians talk of crackdowns and collective punishment against all muslims, they instead, foster the radicalisation of the young, vulnerable minds against a state they see are remote and hostile. However, it is not enough to be staunchly liberal and accept the premise of terrorist attacks and yet do nothing. We must react immediately.
Dousing the flames of the burning Earth, is a tricky thing especially given there are a multitude of issues at hand. Broken Capitalism, the austere state, social inequality and outrageous levels of political correctness have induced a state of myopia for governments, however well meaning. Namely, the Tokenism of name dropping successful immigrants, Muslims and Blacks to engage said communities is a oft used tactic. However, in truth, it may be pointless. Looking up to rich businessmen and women, or high-flying politicians or celebrities belies the reality of broken capitalism where opportunity is scarce, poverty is rampant and employment is insecure and low-waged. Social Mobility and role models are a positive idea, but remain an idea when governments and corporations refuse to pursue the investment in decent jobs, youth services and small businesses that would create a happy contented populace. And when the images on television don’t match your own reality, it is easy to feel distant and marginalised.
No amount of prayers will help France or Brussels, when de facto segregation of impoverished North African communities with illiteracy, criminality and stagnancy create rightfully angry and easily radicalised young people. Middle class white people gasp in horror as riots, protests, populist politics besiege their countries. but to an urban, Black Londoner like myself, I see these s the inevitable results of a world where prosperity is not shared and the poor are alienated from democracy. As Bernie would say “Are we prepared to take on the enormous economic and political power of the billionaire class?” Because it’s only if we invest in both working class, and immigrant/minority communities that we can alleviate racial tensions, increase living standards and empower communities to become stakeholders in local democracy and economies, rather than people with nothing to lose.
Politics itself needs innumerable changes and the orthodoxy of representative democracy must be decisively transformed. We need devolution down to cities and local communities where citizens have influence over the policies that determine their lives. We need accountability and the restructure of policing to be more diverse, engaged within communities, trained to de-escalate and the decriminalisation of minor drugs or actions only concerning oneself, to remove the constant hostility and violence between angry young people and an aggressive police force. We need politics to be transparent with greater online disclosure of information concerning policies and allow popular input. We need to break corporate political ties, and foster a foreign policy that leaves countries to do their own business without relentless bombings, unnecessary aggression and neo-colonial dominance over the Global South.
When we can convince all communities politics is a fruitful means of empowering oneself and ones community; angry people can see a political revolution through the ballot box through people like Bernie, Trump, Corbyn or Farage as a better method of change than violence.
And lastly, we must abandon liberal intolerance of debate. Political correctness has had a stranglehold on many issues, from LBGT-etc issues to minority rights, feminism and morality and justice. There are many ways that political correctness has enriched society, making it a safer, more pleasant place freer of racism, misogyny and hateful intolerance but at the expense of freedom of speech. Can’t immigration be accepted as a legitimate concern? Especially, illegal immigration in times of terror, surely we can compromise a little niceness and start detaining or deporting foreign criminals or would-be Isis members who have tried to go to Syria. We should immediately start a dialogue around immigration that doesn’t involve racism and yet doesn’t involve naivete. Similarly, I have always thought it childish, the unwillingness of groups to accept their renegades as their own. When Isis attacks, there’s immediately a protestation that ‘they’re not true Muslim’? But why were they pious and faithful right up until their attack? Why was Micah Johnson not a ‘true black power supporter’ when he became violent? Why can’t we accept that sometimes issues are our own problem and not some isolated incident to be blamed elsewhere.
We must admit the problems to solve the problems. Until then, no amount of teary condolences or status quo politics will douse the flames of the burning Earth.