liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
I don't often talk about news events; I don't particularly need to participate in the social media circus of uninformed opinions about headlines. I haven't suddenly become an expert on terrorism and international security, but I do have pretty strong opinions about blaming Muslims, or even worse, refugees, for terrorist attacks.

Anyway, several of my circle have said really wise things about terrorism and xenophobia and I wanted to draw attention to them. Regarding the recent terrorist attacks:
  • I really appreciated [personal profile] monanotlisa's measured thoughts on Paris and Beirut, including:
    It's about doing the best we can, the best each of us can do.And if that's de-escalation on the smallest scale, in a conversation, in a blog, then so be it. I'll keep trying.

  • [personal profile] vatine has written something like this too many times:
    So, terrorism, big scary shit. That's rather the point of it, it is essentially "political discourse by instilling terror". It works, if we let it [...] The whole "step up the security, investigate everyone, militarise the police" is letting it work. I mean, that is essentially what [terrorists] want. Make people (some, or all) sufficiently unhappy to cause them to join their cause.

  • Yes, it's important to respond to terrorism with increased acceptance and continuing as normal, and not with xenophobia and repression. Still, I agree with [personal profile] seekingferret's point about the rhetorical framing:
    "ISIS wants us to respond by doing X, therefore we should not do X." Whatever X might be, I want to say that I think this is a really stupid argument to make [...] Of course, some of the Xes in "therefore we should not do X" are pretty transparently things we ought not to do anyway. "ISIS wants the West to explode in Islamophobic hatred, therefore we shouldn't explode in Islamophobic hatred," is dumb, but "We shouldn't explode in Islamophobic hatred because it's immoral and evil" is not dumb.
Regarding hatred of refugees in general:
These are very much the sorts of stories I grew up with, they remind me of the history of my own family. And yet, my own personal ancestors were in no way refugees, certainly not by the modern strict legal definitions states and border authorities use as an excuse to turn people away. They were economic migrants, primarily, they came to Britain for a better life, and yes, that better life included a hope of somewhat less frequently being beaten up by racists, but they weren't fleeing for their lives from genocide or a war zone.

At least as much as I recognize my own history in touching stories intended to humanize migrants and refugees, I recognize my own fears in the knee-jerk xenophobic and racist reactions against immigrants. Lots of stuff on social media pointing out that people are reacting to the influx of Syrians and other Muslim immigrants in very similar ways to how racists in Europe and America reacted to the arrival of Jews trying to escape from the Nazis. And it's not Godwin's law, it's an actual relevant valid comparison that really does need to be made, because seeing refugees as a threat does in fact lead directly to sending people "back" to die at the hands of the organizations and governments trying to murder them. But on a trivial level, the effect on me personally is to remind me over and over again how easy it is for an integrated, multi-cultural society to fall apart. When I see acquaintances, perfectly nice cultured people, who would be absolutely horrified at the idea of being thought "racist", reposting and amplifying anti-Muslim memes, or downplaying how bad racism actually is and seeing both sides, I feel extremely conscious that these people, whom I'm on friendly terms with, would not defend me, probably wouldn't even let me in their country, if I were the target of the sort of stuff that's currently directed against Muslims. And I say "if" but emotionally it feels like "when"; anti-Muslim rhetoric is so very similar to anti-semitism, and I basically expect people who hate Muslims because they're vaguely foreign and wear weird clothes and don't support our values probably hate me too.

I know, this sort of rhetoric is supposed to promote empathy, not to make me scared. And very probably I am in fact safe compared to brown-skinned people and Muslims. But I feel I don't really need to be reminded that xenophobia leads to scary consequences, I am already scared of it.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-11-24 08:09 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ewt
Thank you for this. It's all rather more eloquent than my response, which starts with "What the everlasting fuck is wrong with people?!" and goes rapidly downhill from there.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-11-24 08:17 am (UTC)
vatine: Generated with some CL code and a hand-designed blackletter font (Default)
From: [personal profile] vatine
Heh. I think I wrote something eerily similar on July 7th (or maybe 8th), 2005, over of LJ. I wrote something eerily similar, on Usenet, back in 2001. So, yes, I truly have written it too many times.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-11-24 10:30 am (UTC)
falena: Picture of a girl hiding behind a camera, reflected in a mirror. (Default)
From: [personal profile] falena
Thank you for this. I can't wait to delve into your links with the attention they deserve. Monanotlisa's quote you picked out is great and something I should try to keep in mind.

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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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