I’ve dreaded writing this post. I’ve dreaded writing anything at all. I don’t know what to say, really. I see the stream of think-pieces beginning to come through, and I observe the hyperbolic and performative emotional rhetoric in journos who sigh and proclaim American exceptionalism. I’ve seen the insurrection attributed to white supremacy in intellectually lazy opinion pieces written by anti-racist activists and woke writers. I’ve seen the tired analyses which claim that normalising rioting and violence in the post George Floyd uprising over the spring and summer months set the stage for Wednesday’s events. Polarising narratives dominate public discourse. Intellectually shallow analyses carry the conversation. Scapegoating and dehumanising euphemisms got us to this point, and yet we seem unable to relinquish them in order that we can humbly see the truth.
What’s going on has very little to do with that thing called race. Certainly systemic racism–what does that mean, even, it’s a postmodernist abstraction and not a concept we can use to build solutions–doesn’t enter into the dynamic at play here. It isn’t the fault of antifa, which was a concept until anarchists and the anonymous big money backing them appropriated it for their political cause. The armed insurrection of the US Capitol isn’t something we can blame any particular ideology for causing–it isn’t that simple. Yet, it does seem that simple for many, whose egos devour the polarising edicts for the glory of self righteousness.
Is this what Orwell meant in the late 40s when he wrote about laziness with language as fascism loomed a large, global menace? How does social media contribute to the course of events, to the formation of mobs through the viral spread of inflammatory rhetoric and disinformation? To what degree do the underlying forces at play here, ie those related to the human condition and how we respond collectively to situations, operate independently of contributing factors like Twitter and Facebook and digital media? Remember, Goebbels didn’t have a Twitter account. Neither did Robespierre.
When will we be prepared to face the reality that Trump became a flashpoint for a group of people bound together by bigotry, contempt, moral righteousness, Zionism, and American nationalism? When can we admit Trump’s rise to power and his presidency exposes a sickness of American oligarchic-dominated cult hero worshipping society? Could it be that many Americans are seeing the face of their country as it truly is for the first time right now? To me, a Muslim Desi Canadian, that seems incredible. And yet, I get it–precisely because I am Canadian, I get it. The caged bird sings of freedom … Americans sing and brag about their freedom perhaps because when you’re chanting you aren’t thinking about what freedom means. Oligarchs want Americans to keep singing that they’re free because it keeps them too busy to think about sh1t that’s happening.
So many threads woven together create this tapestry we now live, in these present moments. Who benefits from continuing to ignore the underlying issues? Who benefits from ignoring the collective trauma foisted upon humanity by Covid-19 and our response to it? Who benefits from these one-sided and inflammatory media stories which twist facts and promote false narratives to stir outrage? Why has outrage become the favoured currency of communication? Why has resilient compassion–true and naked compassion that demands excellence and objectivity and humanisation–become alien and unwelcomed?
Why do we LARP the victimhood stance so readily in every attempt at discourse? All sides do this, not just the political left or the woke. I see conservatives manufacture their own victimhood brand when they circle jerk cancel culture and misappropriate the term free speech in their butthurtness over having to account for assholery or do their part as responsible citizens in following PHOs related to Covid-19. Come on people, don’t deny that’s a variant of the victimhood show. Whilst the woke left laments oppression, the conservative right laments modern-day excommunication and heresy. Oppression vs persecution–both are variants of victimhood, two sides of a coin.
Look, I’m not saying cancel culture, aka McCarthyism, doesn’t exist. Absolutely it does. I’m saying you haven’t been excommunicated from life when the publisher decides it’s not publishing your book because you libelled the followers of entire religion in your bid to seem like an edgy and cool polemicist. I’m saying circle jerking free speech in defense of conservative extremists who express offensive things whilst you also promote anti BDS legislation and the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism causes me to doubt your sincerity and valuation of free expression. I’m saying claiming persecution because of state imposed safety measures to promote the health and safety and stability of society causes me to question your concept of societal freedom, in addition to doubting your sincerity.
Why do you feel entitled to your purposeless assholery and extreme individualism? How do you think ICUs and those who staff them will have the capacity to care for you or any of us if they are collapsing under the weight of a pandemic gone wildly out of control? Where is your societal freedom when there’s no RT in the hospital to monitor your loved one’s ventilator when they’ve gone to S/ICU after a surgery or trauma or to teach you how to use your aerochamber when an asthma exacerbation has sent you to the ER/A&E? Why do so many find this concept of freedom and societal responsibility so impossible to grasp? You get out of a system what you put into it, you get out of society what you put into it. Ultimately the definition of freedom becomes important in this context.
And that’s the other thing–we rarely define our terms before we jump into the stream of discussion. Canadians feel freer than Americans because we have our health care system, imperfect though it may be. Americans perhaps feel freer than Canadians because they have no government health care system and pay less taxes. Who’s to say which version of freedom is the right one? This would be like saying which is better, an apple or a pear? Well, that’s subjective and each have value and merit as a choice. Why can’t we stop and contemplate our world in this way?
Haven’t we had enough of the mentally deprived, ego-jizzing half-baked incendiary narratives floated by intelligentsia wannabes and those purporting to engage in journalism? Without discipline and dedication to order, freedom doesn’t exist. Everyone who’s raised children knows this, come on now. Seriously, you’re all better than this preoperational, individualistic bullsh1t. Victimhood leads to justification of abuse–the insurrectionists felt justified in their abuse and violation. So jizzing inflammatory pseudo-victimhood narratives into existence seems quite irresponsible, considering where it all ultimately leads.
One last thing I want to mention in this missive which has, unlike many other substacks and articles on the topic of The Insurrection, not really offered an explanation and has instead served to urge readers to pause and think before circlejerking intellectual mediocrity masquerading as edgy analysis–
I believe appeals to race or white supremacy each time a human conflict arises obscures our path to real solutions. Because antiracism offers only racism as a solution to racism and, as a Desi who has faced her share of racist bigotry, I see that as a regurgitation of racism, not any real and lasting way forward. I see the dynamic some people choose to call white supremacy, I simply choose not to call it white supremacy. I think it’s nothing to do with skin colour. I think it’s a colonial/western mindset, I’ve called it eurocentricity in the past and that seems fitting now.
We never require Zionists to apologise for their viewpoint and denounce what Zionism ultimately represents. And yet some Eurocentric conservatives require muslims to apologise for and denounce extremism in their own communities–routinely this still happens amongst the western essentialist, Zionist intelligentsia. And still yet, some Eurocentric conservatives would throw Air India and Khalistani separatism at Jagmeet Singh when he tweets about designating Proud Boys as a terrorist group–in a disingenuous effort to discredit Singh in the discussion about designating white nationalism as terrorism.
Whether or not I agree with Singh’s takes, I find this response to his Tweet unacceptable and unhelpful. It’s expressed by individuals who want no part in facing eurocentricity and zionism and orientalism as flaws in western thinking which infect western society. Should anyone throw Zionism and anti-BDS in the faces of these Intelligentsia they would scream anti-Semitism so damned loudly. Indeed a double standard does exist, a blind man could see it. Still, here we are, making Jagmeet Singh somehow have to apologise for attending a community meeting and for being a Sikh and here we are, somehow invoking moral outrage over Air India when he’s trying to have a discussion about Proud Boys. The insult to my intelligence both amuses and enrages me.
Eurocentric thinking does indeed govern the west, like a default setting individuals needs to opt out of or reset–yet it’s insidious and we remain unaware until we fall into awareness somehow. I don’t really want to have the race discussion anymore. White saviourism and Zionism and hatred of Desi people/anyone from the India subcontinent and Malthusian regard of the Indian subcontinent in general bore and disgust me and I’ve had enough of that mind rotting social detritus to be honest.
Still, the orientalism, the eurocentricity, the christian supremacy hidden beneath Zionism–it exists in the west, it flourishes and to a large extent drives hatred of muslims and asians and some of us feel its immense pressure. It feels heavy to carry, we would like to put it down now. We would like to put down our end of this menacing burden. Only, what would we embrace in its place?
Welcome to 2021. I hadn’t finished thinking about 2020 and here I am already steeped in this year that’s only 8 days into itself. If this year was a kitten, it’s eyes would not quite be open yet, or would be opening in the next few days.
Bismillah. That is going to be my word for 2021.
I enter this year in the most merciful and compassionate self I can muster within myself, dignified resilience, curiosity rather than judgement, seeking always understanding, (of myself first and foremost), gravitating toward radical love–this path I will walk as I enter a new year.
Perhaps I haven’t really discussed the Insurrection of the US Capitol, and perhaps I have–by asking thought provoking questions upon which we would all do well to reflect prior to flapping our lips mindlessly, whilst we watch the aftermath unroll itself as first hand accounts reveal themselves and investigations unfold and reveal how it all happened.
Finally a last thought from Mawlana Rumi–“You’re clutching with both hands to this myth of you and I. Our whole brokenness is because of this.” You are me. I am you. Separation is an illusion. Everything is connected, even when those connection remain invisible to your eyes, heart, mind.
America, we do love you. You would not invoke such rage if not for love of you. What is it about you, America? I honestly don’t know. I only know you’ve broken many many hearts and minds, both inside and outside of your borders. I know you can do better. Yes, you’ve done some awful cruel things. And yes, you can be better than this, you have been at points in time. It’s difficult to remember because that image of the dude carrying the Confederate Flag through the Capitol Building is also you, the frightening and scary and ugly you, America. Please choose carefully and wisely which America you would like to be. Hearts harden with cynicism, which is like a desiccant. Believe. Because if you don’t the rest of the world can’t help you.