An Arabic man was wrestled to the ground in the aftermath of the Boston bombings. Someone had seen him running by and assumed, because he looked middle-eastern and Muslim, that he must be a terrorist.
Turns out he was just another person running away from some really frightening explosions.
Now, this is obviously a very regrettable racist incident, but we can all understand whoever did it. In the back of our minds, Islam and Terrorism are linked.
Whether you are Muslim or Atheist or Zoroastrian, if you live in the west and have turned on the TV at some point over the last couple of decades, then your notion of Islam will be haunted by the spectre of terrible events such as the Boston bombings.
Seeing how much contemporary terrorism has been perpetrated by Muslims, isn’t this association kind of inevitable? It is a pretty sad state of affairs for the majority of Muslims, yes, but could it be another way? After all, journalists can’t not report terrorism just to protect the honour of Islam, can they?
No, but perhaps there is another way of reporting terrorism.
Leaving aside the rampant comi-tragic Islamaphobia found in occult pamphlets like the Daily Express, and just looking at good journalism – I believe there indeed is a better way the media can frame events such as those of last week.
And here it is: the significant thing about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is not really that they were Muslim, rather, it is that they were conspiracy theorists.
A disclaimer and definition before we continue: when I say ‘conspiracy theorist’ I am not talking about someone who has a non-orthodox perspective on a discrete issue such as 911. I am talking about people who interpret a multitude of apparently unrelated events as elements of a secret plot being carried out by a super-intelligent, ultra-effective, Will of some kind.
The appealing thing about conspiracy theories is that they express truths that mainstream opinion pathologically ignores. Apparently unrelated events indeed are profoundly connected; no issue is discrete in the way the news seems to imply. Furthermore, ‘The System’, that conspiracy theorists put so much time into interpreting, really IS often malevolent, and it DOES seem to single out certain groups for especially poor treatment, American Muslims being a case in point.
If you were an American Muslim I think you would feel compelled to try to understand the degradation of Islam in your culture, not to mention ‘your’ countries disastrous hobby wars against predominantly Muslim countries. One way of understanding all this would be to claim that the whole situation, from world stage to personal experience, is ultimately all the work of a single cabal of bad-guys who are relentlessly plotting the demise of Islam.
Islam would become an island of purity struggling to survive against the endless nefarious ploys of this half-hidden, barely human, other.
This is precisely the kind of interpretation that Anders Behring Breivik held. Only Breivik’s ‘other’ was not the decadent/demonic west, it was some kind of Muslim-communist-multiculturalist hairdresser’s network, and his ‘island of purity’ was not Islam but sliced white bread or something. But, I hope you agree that essentially Breivik was in the same game as the Boston bombers.
So shouldn’t the Tsarnaev brothers be united in our minds, not with other Muslims with whom they share little, but with fellow violent conspiracy theorists such as Breivik or Timothy McVeigh?
‘MUSLIM TERROR SUSPECT’ could easily become ‘CONSPIRACY-THEORIST TERROR SUSPECT’
Not that I want conspiracy theorists to be discriminated against, it just strikes me that this is simply more accurate reporting.
Conspiracy theorists are often outsiders, and, not fitting securely into society, they find themselves asking critical questions of it. Conspiracy theorists are often those born with the restless spirit of revolution in their loins. However, unlike authentic revolutionary movements, conspiracy theory is a dead-end that leads either to inaction or to pointless violence.
This is because, by offering the simplistic comfort of a single, coherent Will ‘behind it all’, conspiracy theory turns The System (meaning society, which means people) into an inhuman tool of this Will. But the system is not the tool of an invisible Zionist underlord, It is just the sum total of all the actions of normal people. The System is just what happens when you have billions of people living: they make a system.
It is not usually a very fair one. The rich people are rich and the poor people are poor. Our current system here in the capitalist west is oppressive, unjust, and pretty much suicidal. But, crucially, its terrible short-comings are not the result of gleefully evil world leaders; they are the result of the fact that, all of us, in our efforts to survive and succeed, keep reproducing an oppressive, unjust, and pretty much suicidal system.
The really scary truth that conspiracy theory refuses to confront is that we are doing all this by accident.
I have read enough conspiracy theory to know that, whoever is writing it, it always takes away someone’s humanity; it will tell you that Obama is a robot, or that the Queen is an alien. It might denigrate Catholics or some other category of people to the extent that the are ‘all the same’, and thus totally dehumanised.
It is very common to read long passages that describe the masses as ‘asleep’, or as ‘zombies’; basically as less than conscious in some way. The conspiracy theorist has woken up, he knows what is going on. The others are more object than subject.
Philosophically speaking, Islam affirms the absolute, divine, immutable, sacred humanity and equality of every person, everywhere, forever. Conspiracy theories on the other hand, told two vulnerable, confused young men that actually those are not people watching a marathon – they are sheep; so hopelessly bound up in the Matrix of the Zionist–Illuminati–MTV propaganda nightmare that they can be guiltlessly destroyed.