Today is a Tuesday. Tuesday 22nd of March to be precise; and this morning, there was awful news of bombings in Brussels.
Loss of life, in any country, is always that – a great loss. I was so saddened by the news and quickly went online to see what developments there had been.
The media’s immediate response was predictable: fear mongering; talk of radical Islam and the “Terrorist”. A Terrorist has come to be a stand alone term in itself, a universalization so common that is now a studied term, a term off of which people make their careers. But what is a terrorist, and is there a back story which we are overlooking?
In the midst of listening to multiple politicians issue a call to arms and a pledge to wage a (never ending) war against the universalized image of “terror”, I saw a clip of President Obama. Speaking from Cuba, standing in front of the American and Cuban flag, he called for international unity in order to fight against terror. I could not escape the irony of the situation. Not so long ago, the U.S. had had a similar enemy: Communism. Multiple battles were incited in the midst of this red fear, all in the name of democracy. Fast forward to today, and America and Europe have a new enemy: the terrorist, the other, the refugee.
I am half Vietnamese and half Jewish. I’m a mixed bag of cultures, traditions and languages. This heritage has pushed me to look deeper at the way in which different peoples are portrayed to me; the way I see people depicted; and how this is subsequently regurgitated by society on a daily basis.
Forced migrants, refugees, religious tension – this could have been my story. It was definitely my family’s story. Yet a narrative of nationalism, territorialism and racism, combined with selective forgetting and belief of “deservingness” creates an “us” and “them” situation.
Interesting links to consider: