Terrorism and Representation

The vitriolic hatred toward Muslims and ignorance of Islam being spewed from the mouth of bigots upsets me. It upsets me because it is entirely too reminiscent of the ‘Jews are a sickness on the national body’ garbage propagated by anti-Semitic malefactors and other assorted scum in the past and today among the neo-Nazi and white supremacist imbeciles currently infesting humanity. The hatred of a group based on a perceived ‘race’ bound together by a religious ideology is a good way to spawn another genocide and I would prefer such a thing never happen again. It also upsets me because it is an indictment as to the wretched state of journalism and rhetoric in the US.

The US media develops a cultural narrative at the expense of accuracy. When a white and/or culturally Christian person commits a terrorist act there are always elements among the national news outlets that insist his actions are the result of ‘mental illness’ and that he is a ‘lone wolf’, but when an Islamic person commits the same kind of terrorist act then that person is portrayed as indicative of the entire Muslim religion and all Muslims. Part of this narrative is the deliberate eliding of counter-terrorist actions by Muslims, or the fact that Muslim terrorists kill more Muslims than any other group.

For example, American journalists lavishly described the horrors of the massacre of European tourists in Tunisia by Muslim terrorists but unlike its European counterparts few of the US media outlets ever bothered to mention the fact Muslim hotel workers formed a human chain and used their own bodies to protect the tourists and prevent further fatalities.

“A survivor of the massacre in Tunisia has revealed local hotel staff members formed a human shield on the beach in a heroic bid to protect tourists from the rampaging gunman. John Yeoman, 46, said Muslim staff members from the Bellevue Hotel told the gunman he would have to kill them first as they formed a human barricade between the shooter and Western tourists.”

When terrorist Seifeddine Rezgui began his heinous murder spree, “tourists fled in terror, while Tunisian staffers ran the other way to confront him. Lifeguards dashed to help the wounded, motorboat operators made daring beach rescues, and hotel staff braved bullets to shepherd wounded tourists to safety. The slaughter was terrible, but would have been many times worse without such bravery … “Our guests work hard all year, they choose to come here for their holiday, in this way they help my country,” said lifeguard Eitham Ben Aisha. “So when my guest is in trouble, of course I help.” … Mohammed Dabbou joined the human shield that faced the gunman, saying he acted out of pure instinct. He and his comrades were all that stood between the gunman and hundreds of tourists scattered farther down the beach. “I said to him [the gunman] ‘if you want to kill somebody, here we are’. There were several of us, we made that human chain. We said ‘to hell with you, you cannot pass, if you want to kill the tourists. I threw my phone at him, it was all I had.” … Looking back on the day of the attack, he says he felt not fear but anger as he witnessed the slaughter. “I wanted to kill him. My Qur’an, my prophet Muhammad, they say that I must protect these people who are my guests. This is the real Islam, not this terrorism. That’s why I said ‘kill me if you want’.”

Other Tunisian heroes described what they did when one of the terrorists tried to kill more European holidaymakers:

Ibrahim al-Ghoul, an 18-year-old paragliding instructor … ran towards the massacre while it was still under way, helping to form a human shield to block the gunfire. “At that point we opened our breasts against the bullets,” Ghoul told the Guardian. “I felt he wouldn’t shoot at so many Arabic people in front of him.” … entertainment organiser Yassine Sadkaoui [recalled] “Someone from the Marhaba had shouted over to me: ‘Some people are still alive. Come on! At that moment, it was destiny. It didn’t matter if you got killed or not.” …  Anis Gamaoun, a waiting supervisor at the Palm Marina said the gunman moved calmly back down towards the beach. “My understanding is he was someone who has a mission, his mission was finished and he was waiting for someone to kill him. He could have killed us all if he had wanted to,” said Gamaoun, a 39-year-old father of four, adding that he would have rather Tunisians died. “It would have been better than killing guests.”  Minutes later [the gunman] was killed by police at the end of the street, but not before a resident had dropped some tiles on him from a rooftop.”

The Muslim terrorist who slaughtered so many innocent people was a monster, but he was not representative of Islam any more than terrorist Dylann Roof was representative of white people, Christians, Southerners, or gun owners. We, all of us, need to remember that.

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