Been thinking about terrorism, for sadly obvious reasons.
I suppose to begin with it’s necessary to arrive at a working definition of terrorism. I’m going to do this without resorting to a dictionary, because of course. So, terrorism:
- dislocated, spatially or temporally, from an active battlefield
- performed to further some ideological purpose
- via the inspiration of fear/anxiety in some larger group
Is that sufficient? Is that too constrained? Are there well-known acts commonly classified as “terrorist” that wouldn’t meet that definition? I think for the moment we can say that’s a reasonable definition.
So there’s this dialogue happening around the murders in Chapel Hill. It goes like this: One side says: If it were a Muslim killing three [white | American | Christian | etc] people, everyone would be screaming terrorism. And then the other side says: Dude was clearly crazy, yakked off about parking spaces, hated all his neighbors, threatened everybody.
The thing that I have missed so far, in this discussion, is much, if any admission by anyone that even if he was a lone angry maladjusted dude upset about parking, even if he had murdered Normal White Christian People, it is still terrorism.
But but but but, sputter the rationalists, what is the ideological purpose?
The preservation of white cis-het male supremacy. To wit: You don’t fuck with the white man. The white man built this country (he says, and maybe even believes), and the white man deserves your fucking respect. The white man has lived through a LOT of SHIT in his life so far, but goddamnit you can only push him so far. And if you push him too far, well, HE JUST MIGHT SNAP.
This ideology, of course, is so pervasive, so thoroughly integrated into the fabric of American society, that it’s invisible to [other white] people. So pervasive that it doesn’t require coordination, doesn’t require any kind of formal statement on the part of the Patriarchal Terrorist that what he’s doing is for the good of the patriarchy.
It is sufficient merely to periodically remind everyone that some unknown percentage of [mostly white] American Males are potentially armed and batshit crazy.
This is the thread that runs through such a horribly large percentage of the multiple murders that have happened over the past couple of decades. It is not even necessary that the person be deemed sane or responsible, provided that at least one witness can be found who will say “I can’t imagine why he would do something like that.” HE MUST HAVE JUST SNAPPED.
All that is necessary is that the gun industry be allowed to continue to supply an infinite number of firearms to anyone who wants them. This is essential. There was probably a time when the Church, the Government, the General Social Order were united in their resolve to preserve patriarchy & white supremacy, and that unified locus of control made it less necessary for Every Single Man to be individually armed.
Nowadays, the patriarchy’s hold on those institutions is marginally less secure than it once was, thereby necessitating the diffusion of the threat of deadly force outward into the general population of men.
Am I suggesting that every gun murder committed by a man is an act of terrorism on behalf of the patriarchy? Well, yeah, actually, now that I think about it, I am. It’s almost impossible to avoid that conclusion, in fact.
Footnote to this: The Chapel Hill killer’s favorite movie, per his ex-wife, is the Michael Douglas movie Falling Down, you know, the one about the ordinary middle-aged law-abiding white man who one day JUST SNAPS.
In other news, I have a cold. I didn’t watch the Grammys. I no longer have an opinion about anything that happened there, even if I maybe had one the other day. I’ve mostly spent the past 3-4 days working, reading comic books, and being horrified by the internet & the outside world.