Since the horrific and tragic killing of Lee Rigby in Woolwich there have been a number of interesting articles on the left looking at the key issues, including Islamophobia, the nature of terrorism and the record of Western foreign policy. On Lenin’s Tomb, Richard Seymour offered a detailed analysis of the cultural racism behind Islamophobia:
What the race fable tells us, then, is that we belong to an indomitably superior culture that is radiantly attractive to others, part of whose superiority lies in its generosity, its openness, and its ability to incorporate those of lesser cultural breeds – whether through an overly relaxed immigration policy, or through an excessively benign policy of military intervention. It tells us that there are some who, given this priceless opportunity, decline to accept it; they revert to type, repudiate it, and spit in our faces. With few resources, but endless guile, they seek to persuade others of their status also to repudiate the gift, and kill us instead. And in doing so, they come to resemble their kin in the non-West, while ‘we’ resemble ourselves only more perfectly as ‘we’ stoically respond to the challenge. This is ‘terrorism’.
In the Guardian, Glenn Greenwald wrote a thought-provoking piece on the nature of terrorism and how we define it:
The US, the UK and its allies have repeatedly killed Muslim civilians over the past decade (and before that), but defenders of those governments insist that this cannot be “terrorism” because it is combatants, not civilians, who are the targets. Can it really be the case that when western nations continuously kill Muslim civilians, that’s not “terrorism”, but when Muslims kill western soldiers, that is terrorism? Amazingly, the US has even imprisoned people at Guantanamo and elsewhere on accusations of “terrorism” who are accused of nothing more than engaging in violence against US soldiers who invaded their country.
And on the Stop the War Coalition website, Lindsey German argued that peace will never be possible whilst the UK/US continue an unjust foreign policy:
In the end there has to be a political solution to terrorism. But it can only start with recognition of the disastrous effect of western foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia for decades now, exacerbated by the consequences of 12 years of wars. That means acknowledging that those of us who said these wars were not the answer and would make things worse were absolutely right.
Pluto has long published critical and innovative works on the topics of racism, imperialism and terrorism. Below are some titles which readers may find helpful in tackling these issues today.
How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims
Nathan Lean. Foreword by John L. Esposito
Disturbing account of the rising tide of Islamophobia sweeping through the United States and Europe.
“This concise, accessible and illuminating book meets one of the most urgent needs of our time. Lean has provided a compelling counter-narrative that reveals the vested interests and highly organized networks of those who preach the virulent Islamophobia that is not only endangering world peace but is also corroding the tolerance and egalitarian ethos that should characterize Western society. This book should be required reading.” – Karen Armstrong
“Islamophobia is not only about ignorance and fear. Some people purposefully nurture it and use it as a political strategy. Nathan Lean’s The Islamophobia Industry shows what is happening behind the scenes. It is an essential book for anyone who wants to understand the rationale and objectives behind those who foster this new racism against Muslims.” – Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University and author of The Quest for Meaning
Victoria Brittain, Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror
The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror
Victoria Brittain. Foreword by John Berger. Afterword by Marina Warner
Reveals the impact on the wives and families of men incarcerated in Guantanamo, or in prison in Britain and the US, during the ‘war on terror’.
“A searching, sensitive, and wrenching account of the ordeal of the women left behind, their torment, their endurance and courage, their triumphs over the cruel “extension of prison to home.” And not least, a revealing picture of what we have allowed ourselves to become.
“This is a window into an invisible world…a reminder that abandoning normal legal standards has serious consequences for the Rule of Law.” – Helena Kennedy, QC
Arun Kundnani, The End of Tolerance: Racism in 21st Century Britain
Racism in 21st Century Britain
Shows how multicultural Britain is under attack by government policies and vitriolic press campaigns that encourage racism
“Before you can solve a problem you have to understand it. Arun Kundnani not only understands the roots and ramifications of contemporary racism but explains it clearly, linking the local, the global, the political and the cultural. An incisive book at a decisive moment.” – Gary Younge
“The End of Tolerance is an illuminating analysis of the historic development of British racism, its empire and how this has evolved into the current conflicting and confused debates about the demonisation of immigrants, asylum-seekers, Muslims, the war on terror, segration, assimilation, multi-culturalism and Britishness. … Essential resource.” – Herman Ouseley, former Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality
Cihan Aksan and Jon Bailes, Weapon of the Strong: Conversations on US State Terrorism
Conversations on US State Terrorism
Interviews by Cihan Aksan and Jon Bailes
Chomsky, Butler, Finkelstein and other leading commentators discuss state terrorism.
“Terror exercised by states is infinitely more deadly than terrorism by non-state actors. This outstanding book is welcome precisely because it starts by challenging the hegemonic views of both terrorism and democratic power. Nuanced and uncompromising, the interviewers have posed some of the most penetrating and important questions of our time. The answers received will change forever the way we think about terror.” – Penny Green, Professor of Law at King’s College London and Director of the International State Crime Initiative (ISCI)
“A wide range of compelling topics are expertly explored by leading academics. Each is skilfully interviewed by Cihan Aksan and Jon Bailes who also provide an excellent introduction. A job well done. “ – Michael Parenti