#NotInMyName is a well-intended initiative by Muslims who wish to reassure the world that not all of us are raging extremists who want to see communities burn to ashes. But that’s the problem. In a symptomatic reading of the many sincere apologies coming from young and old Muslims, one should not focus on the overtly stated text but what has not been said in those apologies. What you don’t see is that these messages are coming from harmless men and women who simply want their humanity to be registered in the reactive and hyper-alarmed Western world before they are made to pay for a group that, ironically enough, came into existence as a splinter faction when the United States invaded Iraq. What you also don’t see is that these messages shy away from stating the fact that the biggest victim of ISIS is not the United States or the collective West but the average citizen in Iraq and Syria. Stating this is an offence to American political sensibility, a faculty that endlessly amazes me with its parochial view of the world it inhabits. A haunting image of a masked Muslim man attempting to behead a western journalist injects horror in the Western imagination but if you go back a bit into the past, not many people remember British Royal Marines beheading indigenous communists of Malaya. The methods implemented in taking a human’s life is identical and yet the reactions are polar opposites. In the latter case, majority of the West has little to no memory of such a massacre.
Take it this way: In 2011, white men constituted over 69% of those arrested for urban violence and yet black men made up for the majority of the prison population thanks to the American prison industrial complex. The majority of school shooters and mass murderers in the United States are white men (97% of them being male and 79% being white) from upper-middle class backgrounds. But for some curious reason, Twitter or Facebook or even your favorite news channels have not seen a flood of apologies from white men under the hashtag #NotInMyName. I already expect indignant comments to tell me that these men were lone cases who had mental disorders and no friends because it’s the go-to reason when a white man decides to shoot schools up. Unfortunately, brown and black men cannot use the same excuse. Furthermore, white communities do not worry for their well-being when a white person is indicted with a crime the way non-white communities do. Similarly, when American soldiers go on killing sprees in Afghanistan and other lands under siege, we do not witness social media inundated with American soldiers tweeting #NotInMyName. If anything, we rarely hear of such bloodsport. When Mike Brown was murdered by officer Darren Wilson, we did not see white Americans tweet #NotInMyName to highlight the utter barbarity of Wilson’s racially motivated attack. But we did see over $50,000 donations go to Wilson and the cash came out of white pockets. This list goes on and so does the violence but the apologies never make an appearance. I, for one, am waiting.
Let me make it clear to anyone expecting an apology from me: There is none.
I will apologize for ISIS when every single American apologizes for the production of the War on Terrorthat, like the brilliant Iraqi poet Sinan Antoon says, is the production of more terror and thus, endless war. I will apologize for ISIS when every single white American apologizes for the mass incarceration of black and brown people in the United States. I will apologize for ISIS when I see American men and women post lengthy and introspective apologies for what the US Empire has done to the world, including my native country, since its very advent. I will post an 8,000 word apology when English people email me individual apologies for what the British Empire did to the subcontinent. I will carry a banner around Union Square that reads “I condemn ISIS as a Muslim and everything else you think I’m responsible for because I share an identity with someone else” when I start seeing white Americans wearing shirts that read “I condemn the KKK, slavery, plantations, gentrification, the genocide of Native Americans, the internment camps for East Asians, the multiple coup d’etats my country facilitated abroad, the other 9/11 that Chileans suffered and yet everyone and their mother forgot, Christian fundamentalists who can’t pronounce Mohammad but think all Muslims need to be racially profiled and segregated from the rest of America and a lot more as a white person.” I won’t limit this to whiteness only; I will apologize when every single ethnic, religious group apologizes for whatever someone did simply because, under this debauched logic, they owe the world an apology for sharing an identity. When I start seeing these apologies, I will apologize too.
Until then, kiss my ass.
Full post can be read here: No Apology
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