(Content Note: racism, eliminationist violence, white supremacy, terrorism)
Because terrorist attacks such as yesterday’s Oak Creek shooting are things which leave more thoughts than my limited powers expression know what to do with, I instead leave you with the thoughts of smarter, better people than me.
Mitt Romney [emphasized by me for uniformity] calls the shooting a “senseless act of violence,” which, as I’ve previously noted, elides the fact that, in a frame of racist eliminationism, a crime like this absolutely “makes sense.”
Unequivocally, the sensibilities by which such a crime not only “makes sense” but is considered eminently reasonable, or even heroic, is racist, violent, eliminationist, and vile. But we can’t pretend that particular brand of sense-making doesn’t exist.
Somehow, it seems, [the alleged (*1) shooter, Wade Michael Page ] had become convinced that these people, these peaceful families, were his enemies. He had no basis for deciding this because it was, in fact, not true. These people were not his enemies. Nor were they the enemies of anyone else. And yet, somehow, this man got it in his head that they were — he somehow came to believe that they were an enemy, a threat, a menace to be countered with sudden, lethal violence.
And we all know that “somehow” is not a mystery.
That somehow is a multi-billion dollar industry. The leading figures of that industry are respected, powerful, wealthy people who have grown rich and famous through an infotainment empire that pours gasoline with one hand while shooting sparks with the other — all while denying responsibility or culpability or any association at all with the fires that “somehow” keep erupting.
The crimes of white supremacists are not exceptions and do not and cannot exist in isolation from more systemic forms of racism. People of colour face legislated racism from immigration laws to policies governing Indigenous reserves; are discriminated and excluded from equitable access to healthcare, housing, childcare, and education; are disproportionately victims of police killings and child apprehensions; fill the floors of sweatshops and factories; are over-represented in heads counts on poverty rates, incarceration rates, unemployment rates, and high school dropout rates. Colonialism has and continues to be shaped by the counters of white men’s civilizing missions. The occupation of Turtle Island is based on the white supremacist crime of colonization, where Indigenous lands were believed to be barren and Indigenous people believed to be inferior. The occupation of Afghanistan has been justified on the racist idea of liberating Muslim women from Muslim men. Racialized violence has also always targeted places of worship–the spiritual heart of a community. In Iraq, for example, the US Army accelerated bombings of mosques from 2003-2007 with targeted attacks on the Abdul-Aziz al-Samarrai mosque, Abu Hanifa shrine, Khulafah Al Rashid mosque and many others. And so I repeat: the patterns of hate crimes have a sense, have a logic, have a structure – they are part of a broader system of white supremacy.
(If any of the writers would like for me to remove these passage, or feel I have violated their copyrights, let me know.)
This was not an unavoidable tragedy, nor was it one for which no lessons can be drawn (although the lessons, in this case, are ones many people, including some who pretend otherwise, already knew). Claiming that there is no context for this, that it exists in a vacuum and that therefore nothing can be done in order to prevent it from happening again is dishonest and irresponsible in the extreme. My heart and thoughts are with those who lost loved ones and/or the sense of security to which they have every right to, and my contempt is with those in power who are either dishonest or silent about the reasons for this catastrophe.
(*1) : Journalism/Legal question: Okay, I know the proper protocol is to describe suspects as “alleged [type of criminal]”, even when guilt is beyond reasonable doubt; does that still apply when those suspects are dead?