What is violence? The word pricks the psyche of mankind for various reasons in the contemporary age.
No individual or sane member of any society on the earth would ever wish to promote it and witness the ghostly face of it, as the consequence is hard to imagine. Man’s attitudes apart toward its perilous outcome, even animal beings despise the occurrence of its terrific ending.
In fact, the very thought of it is hurtful in nature, what to speak of its expression in physical and verbal forms.
Violence in any form whether arising out of altercation between two beings or war or genocide is condemnable as the very motive is to cease life rather than preserve it. No religious or secular belief can ap-prove it what might be the argument.
Does an ill-mannered person less civilized than that of a well-mannered one trigger violence? Is violence inspired by religious motive less humane than that of secular one?
Is violence ignited by an Arab or for that matter by a Muslim less approving than that of a non-Arab or for that matter by an Israeli or an American or a Westerner?
Definitely not, but to some in other parts of the world the parameter to estimate the cost of violence is different. Alas! Humanity is indeed at odds.
Recently a terrific piece of event stunned the world particularly Americans when a plane crashed into a building in Austin that housed the local offices of the F.B.I.
The incident happened on February 18, 2010. The breaking news had all its elements of awe and shock, yet it remained low in public gaze.
What should surprise a common man is that the intensity of attack was fore grounded in the mystery of knowing who did it and why, and then the whole manipulation of media to colour the entire episode from a different angle could be anybody’s guess.
Even the New York Times, a prestigious newspaper and voice of America to the world was taken aback in the way news of assault unfolded with utmost consciousness from local media networks in America.
That is how the whole enigma was headlined by the New York Times ‘In Plane Crash Coverage, Networks Use the Word ‘Terrorism’ With Care’ (Februa-ry18, 2010). A local police chief even went to the extent of stating that the incident was not an act of ‘terrorism’.
It is not the first time America has witnessed such an attack from within by her own aggrieved or disgruntled citizens. One cannot resist from mentioning the name of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklaho-ma City bomber who gave vent to his anger against his own countrymen.
In an essay written from the prison cell, McVeigh dwelled upon the reasons that pushed him on the deadly path of violence. According to him, the cardinal principle of American policy, both at home and abroad, has been its ‘deep hypocrisy’. McVeigh’s observation cannot be easily dismissed. One must not forget that he was a decorated US Army veteran of the Persian Gulf in which he confessed to have lost his morality. He writes:
“The (US) administration claims that Iraq has used weapons in the past. We have all seen the pictures that show a Kurdish woman and child frozen in death from the use of chemical weapons. But have you ever seen those photos juxtaposed next to pictures from Hiroshima or Nagasaki?
“I suggest that one study the histories of World War I, World War II and other ‘regional conflicts’ that the US has been involved in to familiarise themselves with the use of ‘weapons of mass destruction’. Remember Dresden? How about Hanoi? Tripoli? Baghdad?
What about the big ones: Hiroshima and Nagasaki (At these two locations, the US killed at least 150,000 non-combatants – mostly women and children – in the blink of an eye. Thousands more took hours, days, weeks or months to die…
“Do people think that government workers in Iraq are any less human than those killed in Oklahoma? Do they think that Iraqis do not have families who will grieve and mourn the loss of their loved ones? In this context, do people come to believe that the killing of foreigners is somehow different than the killing of Americans?”
Compare the above views of McVeigh with those of Bin Laden. The choice of words may be different, the argument is strikingly similar. When Peter Arnett asked Bin Laden as to why he declared jihad against US, he said:
“We declared against the US government, because the US government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical. It has committed acts that are extremely unjust, hideous and criminal whether directly or through its support of the Israelis occupation…and we believe that the US is directly responsible for those who were killed in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq”.
In the same interview Bin Laden elaborates further:
“…this collapse (of the USSR) has made the US more haughty and arrogant and it has started to look at itself as a Master of this world and established what it calls the new world order…The US today as a result of the arrogant atmosphere has set up a double standard…The US does not consider it terrorism when hundreds of thousands of our sons and brothers in Iraq died for lack of food and medicine”.
From the foregoing, it is more evident that McVeigh and Bin laden share a common ground. The only difference, if any, is that the violence of the former arises out of a moral guilt whereas that of the latter stems from entrenched anger and profound sense of being a helpless victim, real or otherwise.
It, therefore, appears quite enigmatic as to why McVeigh’s act (or an American’s) is often described as an act of “pure terrorism” and that of Bin Laden as an alarming instance of ‘Islamic peril’, ‘Muslim rage’ or above all ‘Islamic radicalism or terrorism’.
Further, the so called liberals across America and Europe do not brand the violence of McVeigh as a case of ‘religion (Christianity) betrayed’ or ‘enacted’ whereas in the instance of Bin Laden the ‘religion (Islam) is betrayed’ or ‘enacted’.
What is the defining line? Is the pilot who flew the plane into a federal building any different from those who orchestrated the destruction of Twin Towers? Is McVeigh any different from Bin Laden? Is violence by the former less wounding than that of the latter?
So long as the violence of one is looked through different prism, the whole political wisdom or drum of fighting terrorism smacks of deeper conspiracy not only against a particular community but also against its own morals to wage a war on terror.
Published online: The article originally appeared in The tripoli Post titled as On Terrorism: Can Violence Be Ever Less Wounding? …http://www.tripolipost.com/articledetail.asp?c=5&i=4186&archive=1