In my weekly column at Creators Syndicate, this week, I analyze the factors that may be driving what I believe is the racism that is driving the Western response to terrorism in Paris and Beirut. Why is Daesh/ISIS terrorism in Paris different from Daesh/ISIS terrorism in Beirut?
By Ray Hanania
It’s a hot topic these days. It seems pretty clear that the West, such as in the United States, is reacting differently to Daesh/ISIS terrorism in Paris, France than it is to Daesh/ISIS terrorism in Beirut.
I think part of the problem is racism. Americans, and much of the West, don’t care about Arabs, even if during the Beirut terrorism the day before the Paris terrorism three Americans were killed in Beirut. It’s hard to believe that racism, bigotry and politics mean more to mainstream Americans than the lives of three Americans killed in the Beirut terrorism that pretty much was overshadowed and engulfed in the world-wide obsession with Paris.
But racism isn’t the only factor.
I think another factor is the Arab and Muslim worlds themselves. The dictators and the tyrants have brutalized the Arab and Muslim people. We’re not allowed to think freely. Free speech is often not free in the Arab and Muslim world. Even among some extremist American Arabs and American Muslims, the idea of an open discussion is considered “haram” (Arabic for a “sin.”) The fanatics don’t want an open discussion. Their power comes from bullying and intimidation and they are empowered even more by the fact that the Western mainstream news media pretty much ignores the substantive issues facing American Arabs and American Muslims.
The whole issue of terms like “American Arab” versus “Arab American” have become a focus of extremist rhetoric and attacks not just from the small but loud handful of extremist activists but from so-called professional journalists. They won’t allow even a discussion about the topic and prefer to bully people into silence.
The truth is that the Arab media has failed to put the spotlight on the importance of covering Arab and Muslim victims of Daesh/ISIS terrorism. We’ve played into the hands of the dictators who don’t want the Arab and Muslim public to over-empathize with Arab and Muslim victims of terrorism. It doesn’t suit their political agendas.
It also undermines their controls on speech, expression and opinions.
The only way to put the Arab and Muslim victims of terrorism, like those who died in Beirut on Thursday November 12, 2015 (nearly 40 civilians were killed in the worst terrorist attacks in Beirut since the end of the civil war, including three American Lebanese civilians) is to start a discussion and a debate loudly and widely.
We can’t let the fanatics and extremists shut us up. We need to speak out.
It’s not about whether we agree with each other 100 percent. It’s about whether people with differing views can have a civil discussion. Civil discussion is the foundation of civil rights. If you can’t have a civil discussion, you can’t have civil rights.
Racism is driving the way the West is responding to the Daesh/ISIS terrorist massacres in Paris on Friday Nov. 13, 2015, but it’s not the only factor.
The Arab World and the Muslim World need to cleanup their act when it comes to silencing the fanatics and extremists, and when it comes to discussion, dialogue, debate and free speech.
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