In the stampede to defend and extol western values – whatever they are – against the onslaught of barbarism, it should be recognised that the principles of freedom and equality have never applied to all in the west except in the most formal sense. The criminalisation of communities of colour (and the Irish in Britain) long preceded the war on terror and will, unfortunately, survive it.
Fascism is once again a mainstream ideology in Europe, and Muslims are among its principal targets. Knowing what the odds are for black and Muslim people to be stopped and searched, the ramifications of a “don’t stop, just shoot” policy do not bear thinking about. “Terror,” explains the anthropologist Arjun Appadurai, in Fear of Small Numbers, “opens the possibility that anyone may be a soldier in disguise, a sleeper among us, waiting to strike at the heart of our social slumber.” If such an atmosphere prevails, every brown skin will be just a “cleanskin” (an undercover terrorist not known to the police) waiting to happen – and the #blacklivesmatter slogan will shift from an issue pitching civil rights advocates against local and federal US law enforcement to one of global, geopolitical inequalities.
Those who might insist that racial sensitivity is a luxury we cannot afford at such critical times should realise that it is precisely the trust of black and Asian communities that is most needed to combat this particular fundamentalist scourge. Moreover, if unity against terror is genuinely what we are aiming for, it cannot be achieved by forcing some to live in terror of the state so that others can enjoy the illusion of security – we’re either all in this together or we’re not. Finally, the murder and humiliation of innocent people abroad at the hands of western forces is partly what has brought us to this point, helping to mobilise large numbers of disaffected Muslim youth. Being as callous and careless at home as we have been abroad will hurt, not help.
--Gary Younge for The Guardian. Read the article in full here.