I overheard one of my colleagues at work the other day. He was listening to a news report about the prospect of British jets bombing Isis targets in Syria.
“Let’s bomb them,” he said.
I often hear him saying such things.
He’s not a right wing bigot or a racist, although he might be Islamophobic. Many people are Islamophobic these days.
I said, “that’s exactly what they are saying about you right now.”
He turned from his frame and looked at me sceptically. “So what would you do?”
Unfortunately my answer was a lot less succinct than the three words which had summed up his argument.
I said we should cut off their funding. I pointed out that Isis appear to be backed by Turkey, one of our allies. I tried to tell him about the Saudi connection and the export of their Wahhabi philosophy.
I reminded him of the million or more dead Iraqis and the devastation of that entire country; about Western backing for Islamic extremists in Libya, and the use of militant jihadists to destabilise Syria.
It’s a whole complex argument which isn’t easy to get over when you’re attempting to tie up bundles of mail ready to take out on a busy morning at the Royal Mail.
I remembered a quote from Noam Chomsky which I thought might clarify things: “Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.”
I didn’t say it though.
I realised I would have to explain who Chomsky was.
That’s when it struck me. The division isn’t between the right and the left: it’s between the informed and the misinformed.
If you don’t know who Chomsky is, then you are misinformed. It is a measure of the failure of our media that so many people are entirely ignorant of the argument, going back to the Vietnam War, and articulated most clearly by Chomsky, that the United States is, in fact, a global expansionist Empire.
Without knowing that you cannot possibly understand the real meaning of the events unfolding in our world today.
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