Daily Archives: October 12, 2017


Desensitised to Tragedy 356

Islamophobia has become so insidious, so all-pervasive, and so powerful in media culture that there is virtually no concern expressed at the probable killing in a US drone strike of a 12 year old British child, Jojo Jones, whose short life was so spectacularly horrid through absolutely no fault of his own. Child soldiers in conflict are a dreadful problem. I tried in The Catholic Orangemen of Togo to convey the extremely powerful emotions I experienced when faced very directly with those who had seen atrocities and themselves been forced to kill at primary school age.

But nobody in their right mind thinks that the answer to child soldiers is to kill them. If it is correct young Jojo is killed, I mourn him, the childhood he hardly knew and the potential for realising the dreams of normality such children always have.

But Jojo is one of many thousands of children killed by the US in its “war on terror”, including the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is only the dehumanising of Muslims that causes the near total lack of visible western empathy for the nine young kids under 13 killed this year in one US raid in Yemen alone.

All the indications are that it is US doctrine that in targeting terrorists their immediate family are “fair game”. When US citizen, 16 year old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was killed by a drone in Yemen in 2011, the Obama administration claimed it was an accident. It as a peculiar “coincidence” that in another “accident” his eight year old sister Nawar was also killed by the Americans as one of the nine infants killed in the raid just referenced. To kill one young sibling may be a misfortune. To kill two begins to look like carelessness. It amazes me that anybody believes these actions in any way combat terrorism. Rather they inspire it.

The UK does not have the death penalty. We have now also become habituated to execution of citizens by drone with no judicial process. Sally Jones appears to have been a disturbed and deeply misguided individual, but that does not justify her planned and deliberate killing by the US government. There is no evidence she was when killed involved in an any act likely to cause the imminent death of others. But society has become so callous, there is almost no reaction to her death on human rights grounds.

Terrorism is not an existential threat to the UK. It remains the case that it is one of the least likely ways that you might die; far less probable than drowning in your own bath. Our perception of the threat is magnified by the horror of the act and the way the media portray it. Most certainly it is not a threat that justifies abandoning our respect for human rights and the process of law. The standards of society have slipped in terms of respect for the sanctity of life; or at least the sanctity of Muslim life.

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