John Molyneux on Woolwich: Who are the real terrorists?
The day after a British soldier was killed on the streets of Woolwich in London, President Obama delivered a speech defending the continued use of drone attacks in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The first event was blazoned over the front pages of the tabloid press in graphic images, accompanied by inflammatory headlines about ‘terrorism’ and ‘savagery’. The second was reported as a reasoned defence of a just war.
However it takes only a moment’s thought to realise that far, far more people, including civilians, women and children die from drone attacks – on a regular basis – than have ever been killed by ‘terrorists’ in the UK, let alone in this one incident.
Nor is having a drone or bomb land on your home or wedding party going to be any less ‘savage’ or ‘barbaric’ in the appalling injuries it inflicts.
Moreover the ongoing threat of drone attacks or bombing raids will ‘terrorise’ communities and whole populations infinitely more than any individual attack on a soldier.
Yet drone attacks and bombing raids by Western forces are NEVER described in the media in terms of ‘savagery’ or ‘terrorism.’
This media double standard fed a vicious backlash against the British Muslim community orchestrated by the racist and fascist English Defence League. Mosques across the country were attacked, in some cases fire bombed, and assaults on individual Muslims have soared. (Though it’s important to note that this backlash has been vigorously resisted by Unite Against Fascism and other anti-racists see below). But none of these attacks on Muslims and mosques are described as ‘terrorism’.
It is probably the case that neither the ruling class nor the bulk of its media actually want or support this violent backlash against all Muslims as they would fear turning tens of thousands of Muslims into militants.
So why do they maintain the blatant double-standard? Because they NEED to demonise Muslims and associate Islam, as such, with ‘terrorism’ in order to justify US and UK foreign policy and foreign wars, which in reality are not about terrorism but about maintaining Western imperialist control of oil supplies and strategic territories.
The ruling class try to deny this connection. London mayor, Boris Johnson, even made the absurd claim that there was no link between British foreign policy and the Woolwich killing.
Joe Glenton, former soldier who went to jail as a war resister, answered this nonsense very clearly.
"So at the very outset, and before the rising tide of prejudice and pseudo-patriotism fully encloses us, let us be clear: while nothing can justify the savage killing in Woolwich… it should not be hard to explain why the murder happened. It should by now be self-evident that by attacking Muslims overseas, you will occasionally spawn twisted and, as we saw yesterday, even murderous hatred at home. We need to recognise that, given the continued role our government has chosen to play in the US imperial project in the Middle East, we are lucky that these attacks are so few and far between."
Socialist Worker echoes these sentiments exactly. We are far from defending the killing of soldiers on the streets of London, but we want an honest discussion that roots these attacks in the savagery of Western Imperialist policy and understands the consequences for millions of ordinary Muslims of the portrayal of the killers as animals in the mainstream press.
Racists have attacked two mosques in Bolton, north west England.
Racist graffiti was spray painted on the walls of one mosque while people attended morning prayers on Thursday. “Islam=evil” was also spray painted on the bonnet of one man’s car and “terrorist inside” on the doors.
Another Bolton mosque had dog faeces dumped on its entrance on Thursday lunchtime.
Attacks on mosques in other areas, including Essex and in Kent, south east England, have also been reported. The racist English Defence League (EDL) has called several demonstrations in the wake of the killing in Woolwich.
Unite Against Fascism in Britain is calling for activists to mobilise against the racists. Billie, a young Muslim from Bolton, told Socialist Worker, "Whatever your race or religion everyone who wants to stop the fascists exploiting the situation must unite.
“When the EDL came to Bolton three years ago, we went out there with non-Muslims who have stood beside us day in and day out. We need to come together in solidarity again to ensure the forces of hatred do not prevail.
"We urge everyone to assemble in Manchester and London to make sure that the EDL does not bring hatred to our streets."