There are some of you who will read this headline and immediately think of airplanes flying into the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001, or the more recent attacks in Paris. But terrorism, according to the Miriam-Webster website, is defined as “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal”.
Although, in recent years terrorism has been applied mainly to Muslim extremists, according to several sources, including the FBI, terrorism is not defined by an individual’s political or religious beliefs but it is the tactic of using violence to scare people into doing what you want them to do. Therefore, the United States Airforce, dropping atom bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in an attempt to coerce Japan into surrendering was an act of terror.
The Amritsar massacre, in which British troops fired on unarmed Indian civilians to discourage the Indian Independence movement was an act of terror. And therein lies the problem, the world economy, the governments of powerful nations, where forged by acts of terror. The use of the word terror when describing the actions of Islamic radicals is simply the big army pointing their finger at the little army and saying; “It’s okay for us to control the world through the threat of violence, but it isn’t okay when you do it.” The bottom line is that we are being hypocrites when we use the word “terrorist”.
This is not to say I condone the acts of a handful of violent men who happen to be Muslim. The reason why I say “handful” is because, praise be to Allah, the majority of Muslims on this planet prefer to live in peace with the rest of us. So it is only small group of angry individuals that make me think twice about booking a flight to Paris or New York or Mumbai.
Given the choice I would prefer to live in a peaceful world in which I don’t have to worry about being strip searched because of my physical appearance. Let’s be honest, most people from Southern Europe, Latin America, North Africa and Central Asia could easily be mistaken for a “Middle Easterner” and I would rather not have to deal with the prospect of airport security having the right to confiscate my belongings as part of the “Patriot” Act.
So how do we put an end to the violence? The solution is simple, we stop teaching our children that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems. What do I mean by this?
Let’s look at “America’s War on Drugs”. There was an epidemic of drug abuse in the United States, some might say there still is. Instead of focusing on helping drug addicts overcome their addiction, the U.S. Government sprayed poisonous chemicals on the rain forests of South America then proceeded to initiate a war in the cities of Colombia to kill the “evil" drug dealers. The DEA eventually helped the Colombian police to track down and execute the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, but has this stopped the Gringos from getting high?
If a man gets drunk and drives into a school bus resulting in the deaths of several children, should we drop bombs on the Napa Valley Vineyards?
Of course not, but we teach our children to be hypocrites when we use our military to solve our dependency on cocaine, heroine and petroleum. We also teach our children to be hypocrites when we allow them to be entertained by violent video games and movies. I know a lot of people who would never allow their child to watch the kind of violence portrayed in a movie like Reservoir Dogs but they have no problems with allowing their children to watch Pirates of the Caribbean.
From a moral point of view, this couldn’t be more backwards. The violence portrayed in Reservoir Dogs is less harmful because it comes across as ugly, unpleasant and, because of some brilliant acting, very painful. In the movie “Born on the Fourth of July” a single bullet cripples a young man and ruins his life, but in Pirates of the Caribbean canons are fired, muskets are discharged, swords are brandished and the pretty heroic characters, the characters that we are intended to identify with, emerge from the battle unscathed. This is dangerous because it teaches children that only the “bad guys” get hurt when nations go to war, and what child raised in a self righteous God fearing all American home thinks of himself as being the “bad guy”?
In our minds we are the heroes of the movie. Ironically, the members of Al Qaeda and ISIS are no different. They believe what they are doing is God’s will. We see them as brainwashed fools, but are we any less foolish?
It is easy to be manipulated by the media. Hollywood movie producers are experts at understanding how images, music and stories affect us emotionally and psychologically. Most adults are swept into a suspension of disbelief as soon as the lights dim and the music swells, so what chance do impressionable young children have?
The answer is they don’t have any chance at escaping the propaganda, and so they grow up to become adults who spend their time and money creating pirate sims where they can role play and fantasize about being rapists and murderers. Because this is what the pirates were, they were terrorists, who used violence to take control of the Caribbean then imported slaves from Africa to work on tobacco and sugar cane fields in Jamaica and Haiti.
Now I realize that most of you, when you role play as swashbucklers and buccaneers, don’t think of yourselves as being rapists, terrorists or slave owners but that’s what the pirates were. Of course there is the argument; “It’s just a game. I’m not actually hurting anyone.” But what you are doing is propagating the belief that, the way the Pirates behaved was not only acceptable, it was also heroic. And it is that belief that causes young men to join the military and travel to across the world to drop bombs on babies in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. And, in some extreme cases, it is the belief that violence is heroic, that causes some young men to show up at their high school with an assault rifle.
We have to stop thinking of terrorists as being alien beings from another world. The terrorists are members of our global village, they are our children and we have taught them, by the way we do business, the way we govern and the way we entertain ourselves, that violence is noble.
So, unless you think it’s okay for someone to start up a Second Life sim where people can role play as hijackers and suicide bombers, maybe you should think twice about the games you’re playing.
What are your thoughts? Use the comment box below.
*this article is the opinion of the writer.