A Non -Western Voice
By Irina Malenko
"Non-Westerners of the world, unite!"
Since the 11th of September events in America the media are full of condemnation and condolences.
What I had hoped them to be full of, was the simple question: "Why?"
Because without asking this question the world is going nowhere.
What I feel after the 11th of September here in Ireland, is exclusion and discrimination. No, I am not a Muslim and I do not look much different from the Irish people. And yet, there is an invisible division line, sadly, created by the majority of the Irish people, perhaps, even not realizing it. It is their division between "us" and "them", "non-Westerners", on behalf of the "civilized" West.
They demand – yes, demand!- us to grief for the Western innocent victims while themselves, they didn’t have a single SECOND of silence for non-Western innocent victims of the Western governments who were and still are being murdered "in the name of democracy and freedom".
If you don’t bow to this demand of compulsory extra-grief – and I refuse to grief more for one sort of the victims than for another!- you are labeled as "uncivilized" or even "terrorist".
Can you imagine Iraqis or Yugoslavs demanding from Westerners to grief for their loved ones? Even though they have undoubtedly more moral rights to do so.
I can’t. That must be a prerogative of "civilized" nations!
Where were you with your "civilization" when your own governments in cold blood murdered Iraqi and Yugoslav children? Where were others of you when your governments were applauding to these killings?
I feel sick to my stomach watching oh so many times how Bill Clinton who can never wash off his hands all the innocent blood that he has shed around the world in his 8 years in the office, was cheered and greeted in Ireland as "The Peacemaker".
Let’s face it: our, non-Western victims, do not count for the majority of you. You don’t even like us to say how we feel about it. We are supposed to mourn only your deaths.
If they do count – and I mean not just for the small groups of courageous Westerners who are raising their voice against the current barbarity of the "civilized" world, but for all those Irish people who had their 3 minutes of silence on Friday, 14.09- , if they do, where are you now, when even more innocent HUMAN BEINGS are being slaughtered? Simply because they were "unlucky" to be born outside of your "civilization".
With all its beautiful talks against racism (even though Durban has pretty much shown to the world who is who on this issue!), the West divides nations into categories even after death. It invented 2 sorts of victims. Did anybody notice that, apparently, there is the 1st class victims: those from the rich countries who deserve minutes of silence, mourning days, candle light vigils, tears and millions in solidarity donations - and then there is 2nd class, "the rest of us", - "the collateral damage", as they nicely and civilized put it here.
What I am about to say, is not going to make me very popular here. But my pain and my dismay at the double standards of the Western general public, are too strong and it hurts too much to continue to keep quiet.
Ashes of the "collateral damage" of your civilization are knocking into my heart.
It is apparently "OK" to kill the innocent "in the name of democracy and freedom". It is "OK" to kill the children of one nation "in the name of human rights" for another. Is that what your "civilization" is about?
People of Afghanistan now are yet another "collateral damage" to the most of you. Just like in 1999 during NATO aggression against Yugoslavia *(if you still remember it!), now we are being told the same fairy tales – that this is "not the war against the Afghani (Yugoslav) people, but against terrorism (president Milosevic)".
Whom do they hope to fool? It is the people, not the leaders, who are dying daily. Just as the terrorist acts in America weren’t "the war on the American people", but on their leaders’ policy – yet, those leaders are still alive and kicking, while nearly 6000 civilians have vanished…
Where is the difference?
The difference is in the Western public opinion on different values of different nations’ human lives.
I can only imagine how furious not just the media, but the ordinary citizens here would be if anybody would have called the American 11th of September victims "collateral damage" in the global fight against Western domination and Western state terrorism.
American terrorist Timothy McVeigh has used the term "collateral damage" for his own American victims and was immediately condemned by the outraged Americans: how dared he, a private terrorist, to compare his American victims with some "uncivilized" non-Western victims of his state counterpart?
TO SUGGEST THAT NOT ALL HUMAN LIVES ARE OF THE SAME VALUE, IS NAKED RACISM.
Yet, the Western governments and media are not just suggesting it: this is their preconception of the world. It is clear as daylight from the actions – no matter what they say. This is an axiom for them, something that doesn’t even need a proof. That is why their own leaders whose true place is the cells of Scheveningen jail in Holland, in the defendants’ box of the Hague tribunal, are still being cheered and greeted as "peacemakers".
After the 11th of September , when we are forced "to make a choice" : either to be with Mr. Bush and his understanding of freedom (that is, freedom to bomb any other nation, without any need for any international law, and to threaten anybody who disagrees) or else…, I feel increasingly that I am not with the West on this one.
How can I be? I was just shown once again that myself and people like me, are not equal. That for far too many Irish people it is only "an enormous tragedy" if there are people of Irish origin among the victims (what about enormousness of the tragedy in Rwanda?!)
I am a non-Westerner here. It was not my choice to feel this way. Just like any human person, I felt a shock when I saw other human beings jumping off the skyscraper on the 11th of September. I felt pain for their families because I know what it’s like to lose somebody you love. Now, finally, Americans as a nation feel that too. But what is their reaction?
The reason that I feel a stranger here now, was the choice of those who have no respect or compassion for the dead ones of other nations. For the victims of their own governments in other countries.
It was the choice of those who can throw McDonald’s food that is left over, into the bin, cheerfully shouting: " This is for Ethiopia!"
We, non-Westerners, have less and less choice in this world, since the continuing destruction of any decent alternative that we had, to "The Western Way of life" that is being forcefully imposed on us in our home countries.
What are our choices? Either to flee our homes and to come here, where we live so often in hostility while creating wealth for the West, or to die slowly from poverty, crime, sicknesses, diseases and oppression at home, under our own comprador governments, because of the debts they made to the same West, in order to pay for their own luxury lives.
Aha, there is also a new alternative now: to be bombed to pulp by a deadly mixture of ultra-expensive missiles and "humanitarian help" "in the name of civilization". "Civilized" nations need to restore their economy from depression, you see, - and a war is the best way to do it….
Let me tell you something. This is NOT "retaliation".
If it was right and just to "retaliate" this way for crimes against humanity, the whole West should have been leveled to the ground by now.
What we are witnessing, is last century’s imperialism on its way back – under that brand-new smiling mask of "Civilization". Sadly, it seems that countries that weren’t imperialist in the past and that are even now still partially colonized, are also joining this "crusade".
Retaliation? What retaliation? Remember, looking back at the part of your own history, which you refuse to recognize: we didn’t start the fire!