Challenge for the Concerned Citizen of Planet Earth: Can you go a day without calling someone or some group a “Terrorist” or a “Terrorist Organization”? How about a week? Think you could last a month?
Like a 30-Day Detox Program? Where you only drink wheatgrass?
Let’s examine this three-fold question:
When we call someone or some group a terrorist or terrorist organization, what do we gain in understanding? What do we lose in understanding?
And does what we gain in calling someone a terrorist offset what we lose by calling him or her a terrorist?
I am of the opinion that the ubiquitous use of the term “terrorist” is making human beings dumb…and dumber. We simply lose our critical capacity—right then right there, in that very moment—for examining any “terrorism” episode within the wider socio-cultural, historical contexts inside of which a “terrorist” act takes place.
In other words, to understand “terrorism,” I think, we require a Planetary Context for human civilization as a whole. And that’s a past, present and future hermeneutic, baby.
And to acquire a Planetary Context, each one of us must become more intelligent, of course, which means being less gullible and therefore less lazy in our analytical thinking.
Hence, the 30-Day Terrorism Juice Cleanse.
The first step is not using the word.
You can’t use the word “terrorist” for 30 days.
And when you see or hear the word “terrorism” used, you have to question it. You gotta scrutinize. Analyze and hypothesize. Theorize terrorize. Probe what’s being said and by whom, and you have to scan for all possible motives. You have to take into consideration the largest picture you possibly can. This is your sole assignment. You gotta become a private detective—you gotta Spock it.
Detective Spock on a Juice Cleanse.
‘Tis startling, what happens. We call someone a “terrorist” and we’re done. Finished. Dude’s dead to us… Write them off utterly, delete their soul, the assholes are completely wrong in their entire essence and we can simply move on without any amount of critical thinking expended on the worthless nihilists.
And in that crack of critical thinking, that precious fissure, think of all the multitudinous hobgoblins that can slip through, all the gargoyles and ghoulish motives of this or that political party, or fundamentalist religion, or economic ideology, or racist dogwhistling, or whatever the hell you like. Anything’s possible when you start tossing around the moniker “terrorist,” haven’t you noticed? (Whole nations can be mobilized, e.g., The Iraq War.)
It’s like the most powerful, seductive word on the planet right now. It’s the Rihanna of Words, “terrorist,” and for the last, what, 15 years? Possibly more! (No offense to Rihanna!) The word “terrorist” never stops trending. It’s always top-billing for Google searches, I suspect, right there with Justin Bieber.
And damn if my IQ doesn’t shrink a point or two every time I use it.
What’s worse, we’re no better than copy-cats, right? Because we’re really re-narrating what we heard elsewhere, from a news outlet that called this person or group a “terrorist” or “terrorist organization.” What a beguiling epithet! It gets me every time!
Then, like the superlative, investigative thinkers that we are, we merely regurgitate what we hear from an absolutely impartial news source. (Way to go, college grads!!)
This is actually kind of shocking. Once someone is called a terrorist for killing other people, I then kill them in my mind for being a terrorist.
I objectify them by calling them a name and then I assassinate them by disqualifying their validity as human beings altogether. I categorize flesh and I conceptualize blood. This is what I do.
As I reify and I liquefy, I drink the life out of human beings with my mind when I call them terrorists. I am the Count Dracula of Terrorists.
As a result, all critical reflection is bypassed for the sake of not only convenience, but also because I’m feeling vindictive; I’m feeling vengeful toward the godforsaken terrorists.
I’m bloodthirsty for them.
I commit an extra-judicial killing with my fangs.
I think this makes me a terrorist of terrorists. I’m picking them off, one by one, using my violent brain, while security officers and soldiers in the outside world are doing the same.
In other words, each time we use the word “terrorist,” not only is it quite possible that we’re becoming less intelligent, rather than more intelligent, it’s also very likely we’re becoming increasingly violent ourselves, individually and collectively as a species.
This type of mental violence makes other, more helpful mental realities unimaginable, ergo impossible, which means:
Potentially sane solutions to the increasing violence in our increasingly violent world are increasingly shut off by the increasing use of the word “terrorist.” And this trend itself is increasing. Literally, this moment becomes more violent than the moment before when I call a “terrorist” a “terrorist.” Take a moment to introspect, feel how you feel inside.
And of course, we allow our beloved, trusted news sources to enable this shortcut in our analyses; which means, we subconsciously permit the media to enable our cognitive negligence. (No surprise here.)
We’re angry after all… Those damn terrorists!!
F*ck a bunch of thinking! Let’s go bomb a country! Set the helicopters loose!
More violent ourselves… How could this be?
Because actual people are messy and simple categories are easy. Pigeonholing other human beings is so facile it’s culinary finesse, a way to slice’em up and cut’em down to byte-sized chunks for our under-educated mental appetites, allowing us to “make sense” of an increasingly chaotic world by over-simplifying it, by making it tastily digestible.
But we just get dumber. We’re not making more sense of anything, unfortunately, relative to the possibility and feasibility of much, much deeper analyses. It’s not much more sophisticated than name-calling, I don’t think. I can call someone a bad name, but what does that really do? Except give me license to go out and kill them?
How do you solve killing by more killing?
Sh*t would’ve stopped with Cain and Abel.
We’re capable of so much more, I think. Rightfully so. We’re capable of more thorough reflection as individuals. As a species, we homo sapiens deserve critical understanding that’s not short-circuited by the superficial name-calling agendas of nation-states and political demagogues, of fundamentalist propaganda and economic ideologues, of rabid and crazed racist fervor barking in our ears year after year.
I know, it’s nuts, but we can start thinking for ourselves… Remember that?
And we can help each other out, like we should. Right here on social media. Learn from one another, educate each other, it’s the only way. The royal, golden way.
Or, like benighted puppeteers we can stage for ourselves a “Theatre of Terrorism,” wherein we delight in fighting the shadows of evil we cast upon the walls, whilst we gesticulate our fingers terrifically, passion dripping from lips in desperate, anti-terrorist rhetoric, echoes of vitriol the poison in our cold, dark caves, masses oblivious to the blazing, fundamentalist flames behind us.
I mean, we could do this for centuries and not get bored… Haven’t we already?
Hasn’t it been trending for more than 15 years?
Stop using the word “terrorist.” Watch your Intelligence get a work-out. Watch it grow. Feel the muscles of your thinking getting stronger. Drink your wheatgrass. You might just feel a lot smarter after 30 days.
More from Mark Binet:
Black & Brown Genius Running Around Free & Proud.
Author: Mark Binet
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Video Still