I'll admit - I've been out of the loop these past few months. A lot of things have happened and there's a lot of ground to cover, but playing catchup, let alone keep up with a fast-paced news cycle that has a life expectancy shorter than Michael Sam's NFL career, takes time and effort. But I'll do my best, which leads me to ISIS.
Or IS. Or Islamic State, as it seems to be called at the moment. According to the mainstream media, it's a terrorist group that's shaped up to be the worst thing that's happened to the world since...well...this happened.* According to Gary Brecher, Pando Daily's (and formerly NSFWCorp's) very own War Nerd, it's just a collection of sullen Sunni Arab combatants who weren't happy about winding up on the losing end of the latest rounds of sectarian warfare. Sorta like the various Confederate revanchists who weren't happy about the dream of the southern planter class going up in smoke.
See that analogy? IS reminds us of a lot of things. The most recent antics of IS reminded Chauncey DeVega of a little thing that most good Americans have worked hard to studiously ignore, which is the lengthy reign of terror suffered by black Americans all throughout the post-Reconstruction and pre-Civil Rights era. Domestic terrorism, even under the guise of white anti-federalism as expressed by the likes of Timothy McVeigh, isn't really called that. That's a title generally reserved for leftist groups and people of Middle Eastern persuasion or non-Christian religious mores.
The people who were responsible for the 4,743 officially counted lynchings that occurred between 1882 and 1968 - good, upstanding Christian Americans one and all - wouldn't have considered themselves "terrorists," nor are they referred as such anywhere other than the occasional comment on a black-oriented blog. Make no mistake - those acts were every bit as much terrorism as the act of hurling two fully-loaded jets into the tallest skyscrapers New York City had to offer. Both acts were designed to instill sheer terror in those watching or even hearing about them.* The main difference is that 9/11 was designed to strike terror into the heart of all Americans. With few exceptions, the average lynching struck terror in the heart of minority groups who weren't fortunate enough to have their rights as citizens and human beings respected.
It's that comparison that apparently drew the ire of the War Nerd:
For people like Chauncey’s fans or Moyers’s admirers, nothing that happens outside the US matters at all. Only our sins are important. So a man burned alive in the Syrian desert becomes nothing but an excuse for a sermon on American History X, because only America matters, only America’s sins are real.
Brecher's beef lies with how, along with Bill Moyer, DeVega seemingly discounts Muadh al Kasasbeh’s death in favor of expounding on America's own flaws and ills. It's something that many of the more conservative types accuse liberal minded folks of doing - gleefully pointing out how America's just as bad as the bad guys it fights. It's no wonder this apparent failure to acknowledge this act and its ramifications in the broader geopolitical world in favor of domestic navel-gazing somehow struck a nerve:
Try imagining Chauncey or Bill minimizing an IDF phosphorus bombing in Gaza the way they trivialize this IS pyro video. Phosphorus burns people alive just as horrifically as kerosene, but would Moyers or de Vega trivialize Palestinian kids burnt alive with phosphorus by saying, “Remember the KKK! We’re just as bad!” Never. Because everyone would scream, quite rightly, that they were trivializing the IDF’s atrocity.
But both these fools spend thousands of words trivializing IS snuff movies, because…ah, it’s too stupid to paraphrase, but it goes something like this: “The US is the root of all evil, so IS is only acting out because it’s a victim. We did something bad to it somehow.”
If Brecher thinks DeVega is minimizing terrorist actions overseas by throwing up comparisons to lynching, then he should probably step back and consider this from the perspective of the average black person, a person unencumbered by the sectarian shit-kicking antics of a dying terrorist group in a land beset by sectarian strife and international intervention, but sorely affected by an entire institution seemingly sanctioned to commit a much quicker and more solitary form of lynching.
To the average black person on the street, the doings of IS pale in comparison to what they've directly and collectively experienced at the hands of America's own oft-acknowledged terrorist groups, with plenty of ongoing help from state institutions that continue to instill terror in black Americans to this day.
To say that DeVega gives few damns about what the IDF does to Palestinian children because what the NYPD does to young black Americans by far and large somehow overshadows the former is...well...a damn sight moronic in its own right, as DeVega himself points out. As for the distress over how lefty liberals are loath to go all-in on IS-bashing, Moyer's biggest fear is how it might lead to a renewed occupation effort by U.S. forces - the very thing that many on the left had fought tooth-and-nail against during the salad days of Iraq.
I respect the War Nerd's work, as it offers a no-bullshit perspective of current events (which is why I enjoyed NSFWCorp in the first place) and the occasional no-holds-barred takedown of some of the more egregious assholes who've somehow managed to actually get paid for their fluff work (I see you, Jen Percy). But he's off-base on this one. Even the commentariat over at Pando's calling foul.
* That's right Mack, just crack open the hornet's nest with your bare fist.