By Victoria Ross
We watch proliferating terror and violence. Mourning and fear come, too. What’s the remedy? More of the same?
Peacemakers on retreat were playing a game where the caller, standing in the middle of a circle of seated people, says, “The Big Wind Blows on anyone who …” All for whom it’s true – including the caller – must find another seat. The person left standing is the next caller.
My friend said, “The Big Wind Blows on anyone who has ever been part of a terrorist organization.” I was shocked. Why did he ask that? And was the room bugged? Would the FBI think that meant we’re terrorists? Why would he ask that?
Since I wasn’t the only confused-looking person, he said, “Well, I was part of a terrorist organization: the U.S. military.”
Federal law defines terrorism as dangerous acts intended to intimidate a civilian population, influence government policy or affect government conduct “by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.”
Some examples are:
• Our weaponized drone program, where, per intercept based on leaked U.S. internal documents, nearly 90 percent of those killed were not the intended targets.
• Night raids in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, which terrify surprised families and whole communities. War is state terrorism.
• “Policing” murders, especially of black people. People of color, activists and innocents know and are highly intimidated because even moving (Amadou Diallo), questioning (Sandra Bland) or failing immediate obedience (12-year-old Tamir Rice) – could result in one’s getting killed.
Terrorism is killing and/or instilling fear. Let’s kill the people who are killing people? Which causes more people to kill? How can that work? It doesn’t make sense. Restraining and preventing aggression is necessary. Instilling fear and Islamophobia promotes a police state.
The U.S. treatment of whistleblowers confirms governmental intimidation. Hero Edward Snowden caused policy improvements, yet he faces espionage charges.
State terrorism is still terrorism, and like violence, terrorism begets more terrorism. Do we need more or less violence? Hope we can agree we need less.
We need faith, courage and resolute adherence to principle. Let’s work cooperatively, fearlessly, to mainstream nonviolence, including petitioning our government. You can join organizations like the Western New York Peace Center and allies on specific campaigns.
Let’s be the change we want to see, using diplomacy, fostering civil society and working with others for the common good. Come join us on Thursday at 3 p.m. in Niagara Square if you agree.
Victoria Ross, Q.C.S.W., L.M.S.W., M.A.L.D, is executive director of the Western New York Peace Center.