Globalizing the Margins: From Christchurch to El Paso, From Kabul to Baghdad

It has been a bloody weekend here in the United States. We have had two mass shootings in the space of 24 hours. And the new normal continues. The normal that immediately looks for mental health reasons for a mass murder whenever the perpetrator is white. The normal that echoes across television screens telling us that “we don’t know why he did it.” And the normal that allows the person who slaughters black and brown bodies to be arrested peacefully while black and brown bodies are beaten, shot, annihilated at traffic stops, in playgrounds, in their own apartments.

There’s another aspect of the new normal also emerging. The manifesto.

The El Paso shooter’s manifesto starts with a sentence approving of the Christchurch massacre. He goes on to ramble about how immigrants are taking the place of whites. It’s not the “fresh off the boat” immigrants who do the “dirty jobs” but their children with college degrees taking all the power. The angst of a failed white man fairly leaps off the page. If only they’d stop coming here, I would not have to kill, says the victimized writer of this manifesto. Someone has to do something before we’re overrun by the invaders.

There’s an appeal to other whites to recognize that this was a desperate measure. Ordinarily, these extreme actions would not be needed. A properly functioning government would keep immigrants out, minorities and women in their place. The citizen would not have to take up arms in defense of the country and civilization.

If only they knew their place. We would not have to kill them.

If only they stayed where they belong.

The El Paso murderer invokes Christchurch.

I invoke Kabul, Cape Town, Saigon, and Baghdad, Gaza, Calcutta, Algiers, Hong Kong, and the Port of Spain. I invoke time and place. History and the present. Let us join the dots between the places where we belong and where we are told we don’t belong.

In the places we belonged, first they came as missionaries and traders and then they came with armies and stripped our lands bare. They enslaved our people through debt peonage and in prison camps, as property, shipping them across oceans. To take our lands, to make us work, they subjected us to rape, torture, and death.

Thus, we find Indians in Africa and in the Caribbean, Africans in Europe and the Americas, and we find Native Americans and Africans in reservations and Palestinians in open air prisons. Taken to where we did not belong.

The colonies became the rubbish bin into which every idiot third son who did not belong was sent to make his fortune. Where the sheer mediocrity of a person could be made inconsequential because of his or her skin color. It is in the colonies where stupid people could come and feel good about themselves and superior to all the coloreds.

Is it any wonder that the El Paso murderer finds immigrant children so disruptive? They come to “his” land and make him feel inadequate. They reflect his mediocrity like a pristine, true mirror back to him and he must destroy that mirror and the image. As if by sending us all back, he will be comfortable again–as long as the blacks know their place. He does not want a completely white country, after all someone has to be on the bottom.

Here in the “New World” we are always where we shouldn’t be. The mall, the parking lot, the church, the grocery store, our own apartments, other people’s apartments, schools. During Jim Crow, we were told precisely where we could not be. You could not be in spaces meant for white people. You could not inhabit whiteness. Transgressions and trespasses resulted in death. But then again, a bold look, a bold word also resulted in death. Groups of boys and men were sent to death on the lies of white women. The Scottsboro boys aged 13-20, the Groveland Boys 16-26 years of age, Emmett Till, aged 14.

Minorities of all colors lived the life of the camp. Ghettos, barrios, internment, reservations.

In colonies, it was the casbah, the quarter, the township.

Join the dots. One might think that’s what the white terrorists want: the camp, but I don’t think so. Whether it is in El Paso or Christchurch, Kabul or Baghdad, for the white nationalist, for the colonizer, the white terrorizer, wherever we are, we’re in their way.

It is not that we’re in the wrong place.

It is that we EXIST.