26 April 2006

War against what.. or is it who?

So I am back in the UK and I cannot help but wonder the way the world is. I mentioned some weeks back that on the way home I was being stopped and searched rather thoroughly and in rather unpleasant way in the Amsterdam airport, where I was being picked “randomly” from the queue after the officer stared at my Public Enemy hat. On my way back yesterday at the Birmingham International Airport after the passport control I was being stopped again for some sort of a questioning (I was not even wearing the hat this time). I was keeping a close eye on what was going on after my questioning was over and noticed that besides me, only one other person was being “randomly” stopped. Quite a coincidence it must have been because that other person was the only black person in the whole plane.

These kinds of incidents are rather hard to handle. Even if something would seem like evident enough, the other part can just deny it. Then it becomes never-ending yes-no-yes-no-debate in which the other end has all the power in the name of national security. One really wants to avoid being kept longer at the airport, getting on some list of suspects, or being deported. The governments always like to comment that these kinds of things are one-off incidents. So the only option is to do the bare minimum. This whole thing is not to be misunderstood. I am not on the side of violence and killing of innocent human beings but I also see the oppressive side of this situation which some of these “western” countries fail to acknowledge.

In my view what this war on terrorism does to us people, the consumers, going from one country to another is that we get even poorer service that we got before. It gives an open cheque to the custom officers and the police to harass and implement their prejudices. I am waiting for someone to prove me wrong, and I’ll be happy if that happens, but the randomness of these searches and questioning is not based on any statistical science but only one’s assumption on who may hate our freedom.

This is where the “western” world raises its ugliest face of racism. I may be stopped because I am wearing clothes that fall into the stereotype or look like I am trying to smuggle weed from Amsterdam but I can always shave my beard and change my clothes. Although I should not have to and it does not justify the prejudice ,but I could. So it is not really about me. Person with the Middle Eastern characteristics cannot change, no matter what. Neither can the Africans or anybody. And they are not supposed to. But because white Christian harmless looking people are not stopped, these people think it does not happen to anyone. They are the ones saying there is no racism in Europe or North America. They feel that the problem is exaggerated and that there are few exceptions who are racist but that is all there is to it. They are the people who think that racism is only about name calling. The ones who aren’t being stopped and suspected from the early days of childhood until they die. They are the same people who are not calling themselves racist but are not actively condemning these racist acts. The trouble is they, well we, are born in the social structures where racism is so deep rooted that more than half of it is not really seen as racism by people who do not consider themselves as racist. That is not a justification for it.

Quite frankly I think that the governments who are talking about fighting against evil should look into the mirror, have a think, and see if there is something within the structures of their system that is inherently evil and oppressive.

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