Yesterday afternoon, I was talking with a colleague about where the world was headed. We concluded that the emergence of far-right violence, whether in the East or the West, was to be expected.
On the global stage, Europe is disintegrating under the boot heels of a resurgent Fascism, the US is about to elect either a warmongering neocon or an openly racist and sexist buffoon. Islamophobia is at an all time high, and ISIS is continuing to wreak havoc. Under the combined onslaught of militant Islam and NATO intervention, the Middle East is fast becoming a wasteland.
In our own small corner of the world, a group or groups unknown, that may or may not be working under the directions of, let’s call it Big Jihad, are systematically targeting religious minorities, activists, intellectuals, bloggers, and dissidents in general. Law enforcement has responded with what can only be called a tidal wave of arrests, the effectiveness of which it is still too early to comment on.
So far, it seems that all we are feeling are the stray mosquitoes – we are still not in the middle of the swamp.
Then last night happened.
Once upon a time, Big Jihad was satisfied with its “small” targets; and when it wanted to make a splash, its rage would normally be targeted at the artist in us (remember the Ramna Pohela Boishakh attack). And yet something was different about last night. In the middle of a conversation, my friend commented on how “Western” this attack felt.
That’s it, isn’t it? Yes, there are echoes of Mumbai, but this was an attack on…a bakery? A coffee shop? A restaurant? That’s the kind of thing we are used to seeing in a European capital, not a Southern megalopolis. Who is the target now? In place of the artist, is it the consumer? The well-heeled? The white under our brown?
Is it meant to scare us? Or our guests from around the world? Is it meant to destabilize? To slowly slip the country away from the flailing hands of our government?
Or is it meant to set the scene for a new imperial adventure? Far fetched, perhaps, but the amount of screen time devoted by CNN does not bode well.
What it is, I do not know. But I do know what we don’t need right now.
We do not need a surveillance state. We do not need a police state. That has never worked. And it never will.
We do not need the red, white and blue. We do not need a US base here. We do not need Dhaka to become Baghdad.
Yes, we know that this is not Islam. But that isn’t, and never has been, the point.
What we need is to answer a (evidently not so) simple question: who is killing our brothers and sisters; our guests?
Is it the destitute, with nothing to live for but the promise of a better life after death? Is it the desperate, heart raging against those who have? Give them some rice to eat. Give them work, and the promise of a better life in this world, not the next.
Is it the lost, the empty, those who have the material, but not the immaterial? Those who yearn for a center, an idea? Meaning? Show them that meaning can be found, even in a world without a center. Show them that the world is beautiful.
Or is it the puppet masters, those who would kill their country men for foreign gold and oil? Cut off the money, and you will cut off their heads. In fact, cut off their heads too.
But in all of this, let us not forget who we are. We are musicians and singers, dancers and painters. Scientists and writers, thinkers and leaders. Architects and builders, designers and dreamers. Fighters, healers, protectors and martyrs. This is who we are. This is who we will always be. You cannot take that away from us.
So fuck you ISIS. And fuck you too, America. We will deal with this. On our own, in our own way. Without letting go of what makes us, us. We will fight, and we will win. Singing. And dancing.