A RESPONSE TO THE EVENTS IN PARIS BY HYSTERIA COLLECTIVE
THE HYSTERIA COLLECTIVE
Explosions, attacks, assaults and armed conflicts are ravaging the world. The ‘international community’ has responded, as predicted, by showing their solidarity with Paris – the city of ‘love’ – which was attacked by what is widely acknowledged as an act of hatred. The ‘international community’ is praying for Paris. World-leaders have made late-night statements – for Paris. People are changing their Facebook profile pictures – for Paris. Parisians are marked safe by Facebook and most hashtags are for Paris. ‘Everyone’ seems to want to take action and comfort the Parisians. ‘Everyone’ wants to be involved in this collective, showing that they belong to the ‘masses’. Some thoughtful voices have been raised but they have found very little mainstream echo. Is that surprising?
The death toll of the Paris attacks virally spreading online illustrates a leakage. A leakage of death, violence and disorder from one part of the world and domestic population, where it presumably belongs, to another, where it does not. Because of this, the events are more ‘news worthy’ than a myriad of others. This is no excuse, but an abrupt illustration of systematic inequality within national and international relations. What has been most obviously lacking from the coverage is the salient point that this is what refugees are running from – this war is not new. We have become so used to violence being contained in the ‘correct’ places or being directed by the state against the ‘correct’ domestic populations that its every-day existence has been made invisible.
In the wake of the Paris-attacks two contained groups have been discursively constructed through the mainstream debate: On the one side the Muslim, racialised Other, and on the other side the white right extremists. The liberal self-congratulatory idea of responding with “love, not hate”, and the insistence that “not all Muslims are like that” is an attempt of distancing oneself from the right extremists through ambiguous purifications. However, we need not be blind to the liberal rhetoric which originates in the very same ideals as the ones of the far right – ideals that make people put national symbols everywhere, shouting ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’– the hallmark of the bourgeoisie – and rant about “clash of cultures.” The attack in Paris must show us that fighting the far right is counterproductive if one doesn’t at the same time fight national-liberal rhetoric.
Moreover, a dangerous depolitisation in the warfare rhetoric deployed by Western leaders (espically Hollande) is flourishing. In this rhetoric the term ‘terrorism’ is deployed as neutral. The usage of the term is founded upon the principle of pure, irrational hatred – violence fared at the hands of death-obsessed, lunatics, breeding hateful beliefs in self-enclosed religious circles. But how does the word ‘hatred’ erase responsibility for the traces of history – the incremental yet considerable causes that have fed this terrible appetite to provoke ‘terror’? The term ‘hatred’ will haunt us so long as it inhibits us from seeing the underlying history driven by the ‘love’ of our nations, our borders, our beliefs that have, in turn, given rise to hate.
The consequences? increased anti-immigrant sentiment (which we can already see); further surveillance (which we can already see); more military involvement in the Middle East (which we can already see).
Paris is burning and the borders are closing
Paris is burning and fighter jets are leaving
Paris is burning and France declares a state of emergency
Paris is burning and François Hollande “is becoming more and more the image of a war president”
Paris is burning and nobody speaks about Calais
Paris is burning and “5,000 bullets are fired in Saint Denise”
Paris is burning and David Cameron begs for war
Paris is burning and a Jewish woman is stabbed, her likeness to a brown Muslim woman apparently showing through
Paris is burning and a young woman in veil is punched and slashed leaving the metro in Marseille
Paris is burning and I see brown faces all over the news and the synapses in my brain trigger “terrorist” “bomber” “extremist” “killer”
Paris is burning and I see white faces covered in blue and white and red and I feel as though they have drawn a line in the sand and I have stepped over it
Paris is burning and I see windowless houses and children’s bedrooms raided in “the grim estates that breed terrorism”
Paris is burning and no one is reporting on ‘migrant’ deaths anymore
Paris is burning and I know that “We are here because you were there”
Paris is burning and all I can think of is more than two ‘migrants’ for every one Parisian who will die of exposure or drowning or hunger every month in Europe this winter and their names will not be reported as ‘one victim one tweet’ – “Restauranteur. Aspiring actor.” “A boy with deep kindness.” #enmémoire” – Maybe more.
But Paris is not burning at all. We are not killing Hijabs we are killing people. We are not fighting terrorism, we are fuelling imperialism and capitalism and sexism. We bite our tongue to stop from screaming and blood fills our mouth and it tastes like cheap oil that we cannot spit out.