The saying goes that the greatest trick the devil ever played was fooling the world that he doesn’t exist. I’ve long said that the greatest trick the state ever played was fooling the world that only its existence could keep the devil at bay. The devil in this case being a constantly evolving crop of scapegoats often labelled terrorists. Then again the Old Testament interpretation of the devil has always been the ultimate scapegoat. Lucifer’s great crime was trying to mimic god’s omnipotence with a failed coup. God cast the rebellious angel out of heaven but allowed him to continue to play god in hell because his existence served as the ultimate excuse for god’s unlimited power. My childhood priest, Father Foster, probably wouldn’t agree with this interpretation, but as a budding young anarchist, this is the way the tale sounded to me. The devil’s very existence was defined by god and god in turn needed the devil to justify his power. And this is what I see when I look at the issue of terrorism.
Terrorist attacks aren’t prevalent in peaceful nations. No one’s blowing up Lichtenstein. It’s violence that perpetuates violence. So it only seems natural to me that America, a state with an epic reputation for violence, both at home and abroad, should become a magnet for copycat killers. The United States makes over a hundred attempts to whack Fidel Castro and Lee Harvey Oswald guns down the president. The United States turns the jungles of Vietnam into a massive killing field and Charles Whitman turns the University of Texas into a free fire zone. The United States burns a compound full of women and children alive in Waco and Timothy McVeigh blows the Murray Building to smithereens. The United States hollows out a skyscraper in Serbia with hellfire missiles and our former client in the Balkans, Osama bin Laden, takes down two towers with hijacked commercial airliners. The United States wipes out an entire village in Yemen with a Navy Seal death squad and a white nationalist dressed in Navy Seal cosplay turns himself into a one man death squad and wipes out a bustling Walmart full of brown civilians.
I may be something of a wonk when it comes to mass violence, it’s a peculiar hobby that goes back to my peculiar Catholic childhood, but I take very little pride when I tell you that I could quite literally go on like this all fucking day. As Malcolm X astutely observed about the Kennedy Assassination, these are all simply tragic cases of the chickens coming home to roost.
It’s amazing to me how many scapegoats the mainstream media can drum up for these atrocities, from Grand Theft Auto to Marilyn Manson, without drawing the most blatantly obvious conclusion that those living beneath the yoke of the most violent empire on earth might be a bit more susceptible to becoming copycats of state violence than most. It’s less amazing to me that the agents of this state fail to make this same conclusion once you realise that their very existence relies upon this demonic proliferation of mass violence. This becomes a sort of twisted self-fulfilling prophecy machine that the state inspires terrorism with acts of terrorism launched to combat terrorism. But with the very American reaction to the latest spree of mass killings, we see a new and dangerous trend. The state has finally given birth to the ultimate scapegoat, the Alt-Right lone wolf.
In the past twenty years, America has used its reactionary War on Terror to rapidly expand the police-warfare state by scapegoating the world’s fastest growing religion of Islam. They skilfully used the attack that their own barbaric foreign policy invited on 9/11 to justify an endless forever war across the ever-expanding Muslim world. Perhaps even scarier is the Orwellian nightmare state created on the home front, which subjects us all to near full spectrum surveillance 24/7. While the FBI kept up a steady quota of Muslim headhunting by entrapping mentally feeble brown kids online, most of the police state’s attention was directed towards the existential threat of radical tree-huggers and wily peace activists. But in our PC age of racial sensitivity, this brown-baiting bait and switch has become an increasingly tough sell even for the most prudent statist lunkhead. The spectre of the white nationalist is the perfect upgrade. After all, even child pornographers are sickened by Nazis.
But the mainstream interpretation of this right-wing radicalism is recklessly vague. With every virtue signalling call from Time Magazine to Elizabeth Warren to declare all-out war on the radical right there is often a half-whispered addendum of ‘…and other anti-government extremists.’ But what constitutes an anti-government extremist? Well, dearest motherfuckers, whoever the fuck you want, or rather whoever the fuck our lethal executive office wants. Me, you, Ilhan Omar, Black Lives Matter, with a thin skinned lunatic like Trump in the White House, whoever criticises his tie or suggests he pees sitting down. The Resistance clamouring for these knee-jerk state reactions to state inspired violence seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that they’re merrily building their own fucking caskets. Just as Obama’s hope-and-change posse handed an orang-utan an Uzi by allowing Barack to turn the Oval Office into a drone-strike internet cafe, today’s self-proclaimed leftists are pushing for sharper fangs on the state without even considering the possibility that they could get bit.
But what is even more terrifying than further empowering our hollow-point presidency is the fortification of the permanent state in the police/intelligence community. According to disturbingly influential Russophobic crowd exciters like Rachel Maddow and Alexander Reid Ross (no relation, thank Christ), the entire spectrum of the anti-authoritarian fringe from left to right is part of one big John Nash-style spiderweb of red-brown Putin puppets. Everyone from Ron Paul to Jill Stein is a part of this neo-McCarthyite orbit and we’re all connected by dots to angry white men in white sheets. You don’t have to be an Alt-Right nut-job to recognise how dangerous this philosophy has become, especially once it’s made official state policy. After all, according to this increasingly mainstream conspiracy theory, anybody who doesn’t vote for a Bush or a Clinton is now an honorary Alt-Right nut-job anyway. See you at the next cross burning.
At the end of the day, all acts of mass violence are acts of terrorism, regardless of whether they’re committed by skinheads or cops, and the last time I checked, the cops have a way bigger body count of brown and queer civilians. Do we really want to give them Bazookas to chase after their own shadows? Does anybody honestly believe that they would even be the primary targets? I ain’t biting, dearest motherfuckers and neither should you. In our current national hell, all non-state terrorists are convenient scapegoats for the state that births them. And any war on terror is bullshit.
CounterPunch.org, September 6. Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System.
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