Why Massacres Happen

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Memo to Terry Jones: DUDE, YOU HAD A LOT OF HELP.

Time to dust off an old favorite, YAD Talking Points! For the next week or so, fuckers are going to be arguing over Terry Jones and the Afghan protests. You may listen to these people, and know, in your heart, that they are deeply fucked in the head. But if you're not sure exactly how or why to navigate this particular political minefield, feel free to use these talking points in your water cooler conversation, newspaper comments thread, or family gathering.

For background, Florida Jesus-freak Terry Jones, who made headlines last fall when he threatened to burn a Koran to mark the anniversary of 9/11, waited six months for everyone to stop paying attention to him. Then he did it anyway. And the Arab world found out about it. And in Afghanistan, riots sparked by the burning led to the murder of United Nations staff and continue across the country today. So here's what you need to know.

Terry Jones caused this.

Here's the deal. Most of the arguments will be around words like "blame", "responsibility", and "fault". But you can't deny that Jones caused this. He did something offensive and provocative. The people he was trying to offend and provoke found out about it. Those people were offended and provoked. The effect was intentional and deliberate. Terry Jones caused this.

Violent protest is bad.

Duh. The UN aid workers were trying to help. They shouldn't have paid the price for Terry Jones' rampant bigotry and willful ignorance. Blind, raging mob violence against random targets is neither appropriate nor acceptable, even if Jones burned the Koran half a world away in his safe Florida church/compound like a pussy.

The riots have nothing to do with "crazy Muslims".

Here's the deal. There are plenty of Muslims in Florida. There are plenty of Muslims within driving distance of Florida. Have any Muslims in Florida rioted? No. Have any Muslims in America rioted? No. Have any Muslims in the entire Muslim world other than Afghanistan rioted? No. Admittedly, many of them are busy with other protests and rebellions at the moment, but still. If it were a Muslim thing, like Jones and the Islamophobic right would have you believe, then the riots would be a lot more violent and a lot more widespread.

The riots have almost nothing to do with burning the Koran.

And that, right there, is the core of it. The part everyone's ignoring. The riots are happening in Afghanistan. Not anywhere else. So, let's see. Is there anything about Afghanistan that makes it in some way different from the rest of the Muslim world? Something about it that may make its culture more desperate, more violent, more likely to go apeshit when poked with a stick?

I mean, they have been bombed and occupied by America for TEN FUCKING YEARS NOW. They've lived in abject poverty for decades before that. When they're not being rolled over and occupied by foreign powers, they're ruled by drug kingpins and religious fanatics. It's a miserable fucking existence, and it's been miserable for generations. So the next time some fat, comfortable, white American douchebag tries to tell you "You don't kill a bunch of innocent people just 'cause one guy burned a book", keep in mind that nearly every single person in Afghanistan would trade places with that asshole on the worst fucking day of that asshole's life in an instant.

Terry Jones is nothing but a 12-year-old with a box of fireworks. He lit one off to impress his friends and look cool, and it landed in the middle of a dry, dry forest and set off a wildfire that'll end up claiming the lives of a lot of innocent people. But Terry Jones didn't dry out the forest. Terry Jones didn't create the conditions that turned Afghanistan into a tinderbox. That doesn't happen overnight.

In both the metaphor and the real situation, the tinderbox happens because of years of neglect, abuse, and stripping the area of its resources for greed and personal gain. So yeah, the mob killed the people and Terry Jones incited the mob. But in the real world, the culpability works its way down the causal chain to American policy in general and American attitudes in general.

And let's not forget that it's the same jingoistic assholes who insist that we bomb countries like Afghanistan "back to the Stone Age" that are pointing at Afghanistan now and giving them shit for not being as civilized as we are. Well, that's what bombing people back into the fucking Stone Age does. You take away their civilization, and they become less civilized. Funny how that works.

So, who should feel bad?

Like when Gabrielle Giffords got shot, I don't believe in assigning blame as such. But when a horrific event happens, the people involved with it, or who might have egged it on, either intentionally or just as part of a worldview that markets dormant mob-mentality for political gain, should fucking well feel bad about it. So in the case of the Afghan riots and the UN massacre, here is the official You Are Dumb Dot Net Hierarchy Of Motherfuckers Who Should Feel Bad If They're Even Remotely Human:

  1. The Afghan mob
  2. Terry Jones
  3. George W. Bush
  4. The rest of the Bush administration
  5. Barack Obama
  6. The rest of the Obama administration
  7. The cynical forces in Afghanistan that prey on the fears and emotions of their people to stay in power. Who aren't all that different from the four groups that precede it in this list.
  8. Jingoistic fucks, mostly on the right, who used 9/11 as an excuse to vent their xenophobic military power fantasies, waving flags and wiping their asses with Osama Bin Laden toilet paper.
  9. Cowardly Democrats who refused to stand against this lizard-brain butthurt when it counted, and who, for the next decade, decided Afghanistan was "the good war" and allowed it to continue.
  10. The people at Charlie Sheen's "Torpedo Of Truth" tour. Who will get their own full comeuppance tomorrow in a column that will be surprisingly thematically similar to this one, but I bet nobody in those theaters have given a single fucking thought to Afghanistan since, oh, 2004.

If you're on the list, then enjoy feeling morally superior to everyone above you on the list. But don't let that keep you from fucking well feeling bad about where you are on it.