“It is only the small groups, who know that they cannot get sufficient popular support, that resort to methods of violence, imagining in their folly that they can gain their ends this way.” — Jawaharlal Nehru
The BBC’s historical news programs are quite excellent—I just finished listening to a piece about the London terrorist bombings of 2005, while eating breakfast. A London resident, originally from El Salvador, talked about her experience of being in a car on the London Underground that was bombed and hearing this took me back to that day (and the day before)…
People tend to be quite taken aback when they learn that the majority of individuals on Texas Death Row have many far Right Wing viewpoints on issues concerning society, politics, religion, etc. Sad, but true. I specifically remember the day of the London bombings because the day before I had engaged in a debate with a guy here concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the general state of US relations to the Middle East and Southeast Asia, which basically consisted of me attempting to disentangle a convoluted web of xenophobic, racist and illogical nonsense. The next day the terrorist attacks occurred and this dramatically inflamed the bigoted mindset of the person I had the discussion with the previous day.
Thinking back on this reminds me of several things concerning political violence. Islamic terrorists obviously haven’t learned this yet, but violent acts of terrorism are never going to work—whether that be violence directed against U.S. interests abroad, attacks on U.S. soil, bombings of anti-extremist governmental entities in Pakistan, sectarian violence in the Middle East or…whatever. I find violence reprehensible from a moral and philosophical standpoint, but it’s also a strategically flawed position as well.
There are many reasons for this. One of the most striking is simply that the militaristic power of terrorist groups is ridiculously miniscule compared to that of governmental firepower. I recently heard a news piece that included a part of a speech by a radical Imam, in which he was calling for more 9/11 style terrorists acts in order to “bring America to her knees!” Quite absurd. The backlash of September 11th has done far more harm to Muslims than it has to the U.S. government. Underwear bombs can do some terrible damage, but they are certainly no match for battalions of Marines, fleets of fighter jets, fully equipped aircraft carriers, war submarines, stockpiles of missiles and armed, unmanned drones, backed by the support of the very angry revenge-minded masses.
And no major U.S. governmental endeavors can be carried out without a significant amount of public support. Attacks like 9/11 and the London bombings can indeed create a cloud of terroristic fear and even render people frozen with shock and create material destruction, but only for a very short period of time. Then the backlash will occur and as history has shown it will be extensive and absolutely unforgiving.
As with all things, in searching for answers we must look to the root causes, and in reflecting on all this I can’t help but think of understanding—or lack of understanding, actually. How much of the world’s problems go back to absence of understanding between two parties? Yes, I know it’s much more complicated than that but the need for greater non-violent conflict resolution skills in our world is certainly something to think about. And work towards.
In the Spirit of Ahimsa: With Strength & Love
NOTE: Volunteers for Robert Will type these handwritten updates that he sends from death row. Typos may occur and should not be considered to be the work of the author.