Extremists are generally accepted as being bad news by most people who regard themselves as reasonable or moderate.
Jihadists, such as those making up the murderous Islamic State, are probably the most well-known extremists in today’s world but they are by no means the only ones; neither now nor in history.
In earlier times, fundamentalist Christians found themselves in violent conflict with rebels in Syria; the white-supremacist Klu Klux Klan burnt crosses and carried out terror campaigns mainly in USA’s deep south; and both republican and ‘loyalist’ paramilitary organisations killed and maimed in Northern Ireland. Of course, the most renowned and successful act of terrorism by an extremist group was the 9/11 attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon, Washington DC.
Along with the other plane hijacks, the effect of flying two air liners into the towers was devastating. Thousands died on that sad day, not only many who worked there but also hundreds of firefighters who entered the buildings to try and save people.
And we have seen extreme terrorist groups such as the Red Brigade and Black September. It was the latter group that was responsible for the atrocity involving the kidnap and subsequent massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and one police officer at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. This horrendous event is firmly etched in the memory of those who were around at the time.
To a lesser degree, we have seen American citizens angry at the killing of black people by white police officers. This has given rise to a protest group ranged under the banner of ‘Black Lives Matter’. Some of their protests have included a chant “pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon”, referring to killing police officers. That is a terrible thing to incite. There is no way that I can condone violence of that kind.
While I am reluctant, as a British citizen, to comment on domestic issues in the USA, for what it’s worth, I really do need to express my own views. Right here, right now.
Of course black lives matter, how could anyone argue otherwise? But so do Asian lives, Oriental lives, white lives and so on. In short, all lives matter or should matter – not just black ones. It might be that what they really mean is that ‘black lives matter too’ because they don’t believe black people get a fair deal right now.
Veering off the subject slightly, it is amazing to me that society can allow organisations that are distinguished by race or gender. In the UK, we have a Black Police Officers’ Association, an Association of Muslim Police Officers and Women’s organisations of all three of the main political parties, for example. Could we have a White Police Officers Association or Men’s sections of political parties? No? Why not? Simply because White and Men’s would be considered racist and sexist respectively, whereas the Black, Muslim and Women’s groups are seemingly acceptable.
Well, at the risk of utter condemnation from those who disagree, I consider those ‘acceptable’ groups to be just as racist and sexist as the others. And society in general is being hypocritical in allowing such organisations to exist.
Main photo: Firefighters’ memorial at 9/11 Memorial.
Middle: Two pools mark the former locations of the Twin Towers, with names of those who died on their surrounds.
Bottom: Freedom Tower, the new 1 World Trade Centre.
All pictures: Ian Franks, December 2014.