I’ve been reading a lot of articles online lately about how we ought not to joke about social problems such as violent crime, rape, and discrimination. And I would like to point out that I am in complete agreement with the general blogosphere’s disapproval of these jokes. These kind of jokes are inappropriate because they are dismissing systematic problems and abuses of minorities and making it far harder to reform these areas in our social psyche. The systematic dismissal of, say, a rape victim’s case is symptomatic of the patriarchal society we are immersed in. Things like rape-culture or discrimination (racism, ableism, etc.) are institutionalised and so take action that fights the institution to remove, rather than a simple expression of a counter-ideology.
However, terrorism comes into a completely different category.
The goal of terrorism is to inspire fear (terror!) in people and so make them give up some liberties in the interests of security; act in an irrational way; and so give in to the wishes of the perpetrators of the terrorism. In effect, it is a method of subversive persuasion. So (stay with me here!) the mocking of terrorism is a method to defeat terrorism. If we think of Al Quaeda as a bunch of crazed men with beards living in desert mountains building explosive material out of fermented god-knows-what, sending us poorly-edited videos (who sill uses video tapes?) every so often – then, they have, in many ways, lost. They have not inspired paralysing fear in the general population, they have inspired ridicule.
Allow me to clarify:
Joking about the victims of terrorist attacks is not okay because they are victims of an abhorrent and violent attack. Think of it as “love the victim, hate the war”.
Joking about the government reaction to terrorism is equally unhelpful because we cannot ridicule the government out of power because it is an institution not an idea.
Islamophobic (or any other kind of -phobic) joking is not a way to combat terrorism. Rather, by focusing hatred upon a whole generalised group of people, and not just the perpetrators of a terrorist action, the problem becomes institutionalisted. (See above!)
I would also like to point out that it is not just comedy that is needed to completely disable a threat like terrorism (okay, terror as a threat can’t ever really be “neutralised”, but you get the idea…) Proactive and peaceful counter-action is often needed. My overall point is that comedy can take the figurative bite away from the terrorists’ bark.
So, let’s make the not-so-great leap to analogising the image of the Islamic terrorist the media bombards us with, to (say) the EDL (or the Tea Party movement for our friends across the pond). The more that these organisations are seen as idiotic, or preposterous, the less they achieve their subversive aims.
That’s why this is the kind of partisan rubbish I can support: