Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
Al-Guardian, Al-Reuters, Al-BBC. You see all of these names used across right-wing and pro-war discourse. And they are use derogatorily. In other words, suggesting that an organisation is a ‘bit Arab’, as the prefix Al- is used, is to be taken as an insult, as a means of undermining integrity.
Why do we accept this without comment? Indeed, why do we accept this without outrage? If a writer were to make the name of a political opponent sound stereotypically Jewish in order to insult, we would see that writer as a straightforward anti-Semite. If we heard a speaker rework the name of an organisation in order to make it appear to his listeners to be, say, African, or Oriental, in the expectation this would damage the credibility of that organisation, we would mark that speaker as a straightforward racist.
Why do we allow the same sort of rhetorical defamation to be visited upon Arabs? Why do we even entertain the opinions of writers and speakers who use such formulations? Is anti-Arab racism perfectly acceptable?
Occupation works much more smoothly if the people who you dominate can be thought of as inferior, as barbarians, as dispensable. So, while my name might be Al, can we ask how a man with the name Corporal Payne
was allowed to run interrogations?
That is a poor joke. I am not really a fan of nominative determinism. I don’t follow the logic of Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Unbreakable, when he says; “I should have known from the beginning what my purpose was. Do you know how I know David? Because of the kids. They called me Mr. Glass.”
What I do believe is that invasion and occupation was always going to result in murder, rape, and torture. Not because man like Corporal Payne are in any way special, but because they are not. Not because the British Army, or the US Marines are especially bad, but because they are armed forces that exist as part of social, economic and political structures that differ little from those that organised imperialism and domination in previous, and not distant, generations.
The laughable pro-war left thought that this invasion, this occupation, could be different, not because they have altered the structure of British society, but through disempowered goodwill and cheerleading, all while the men and institutions with real power are the heirs (where they are not identical) to those that conducted bloody murder and oppression across the globe.