I’d spent that day with my cousin, Moses Ghirmay, experimenting with fusion recipes for his restaurant, 1909. I heard the news while still reeling from the reports of the refugee ship sinking off the coast of Syria, many of whom were my own tribesmen, attempted to collect myself from the shock of yet Another Lampedusa, and then set to work in the kitchen. And then posted results of our labors.
I did happen to notice the next day that I’d lost quite a few “Facebook Friends,” which surprised me as that usually only occurrs after I post a personal political opinion that some users find for whatever reason unpalatable – which I don’t usually mind. I’m perfectly comfortable losing the type of FB Friend who feels compelled to Unfriend because someone posts a status with a position inconsistent with their own, but was surprised that folks would have such a seemingly visceral reaction to pics of Habesha-Korean Food Fusion.
A couple of concerned calls and a few inboxes message I received the next day shed a bit more light on the subject (one of which I’ll paste following this message). It seems that some considered it disrespectful to post pictures of food, which might be considered flippant or even celebratory, during a time of mourning.” In short, I was specifically asked why I’d fail to demonstrate solidarity, or to discuss the impact of what had occurred during this time of crisis.
My first reaction was one of indignance; “Where do people get the balls and sheer audacity to tell anyone else what they can/cannot say and/or post?” I do believe I understand a bit better where they were coming from now. While I’m certainly flatterred that anyone cares what I might think about the subject, the truth is that I was rendered more or less speechless by the atrocity. What is there TO say?
We live in an era of accelerating religious radicalism. And while these acts are continually stamped with the term of “Islamic Fundamentalism” by politicians with an obvious agenda of their own, it’s my belief that these horrific acts have precious little to do with Islam. Rather, they are the actions of a desperately margianlized few who either turn to extremism as a means of gaining a voice, or who use Islam as a flimsy pretense to take what they want by force from incredibly vulnerable people in incredibly unfortified locales. You may refer to them as “ISIS, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, or Al Qaeda.” I simply consider them “Murderers, Child Molesters, Brainwashers, Thieves and Rapists.”
My principle concern in saying all this is not to preserve the dignity of Islam. You may have noticed by now that I wipe my ass with political correctness. It’s to express the importance of keeping matters in perspective. And to thereby deal with them most effectively. Force should certainly be met with force. But doing so calls for more precise attacks on cells and installations. Boots on the Ground. Every civilian killed create exponentially more Jihadist recruits.
Make no mistake, shit can’t go on like this. As misunderstandings continue to escalate on both sides of the Atlantic, so too does the potential of yet another war. One that may be encouraged by those seeking to profit from yet another conflict on OUR (the American) side.
Let us not forget our own role in all this. These migrants who make that incredibly perilous journey do so because their circumstances are so unbearable that they are willing to risk a strong probability of death rather than continue to remain. They risk capture, organ harvest and ransom by Bedouin kidnappers, vicious abuse and rape as domestic laborers in Arabia, and even drowning at sea. Like many of us, or our parents during the Derg, they’re taking a long shot in hope of a better life.
Let us Mourn. Let us Pray. And then let us Act to make things better.