2013, The Year of the Child

I have been thinking a great deal about children lately [I use the term broadly, as a mother and aunt rather than in strictly terms of age] especially about them being killed, raped and harmed in so many ways. We know its true, that public, collective tears are not for everyone. I read recently that here in the US, in Chicago, 260 school children have been murdered in the past three years.

In 2010, nearly 700 Chicago school children were shot and 66 of them died. Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended a memorial for 260 school children who had been killed in just the previous three years. On several occasions in the past year, tens of people have been shot in a single weekend on the streets of the city. The worst three-day stretch saw 10 killed and 37 wounded in gun fire. But Google the term “Chicago weekend shootings” and the results are far too many deadly weekends to count.

But historically black death, people of colour death, Native American death has never been cause for mourning. On the contrary as Jessie Jackson pointed out after Katrina.. [the US]

..an amazing tolerance for black pain… a great tolerance for black suffering and black marginalization” [Monstrous Intimacies, Christina Sharp]

We witness this not only across cities in the US but well beyond. Technically Chicago is not a war zone – people who live there may feel otherwise, I dont know. But its not the DRC, Palestine or Yemen but still the children of Chicago are being killed and they are not white kids. The children in the DRC along with their mothers are murdered and raped and there are the thousands who are trafficked and forced into armies of war, or labour or sex slaves or all of these. Presidents sit by and deal in arms, African resources and money whilst shedding tears at home. The children in Yemen and Palestine are murdered by drones and missiles on the orders of Presidents, some of who shed tears for some children whilst killing others – it could even be in the same moment.

In an interview with Channel 4, Arundhati Roy is questioned about the gang rape on a bus which led to the death of a young Indian woman on Sunday.   We are told that in India a women  is raped every 20 minutes and that the chance of catching the rapists let alone bringing him to trial is near zero.   Many of those raped are young girls and small children.  But as Roy points out, the army and police routinely use rape as a weapon in places like Manipur and Kashmir and they do this under the protection of the law.  Some say its too much to think of all these children being killed and raped let alone shed tears. And what good are tears anyway? Well its a recognition of their humanity, that they are loved and their death is a suffering. Tears make the connection between your children and other peoples children and that all these children and women are being murdered and raped by guns and other war machines. The international arms trade is very closely connected to the domestic arms trade if not why are the NRA lobbying against the global arms trade treaty?

As Amy Goodman writes in the Guardian

The global treaty shouldn’t be controversial. By signing on, governments agree not to export weapons to countries that are under an arms embargo, or to export weapons that would facilitate “the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes” or other violations of international humanitarian law. Exports of arms are banned if they will facilitate “gender-based violence or violence against children” or be used for “transnational organized crime”.

The treaty deals with international exports of weapons and ammunition, not any nation’s internal, domestic laws that govern the sale or use of guns

Clearly small arms are being traded from the US, most probably from gun fairs where guns are bought and sold freely. Recently Keguro wrote an excellent blog post on Banal Misogyny in which he rightly states

Indeed, the misogyny we inhabit is so pervasive and so unrelenting, that, as I remarked to a friend, Audre Lorde’s essays from the 70s and 80s feel much too present, much too relevant. It is not simply that we are dealing with an ugly remnant that every so often reminds us of an even uglier time. Rather, it is that the ugliness of then, cloaked in masculine benevolence, is too much with us. And we seem to have lost the ability to recognize it, to name it, to respond to it.

I would add that there is a banality about racism and violence so much so that like misogyny, we no longer recognise it and even if we do, every effort is made to belittle the naming and silence our voices. From where I stand misogyny racism and violence are all twisted together by patriarchy .   Jake Appelbaum – founder of TOR and associate of Wikileaks delves further into the bowels of the US patriarchal militarist state as he helps us understand where  they are heading as the age of data retention marks the end of illusionary freedoms. So here’s one example of how it plays out.

The targeting information for the thousands of DRONE killings is fed to the CIA [NSA and all the other members of patriarchal military surveillance state] from surveillance listening points [One is being built in Utah at this moment with relay stations around the US and very possibly overseas in Uganda, Kenya and other AFRICOM friendly states.] and from intelligence factories. In short there is a direct relationship between survelliance and support of straight up murder…..The way the Drone killings are carried out is that the central committee that is those who gets to decide who lives or dies or Obama’s  assassination star chamber – this is just  hop or two away from surveillance. So when you support the surveillance state this is just a stop away from killing children.   [paraphrased]

Just in case readers are unsure that this impacts on their daily lives, Jake reminds us of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill and I will add the Nigerian Same Sex Marriage  Prohibition Bill – both are wholly reliant on surveillance. Yes they may start with neighbours but sooner or later surveillance technologies will replace people and the reporting neighbour will themselves be under surveillance.  Just imagine London’s millions of CCTV are made available to monitor interactions and behaviour of people  living under the Ugandan or Nigerian AHBs?  Its also important to state that the oppressions Jake is speaking about may be new to white privilege but for Black folks well we have always been under the intimate gaze of the monster!  This is not a dismissal or excuse to do nothing – it is simply a statement of fact.

Because this is New Years Day in the calendar I live my life, I write this in memory of Darren Deslandes, 11th July 1975 — 1st January 2010 – Darren was murdered in the early hours of January 1st in his family pub in South London.  R.I.P. Darren, never forgotten!