Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

On the topic of suicide bombing

I just finished Talal Asad's, On Suicide Bombing, a series of lectures which were put together in book form.  The book is comprised of philosophical reflections on Western societies' horror at the act of suicide terrorism.  Why do we respond to suicide attacks with horror then turn and give tacit approval to massive death dealt by state armies?  Asad posits a series of explanations for the horror expressed at killing (and dying) through the mode of suicide attack, that I may elaborate on in a later post.  For now, here's an excerpt:
The perception that human life has differential exchange value in the marketplace of death when it comes to 'civilized' and 'uncivilized' peoples is not only quite common in liberal democratic countries, it is necessary to the hierarchical global order.  It is quite true that the death of poor people in the world does not matter as much as the death of people in affluent societies.  In saying this and acting on this belief, the patterns of living and dying in the world come to be affected by it. 

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