Semi-incoherent rambling about terrorism ahead. You have been warned.
We talk about terrorism in the West like it’s a real threat. Because, you know, Europeans and Americans are constantly under attack. You want to know what living in terror really means? It means worrying about whether your mom will make it back home after work, since she lives in a city where women are killed for no reason. It means not knowing whether the next shootout will be a few blocks from your home or at your door. It means you worry about your grandfather living near a military zone that’s constantly under attack. It means not going out after 8 or 9 pm, for fear you will be trapped in a cross-fire. It means you don’t know whether to stop at a military checkpoint or not, as you’re not sure the soldiers are really soldiers or belong to a drug gang. It means that you’ve stopped going to the night clubs because they have started to burn them down, or walk inside and roll heads onto the dance floor. It means not trusting your armed forces because they are infiltrated or working for a cartel or other. It means your school, or hospital, or home could be targeted next.
Terror is not living in “fear” of a highly unlikely attack. It is living constantly with those attacks, wondering whether the people you know in a city across the country are safe every time you read the news. It is changing your habits and routines to adapt to an increasingly unsafe situation that is real, happening right now.
Then there’s the issue of equating Western countries with liberal democracies. I find both terms sorely lacking and excluding. Is Japan a liberal democracy? When we talk about the West, is Latin America included? And what about Africa? Are all countries there neither Western nor democratic? Perhaps speaking in terms of global North and global South would be more useful, but I’m still not sure about that. And Mexico, we are certainly no democracy, let alone a liberal one, but we are both in North America and the geographic West. Where do we fit in?
Finally, the question of fighting terrorism. I think if we really want to end terrorism we don’t have to just look at possible threats or its probable causes. Counter-terrorism should include measures that support the people and countries who do actually live with it (see above, Mexico, or Pakistan, or a whole host of other countries that are definitely NOT the West.) Thinking only in terms of attacks in Europe and the US is limiting and dangerous.