Kids React To The Darndest Things of the Day: Another day, another video of kids being asked their thoughts on bin Laden’s death (previously): The Fine Brothers round up their cadre of children for a frank discussion on the demise of Public Enemy #1.
Wouldn’t you know it, some of them are actually more adult about it than most adults.
I think this is really fascinating. It shows the sort of gradual onset of the ideological hegemony that comes from living in a western society, and the ignorance privilege brings. But at the same time because they’re kids, or at least younger, it’s more evident that their opinions and approaches to situations are still developing and being shaped by the culture they’re within: it’s more evident that their (mis)conceptions are as a result of that and should be confronted as such, rather than simply attacked head on.
A few interesting points that this video raises:
- Osama bin Laden was THE BAD GUY, he’s a terrorist that’s killed thousands. Well, so we’re constantly told. But if he’s been living in a cut off mansion how much influence does he really have today to continue doing stuff and influencing al-Qaeda when even from the outset they were trying to get rid of him? [clicky]
- “you don’t just go walk in … boom! You just don’t do that!” “They didn’t they tried handling it with words and it didn’t work.” well, did they? The reports are of four dead, one with a gun (that wasn’t Osama) and two women, one of whom was in front of bin Laden at the time they were shooting at him supposedly being used as a human shield. Even if you ignore the fact they had a chance to get him in the very beginning, does this sound like the sort of situation where it was necessary to kill bin Laden?
- “Do you think there was anything we could have done besides kill him?” “25 years to life.”/”We could have put him in prison but then he might escape and then blow everybody up.” – the legal process. Innocent until proven guilty. What’s very predominant and intrinsic to the functioning of the “war on terror” is that terminologically speaking it’s presented as a war. It is not. A war occurs between two states, when one state says “we are sending our troops here, to kill your troops there”. The war on terror is a militarised global policing action. The offences we claim were the fault of (it seems purely) bin Laden were not proven to be. Where is availability of this evidence to the broader populace? Where was the trial to prove his innocence or guilt? There wasn’t: because it’s a “war” so you don’t need to legitimise yourself or prove their culpability. You just shoot the guy wearing the uniform of the bad guy (which is problematic when that uniform is a regionally cultural fashion style that any number of other people could be wearing as well.) Some of the kids are at least picking up on this dichotomy of the way the war on terror works.
- “Just a camper. He’s a camper like on Black Ops.” There isn’t especially a large point surrounding this but I did find it a very interesting analogy to have leapt into this kids head. Traditionally speaking I’m against government imposed age restrictions on games, films and so on. But the proviso of that working is that the kids are in an environment where parents are making sure that those games and films aren’t have a socialisation or desensitisation effect. While I’m sure in later life, linguistically speaking this guy won’t use the same terminology how can we know that this isn’t the analogous connection his brain will make in this sort of situation? How will we know what other connections are made as a result of the procedural memory created through gaming, rather than as a result of rational thought process?
- “Why would you feel bad! One of the worst people in the world is dead!” Well absolute. He was (we claim wholly) responsible for the deaths of some five thousand innocent American civilians. But at the same time the U.S. and U.K. responses to his action has caused the death of nearly a million innocent Afghanis and Iraqis. I mean, how are we measuring bad here? Should we also include those killed by governments that are supported by the U.S. and U.K. foreign policies? (Syria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain killing protesters, Israel and the Palestine situation) Are we looking at dictators of other countries and conflict in other places such as the Ivory Coast? On this scale of bad, who are the real bad guys? Sure they’re kids so they don’t know better – but the culture they’re within: is it going to do anything to increase their awareness of such issues? Why does it not start from an earlier point to facilitate awareness, the socialisation from the young age is U.S. isn’t wrong and it’s not much, much until later that ideas are brought to them which confront this mode of perception.
- “I just think that’s kind of a hypocrite move. When 9/11 happened they were all cheering in the streets and we all thought it was wrong. … There’s always going to be a bad guy” “they’ll get back at us and it will keep going back and forth.” – quoted for truth. Compares interestingly with the optimistic girl adamantly asking terrorists for this to now be the end. A passionate adherence to the media narrative that the bad guy to get was bin Laden, and now we got him it’s all over right?
- “Why do terrorists want to hurt the United States so much?” “‘cos we’re powerful?” “We’re trying to help them but … they’re trying to kill us?” “they’re afraid of us because we have all the technology, like the nuke technology! … it’s all downhill from here.” again the slanted awareness of what it is to live in the U.S. takes hold. You’re hated because you’re powerful? Maybe so, but then that fails to answer the question of: where does that power come from (economic Imperialism, a preening of third world countries as subjects within the U.S./Western economic/capitalist hegemony, support of dictatorships and pro-West anti-democratic governments) and how is it maintained (military might.)
- “How would you stop terrorism?” “send troops out there to make sure they don’t try to do anything?” a normalisation of military action being a reasonable response to a global policing issue. What’s more is it’s a normalisation of the attitude of the U.S. having a military presence in countries that don’t want it – which tends to exacerbate the situation. Not to mention it’s deep ethical questionability. While innocent through it’s source of childhood naivety, it’s almost on a par with Trump suggesting the U.S. should be committing war crimes by taking Iraq’s oil [clicky] and again trends towards a very worrying aspect of cultural socialisation.
I think this video war really good. You could say I’m reading too much into it, but I think the way that childhood enables us to approach these opinions from a completely different direction is very valuable. Within all groups of activism and radicalism that I’ve encountered there’s very much a tendency of combating prejudices and ignorance with a certain level of zeal which can be as much counter-productive as it is productive. It’s important to remember that we are a product of our environment and we need to always learn to find the right balance of how to get our points across to people without being ourselves alienating in the process. Recognising that kids hold these views because the adults in their lives hold them, and as a result they may well hold these views at adults, is a very important thing for us to be able to do.
For an interesting analysis of bin Laden’s death there’s a good article by Johann Hari on the Independent. [clicky]
A 28-year-old man was darting through the cheering crowds and the weeping fire-fighters selling the Stars and Stripes for $25 each. He was an Afghan refugee named Awal. He told me, in fractured English, that he had left “because of the war”, which was “very bad”, but he loved America “because here you are free.” A drunk guy who was standing nearby overheard us and yelled with a smirk: “I’m a marine. I probably killed your cousin!”
You think when this marine was 11 he’d have said something like that? At what point does ignorance and contempt take hold?