(Roqayah Chamseddine is a writer and activist based in Australia. This post was originally shared on For Those Who Wander.)
After the frightening attack on Planned Parenthood some of the best commentary social media had to offer was in the form of increasingly smug and hollow sarcasm—a cyclic outbreak of facetious questions in regards to the shooter’s religious history, his racial background, and who will condemn his actions. This reaction is repulsive as much as it is procedural. It is deeply formulaic, and after a few minutes on Twitter, for example, anyone with a keyboard and even a minutely popular account is able to reach thousands upon thousands with their own banal witicisms:
When are Christians going to go on television and denounce the Planned Parenthood shooter?
Why didn’t law enforcement kill him? Why is he alive?
Why aren’t they calling him a terrorist?
When is the white community/Christian community going to be surveilled?
These aggravating responses are now plastered across social media, each author putting their own thick-witted spin—some mentioning refugees, others using Muslims and Paris. It’s the use of Muslims that seems to be most popular as of late, undoubtedly due to the attacks in Paris. Using Muslims as a way in which to highlight the establishment media’s perpetual whitewashing of various crimes and criminals by then legitimizing the abuses they face has to be one of the most incompetent and profoundly disadvantageous methods in which to do so. And this is putting it mildly. Other than feeding into what is nothing more than pompous social justice methodology this type of sarcasm does absolutely nothing to address systematic concerns, which go well beyond media fabrications. The media is comprised of those who are nothing more than ornamented stenographers to power. Yet rarely are distinct policies examined by those said to be champions of social justice— not at local, national, and especially not at an international level as most of these social justice performance artists are thoroughly US-centric in their world view. Instead, we are all forced to endure performative crowing by the same actors who are after spikes in their follower counts by repeating the same vacuous gibberish, because they know it works. This type of passive, amateurish routine is what has built their brand.
A number of people have answered calls for apologies in the wake of the Planned Parenthood shooting with their own serious, colorful amends and excessive self-flagellation. And so what then? For what reasons should this attitude be normalized, if not for the sake of point-scoring and sanctimony? While members of communities who are oftentimes forced off into the edges of society feel slighted when witnessing double standards, as they should, what does this pietistic show do to address what are clearly two sets of rules? If we are not devoting our efforts to organizing, heavily, against policies which work to stigmatize, punish, and uproot then we’ll be seeing more insipid posturing from the same characters who routinely warn their followers about the hornet’s nest that they contend is found in this same kind of irony. What many are calling sarcasm, is in fact nothing more than an impotent masquerade. It is meant to give the appearance of political depth and awareness where none has ever existed.