There has been a lot of debate about James Cameron’s movie Avatar. This film describes a private mercenary force like Blackwater colonizing a forest planet named Pandora sometime during the 22nd century. The indigenous people of this planet, the Navi’i, rise up and drive them out; in the process some of the colonizers switch sides and join the rebellion. Some see this story as a “noble savage” myth that perpetuates racist stereotypes of indigenous people. Others see it as a criticism of ecological destruction and a warning of what will happen if we don’t learn how to live in harmony with the natural world. Some see it as a white guilt fantasy and an example of liberal racism because it involves a white man leading a revolt of oppressed people. Others see it as an inspiring story of anti-colonial armed struggle; (an Anti-War activist friend of mine said that Cameron was able to do what the anti-war movement has not been able to do: to encourage millions of Americans to root for the defeat of the US military.) In any case, this movie has been seen by millions of people and has broken records as a holiday blockbuster, so it is clearly striking a chord with everyday people in this time of economic crisis, ecological fear, and colonization efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and elsewhere. For that reason, it is important for activists to carry on these debates because if we misunderstand the appeal of this movie we could be misunderstanding where our coworkers, friends, and neighbors are at right now.
For the moment, no one can say for sure that they understand the dynamics behind the events at Ft. Hood involving Nidal Hasan. What is clear is that he attacked military personnel whose sole purpose is to kill Arabs and Muslims. This should not be forgotten. He was humiliated and attacked for being Arab and Muslim, he desperately wanted to avoid deployment in a war that was directed against him and our people, and he believed that it is our duty as brown, black, Muslim, Asian, Arab, South Asian and many more to stand up and fight our oppressors. This rage that we feel swelling up in our hearts, weighing heavy in our chests, that rises up to choke us and bring tears to our eyes can only be held back for so long.
This rage cannot be controlled. Liberals and Conservatives get upset when we don’t express that rage in ways they are comfortable with. They send troops to put bullets in our peoples’ heads, and then council patience and moderation to us. This lets them offer the solution of dialogue to everyone who has their necks under the boot of Empire. When they disband the U.S. military, then dialogue can be considered with these hypocrites. There is no hope of explaining this rage to them. They will never understand.
At the same time, many liberal and conservative Muslims are afraid of this rage as well because they profit from their role as our prison guards. It is clear that the Muslim community is not united and can never be under these conditions. There are some who want to join the club of American Empire. They just want American Empire to kill less Muslims and to interrogate them with less electricity. They are just as afraid of the Black people, poor people, and queer people as the racists, the homophobes, and the rich.