Joe Glenton explains how two young voices highlight the dividing power of futile wars
The plight and the grief of two young men, against a background of war and its social effects, highlights the insanity of our situation. These two are not leaders, men of power, talking heads, nor are they the architects of the last week’s events. They are angry about the dead, so angry that they themselves have become casualties. They are the social media collateral of the war on terror.
Scott McHugh is a young soldier and Ahzar Ahmed a young Asian man. They are 21 and 19 respectively. Both, by all accounts, are from Yorkshire. It is possible that they lived only miles apart. McHugh is in Afghanistan, or may now be back on rest and recuperation. Both of their lives, as with all of our lives for the last ten years, have been dominated by the now-close, now-far savagery of the war on terror.
Ahzar has been arrested for, according to a police spokesman, ‘bemoaning the level of attention the British soldiers who died in a bomb blast last week received compared to Afghan civilians who have died in the war’. Bemoaning? If this constitutes a crime myself and most people I know are guilty. His anger is about the massacre of Afghan families by a US soldier just days ago, yet the spokesman says that he has been arrested for a ‘racially aggravated public order offence’. The rest of the post in question has nothing racist in it that I can see – unless soldiers are a now categorised as a race. It is largely garbled, full of grief and blind, uninformed anger and contains at least one fair point.
Needless to say, the far-right, on getting hold of this have spread it wide and started a group, now liked by 2000 people, calling for his death, rape and for armed forces veterans to be allowed to beat him in his cell.
Only time will tell if these people will be arrested – their hate speech is focused on one individual, rather than being like Azhar’s more generalised ranting. Many of the comments, perhaps even a majority, make negative reference to Muslims, ‘Pakis’, deportations, capital punishment and the like.
Attached to this hate site is another one, thus far much less popular, calling for the discharge from the British Army of one Scott McHugh. Among his posts are several dated from last December, he is excited and – I do not doubt– fearful for his forthcoming tour of Afghanistan. He posts that he will be in Afghanistan inside two months and ‘can’t wait to shoot some towelheads’ and similar.
These are the words of an idiot, there is no doubt, not helped by the conditioned-in bravado and racism both of Britain and of the British Army. A scared child. Like Ahzar, he has evidently grown up in a place where Islamophobia is casual, normal and it has bled into his character.
His photo looks very proud and stand-offish. In the army we called this kind of picture the ‘hero-shot’. His profile shows the messages and comments of friends and relative concerned for him out there in Afghanistan.
On the rank slide on his chest there are no stripes – he is a private – but emblazoned there is his regimental allegiance. Yorkshire. His regiment – if you look at his cap badge – is the exact same as that of the five of the six young men killed by a massive IED days before the massacre in Kandahar. Older posts reveal that some of his close friends were killed in the Warrior vehicle.
His friends are dead. His grief is justified, but rotted through with racist bile. Though, it must be said, that even back in December, before he deployed, he seems to have been regurgitating this filth.
Perhaps the same stuff that went through the mind of the US Special Forces staff sergeant, a ten year veteran aged 38, who provided us with what looks increasingly like Afghanistan’s My Lai moment, just days after Scott’s friend were killed. Other posts by Scott refer directly to about Ahzar. His grief comes out dripping, again, with racism. Near this post he has put up a joke about running over ‘Pakis’.
These two young men are united – and separated – by the wars and the cheap racism which has been drummed up to lubricate them. They are each the human symbols of war which is never meant to end. Death upon death and both of these kids’ outraged outpourings are the testament to hatreds reinforced upon hatreds, again and again, over the last ten years of this farce. To keep the wars going they have been set upon each other, as have the white and Asian communities of Britain.
This is one of the central paradoxes. The liberal establishment – which both started the wars and in doing so made space for the far-right – must at once denounce the fascists and yet repeat what the lunatics say verbatim, as well as carrying out much of what they propose to the letter.
Lock Johnny Muslim up, harass and harangue him, diminish him, have him attacked by everyone who is willing to put the boot in, from thugs through intelligentsia.
War-mongers need hate-mongers.
The Afghan war – all the wars – are coming to pieces as we speak. All doubt has evaporated; that it has been for nothing. To make war on Muslim people abroad so the imperialists can steal their things has encouraged division and hatred here in our own towns and cities. This was what Stop the War Coalition predicted ten years ago. To fulfil the ambitions of a very few our leaders have set our different coloured people upon each other. And now they are talking about Iran.
For the record I disagree with nearly everything Ahzar says and I cannot find on his post where he commented on the disparity between the coverage of ‘our dead’ and ‘their dead’. The police say this statement is what he was arrested for. I am an Afghan veteran and I say daily that the difference in coverage is disgusting. I defy you to arrest me.
I want to know the all names of the all the soldiers who die and I want to know the name of the girl in the red and green dress who was executed just days ago by the American soldier or soldiers – laying in the back of a truck, seeming out of place and like a doll among the other corpses. What is her name? Does anybody know? I would like no one else to die for nothing, and they have all died for nothing.
The most cynical thing I have seen is the cheerleading, seal-clapping behaviour of the government and the pro-war media at the deaths we have seen. You cannot justify the next dead kid with the last dead kid. To try to attempt that is morally akin to killing them again, and with your own hands.
End this, end it now and bring these kids home. Our society is eating itself and it is madness.
This is a road to nowhere, find another one.
More articles from this author
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- Muslim opinion and the myth of 'tacit support' for terrorism
- March for Homes liveblog
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- Graphic: large increase in anti-Muslim hate crime in London
- Graphic: minority of fatalities from terrorism in Europe due to Islamist attacks
- Graphic: Islamist terror accounts for only 0.7% of attacks in Europe