Home / Opinion / What I Find Most Offensive About The Syria Strike Is The Cultural Appropriation Of The ‘Tomahawk’ Missile

What I Find Most Offensive About The Syria Strike Is The Cultural Appropriation Of The ‘Tomahawk’ Missile

By Holia Thanthow

hispter protesterWestern powers, especially the US, have quite a bit to answer for already, but this latest missile strike on Syria – ostensibly in response to the use of chemical weapons – adds further injustice to the world, and not merely in the form of inevitable civilian casualties: using a weapon whose name was appropriated by Western genocidal imperialists from indigenous peoples of North America constitutes an affront to the culturally sensitive of any society.

Leaving aside the oppression inherent in Western action in the Middle East, casually referencing a cultural hallmark of nations ethnically cleansed by those Western societies adds even more insult to the injury of the victims of Western aggression. It was not enough for Donald Trump to violently impose his notion of morality on another country; he chose to do so with nomenclature that demonstrates the arrogance of arrogation.

Unfortunately, such behavior is nothing new from the US, before or after the election of Donald Trump. The Apache helicopter, developed in the 1970’s and 80’s, is named for a group of Native American tribes, but the US defense establishment had no problem turning their noble legacy into an airborne antitank weapon – and then supplied them and their Hellfire missiles to Israel, which callously loosed those weapons on the innocent Islamic terrorists of the Gaza Strip.

My peers and I long for the relatively enlightened Obama era, when the president had enough cultural sensitivity to understand that chemical weapons, barrel bombs, and other tactics considered crude or illegal by arrogant Westerners might be perfectly appropriate in the cultural context of the Levant – as long as they are deployed by the indigenous peoples of the Levant. Obama understood the fraught implications of insisting that the duly unelected leaders of the region follow modes of behavior at odds with the native culture.

Notice that Obama never employed the Tomahawk even once, and blocked further supply of Apaches to Israel because of the system’s use against Palestinians – regardless of those Palestinians’ involvement in so-called “terrorism” against Israelis. We can rest assured he would never have approved such an offensive move as employing a weapon with an appropriated name.

We need another march on Washington to combat this scourge, which strikes at the very foundations of the progressive ethos. But I worry that, as in Berkeley, the fascist Trumpian authorities will use tear gas and pepper spray against us, behavior that we can only accept from Middle East fascist authorities.

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