I’m angry that I can’t be angry without having some buzzword attached to it (radicalised, victimised, problematised, militarised…). Can’t I just have a bad day?
I’m angry that I went to the ‘Middle East’ section at my favourite bookshop just now and found that as always, half the books were by random white people talking about their experiences of the ‘Orient’ (you know, hot summer nights corresponding from Beirut, chilly days in Tehran doing women’s hair and listening to them complain about their arranged marriages) and the other half were sob stories by formerly privileged locals mourning their former money/privilege/marriage/daughter in their ‘lost’ insert-country-here. I’m angry that I kinda wanted to buy one of them.
I’m angry that the simplest things have to be stated as though they were ‘radical’ truths. (No, this isn’t a war in Gaza, it’s a freaking Apartheid colonising brutaliser, you doofus.)
I’m angry that my parents had to live through Apartheid and wear its scars and still, we’re seeing more of the same, and worse.
I’m angry at how much I secretly enjoyed the ‘Happy Muslims’ video, even as I faux-intellectualised about how silly it all was.
I’m angry about the First Anglo-Afghan War, and the ones that followed. I’m angry about Rorke’s Drift and the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the Bangladesh Liberation War, but I’m even angrier about the wars that never happened, all those silent, greedy capitulations and lines crossed and uncrossed on the map.
I’m angry that I can’t be angry at my fellow Muslims for fear of selling them out or playing into some broader discourse of how I’m the exception, with my nice university degree and nice professional job and nicely enunciated consonants, and they’re the rule. (I’m angry that occasionally, I even believe it.)
I’m angry at just how nice (i.e. cowardly) I am, how I find myself smiling at the racist jokes people make and only raging internally.
I’m angry that sometimes I don’t even pick up on their racist undertones until after the fact, that I even find myself silently nodding in agreement when they talk about some ‘crazy Muslims over there’ just because I can’t be bothered and want to get back to my breakfast granola.
I’m angry that I even eat granola for breakfast, that my liberal elite bourgeois Muslim-ness is so embedded into my very skin that all I can do is get angry at the silliest outward manifestations of it, like me eating granola for breakfast.
I’m angry that the best minds in our community are in lifelong prisons of our own making i.e. their law/commerce/medical degrees. I’m angry that I’m one of them (not that I’m one of our best minds, but that I’m a lawyer, of all things to be and do).
I’m angry not at my own privilege, which is God-given, but that I do so little with it. I’m angry that there is so little that I can do with it except talk to people who share it, and that many of those people, myself included, will decry bad adab but not bad politics.
(I’m angry at bad adab too, don’t worry. I’m polite to a fault-see above.)
I’m angry that a Facebook status with a quote from Ilan Pappe or Avi Shlaim is enough to assuage my guilt that I’m alive and going home to my Superchoc Drumstick, and that in Gaza the bodies continue to pile up.
I’m angry that I know so much more about what’s happening in Gaza than I do about the Central African Republic.
But most of all, I’m angry that I’m just not angry at all, that this silly little piece of melodrama was cathartic enough to drain me of my residual anger and that I will very easily, almost seamlessly, go back to work and talking about the faulty air-conditioning in my office.
But really, it does make me shiver…enough to make me put on my $200 suit jacket, that’s for sure.