What I will talk about mainly is the recent events and what they mean for the struggle against racism. The attack in Paris was, particularly for Dutch anti-racist activists, a quite bizarre experience. I was very active in the Dutch anti-racist movement when [?1:05] came up firstly after 9/11 in 2001 and then Theo Van Gogh was killed two years later. Watching Paris was like being thrown back 10 years, with some similarities and differences that I want to going into because I think they are important for our analysis in how we deal with the current form of Islamophobia and how we understand also how it changed.
What is interesting is, everything you hear about Paris, similarly what we heard about Van Gogh in the Netherlands, is that it’s very unique and that it’s “unprecedented” and “historical.” All the news framings are giving us the idea that this is a historic phenomena. The only reason why it’s unique is the sense that terrible things happen in the world but they happen in the periphery, or they are proxy wars elsewhere, in which Europe or the West is involved, but they don’t happen in the centre. This is the “unique” element used in framing this as a “shocking” event. For those of us who know people in other parts of the world, who are in solidarity with other struggles, it doesn’t quite feel that way. Of course it’s unique for other reasons but we sort of have an ability to internationalise and frame these events in a different light. But an identical narrative was given when [?3:06] was killed: it was the first political assassination in 300 years in the Netherlands.
There are several extracts from social anthropologist Sindre Bangstad’s book Anders Breivik and the Rise of Islamophobia that challenge the assumptions of ‘freedom of speech’. I’m sharing these as I think they contain some ideas to bear in mind when formulating a response to the murder of the Charlie Hebdo journalists, and for analysing whatever shit’s about to come. I’m a big fan of letting words stand on their own merit. Sometimes you don’t need to interject and explain. So below are a few of the strongest points from chapter six of Anders Breivik and the Rise of Islamophobia, a chapter on freedom of speech and hate speech. Of course, this is a book that deals with the populist right (namely the Progress Party) and far-right in Norway, but the parallels hardly need to be laboriously explained.
Some parts of this review could be considered spoilers. There are events and periods of time that happen in every playthrough, but since so much is determined by your choices, it is not especially narrative driven. As such none of these ‘spoilers’ will impede your enjoyment of the game.
In the existing strategy and first-person shooter games you can battle on the side of just about any empire or freedom fighter imaginable, whether historical, recent, or fictional. There is no such glory for those with no dog in either side of the fight. In This War of Mine, by the Poland-based game developers 11 Bit Studios, you are in control of a small group of civilians with nothing in common who have sheltered together with just one ultimate objective: survive.
Your bare shelter is located in the devastated fictional city of Pogoren, caught up in a conflict between a rebel group and the state military. Everyone in your small group, which starts out as three of twelve playable characters, has a back-story that explains their unique talent. Zlata is a musician who was accepted to study at a music academy shortly before war broke out, and is able to cheer up the other housemates. Bruno was a celebrity chef, making him best placed to do the cooking around the house. These and the ten other abilities have varying degrees of usefulness in a survival situation. The day is time for improving the shelter, cooking, and making other resources; at night, one out of your party can scavenge and steal from another location, such as a hospital, church, or military outpost. The others stay behind and sleep or stay on guard. (At this stage, the game is being, and will be, frequently updated. Initially the character selection was random. Now, after completing it once, you have the option to choose your favourite characters, or the worst three to give yourself a challenge. In the same update a new shelter was added, which I look forward to playing around with.)