Khaled Sharrouf is one of the sixty or so Australian nationals fighting on behalf of the Islamic State, most often referred to in the media as ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). Before this August, he was relatively little-known. He had been in and out of local courts throughout his childhood, had plead guilty to a terrorism charge in 2009 on the basis of mental illness, and had fled to Syria on his brother’s passport last year- none of which sparked more attention than usual. But on August 10th he captured the disgust and outrage of people around the world with a photo posted on Twitter. It was of a young boy, around 7 years old, who is likely to be Sharrouf’s son. He is dressed like any suburban Australian kid, with a blue polo shirt, plaid shorts and a baseball cap, but in his hands he is holding a severed head. From the expression on his face and the way he is hoisting it up with two hands, you can tell it is almost too heavy for him to carry. “That’s my boy!” says the caption.
Some of globalization’s more optimistic proponents believe that encouraging contact between people around the world using social media tools like Twitter will foster a greater understanding of humanity, making violent conflict less likely. But here is an example of a father purposefully exposing his 7-year-old son to the barbarity of an extremist ideology in a region that is very far from home. Sharrouf and other expatriate terrorists raise the possibility that the flow of information constantly at our fingertips is not always a positive product of globalization, and that it can even exacerbate the violence it claims to prevent. Are there other situations in which globalization has been harmful rather than helpful? And how is the violence that is inevitably tied to globalization portrayed in the readings of our class?
(Apologies for this post’s morbid content. A link to the article is here.)