This is a scream and I dare you to publish it!

These words are meant to land in your ears as piercing sounds to accompany the wrenching horrors crowding our screens. Do not be fooled by the silence of print. This writing clamors to be screamed. Gaza is not some eerie place we discovered on October 7. It is not a stream of suffering to jolt our muscles of empathy. Gaza cannot be just another scroll in our fleeting social media feed.

How do you write anger when horror in words and images is mere fuel for our callous discord? What sounds should letters make when your fingers feel like stones on the keyboard? I write today with the fear that our words and emotions about Gaza, about the folly of war, have calcified. Worse yet, I write and scream because we are all binge-watching genocide.

Are the tears of a trembling orphaned child worth nothing anymore? Is the wailing of a mother who lost 50 members of her family just a spectacle we scroll through on TikTok? What number of dead and maimed civilians, of destroyed homes, of scorched neighborhoods and cities, will ever satiate this interminable vengeance?

They talk of total victory before ceasefire, but when victory morphs into a lust for killing, when it tolerates the agonizing terror in the voice of Hind Rajab, a beautiful six-year-old in a car with six dead relatives pleading on the phone for three hours to save her life before she is killed, when total victory means the triumph of a bullet over a child pleading to live, then salvation is a virtue I will look for in total loss.

We all heard Hind’s scream and moved on to the next post.

As the poet Daniel Borzutzky quips in The Performance of Becoming Human, “They chopped up two dozen bodies last night and today I have to pick up my dry cleaning.” What is the point of hearing and seeing carnage? Scrolling has turned our thumb into a monstrous muscle. We bounce from tragedy to tragedy and get distracted by the “joyful” absurd in between. We are zombies auditioning for humanity.

If words wept, this screen would be leaking.

Seriously, what kind of creatures are we? In what unhinged world do we live where world leaders and Hollywood celebrities flock to Israel to gleefully sign solidarity messages on bombs destined to kill and maim children? In what reality is the crying of a starving child holding an empty pan pleading to eat a crocodile tear of a brutal enemy?

Tell me, when did these egregious scenes become normal? When does this factory of pain cease working? Are these the pictures we will hang in a future museum of forgetfulness?

Is Palestinian life so cheap that a word like “ceasefire,” a mere cessation of brutalizing hostilities against a helpless and trapped civilian population, has become a trigger word, a complicated linguistic ploy for our aloof semantic games? Is ceasefire the right word? Is it genocide? Are there really innocent people in Gaza?

Do we hear ourselves? The affective apathy in these questions is frightening.

Yes, I sound moralizing and I accuse all of us of abandoning millions of people to the twisted rectitude of a bomb or the flat empathy of a social media scroll. I don’t care about making sense anymore. There is no sense in the vulgarity of the world we are living in. I just want to scream because I write these words with a heavy heart. I want to scream not as an Arab, an American, a Muslim, a scholar, or an educator. I want to scream without a name, without titles, without degrees, without the protocols of polite performance. I wish to scream as a human with a lump in my throat to humbly echo the desperation in the supplication of those on whom the bombs have not stopped raining and those on the other side of the border who see no virtue in the unrelenting belligerence of their leaders.

“Fuck Your Lecture on Craft, My People Are Dying,” says the Palestinian poet Noor Hindi.

“I want to be like those poets who care about the moon/ Palestinians don’t see the moon from jail cells and prisons.” And they won’t see it from under the rubble any time soon. Hindi closes her poem with gut-wrenching words: “When I die, I promise to haunt you forever/ One day, I’ll write about the flowers like we own them.”

And you thought Palestinians only die…

Please tell me if there is a threshold for horror so I don’t waste my breath.

This is not an eloquent speech. Like Frantz Fanon, the poet of the wretched of the earth, I do not want my words to be beautiful. I want my language to be harsh. Amidst so much destruction and dehumanizing hate, eloquence feels like a cruel distraction in a world where attention is a fetish of endless communication without deliberation.

It’s not relief I seek from my scream. It’s that tremor of pain that is unresolved by the escapism of empathy that I hope to make linger for all of us when it comes to Palestine and Israel. No one should be spared. “Empathy,” the poet Solmaz Sharif reminds us, “is laying yourself down in someone else’s chalk lines and snapping a photo.”

When will we stop snapping photos of dead and maimed Palestinians?

Hind Rajab did not need our empathy. The tenderness in her fearful plea screams justice and justice now. Our “best” journalism described the “incident” with cowardly headlines like: “Six-Year-Old Found Dead in Gaza.” Hind’s last word to the Red Crescent dispatcher were: “Come take me. Will you come and take me?” Two first responders did come. They were killed on the spot.

But the world did not come to save Hind.

Her mother Wissam Hamada had this to say about the killing of her child, “I will question before God on Judgment Day those who heard my daughter’s cries for help and did not save her.”

They will tell you. It is complicated. Sources could not be verified. The IDF will “investigate” this incident. Lazy journalism, indeed, but we are not off the hook. We all watch and scroll to no avail, witnesses or consumers of titillating spectacles of pain. In the digital, “Shitstorms,” as the philosopher Byung Chul-Han says, are delivered as mere “streams of affect,” bouts of emotions on the run, and a torrent of infinitely repulsive information without the promise of knowledge.

We must stop watching Palestinian suffering as a form of emotional tourism. Seeing their pain this way depoliticizes their grievances and turns them into perpetual objects of a hypocritical gaze. Suffering is a political act crying for justice, not a 30-second spectacle of an empathetic discharge.

Imagine these words in the highest pitch a voice can deliver. I want to write out loud because writing under the whip of empire cannot be done in silent tones.

I seek no permission to scream.

How much freedom do I really have to say what I’m saying now without fear of censorship, without the stick of intimidation whipping me into shape? When I’m done writing, I will have to fight for these words to be published because editors will fear my scream because of the sound of my name. They will find all shades of excuses to avoid commenting on the heated temperature of my language. If published, I will have to live with a predictable backlash calling me out for violating the imperial instruction of how to be a good Arab.

But I’m done with politeness and writing in soft tones. Fuck measured rationality. Fuck sanitized speech. Fuck bourgeois cold empathy. Fuck liberal fakery. Fuck the morality of those who conveniently forgot why we are here in the first place. Fuck the murderous calculus of political leaders. Fuck any act of theorizing that lets us off the hook. Fuck all the gatekeepers of shame who erase Palestinians. Fuck those who continue to build monstrous stages for others to audition for their humanity.

And fuck those who will tell me there is too much resentment in my language.

Today, I wear the stereotype proudly. I am the angry Arab, the enraged Muslim, the mad Middle Easterner. My rage, though, is as beautiful as it is diabolical. It thunders and it whispers. It aches and it comforts, and it simmers but does not fester. Its main goal is to edify the scream away from the vulgar noises of the bomb and the mortal buzzing of the drone: two artifacts of killing the Middle East has known for far too long.

At least this anger is not a murderous plummet to disaster. It is, as the poet Amiri Baraka would say today of Palestinians, “the rage of angels.”

My scream…longs to join the graceful shriek of poets who write against fluent words, who uproot letters from fake nests.

My scream…is a melody of care, the undetected sound of a stubborn butterfly nesting in a slaughterhouse.

My scream…rumbles but does not maim, kill, or break. It remembers in a kingdom of oblivion.

My scream…hugs the Palestinian under and above the rubble and embraces the Jew who looks in utter horror as those who were dehumanized and exterminated as “rats” yesterday bomb and annihilate others as “human animals” today.

My scream…pains to echo the noble audacity of Tal Mitnick, the 18-year-old Israeli soldier who prefers prison to serving in an army drunk on unsated vengeance.

My scream… has one wish only. GET UP and YELL.

I scream to pacify words longing for their stolen serenity.

I scream because I think of Jewish friends who whisper in peace. I scream because I think of Jews haunted by the lurking proximity of their terrifying history.

I scream for Palestinians doomed to carry the gravest of burdens: pay for a bloody history those cheering for war today created yesterday. I scream so those who conveniently lose their memory could lose their voice next.

I scream because Europe’s The Scream is a cultural masterpiece while ours is a garbled roar of emotions.

But this scream…is not a performance waiting for applause.

So, bow your head to the silent scream inside and remember the thousands who were martyred, the children who died before their mothers could tuck them in one more time.

Bow to the trembling kids roaming the streets of Gaza looking for mothers and fathers they will never find.

Bow to the starving crowds of men and women scavenging for a piece of bread amidst scattered limbs and shreds.

And bow to hear the scream of Hind’s mother who waited for the world to save her beautiful daughter only to receive a dead body covered in dry blood.

My scream on this page might be calm but it roars with a prayer trapped in shame.

Scream and bow, bow and scream. This is not my/our scream. It is the scream of angels.

Nabil Echchaibi

Nabil Echchaibi is associate professor of media studies and director of the Center for Media, Religion, and Culture at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research focuses on the politics and poetics of Muslim visibility. His work has appeared in various journals and in many book volumes, and his opinion columns have been published in the Guardian, Forbes, Al-Jazeera, and Salon, and Open Democracy. Nabil is currently writing his book, "Unmosquing Islam, Media, and Fugitive Muslimness." He is the co-editor of the journal Cultural Studies.