May 16, 2022 Abdul Haqq

‘There Will Be Blood’: We Reap What We Sow

The title is a prophecy, a warning, or a vengeful supernatural pronouncement… That dark title threatens a calamity now visible on the horizon: destruction of the Earth itself… [1]

The above excerpt is a review of the critically acclaimed movie from where this article derives its name. However, in contrast to depicting portents of doom as a result of avarice, paranoia and resentment that plagued the lead character in late 19th/early 20th century America, this narrative will explore similar destructive tendencies that continue to exist today but on a global and, unerringly, cannibalistic scale, while garnering popular support in some so-called civilised societies.

As we witness atrocity after atrocity, injustice upon injustice, world leaders and politicians continue to provide little more than platitudes among ineffective and inept measures to address what amounts to further erosion of our civil, human and myriad other rights. From the environment to our individual wellbeing, decisions are being made, often without these sacrosanct aspects of life being prioritised in the short-term.

For evidence, we needn’t look further than the recent COP26 (UN-facilitated ‘Conference of the Parties’) event that convened in Glasgow, Scotland on 31st October 2021. Since adopting the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 – 30 years ago – very little has changed to improve or indeed, reverse the ongoing threats catalysing climate change.[2] In fact, despite hearing accounts of the imminent loss of islands and eventual extinction from some smaller nations facing the brunt of climate change, the conference failed to galvanise sufficient support for more immediate and decisive action from the more larger, powerful counterparts:

“It is (an) incremental step forward but not in line with the progress needed. It will be too late for the Maldives. This deal does not bring hope to our hearts,” said the Maldives’ top negotiator in a bittersweet speech.” [3]

The above, somewhat tangential focus was necessary before turning to the actual import of this article; that being the second aspect relating to wellbeing.

1. ‘There Will Be Blood’: Buffalo, New York State Massacre

On 15th May, an 18-year-old Caucasian, Payton Gendron, drove 200 miles to a predominantly black neighbourhood before alighting his vehicle and livestreaming the massacre of ten innocent people while wounding three others. Eleven of the thirteen people shot were black.[4] Following this terrorist incident, media outlets rushed to highlight the white supremacist nature of the attack but, predictably, were slow to attribute terrorism, domestic or otherwise, to the crime. The culprit was subsequently apprehended and detained without a struggle. Unlike fellow white supremacist, Dylann Roof, who murdered nine people inside a Charleston church in 2017, Gendron was not treated to a Burger King meal by arresting law enforcement officers.[5] However, like Brenton Tarrant, who murdered 50 Muslims as they prepared for Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019, Gendron livestreamed his murderous rampage after sharing a hate-filled manifesto online.[6]

While many parallels can and will continue to be drawn like those above, another, more far-reaching and historically associated one must also be made, but by posing the following questions:

  • When will the safety and security of Black people be considered paramount to their wellbeing within western societies, to the same extent as white counterparts? Recent events continue to evoke perceptions of being hunted or targeted, akin to the former era of slavery.
  • In fact, when will modern day lynching cease, alongside 13th Amendment legislature that effectively (re-)enslaves African-Americans as a result of an inherently biased criminal justice system weighted disproportionally against Black people?

History illustrates an established and oft-repeated cycle; namely, the oppressed and downtrodden rarely remaining under such conditions indefinitely without recourse to (re)action in an effort to alleviate such humiliating circumstances. Former slave, Nat Turner’s name and story are synonymous with resistance and the fact that he; “…destroyed the white Southern myth that slaves were actually happy with their lives or too docile to undertake a violent rebellion…” [7] Such presumptions of contentment and/or docility are either reinforced today by elements in mainstream media and the political corridors of authority or, conversely, fear mongering becomes the default stratagem from where manifestos of white/great replacement theories raise their ugly heads:

“…Fox News host Tucker Carlson caused an uproar by promoting the racist, anti-Semitic, patriarchal and conspiratorial “white replacement theory.” Also known as the “great replacement theory,” it stands on the premise that nonwhite immigrants are being imported (sometimes the Jewish community is accused of orchestrating this) to replace white people and white voters…” [8]

The fact that these reprehensible theories are also anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish (they are not the same) should be enough a warning for these communities to reflect and take account of their own anti-Palestinian/Islamophobic tendencies.

2. ‘There Will Be Blood’: Killing of reporter, Shireen Abu Akleh

Abu Akleh was a revered correspondent working for Al Jazeera. Despite wearing the universally recognised press jacket identifying her as a journalist, she was shot in the neck while reporting on Israeli raids in the Jenin refugee camp:

“Israeli forces killed a Palestinian American journalist for the Al Jazeera news network in the West Bank early Wednesday, according to the network and the Palestinian Health Ministry…” [9]

If her murder was not enough of a sacrilege due to her status as one of Palestinians’ most beloved icons, Israeli police sought to further surpass their existing flagrant violation of human rights by attacking the ensuing funeral procession attended by thousands:

“Like any funeral, the procession was expected to be somber, a moment for this beloved national figure to be buried with peace and dignity and expected to be a chance for a grieving people to collectively close the chapter on yet another Palestinian life cut short by senseless violence in an occupation that shows no mercy in life or as they saw Friday, even after death…

When mourners poured out of the house carrying the flag draped coffin and began to chant, the police moved in to block the procession from advancing. Video shows police attacking mourners and pallbearers, beating them with batons, and at one point, almost causing pallbearers to drop the coffin…” [10]

There has been condemnation and increasing outrage for the brazen nature of Abu Akleh’s killing and grotesqueness of the subsequent police attack – and rightly so. After all, in addition to her Palestinian heritage, Abu Akleh was also American – and Christian. It is therefore almost incredulous (almost) that a Christian funeral procession could be attacked in the manner it was. However, the optics are important at this stage; Palestinian flags, thousands of mourners, Christian and Muslim, gathered in solidarity and grief but also, in resoluteness against on going discrimination – indeed, apartheid. Israeli loathing and fear of what this funeral symbolised, together with elevating Abu Akleh to the status of martyrdom, are factors behind the extreme measures often sanctioned at state level. At this juncture, historical parallels will again prove insightful when endeavouring to make sense of it all.

In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, the Jewish character, Shylock, has an intense loathing of Antonio, another character in the play and, when the opportunity arises, negotiates a bargain intended to inflict mortal harm on him:

“Shylock insists on a pound of Antonio’s flesh to take revenge on him and to put him completely at his mercy. Shylock’s hatred for Antonio and Christians is shown in his absurd demand. Taking advantage of the situation, he wants to take revenge on Antonio and all Christians, who persecuted him and his race.” [11]

Juxtaposing this vivid Shakespearean scene with the current geopolitical climate in the region, it perhaps reveals or rather, reaffirms, the socio-ideological polarisation that continues to stymie realistic progress in the region.

““A pound of flesh” is a figurative way of referring to a harsh demand for a spiteful penalty – the consequences of defaulting on a desperate bargain,[12] only, under existing circumstances, bargaining over a two-state solution for territory once belonging to Palestinians, is not considered by many to be a bargain at all. Once again, history provides the inextricable tapestry connecting today’s ensuing conflict:

“…it is prudent to shift focus to a more sensitive legacy that continues to be a key factor of Middle East conflict today: that of the orchestrated displacement of thousands of Palestinians, culminating in what is recounted by many as ‘Al-Nakba’ – ‘The Catastrophe’ – when the state of Israel was established and legitimised by western governments in 1948…”[13]


“Between 1936 and 1937, the British killed over 1,000 Palestinians; 37 British military police and 69 Jews also died.”[14]

Unfortunately, and in contrast to Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, far more than a pound of flesh has been the price exacted among adherents of the three Abrahamic faiths; countless lives have been lost and dare it be said, souls damned also. The status quo is likely to continue unabated unless we witness a consistency among world leaders in their approach to geopolitical challenges that continue to shape our past, present and future. For instance, how is it conceivable that Ukraine be afforded the level of support, economically, militarily and politically with non-stop media coverage and analysis due to the Russian invasion of its sovereign land when, in contrast, the past 8 or more decades have failed to yield similar support for Palestinians after their land was also forcibly occupied and a new state established on it?

“Palestinians and their supporters have for years criticized Western countries for only giving lip service to ending the occupation, while financially, military and politically supporting the Israeli occupiers…

Statements in support of their rights rang hollow as the world community tried to legally ban boycotts and declared that politics should not touch sports and that sanctions should not be used against a country that professes to be a democracy…

Until Ukraine. Suddenly, women preparing Molotov cocktails are media heroes. Sanctions are not only used against the army or political figures, but even extend to sports.” [15]

Such double standards beggar belief but, as has already been witnessed across Europe and the West in general, ethnicity and religion are significant determinants behind the type of treatment meted out to those appealing for assistance, be they societies and/or immigrants:

The double standard is no longer a theoretical issue but an open show of hypocrisy by the international community, which did little to nothing to oppose the occupation of Palestinian territories.” [16]

Conclusion: There Will Be Blood…

Returning to the screenplay from where this article derives its name, the main character, played by Daniel Day-Lewis:

“…controls the blood of the land and now…represents what Americans will worship: wealth and power, not religious healing…” [17]

This particular critic concludes his review by observing insightfully:

“There Will Be Blood is…about a lot of things, but it’s primarily about a country in transition and where we are today.” [18]

Expanding on these interpretations, few would argue against the unequivocal expansionist and hegemonic strategies of particular nation states today, like Russia in view of its current attempts in Ukraine. However, with that said, neither could many counter legitimate concerns regarding NATO’s gradual expansion across Europe, to the extent its alliance now borders Russian territory. In fact, this imperialist theme permeates the global mosaic and one needn’t look too far back in history to understand why former Commonwealth nations, like Barbados, recently removed the yolk of British colonialism to become an independent republic.[19]

Too much blood has been shed as a result of repression and soiled many lands near and afar. Unless lessons are learned about how we treat minorities and extremist fringe elements that target them, alongside state funded institutions sanctioned to securitise and marginalise the perceived ‘other,’ there will be bloodand lots more of it.






[1] Bradshaw, P: ‘Why the best film of 21st Century is There Will Be Blood,’ The Guardian, 13th September 2019:

[2] United Nations: ‘COP26 closes with ‘compromise’ deal on climate but it’s not enough says UN chief,’ 13th November 2021:

[3] Ibid

[4] Hayes, C; Johnon, K & Thornton, C: ‘At least 10 dead, 3 hurt in Buffalo supermarket shooting; Gov. Kathy Hochul blames ‘white supremacist’, USA Today, 14th May 2022:

[5] McCormack, S: ‘Cops bought Dylann Roof Burger King after Charleston shooting’, Huffington Post, 6th December 2017:

[6] Wolfe, N; Molloy, S & Bedo, S: ‘Dozens dead after gunman opens fire on Christchurch mosques in ‘unprecedented’ terror attack’,, 16thMarch 2019:

[7] ‘Nat Turner’, (last accessed 16th May 2022).

[8] Blow, C M: ‘Tucker Carlson and White Replacement,’ The New York Times, 11th April 2021:

[9] Hendrix, S; Taha, S & Rubin, S: ‘American reporter killed by IDF, network says; Israel calls for inquiry’, The Washington Post, 11th May 2022:

[10] Mohyeldin, A: ‘Sireen Abu Akleh was a voice for Palestine. Israeli police didn’t let them mourn in peace,’ MSNBC Opinion, 14th May 2022:

[11] Shakespeare, W: ‘The Merchant of Venice’, excerpt from (last accessed 16th May 2022)

[12] enotes, Shakespeare Quotes: ‘The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1, 304-307’: (last accessed 16th May 2022)

[13] Baker, A H: ‘The Flying Elephant in the room’,, 2nd June 2015:

[14] Al Jazeera: ‘Series on the Palestinian ‘catastrophe’ of 1948 that led to dispossession and conflict that still endures’ 29th May 2015:

[15] Kuttab, D: ‘As West rallies around Ukraine, Palestinians see double standards,’ Al-Monitor, 7th March 2022:

[16] Ibid

[17] Goldberg, M: ‘Why the Ending of ‘There Will Be Blood’ is So Damn Brilliant,’ Collider, 17th March 2020:

[18] Ibid

[19] France 24: ‘Barbados becomes a republic, renouncing Britain’s Queen Elizabeth,’ 30th November 2021:

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