I’m only vaguely familiar with Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine — and I’m only familiar with it at all because it’s so often been involved in controversy. I became aware of the magazine in 2011 when the magazine’s office was firebombed for publishing an edition with this cover:
It’s a cheezy cartoon, but a great line. One hundred lashes if you’re not dying of laughter.
Today at least twelve people died — were killed, to be exact — in another attack on the magazine, Three more were wounded and are in critical condition. Two of the dead are police officers — one who was detailed to protect the magazine office, and another who apparently responded to the scene on a bicycle. The rest of the dead were employees of the magazine — the editor, cartoonists, writers, support staff.
They were killed by two or three masked men armed with Kalashnikov rifles. Killed for publishing cartoons and articles that offended some Muslim extremists. The operative term there is extremists. It’s always the fucking extremists who engage in this sort of cowardly bullshit. And it IS cowardly, and it IS bullshit.
It’s cowardly because this is the act of people who are afraid. If you’re confident in your faith, then an insult to it can’t hurt you. Be offended by the insult, certainly, but to silence the people who made the insult — to silence them by killing them, to hope to silence others by the killing — is effectively saying your faith and your religion are too weak to withstand mockery. And it’s bullshit because all this does is heap more scorn and loathing on the religion these jackasses are trying to ‘protect’.
People will talk about finding an ‘appropriate’ response to this attack. There IS NO APPROPRIATE RESPONSE to extremists killing people over cartoons and caricatures. There is only a range of inappropriate responses. Here’s my personal inappropriate response:
Fuck you, if you think this is going to help your cause. Fuck you for being so stupid and hateful and afraid. Fuck you if you think this will stop people from mocking Islam or the Prophet Mohammed. Fuck you, because I’m going to buy a subscription to Charlie Hebdo, even though I don’t read French. Fuck you with a passion for thinking you can silence people who disagree with you. Fuck you for thinking you have the right to shut people up. Fuck you and your pathetic guns, and fuck you and your stupid masks, and fuck you for shitting on Paris and on France and on the world. Fuck you, you gutless jerkwads, you deserve any ridicule that’s directed at you. Fuck you in the neck.
You think you did something brave? You think you struck a blow for Islam? Well, fuck you. You made Charlie Hebdo famous. You made people all over the world stand up and say “Je suis Charlie.”
And when I say “I am Charlie” what I’m really saying is this: fuck you. I hope you and every other extremist in every cause and in every religion is listening. Fuck you. All of you. Fuck. You.
What a fucked up world.
There are certainly chunks of the world that are badly fucked up. I still think most of the world is mostly just a wee bit fucked up. But all evidence seems to point toward it getting more fucked up.
Too much hate. Too much crap. Too much.
Hate and fear — not a good combination. And even though there’s been (almost) universal condemnation, the fact is extremists don’t really care what the world thinks about them. The only opinions extremists (and I’m talking about extremists of every stripe) care about are those of other extremists who share their views.
And their extreme stupidity will only give ordinary Islamists and Muslims living peacefully in every country a much harder time, more discrimination and hatred to deal with on an everyday basis, more angry hateful acts directed at them personally, as well as their faith. It’s so awful all around.
But Beckett, that’s a subordinate benefit for the extremists. If their actions cause more problems — more discrimination, more resentment, more distrust — for moderates, then some of those moderates will likely be radicalized. That’s true for any extremist group. It’s a recognized and effective recruitment tool.
Juan Cole says much the same thing, only better:
This horrific murder was not a pious protest against the defamation of a religious icon. It was an attempt to provoke European society into pogroms against French Muslims, at which point al-Qaeda recruitment would suddenly exhibit some successes instead of faltering in the face of lively Beur youth culture (French Arabs playfully call themselves by this anagram).
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Ugh, that hadn’t even occurred to me. That is so fucked up on so many levels it makes me feel sick. I just keep remembering the Mosque we visited awhile back right here in Fremont; they had to hide their sign and where the building actually was and they kept a careful watch at the entrances and driveway to check who came in for fear of attacks. Once we were in they were all so friendly and really very kind and sweet. Their whole religion and culture is hated and reviled because of the actions of those fucked up extremists.