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Friday, January 09, 2015

Charlie Hebdo

Ha ha
Like everyone else in the world I am stunned by the Charlie Hebdo affair. I have been reading everything on the matter in English, Spanish, and French and there’s a lot to digest. Here are a few of my preliminary thoughts.

I’m really sick of people talking about the horrors French Muslims now face in the backlash of this massacre. It looks to me that what we need to do is to protect people from Muslims. Even before the the horror was over another Muslim had targeted innocent French Jews for slaughter. There have been dozens of assaults on European Jews by Muslim youths and a few murders as well, like the attack on the Jewish museum in Brussels.

Ibrahim Negm, the spokesperson for the Dar Al-Ifta Institute in Egypt, called on the French government to protect Muslims living in France from retaliatory attacks following the attack.

We already do protect Muslims in the West, just like we try to protect everyone.

En ce moment y a une haine infinie contre les musulmans j'aime même plus rester en France." (At this moment there is infinite hatred against Muslims, I don't even want to remain in France," tweeted one user from Paris).  

There are flights out of France every day. What are you waiting for?

Another wrote, “Qui sont les vrai perdant de tous ces attentats ? Nous les musulmans de France on est stigmatiser les gens nous craignent pour rien." (Who are the true losers from all these attacks? We, French Muslims. We are stigmatized, people fear us for no reason)

Really? You think you have lost more than the people slaughtered in the attacks?I didn't see a bit of hate in the street demonstrations across Europe following the executions at Charlie Hebdo. All that I saw was solidarity and compassion.

Violent acts by Muslims in Western society are hardly the work of a few crazies but represent sentiments seething in the minds of a whole hell of a lot of Muslims. In this video from London after the publication of the Danish cartoons in 2006 you can see more than a handful of blood-thirsty assholes who would gladly kill someone over a cartoon. And how many would attend a similar protest in a Muslim nation?

I would venture to say that quite a few Muslims worldwide are in agreement with tenets of their faith that are in direct contrast to Western values. Most Muslims agree that death is the consequence of apostasy. The treatment of women in Muslim society is disgraceful to any educated, enlightened citizen.

From a Pew Report which examines the social and political views of Muslims around the world: 

“In 10 of 20 countries where there are adequate samples for analysis, at least half of Muslims who favor making sharia the law of the land also favor stoning unfaithful spouses.”

“Taking the life of those who abandon Islam is most widely supported in Egypt (86%) and Jordan (82%). Roughly two-thirds who want sharia to be the law of the land also back this penalty in the Palestinian territories (66%).”

In this episode of Democracy Now, which has a whole lot of hand wringing about the poor, downtrodden, victimized Muslims of France, no one on the show pointed out the irony of what they reported earlier in the program about a Saudi kid who was condemned to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for blogging about politics. 

I have read a ton of incredibly stupid shit regarding the Charlie Hebdo affair. Mostly from Muslims claiming that they are the real victims in all this and that the magazine attacked a powerless minority in France, or as one writer put it “France’s incredibly marginalized, often attacked, Muslim immigrant community.” I doubt that all of the Jews in France who have been harassed, terrorized, and killed by Muslims there would say that these people are marginalized and without power. The Muslim mobs often are bullies when they have the upper hand, even in countries where they are a small minority and they expect others to live under their harsh views of how women and gays should be treated.

Where Muslims need protection is in Islamic countries. Political systems guided by Islam control the lives of perhaps a billion people and in none of these countries is there anything much resembling a free press, nor is there much in the way of human rights, equality for women, freedom of religion, et cetera so please stop telling France that they need to protect Muslims there. The Muslims living in France have it much better than those living in Islamic nations. The “backlash” of the Charlie Hebdo affair in France couldn’t possibly be worse than the horrors many Muslims face every day in countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya…should I name them all?

Instead of calling on France to respect their Muslim population people should demand that French Muslims respect French Jews or protect our free press institutions, like the German newspaper that was firebombed for reprinting the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

“The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but…” writes highly acclaimed ignoramus David Brooks in the New York Times. There are no “buts” in this story. Charlie Hebdo was engaged in legal satire so either we defend it 100% or we can’t say that we have free speech. We have freedom of religion in the West but that doesn’t mean that I have to respect your silly and often dangerous beliefs, and I don’t. 

This comment by a reader named Mor in this idiotic op-ed in the New York Times is, without a doubt, the wisest thing that I’ve read in the past week—and I’ve read everything in English, French, and Spanish. I believe that most Muslims aren’t insulted by the cartoons and don’t really give a shit but it’s hard to keep that stance when so many in the Islamic world are telling you to be outraged by childish and unfunny scribbling on page, as if it’s part of your religious duty to become homicidally enraged.

“The values of the Enlightenment are incompatible with a fundamentalist religious belief of any kind. An evangelical Christian who believes that the Universe is 6000 years old will feel like an alien in Europe and/or the Silicon Valley. A cultural Muslim who appreciates the poetry of Sufism but does not view the Koran as a literal message from God will feel fine in the West. But if you believe that insulting your prophet merits death, then you have forfeited your place in free society. The West is not a place but an idea. The fact that most Western countries have failed to live up to their own ideals of intellectual freedom and political liberty is regrettable but does not invalidate these ideals. If you want to join the West and keep your cultural identity, while embracing its core values, wonderful. If not, you are not part of Europe and never will be.”

Los valores de la Ilustración son incompatibles con una creencia religiosa fundamentalista de ningún tipo. Un cristiano evangélico que cree que el Universo es de 6000 años se siente como un extranjero en Europa y / o el Silicon Valley. Un musulmán cultural que aprecia la poesía del sufismo, pero no considera el Corán como un mensaje literal de Dios se sentirá bien en el Occidente. Pero si usted cree que insultar a su profeta merite la muerte, entonces usted ha perdido su lugar en la sociedad libre. El Occidente no es un lugar sino una idea. El hecho de que la mayoría de los países occidentales han fracasado a la altura de sus propios ideales de la libertad intelectual y la libertad política es lamentable, pero no invalida estos ideales. Si quiere unirse al Occidente y mantener su identidad cultural, mientras abraza sus valores fundamentales, maravilloso. Si no es así, usted no es parte de Europa y nunca lo será. 

19JAN15 - For the first time in recorded human history people have the right to turn their backs on the status quo of religion. I have read opinions that the ancient Greeks’ lack of total reverence for their gods was one of the determining factors in the development of democracy—they had less fear of their gods than in other civilizations. As one historian put it, thumbing their noses at the heavens was more align to prodding a bull than sacrilege. 2,500 years later people finally can state publicly that they don’t believe in god or gods, at least we have that privilege in the West and no small privilege it is. The closer you get to the ground zero of Islam (Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi doctrine) the less this is so.
As I said before, Charlie Hebdo’s biggest crime in my book is that they aren’t funny. What Muslim find insulting to their core beliefs doesn’t really interest me unless it intersects with our secular laws.  They wanted Salman Rushdie dead over a novel that none of them read. All that I am sure of is that matching violence with violence is stupid, something the American military leadership never seem to figure out.
This writer finds room for optimism:
“In the recent horror, the two Muslim victims of the two Islamic terrorists were a cop and a copy editor, and this immersion in upwardly mobile ordinariness is likely to be more typical of the Muslim future than the apocalyptic fantasy of a fundamentalist triumph.”

“…French Arabs are just as divided, from violent fundamentalists to secular republicans, and just as open to the world’s influences, as everybody else.”

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