Charlie Hebdo, some thoughts
I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the massacre at Charlie Hebdo ever since I heard about it. One piece of clarity is that this incident is not about radical muslims so much as this is about Fundamentalist of any stripe, religious or political or any other ism. Whether this is Radical Settlers in Israel or Abortion Clinic Bombers, Anarchists who bomb with explosives rather than bomb with words , Abu Ghraib or Gitmo or any Colonialism, be it us or England or France or or or.
Recently I’ve been reading, a chapter a night, because alles Bob is more than omnes tres partes, The Betrayal of Liliuokalani, last Queen of Hawaii by Helena G. Allen. William McKinley was President when Hawaii was taken over in a coup. Just another example of colonialism with a capitol C. Yes, parenthetically, we enjoyed being in Honolulu and Waikiki because we did not need a passport or to learn another language. Would we have traveled so easily to another country in this day and rage?
Charlie Hebdo can be compared to Larry Flynt and Hustler i. e. “I defend to the death your right to publish as long as I don’t have to read it.”.
This was not even a Gavrilo Princip who, actually, succeeded in what he wanted. These were not French Resistance fighters though, and this is very important, in their shattered mind’s eyes, they felt they were doing the Lord’s work. “With God, or Allah, or Jesus, or Marx on your side.” To too many persons freedom of speech includes freedom to bomb and kill, as this is the preferred method to express themselves, Unlike Ted Kaczynski or Charlie Manson to name two more literate non-Muslim extremists, there are people who cannot verbalize , or write, or paint, their anguish so they can only reflect it by violence. What if they had organized a boycott of Charlie Hebdo, pressured newsstands (if such still exist) not to carry it, organized mass rallies and marches, rallies and marches….. No, to use a phrase I’ve heard “that would of been too much like right”
I don’t claim to understand someone who does these actions not because I do not have firmly held beliefs but because I do not believe that I have the right to claim another person’s life because their views, are, obviously, inferior to mine. I would rather bomb them with words, shoot them with articles, hurt them with boycotts……When I take a breath from all this self-righteousness I might even want to have a discussion, ala Democracy Unplugged, where we sit and listen to each other, with respect and vigorous, but non-violent, disagreement.
I suppose this is a personifesto on all of this and I suppose it’s not saying one single thing that others are not saying, some more coherently, some less, some more vitriolic, a few less, some with the fire and fury of youth and some, like me, a rather elderly whippersnapper. I suppose Charlie Hebdo will retreat from the 24 hour news cycle as other more recent more important-but it should not. We should remember what Barry Goldwater said “Extremism in the defence of Liberty is no vice” Then do the opposite.