Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Nous Ne Sommes Pas Charlie
While I have condemned our American president for not attending the march in Paris, I must condemn us now. We are not Charlie. Charlie had the courage, alone, to mock the prophet Mohammed. Instead of supporting his free speech, however vile his speech may have been, we attacked his "judgement" as a reason for not supporting him. Instead of supporting his right, we left him alone and defenseless. This gave radical Muslims the justification they needed to attack him to suppress the West's natural right to free speech. They could suppress us and they succeeded.
I can't believe how cowardly we are these days. I cannot count myself out of the cowards--you never really know whether you're a coward until you're under pressure. It's easy to post a picture of Muhammed with a bomb that's everywhere on the net to "defy" them. However, I do not know truly what I'd do if I was a newspaper editor. I don't want to die.
Some (many) people may argue that this terrorism is our fault because we incited these madmen to attack us. We persecuted them when they were in the British, French, Dutch, or other empires and we carved out countries unfairly after the empires fell. We still regularly bomb them. Furthermore, we cannot judge their culture because all cultures are equal. Therefore, their terrorism is simply a reaction to our suppression.
This argument is a straw argument. People and societies are far more complex than that. Following this argument, the Hindu society would also attack us regularly and both societies would have begun their wars of terrorism far earlier. Furthermore, if this were the case, it would be a reasonable assumption to make that the terrorists would point this out when they make their attacks. They don't. Their message is that they want Islam to rule the world and not that we oppressed them. The wars that go on in their society would not be so chaotic because they would all have a common enemy: us. India and Pakistan would not have broken up as they did because Hindus and Muslims would have the common goal of being free from us. Moreover, this argument also ignores the history of Islamic radicalism, which began when radical Islamic people such as Hassan al-Banna found the idea of the West giving women the right to vote and the right to dress as they would wish in the early twentieth century repulsive. Before radical Islam took a firm hold in some societies, other Muslim scholars were trying to modernize Islam to the point where they were trying to claim the Qu'ran's mystical beings called the "jinn" were bacteria. Finally, it is important to remember that two wrongs do not make a right.
The idea that all cultures are equal (my apologies to academia) is easy to dismiss. Let's take an example, America's current mostly free culture is equal in merit to North Korea's oppressive culture. Indeed, under this assumption, North Korea's oppressive culture is equal in merit to America's former slave culture. Therefore, under this logic, America's current mostly free culture is equal in merit to America's slave culture. Need I say more?
Therefore, we must in our war recognize that these terrorists are fighting for their specific belief in Islam. I know this is hard to grasp because much of our culture does not believe religion is a vital part within our society. Some of us may be devout religious people, standing on that metaphoric religious stone, but there are many other metaphoric stones that we stand upon. Free speech, free assembly, and free presses are other stones that we stand on. Imagine, however, that your religion is the only stone you stand on. How does another society fight that? There is only one way. You must make that stone fragile and you must introduce other stones to stand upon. Therefore, as much as we hate to acknowledge it, we must attack THAT RELIGIOUS STONE and try to introduce others. That was what Charlie did and what we fail to do. We must extend our attacks into mockery and acknowledge that we are fighting radical interpretations of Islam. The idea of Piss Christ should be extended into Islam. This may mean that we suffer more attacks, as Charlie did. However, it's the only way to win.
It is also important that we remember in the wake of this massacre that only a small part of Islam is involved in this war. Some people have asked why we in the West do not attack Islam itself as the madness behind this war. The answer is quite simple and that is there are many branches of Islam. Deuteronomy and Leviticus have their own eye-raising passages and they are supposedly God giving these specific laws to Moses. While Jesus voided many of these laws, he did order his disciples to protect themselves with swords the night before his death (Luke 22:36). St. Paul and many others stuck with some of the Old Testament long after Jesus' life and the Old Testament was used abominably throughout our Middle Ages to force Jews and others to convert to Christianity. Christianity evolved. To, to call Mohammed a child-molester would be to ignore the broader sixth century. Finally, although the Qu'ran gives Christians and Jews a minority status in an Islamic society, it specifically bans persecution of them. Therefore, there is both militant Islam and there is non-militant Islam. The only true difference I can see between non-militant Islam and other religions is that some interpretations of the Qu'ran may seem to endorse force to convert people, but the word that is actually used is more similar to "combat." Therefore, "combat" in modern Islam should be more akin to arguing with people than killing them. And, "combating" another view doesn't work well if you're simply wiping people out and intimidating people. For those true "heretics," they could simply hide their true faith. Jihad can mean a spiritual journey as well. I am not qualified to interpret the Bible or the Qu'ran, but many interpret it peacefully as Christians now interpret the New Testament,
But in order to win against the radicals, we must mock Islam just as we mock Christianity. We haven't. Therefore, nous ne sommes pas Charlie.