I wrote this post before dawn and scheduled it to publish mid-Saturday but that never happened. A lucky accident, since today my inbox brought me this excellent piece, "Moral Clarity" by Adam Schatz for the London Review of Books, on the "context of no context" in liberal interpretations of the French tragedy.
Also in my inbox: "Je Suis Ahmed Merabet" by Mazin Qumsiyeh which points out that the policeman killed outside Charlie Hebdo was a French Muslim and observes: "These terrorists seemed like professionally trained maybe by a state intelligence service and yet “conveniently” forgot an identity card in the get-away car and are killed not apprehended." So now, here's my original post:
Even before two of the extremists who were suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre took hostages in a Kosher grocery store in a Jewish environ of Paris, the whole thing smelled fishy.
How do you get liberals in Western countries to turn on Islamists with the same fury and panic that right wingers have displayed since even before 9/11? Staging a highly theatrical attack on a journalism outlet that symbolizes "free speech" is a start.
But make sure the target doesn't have an Arabic name.
I see this strategy as similar to the use of attacks on girls' education to whip up leftist support for NATO intervention in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Muslim countries. The West is always quick to raise a clarion call for human rights to be respected -- by other regimes and other cultures. Torture by our own government or its murderous allies? Yeah, we're good with that.
Sarah Roche-Mahdi, a political thinker I admire, observed when the Charlie Hebdo news first surfaced: Mossad couldn't have done better. (My note: Israeli intelligence agency Mossad specializes in assassinations.)
|SOURCE: International Business Times "French police and police investigators inspect the scene after an attack at a kebab restaurant near el Houda mosque in Villefrance-Sur-Saone."(Reuters)|
What will be the outcome of the Charlie Hebdo affair? Strengthening of the rising racist, xenophobic, proto-fascist elements in France and Ukraine and the rest of Europe, certainly. An upsurge in Islamophobia throughout the West, definitely. More "Patriot" Act-style legislation and policies to clamp down on freedoms so vaunted in the U.S. and Europe, very likely.
Ironic that the target was itself often racist, and that it reportedly fired writer Maurice Sinet in 2009 in response to charges charges that he was anti-Semitic.
As Jordan Weissmann of Slate observed of the context for Charlie Hebdo's covers repeatedly mocking the prophet of Islam:
This, in a country where Muslims are a poor and harassed minority, maligned by a growing nationalist movement that has used liberal values like secularism and free speech to cloak garden-variety xenophobia. France is the place, remember, where the concept of free expression has failed to stop politicians from banning headscarves and burqas.
| Translation: Love is stronger than hate.|
SOURCE: Luke Lewis and Alan White on Buzzfeed "12 Striking Charlie Hebdo Front Covers"
And, the Catholic Church has sued the magazine numerous times for insulting references to everything from the Pope to child sex abuse cover ups.
But having Orthodox Jews or Black women burst into magazine offices with automatic weapons to massacre cartoonists wouldn't serve much purpose in the ever more theatrical "war on terror," now would it?
In these times, when the most well-funded propagandists produce events and communiques apparently against their own side, what's a thinking person to do?