If we can’t apply the words, “terrorist” and “terrorism,” to this this situation, then they have no meaning, and we ought to stop using them. When someone from the Middle East (or sympathetic to someone in the Middle East) murders in the name of a political agenda, we don’t hesitate to call it terrorism–which it is, of course. When African Americans protest in Baltimore, we call them “thugs.” However, when white people murder African Americans. or when those opposed to abortion murder doctors at clinics, or when anti-government tax protesters kill government officials, the media sympathize with them and label them “mentally ill.” I suspect that the media would not be so sympathetic if an African American had done this in a white church. I’ll bet that the police would have killed such a person immediately on sight, and I can only imagine the horrible words the media would use to label then.
Look, I have no doubt that many of the people engaged in such violent activities are mentally ill (though most of them probably are legally competent to stand trial), but why is it we’re ready to label a white Christian person so quickly that way, but anyone else gets hammered?
CHARLIE HEBDO AND THE COMIC TRADITION
I’ve read and watched an awful lot of news analysis of Charlie Hebdo, but rarely do pundits mention some of the salient facts about what Charlie Hebdo actually does and about the tradition of satire:
1) Charlie Hebdo mocks all three Abrahamic religions, not just Islam, and it does so offensively with no special favorites, but Jews and Christians do not attack and demonize Charlie Hebdo;
2) The tradition of satire and caricatures or religion in France is very old going, back to at least the French Revolution, and is tied to the deep distrust of religious institutions (the Catholic Church primarily) that was closely linked to the royal dictatorship that crushed economic, social, and political freedoms in France;
3) Charlie Hebdo does not only mock religion; it mocks other institutions and prominent public figures;
4) Charlie Hebdo is a part of a tradition of offensive satire that goes back to ancient Greek comedy. It includes writers such as Aristophanes whom many profess to love (mainly because they don’t understand, or care about, the ancient references). However, if Aristophanes were alive today, he would probably engender hatred among the people he would gleefully pillory and mock.
5) Commentators are shocked by all the sexual references in Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons. However, ancient comedy (and drama), which is the literary predecessor of Charlie Hebdo, was associated with phallus processions, accompanied by obscenities and verbal abuse.
So what some consider juvenile, stupid, and offensive in Charlie Hebdo has roots in literature and dramatic traditions that we profess to admire and call “classic.” We in the U.S. live in a culture that is still relatively Puritanical in its approach to public sexuality, and that is coming out in the U.S. media coverage.
Whoever did the Boston Marathon bombings, lets make sure we don’t demonize a group of people, lump people into categories, or try to close ourselves off from the rest of the world. That would be the worst possible outcome I can imagine. Of course, we should protect ourselves and seek justice, but let’s make sure we keep our hearts and heads present and realize that we are living in a fragmented, broken, wounded world. We are all wounded. While we defend ourselves and seek to defeat terrorists, we also need to reach out to one another. It’s difficult to engage in battle and to reach out to others at the same time, but that is the task we have before us.
Now that the birth certificate is out, there are those who doubt that Osama bin Laden is dead. Sadly the wackos have some mainstream attention.
Former General William “Jerry” Boykin is busy promoting Christian dominionism, targeting Islam, and promoting “Christian warriors.” This is one wierd world. George Bernard Shaw was right when he said that “earth is the insane asylum of the universe.” I guess General Boykin and his allies are not very familiar with cultures and traditions other than his own. Just living in his own little isolation chamber, I guess
Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater (now XE) is now working on building a mercenary force of mostly Latin American soldiers that will work on behalf of the UAE in order to put down internal revolts, defend pipelines, and combat terrorism. No Muslims need apply, because the leadership and Prince is convinced that Muslim soldiers will not shoot other Muslims. Prince is also associated with Christian dominionism. Meanwhile, is this legal? Can an American citizen hire out a mercenary force on behalf of a foreign nation without permission of the U.S. government? At the least, this will not make the United States look very good to the Arab/Muslim world.
Here is the harrowing, deeply moving story of Melissa Fung’s kidnapping in Afghanistan:
Torture destroys the torturer:
Hmm…It’s possible, but unlikely given the deal between the two countries. Still one has to plan for every contingency:
Even Donald Rumsfeld agrees that water-boarding was not important in the intelligence that identified the location of Osama Bin Laden:
I agree with Obama’s decision not to release the gruesome photos.
This an indication of at least some tension between the U.S. and Pakistan. Then there is “On the other hand”: Maybe this was part of the agreement concluded ten years ago. You know, it’s the Kabuki thing.
The U.S. and Pakistan agreed ten years ago that Pakistan would allow a U.S. attack on Bin Laden on its territory and that Pakistan would respond by lambasting the U.S. Ah, the ways of diplomacy.
Many are focused on terrorism from the Middle East, but there is also a large trend in the US toward far-right terrorism, especially associated with the Sovereign Citizens movement:
For further discussion of these movements, see the following:
http://www.splcenter.org/what-we-do/hate-and-extremism/law-enforcement (with lots of links) and
Al Qaeda sees history fly by:
A wonderful article, written with flair and sardonic elegance, skewering numerous, Western individuals and organizations for serving as toadies to a brutal dictator, the “loon of loons”: http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/03/03/the-mead-list-worlds-top-ten-gaddafi-toads/
Qadaffi has apparently supported a wide array of corrupt, violent, genocidal dictators throughout Africa, as well as several dubious leaders in Central and South America: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/03/04/harvard_for_tyrants?page=full
You would think with all the really dangerous terrorists running around, we would be focusing on them rather than on people who are actually trying to improve the planet. The vast majority of enviro activists are peaceful or engaging in civil disobedience. Why are we engaging in this madness? Do corporate interests own us lock, stock, and barrel?
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