A noble tradition and commendable practice exists among the political left, which comes into play in the public discourse when people commit appalling crimes. I’m talking about the practice to try and understand what factors came into play, what exactly drove someone to become a reckless criminal. Historically this has been rejected by the political right in a display of confusion and dishonesty, with the claim that “Understanding the criminal is excusing them”. Which couldn’t be less true. Sometimes, though, the left focuses so tightly on the responsibility of the society at large that it -conveniently, it seems- forgets about the personal responsibility of the criminal.
A prime example of this latter paradigm is provided in this Salon piece, entitled “Hebdo shooting’s missing context: How long-held vilification of Muslims got lost in the discussion”, where Ms. Falguni A. Sheth explains us how, to quote the subtitle of the article verbatim, “The shootings were obviously horrific — but the response has been transformed by a narrative of Islamic terrorism”.
Americans should have learned several things from their experiences in the aftermath of September 11, 2001: first, the purpose of a public claim of “terrorism” is often to mobilize and centralize all firepower and legal authority behind the executive branch. This enables such leaders to shore up an otherwise faltering leadership and thereby their capacity for retribution in the name of justice. Second, “terrorism” is often asserted to insinuate a causal link between an act of violence committed by someone perceived to be Muslim and the presumed “dangerous values” of Islam.
Do you mean, like the leader of the US’ “executive branch”, calling the teachings of Islam “good and peaceful” shortly after the attacks? Or maybe he was insinuating something there? Mr. Bush sounds quite upright to me in this clip. As far as I know, President Bush never changed his position on the topic.
That link is not factual, just evocative.
It’s also quite virtual as I just showed.
It serves as a rhetorical device that casts aspersions onto all Muslims — deeming them all to be religious zealots, regardless of their views or place on the political spectrum.
Boy, she can get a lot of mileage out of a fictitious “link”.
It is especially effective to use the term “terrorism” in non-Muslim societies to describe violence that is suspected of being enacted by Muslim individuals – regardless of whether they are part of a larger organized agenda. Even if the Kouachi brothers had just been punks acting without permission or authority from others whom they claim to serve, it’s not hard to imagine the term “terrorism” being deployed and spread exponentially by an obedient press uncritical of the state’s agenda
Here Ms. Sheth is simply resorting to what I’ll call an argument from fiction. She’s saying “Well of course the gunmen in the Charlie Hebdo massacre acted as part of a network, but if they had acted alone, they would still have been called “terrorists” ant that would have been unacceptable”. Which, even if her fictional situation were true, would still be wrong. You don’t have to be part of a global network to be a terrorist, you just need to exert violence on civilians to further political goals. Which the Charlie Hebdo assassins did.
— and eager to parrot the socially-sanctioned racism of elected leaders in the name of patriotism.
Main theorem of the self-hating, islam-fancying left: if you can throw random accusations of racism around don’t think twice about it. Do it.
Remember the Boston bombings, where the Tsarnaev brothers were accused of terrorism, but despite extensive attempts, could not be tied to a larger terrorist organization.
That is pure nonsense, of course, as I argued above. Here goes the definition of terrorism according to Wiki: “Terrorism is commonly defined as violent acts (or threat of violent acts) intended to create fear (terror); to perpetrate for a religious, political, or ideological goal; and to deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (e.g., neutral military personnel or civilians). Another common definition is political, ideological or religious violence by non-state actors. Some definitions now include acts of unlawful violence and war.” I can’t see any mention of “doesn’t count if you’re not part of a group”.
The narrative offered by French President François Hollande in the immediate aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo shootings Wednesday morning was that these were “acts of terror against free speech.”
Yep, it was only a “narrative”. Good thing Ms. Sheth is here to set the record straight. Let’s see how she does it.
The ensuing outcries and oaths of “Je suis Charlie,” seem to reiterate the same exclamation — that the shootings were retaliatory acts of intolerance against a French journalistic institution that equally and even-handedly satirized Catholics, Jews, as well as Muslims.
Believe it or not, she’s now going to argue against this position. Brace yourselves.
We also heard the hasty admonitions by Hollande not to lump Muslims with the fundamentalists behind these attacks. But he knows well that “terrorism” is a loaded term that insinuates that the wider Muslim community supports, or is at least sympathetic to, such acts of violence.
That is just pure, gratuitous slander. What’s getting clearer and clearer at that point in the article is that Ms. Sheth is simply objecting to the use of the term “terrorism” because, according to her, it is “a loaded term that insinuates that the wider Muslim community supports, or is at least sympathetic to, such acts of violence”. What a sheer joke.
There appears to be little interest, either on Hollande’s behalf or from various media sites, about whether such insinuations are true.
Maybe because the insinuations were not made and because, on the contrary, most politicians and media outlets did their best to make the distinction between muslims and jihadists.
Indeed, why would Hollande mind? Prior to the attacks, Hollande had the support of 13% of the French people, while Marine Le Pen, unabashed Islamophobe and reactionary extraordinaire, was carrying nearly 30% of support. See paragraph 1.
I don’t like Marine le Pen very much, but I’m not that more keen on those who bandy about the non-word “islamophobe”, which I’m pleased to see the WordPress spellchecker doesn’t recognise. I also think that calling her a “reactionary extraordinaire” is a tad strong, but I won’t spend time defending her here, I’ve got better things to do.
There is even less concern about how the promiscuous deployment of the term “terrorism” will harm all Muslims,
If it wasn’t crystal clear by now, the central message of this piece is to urge people to stop using the word “terrorism” because it harms all Muslims. As if urging everyone to stop drawing cartoons of the prophet of Islam wasn’t enough.
even when Muslim populations condemn such violence — and even after they have already been subject to insults through satire.
Boo fucking hoo.
My words are not an endorsement of censorship;
Except of the word “terrorism”.
I am merely pointing out that Muslims have already been subject to Charlie Hebdo’s satire and journalistic decisions. And again, because of the murderous actions of three men with assault weapons, the larger Muslim population is again the recipient of insults, backlash, and racist violent actions.
Nothing excuses the violent backlash. I struggle, however, to see what Ms. Sheth’s mention of it brings to the argumentation.
Except, this time, Muslims are being attacked by police authorities and civilians alike in the name of French “Republicanism” and a “free and open society.”
What a web of lies this piece is. Meanwhile French policemen are deployed to protect mosques, among others.
It is reported that 3.7 million people marched in France last weekend, in a show of “national unity to honor the 17 victims of three days of terror.” The rally was led by French and other notable patrons and purveyors of liberalism, tolerance, and democracy: David Cameron, Benjamin Netanyahu, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, among others.
Can you sense Ms. Sheth’s attempt to induce guilt by remote association? I can.
It was an awe-inspiring scene, seeming to reflect a resolute resistance to seventeen murders in a gruesome massacre that has captivated the world.
The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls took time away from his effort to impose economic austerity upon French society to assert a brave, commonly echoed sentiment, among the French: “We are all Charlie, we are all police, we are all Jews of France.” But this splendid statement of resistance was hardly as heroic as it was intended to seem.
As some have pointed out, Charlie Hebdo’s acts of “satire” were disproportionately directed toward the approximately four million Muslims who have attempted to make France their home.
One more lie that she won’t even be bothered to back up with a link. She prefers to go for the standard argumentum ad numerum. And of course she makes the confusion between criticism of ideas and of people, what did you expect?
Others have charged that the satirical ire the magazine repeatedly directed toward Muslims could be more accurately characterized as racist rather than merely satirical.
Once you’ve got yourself a good lie, why not repeat it twice in two sentences?
But at some level, that doesn’t really seem to be at the heart of the anger expressed against the violent acts committed by the Saïd and Cherif Kouachi or Ahmed Coulibaly.
Could that level be… reality?
Rather, the anger seems to be directed against the supposed inability of Muslims to laugh at themselves, i.e., their supposedly unique inability to tolerate the satire or invective or belittling of the precepts that good French Republican citizens imagine are representative of Islam.
This inability is not supposed. Or we wouldn’t have had the Salman Rushdie affair, the Theo van Gogh affair, the Danish cartoons affair, and the various Charlie Hebdo cartoon affairs.
And this is where the foundations of the politically inexpensive show of defiance on display in the march can be found: it is in a collective outrage that Muslim migrants to France, along with the Algerian migrants and inheritors of a French colonial legacy, refuse to know their place.
You read that right: the peaceful walks throughout France in the wake of the attacks were racist rallies where people showed up to tell French citizens of North African origin to know their place. That is, according to Ms. Sheth.
I am not talking in this instance about the horrific, murderous acts of the Kouachi brothers or Ahmed Coulibaly. Their actions are neither condoned nor accepted by French Muslims or millions of Muslims around the world.
Except by those who condoned, praised, or excused it.
But that point is, really, irrelevant to this point; in the name of free speech, the rally of outrage around the world is really aimed at the perceived defiance of Muslims, in their refusal to abide by French republican secular norms.
The rally was carried out to show that French citizens, and people throughout the world indeed, care about freedom of expression and secularism.
Many non-Muslims around the globe seem to believe that Muslims themselves are to blame for their own vilification. But it is a classic blame-the-victim outrage shrouded in the discourse of French secular republicanism, obscured in the mantle of anti-terrorism discourse.
Talking about “blame-the-victim” tactics, how’s your attempt to blame “French secular republicanism”, namely, the victim of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, for being indirectly responsible for Islamism and accuse it of racism going, Ms. Sheth?
The unspoken assumptions behind the global outrage over last week’s events seem to be: How dare Muslims believe that they can continue to live as a conspicuous religious minority in a secular French republic?
This whole article is based not on what French political leaders or citizens said or wrote, but on made-up “unspoken assumptions”, fantasised “insinuations” and imagined nefarious intentions.
How dare they refuse to assimilate? At one level, the refusal to assimilate appears to be signaled by the seeming refusal of Muslim women to remove their hijabs and niqabs, or of Muslim men to shave their beards, or in refusing to “become” French. But at another level — the French, through their own inconsistencies are well aware that the eradication of these outward signs of religiosity are not really the purpose of recent legislation to that effect.
Could that level be… your sick, monomaniacal mind, Ms. Sheth?
The most egregious violation of decorum conducted by the Muslim population (not just in France, but elsewhere in the Western world) is that they refuse to stop being Muslim (and I mean that in all of its impossibility).
That refusal to “stop being Muslim” is synechdochically linked to the globally institutionalized War on Terror,
Ms. Sheth needs a psychiatrist and not a cheap one.
as initiated in its latest incarnation by the U.S. in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, but as joined and taken up by other nations eager to conflate their own Islamophobia with a righteous battle against Muslim religious extremists.
“Can you hear me shaking my head?”
In light of France’s long and troubled racist history, when the account of the Charlie Hebdo massacre is uncritically and squarely located in the narrative of terrorism, we still haven’t gotten the full context.
Fair enough, but if you think taking the “full context” into account means to forget about Islamism, banning the word “terrorism” because it attacks all Muslims, and stealthily call French secularism “racist”, you’re dead wrong.
As Americans know all too well, despite pretenses to the contrary, terrorism is a vaguely defined legal and political concept, that is most often used to denounce countries with whom it has had a long and troubled concept.
You know what, that could be an interesting discussion to have. But not with a lunatic like you, Ms. Sheth.
It should be self-evident that “free speech” qua invective camouflaged as satire hardly renders damage to secure populations on the scale that it does to vulnerable minorities. Did Charlie Hebdo satirize Christianity? Of course. But those satirical images raised neither eyebrows nor alarms — not because devout Christians aren’t offended or have “thicker skins,” or are “more rational” than Muslims, but because Christians are neither religious nor ethnic minorities.
And now the icing on the cake.
Christians are not politically vulnerable in the Republic of France; they are the opposite — secure and fully capable.
The Catholic Church is largely irrelevant in the French political life.
With the support of a powerful Church they are able to muster huge marches against same-sex marriage and other perceived religious offenses.
With the exception, I admit, of its fight against gay marriage. But far from all Christians opposed the bill. To a large extent, moreover, French Christians do not politically associate on the basis of religion.
Nor are Christians the subject of a long-standing debate about whether their presence is an economic imposition, undermining society, or a political burden on French society. They are part of the establishment and power elite. As such, their security is guaranteed, since Christian values have long been secularized as a part of French — and lest we forget, American — society.
I fail to see how “Christian values have been […] [secularised]”.
Contrast the secure status of Christians to that of the long-standing debate about the “Muslim problem.”
Can you imagine her jubilating at her stealth evocation of the “Jewish question“? Disgraceful.
Muslims, who in 2010 made up approximately 5.7 % of the population of France, have long been subject to political harassment, institutional racism, and cultural contempt.
Except for positive discrimination in the public school system, where poor neighbourhoods often have a lower student/teacher ratio.
Consider the French legislation that, in the name of laïcité, or public secularism, outlaws “conspicuous” religious garb in public institutions or for those delivering public services, but primarily enforces the prohibition on the hijab and more recently, the niqab, and initially forgot-about Sikh turbans.
Maybe because there are only 30 000 Sikhs in France.
Consider the high rates of economic discrimination against Muslims in France. As Laila Lalami points out:
[…A]cademic studies have repeatedly shown that French Muslims are twice as likely to be unemployed than non-Muslims. They graduate from high school at lower rates and are imprisoned at higher rates.
As stupid as it would be to imply that this is solely the fault of Muslims themselves, it is equally laughable to turn this sentence as an outright complaint, as if it were everyone’s birthright to graduate from high school no matter how hard one works.
Many of them live in densely populated housing projects, with little access to the kinds of opportunities other French citizens receive.
You know, I think to some extent that’s true, but how far have we gotten from the initial topic?
Somehow, the French state is overwhelmingly concerned with prohibiting the hijab in the public sector in the name of strengthening the unity of the secular French state, but unemployment seems to be too trivial a problem to manage in the name of French republican freedom.
Those French bastards.
What if the Charlie Hebdo massacre had been committed by Catholic or Jewish extremists? Would there have been the same references to “terror”?
After the one at the start, we’re gifted with another argument from fiction here.
Would the same political leaders have turned up in a show of unity against “acts of terror against free speech”? Would 3.7 million people have turned up to insist that “Je suis Charlie”?
You know what? I think more would have. Because if the assassins had been Christians or Jews, we wouldn’t have heard, coming from monomaniacal censors and political opportunists, that protesting for freedom of speech and secularism in that context is somehow racist.
I doubt it.
We can regain our breath. The argument from fiction’s over.
We would do well to consider the Paris massacres and the ensuing cries of outrage not only in the context of terrorism, but in context of the long-held vilification of Muslims.
You just did, Ms. Sheth, and got nothing of value out of it. Maybe if someone that wasn’t so eager to see racism in secularism tried, they’d come up with something interesting.
Like many other religious and ethnic populations, Muslims are as complex as they are diverse, and they too have been at the receiving end of political and cultural persecution for a very long time. The cultural and political responses to the Charlie Hebdo massacres should take those circumstances into account.
Praise Allah it’s over.