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Monday, January 19, 2015


Charlie Hebdo and the aftermath.

What should we say about the Muslim terror attacks in Paris and Charlie Hebdo?  Having waited a decent interval for the dead to be buried and the marchers to go home, for the hot outrage to have cooled, let's have a discussion.

What made Charlie a target?  It dared make fun of Mohammad.  That is not allowed by Muslims.

Few people were aware of this magazine before the assault by Muslim terrorists. It's circulation is modest and it's treatment of its subject matter is tasteless.  Charlie is a virulently anti-religious magazine but it has the distinction of including Islam as a target.  Most other Western publications use a deferential tone when discussing Islam, referring the Mohammad as "The Prophet" and endlessly referring to Islam as the "Religion of Peace."   These same publications are uninhibited in their discussion of Christianity, and evangelical Christianity is mocked mercilessly. The press does not refer to Christ as Messiah Jesus.  Unlike the Koran, the Bible is often referred to, not as Christianity's "Holy Book" but as the object of "Bible Thumpers."

You can be absolutely sure that every Christmas or Easter a newspaper or magazine near you will have an article by a "modern" biblical scholar deconstructing scripture, or one about "finding" Jesus' tomb with the bones still inside.  The Virgin Mary comes in for special treatment;  the BBC aired a program claiming that Jesus' real father was a Roman soldier who raped Mary.  

In a country that is roughly three-quarters Christian, the media feel free to attack Christianity and disparage Christians.  In fact it's admired for its anti-clericalism in the social circles these people inhabit.  But they show respect for Muslims sensibilities because they're cowards.  They know that Muslims will kill you, Methodists don't.

Which brings us to Charlie.  With the exception of the Muslim world, there is universal agreement that the terrorist attack by Islamofascists on Charlie is despicable.  But militant Islamists have been killing people in large numbers for quite while now.  The Middle East and parts of Africa are in flames thanks to violent Islamic movements.  The thing that made Charlie's mass murder shocking was it's location - the center of Paris -  by young French men with a Middle Eastern heritage.  It brought into sharp focus the growth of a violent Islamic community in the center of Europe.   Europe is under attack.  It's people, it's culture and it's very existence as a Western enclave is in question.

In a way, Charlie Hebdo and its attackers have something in common.  Neither one has much use for European culture.   Like Barack Obama, they wish to fundamentally transform it.  Muslims by immigration, non-assimilation, and the threat of violence.  The Left - and make no mistake Charlie is firmly on the Left -  through its dominance of the media and academia.  

But just because both despise the existing culture does not mean that they are not at each others throats. They despise each other and are fighting for dominance.  In Weimar Germany two Leftist movements - Communists and Nazis - battled in the streets and the beer halls for dominance.  It was "Uncle Joe" Stalin who labelled the Nazis's "right wing," and the press has been parroting that lie ever since.  The Nazi's were not calling themselves "National Socialists" with any sense of irony.

Which brings us to the question, should we chant "I am Charlie?"  Should we applaud Charlie?  Should we imitate Charlie?  Is free speech an end in itself or the means to an end?  Is free speech absolute?  Should certain things be off limits, if not legally then morally?  Let's agree that no one should be killed for being offensive.  But a Muslim physician in Baltimore makes some good points about the way the media - supposedly the champion of free speech - doesn't practice what it preaches.

Different patients hurt at different places. Just because my sensitivity is my Prophet, does not mean yours has to be a divine figure as well. For Jews, Moses may be fair game, but mocking the Holocaust is not. For Christians, ridiculing Jesus causes varying levels of angst. For Blacks, the N-word is off-limits. And certain ridicule has left the LGBT community so terrified that it hurts all over.

It's largely our social — not legal — codes that bar us from poking at others' tender spots. 

And when these codes are violated, we rush to amend. When PepsiCo released an ad for Mountain Dew in 2013 that was deemed racist and misogynist, it was axed. When Snickers launched a 2007 Super bowl ad showing two straight men accidentally kissing, it was considered to be homophobic and benched. When a Jewish-owned company created a billboard ad for a budget vodka, boasting "Christmas Quality, Hanukkah Pricing," it was quickly pulled. 

Yet, no one thought it was the end of the First Amendment. Why then, can the American Muslims not ask for the end to hurtful material against Prophet Muhammad without getting a free speech lecture shoved down their throats? 

If "nothing should be off limits," as American Muslims are reminded, then why do we mollify other groups? Why do we lionize free speech only when it ridicules Prophet Muhammad?

Unfortunately for him, his examples refute his conclusion.  The press does not lionize free speech. The media do not practice free speech or we would not have any references to A Word That Must Not Be Uttered By A White Man That Begins With "N." His other examples also refute his point that Muslims are uniquely picked on in the press.  But he does have a larger point, it's simply bad manners, immature, juvenile, stupid, ill bred and generally offensive to make fun of other people's sacred beliefs.   

Charlie was not focused on ridiculing Muslims.  They specialized on ridiculing everyone and everything that represented Western culture and did it in the crudest terms.  They were an equal opportunity insult machine and Christianity was one of their favorite targets.   

....Charb’s wide repertoire of freaks and grotesques, who range from the various popes to Jesus himself, depicted nude and sodomizing his heavenly father 

Become more like Charlie?  No.  Even if we sympathize and grieve for the victims of the terrorist attacks.  Because the Left, the nihilists, the iconoclasts are a dead end, a soulless collective.  The Communist dream mashed together with a "whatever floats your boat" ethical standard.    

There are any number of  reasons to oppose Islamic expansion and violence.  In my opinion, Islam is a violent, oppressive political movement dressed up as a religion.  Kwanzaa with a prophet.  The attack on Charlie did not add or detract from that opinion.  The attack was a wake-up call only to the simple-minded who believed that Islam really is a religion of peace.  It may help the low-information crowd to understand that Islam is on the march and will kill you, even in Paris, unless you submit.  

But the means to resist and roll Islam back are found in our religion, our culture, and our morality.  If we become more like Charlie we disarm ourselves because Charlie believes in nothing more elevated than an accidental universe while followers of Islam believes in something greater.  When it comes to a mortal struggle, people who believe in something greater than themselves have a big advantage over those who only believe in themselves.  When George H.W. Bush was Vice President he attended a series of funerals of Soviet leaders.  After Brezhnev funeral in 1982 he remarked "there was something missing.  There was no mention of God.  There was no hope, no joy, no life ever after .... So discouraging in a sense, so hopeless, so lonely in a way."  It took a while, but those who believed in the Soviet "new man" were vanquished by those who believed in God.

People who are willing to kill themselves via suicide bombings believing that they will go to heaven with 72 virgins of their own are more motivated and infinitely more dangerous than people who believe that this brief life is all there is, so you have to "Go for the gusto" (drinking beer), or by publishing a magazine filled with bad cartoons mocking Christ or Mohammad. 

If the West is successful again, as it once was before the Gates of Vienna, it will succeed for reasons that are the exact opposite of the kind of nihilism that motivates Charlie Hebdo.  Be Breitbart , be courageous for truth.

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