Je Suis Charlie” is done, over. Radical Islamists murdered the editors and writers of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, France and lots of people (not all) across the world were outraged and joined arms in unity against such anti-social, anti- free speech action by the radicals. The magazine, not for the first time, not only had depicted the Prophet Mohammed, but ridiculed him, as they ridiculed other religions and political parties. The Islamic revenge attack killed several more people and injured others. Obviously, these Islamic radicals crossed the line.
So, we’re outraged. But, why are we surprised? These Islamic fundamentalists are radical, murderous no matter what religion they espouse. What the magazine printed was only an excuse. The radicals want to kill any and all who disagree with them. And, make no mistake, they espouse Islam. That’s their religion and that’s the name in which they kill. And, they have broad support throughout the Muslim world. In fact, one survey I read showed that a majority of Muslims agreed that Charlie Hebdo deserved what it got.
On the other hand, not all Muslims are extremists or believe in exterminating all others. In fact, fundamentalists are killing more Muslims than Christians, other believers (in anything), and atheists.
In truth, they are more problem to other Muslims than to the rest of the world. The truth, again, is that these radical Muslims are what they are: radicals who have no place in modern society.
In the meantime, the conversation had been drawn back to what is appropriate to comment about someone else’s religion. Or, more simply put, what is free speech? Well, free speech is free speech. Unless it’s an explicit threat or, perhaps (in limited circumstances), a call for specific violence, it’s free speech. Religious leaders such as Pope Francis, as well as non-radical Muslims, think there should be limits on free speech. They mean speech that denigrates or mocks their religion. Amazing. I didn’t hear any religious leader, Protestant, Muslim or Catholic, criticizing the play, “The Book of Mormon.” I found the play (I’m not a Mormon) only moderately funny unless the repeated use of the “F” word is comedy in itself, and the entire play a mockery of the Mormon religion. Alert to other Christians: Mormons are Christians.
Let’s face it. Very few of us are offended about mocking someone else’s religion or political position (often connected); just don’t mock ours. Double standards abound. French law punishes anti-semitic speech or print and carefully parses hate speech; US colleges have strict restrictions upon speech; Charlie Hebdo would not be permitted on those campuses, etc., etc. Liberal east and west coast universities allow conservative speakers to be booed out of auditoriums or are outright banned. The difference is that no one in the west proposes killing in retaliation for hate or politically incorrect observations.
However, let’s cut to the chase. Whatever the outrage, whatever discussions, whatever rational considerations pundits and politicians give, whatever our own naive government chooses to call the “terrorist incidents” from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2001 and beyond, the reality is that fundamental Islam is an evil religious movement with millions of supporters across the world. They aren’t interested in integrating or assimilating. They are not receptive to rational discussion or accommodation or compromise.
Ultimately, this may be, and already is, an internal Islamic problem which includes the innate rivalry and enmity between Sunnis and Shias. It may have to be solved in the end within that religion. However, for the time being it affects all peoples and all religions. It is not ours to worry about backlash against Muslims. They have to struggle with that. There are encouraging signs. The President of Egypt, General Al Sisi has openly challenged Egyptian clerics to rescue Islam from this smear. The Muslim mayor of Rotterdam called for Muslim immigrants to accept their new countries or leave.These are welcome voices we need to support.
In the meantime, Europe, with the attack in France has had a wake-up call. A war that Europeans considered pretty much a US battle now appears to be theirs, also. With more unassimilated Muslim immigrants, many already radicalized and with easy travel arrangements within Europe and to the Middle East, Europe finds its countries’ values threatened to the core. Perhaps they’ll be more of a ready and cooperative ally and less aloof, less disdainful of US actions than they have been in the past.
Somethin’ on My Mind is an opinion column written by Bill Northrop. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Gabber publishers, staff or advertisers. Contact Bill at B_Northrop@theGabber.com.