Friday, January 16, 2015

Charlie Hebdo

This is just an assortment of cartoons drawn after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.


jeff725 said...

I need your opinion on this clip from "Russia Today," especially the Chris Hedges interview.

I agree with Hedges' assertion that economic despair is the primary source of terrorism. But I'm wrestling with the thought of how much should mainstream Islam, particularly the very conservative Wahhabi sect, be held to account.

Similarly, when an anti-abortion radical shoots up a clinic, how much should conservative Christianity be held to account when they bang the "pro-life" drum so loudly?

A very complex web of issues, isn't it?

This was a re-write of my original posting yesterday after "sleeping on it."

WCG said...

I agree that it's a complex web of issues, Jeff, but I disagree with Hedges. Poverty doesn't help, that's true, but neither does playing the victim. And it certainly doesn't help to blame the actual victims of this violence.

From what I've heard, many terrorists come from the middle class. And certainly, many of the supporters of terrorism are wealthy. Oil funds terrorism around the world.

You pointed out the similarity with Christian terrorism. Right-wing Christians who bomb abortion clinics aren't desperately poor. They still think of themselves as victims, because that's the attitude that's rampant in their faith-based circles. But it's just self-pity. It's just their excuse.

Muslim terrorists target aid workers, people working selflessly to help poor communities. If poverty is a contributing factor - and I'm sure it is - terrorists want to keep people poor. Their ideology, after all, is focused on the next world, not this one. Who cares what happens in this world, right?

As you say, it's complex. There are a lot of factors at work here. IMHO, we have a narrow path to walk. On the one side, blaming the victim is absolutely wrong. Violence is not an appropriate response to speech, even speech you don't like. I don't care if it's the official publication of the KKK, speech should be met only with speech.

Also, this is about religion. Faith-based thinking is a root cause, if not the root cause, of the violence on both sides. (I include the eagerness for religious war from the American right-wing.) To pretend that this is just about poverty, or the gap between rich and poor, misses the elephant in the room.

However, on the other side, no matter what Bill O'Reilly says, this is not a religious war. Fanatics on both sides want to make it a religious war, but it's not. If 1.6 billion Muslims were all terrorists, civilization would really have a problem!

Many Muslims who aren't terrorists are still sympathetic to the terrorists, just like many Christians who don't bomb abortion clinics are sympathetic to those who do. But it's simplistic to lump all believers together.

Sure, it's all about religion. Muslim terrorists justify their actions by pointing to their holy book, just as Christian terrorists have done for centuries. For the most part, Christians no longer murder heretics or burn women alive, but the passages justifying such things haven't been removed from the Bible.

The bottom line is that we need civilization before we can tackle problems of discrimination, poverty, or the widening gap between rich and poor. We can't find solutions through violence - certainly not random violence. To excuse violence because of poverty or discrimination sets civilization back.

We have to defend civilization while we're also working on those problems. One of the ways I defend civilization is by attacking faith-based thinking. But the faith-based around the world need to understand that freedom of speech and freedom of religion benefits everyone.

I defend their right to say what they want, too. But I'm not about to excuse violence, and I have no problem with defending civilization from violent people. (How we should do that is, of course, another complex matter.)