Freedom of speech outweighs the freedom to take offence: religious maniacs, terrorists and Jihadis have some gall to take protection in the West and then seek to destroy it from within. Their offence-seeking is pathetic if it weren’t so dangerous. What the Hebdo cartoonists did was offensive; if it offends you that your Omnipotent God is belittled by a drawing, and you think it’s acceptable to threaten to kill or then eventually murder your enemy, then you have no God, or at least you have a savage and vindictive one. Many international media organisations won’t reprint the most controversial cartoons out of fear of threats to their staff. On a basic level, who would you rather hang-out with: a bunch of piss-takers or a group of utterly ruthless zealots? Do we stand with the Mischief Makers or with the Jihadists? When it comes to binaries, there really is only one choice.
Islamic Fundamentalism is real. It is a minority point of view but growing due to compound malign influences; Saudi/Wahabbist-sponsored Madrassas pre-date both gulf wars and litany of hatred of Western values is pumped out from these ‘educational’ establishments. The recent BBC ‘Panorama’ episode shows that there is an alarming growth in extremism among young Muslim males in Britain. While the comparatively recent wars in Iraq and Israel’s shameful and degrading ‘war’ on the Palestinians are grounds for saying that events have radicalised a younger generation, Islamic Fundamentalist hatred of freedom of thought and expression was grounded in the Rushdie affair before the first gulf war. It is a longstanding hatred.
Which brings us on to the ‘Whatabouttery’ of the Cultural Marxists and Hard Left. Within a few short hours of pseudo-symapathy for the dead, the Hard Left started switching the blame away from a coterie of murderous thugs to, variously, the French themselves, Western Leaders in general, Racism (the concept) and the US in particular. These relativists looked increasingly more ridiculous with each new pivot; it seems they would rather the chaos of cultural and political collapse than the solidarity of Democrats uniting in opposing religious intolerance and barbarism.We can all go back to Cain and Abel to uncover the roots of violence but we need to accept responsibility for our actions, now. A Popular Front is always stronger in combating racism and intolerance than the sectarian strife supported by some on the Left.
Which brings us to France itself. The French state has a proud tradition of human rights at home, and a disastrous and – that word again – shameful – colonial past, But there is a democratic consensus that can and has come out strongly against intolerance, racial hatred and ‘balkanisation’ of race and religion. They can do this by upholding the values of the Republic; this includes respect for diversity, from all sides. There needs to be a further shunning of the National Front by all the mainstream parties; fascism and Islamic Fundamentalism need each other to thrive, both are repugnant to democrats.
The recent attacks show how precarious a democratic state can be. Two or three days of madness can have citizens asking fundamental questions about what holds them together.Voting is one such mechanism that keeps us joined at the sinews; we can all complain about a vote not making a difference or that they’re all the same or that the power structure can’t be properly changed from within. But if you don’t vote, they get in. In France, there are serious issues that can only be addressed through democratic consent and assent. French citizens need to, and will, stand by the Republic now more than ever.
We still have more that unites us than divides us; basic needs, altruistic aspirations and a higher evolved belief to do onto others as we would do onto ourselves.The ‘golden rule’ unites all religions and none. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights evolved out of the terrible destruction of two world wars. There is a strength in democratic solidarity; let’s not let the dividers win. Charlie Hebdo stood up to bullies and paid the ultimate price. Let’s stand up for their memory and their legacy. Vive La Revolution, Vive La France!