Friday, January 09, 2015
a little assemblage of thoughts on the tragic events in paris
the tragic events in paris at charlie hebdo are on my mind, like they surely are for you as well. i'd frankly never heard of the magazine before, but my french is pretty weak, so it's no wonder. i have great affection for biting satire that forces you to think deeper and from what i've seen and read, they produce a newspaper in that vein. it is a horrible tragedy that they were slaughtered for doing so by people who didn't agree with their views and methods. it's so horrible that i think on some level i can't even really fathom it. it seems quite unreal, even in the face of graphic videos shot by bystanders. so it's taken me a few days to begin to collect my thoughts enough to write something about it. but i have been reading a lot of articles about it in a variety of places, from the nytimes to the guardian to danish newspapers to a friend's blog. that blog is probably the best, most sensible piece i've read.
i find it exceptionally disheartening what the tragedy seems to have done to people. i see it in my facebook feed, but i'm also reading it in the various opinion pieces online. it's not only the blood and gore of it, but how it has turned on a hatred of an entire religion, based on the actions of a few fanatics. my facebook feed is full of people calling for closing denmark's borders and sending home syrian refugees, calls to withdraw all resources from programs which help people in need who happen to be muslim. there is a mass reaction that is very black & white, very unnuanced and which, in my view, contains as much hate as those men with the guns must have felt on wednesday. it's a similar kind of reactionary fanaticism. and it's tinged with more than a little racism and xenophobia. and to me, it means that the terrorists have won beyond their wildest imagination. if they can make us fear and hate at the same level as they do, they have reduced us.
i am heartened to see pockets of rationality and sense here and there. twitter is our barometer these days and like in australia, where a supportive hashtag surfaced, saying #illridewithyou, after the lunatic held all those hostages in the lindt café, there seems to be a groundswell of folks rallying around the policeman they so brutally shot, saying #jesuisahmed, rather than #jusuischarlie, which carries with it a more radical connotation.
it is hard to see what good can possibly come of this, but i do hope that we are able to take up a discussion which allows us to discuss the nuances and actually begin to address the problems that underlie these things...like the imbalance of resources in this world, the imperialist notions of those in the west, so sure of our own superiority, like getting education to women and the young populations of the muslim countries, so that they can see that they have options other than violence. rather than saying we need to send all of the foreigners home, maybe we should make them more welcome around here. it's much harder for people to hate and kill when they are your friends.