Danny Cardwell's picture

    What Does Charlie Hebdo Mean For Us?

    The free press and the right to report, dissent or satirize without fear of criminal prosecution is often confused with the right to do so without facing the consequences of those actions. Terrorists aren't constrained by the law. I look forward to reading comments on political sites and blogs. The passion that some people write with is palpable. With that said, trolling a blog or social media site is different than attaching your name and identity to an article or cartoon that terrorists find offensive. The tragedy that unfolded at Charlie Hebdo in Paris was a brutal wake up call to those who choose to stand on principle.

    I'm willing to admit my intellectual limitations, but saying all Muslims aren't terrorists is akin to saying all black people aren't criminals: no serious person disputes this sort of claim. But where are we? In the face of rising fears in the western world, attacks like the one in Paris validate (for some) the distrust and hostility directed towards young Muslims. This is a negative synthesis. If stricter laws are imposed, more Muslims will feel pushed to the margins of society- which creates an atmosphere where further radicalization can occur. In my opinion we suffer from a lack of critical thinking and brutal honesty.

    Religion, like race, is such a sensitive issue that important questions are often trivialized or outright avoided. Telling the truth isn't a Pat Robertson one size fits all jingoistic rant, nor is it a liberal utopian diatribe about getting in touch with the feelings of the perpetrators of these attacks. Any attempt to tell an "objective" truth, or set of truths, about radical Islam has to be focused on historical context. We didn't just arrive here. This doesn't mean the west should be punching bags for past offenses, but we shouldn't disconnect their influence on today.

    I could be wrong, but the message I took from Charlie Hebdo was that standing on principle in the face of violent opposition can end in tragedy. I understand the willingness of some to put their lives on the line for an idea. Comedy has a way of broaching taboo topics in a way that straight dialogue can't, but the truth is: everyone wasn't laughing or willing to laugh. Now, fear has taken hold, and when we get scared in the west we cede more of our freedoms and double down on hatred. I sincerely mourn for the families affected by this tragedy. Sadly, this won't be the last clash between civilizations and ideologies.


    Sorry about the spacing. I'm struggling with this format.

    Danny you may have to down load google chrome. if you are not using it.  It solved my spacing problems on this site. My enter key was not letting me make paragraphs and other keying problems before I started using chrome.  

    Thanks. I will try that.

    You can also write your posts on a word processor and simply cut and past. I cut and paste mine directly from my blog, photos and all.  That way if I update a piece (which I'm notorious for doing) I simply re-paste it, like I'm about to do now.

    Thanks Eric!

    Danny, what browser are you using? I'll see if I can troubleshoot the issue.

    PS I fixed your spacing

    I was using a default Google browser. I am going to install Chrome later. Thanks for the edit.

    If you still have problems here, go back into your post (as if to edit), and see what Michael did to "fix" it. That's what I did, and now I just use the HTML codes.

    The reminder that people kill over ideas is, well, something we kind of forget in the Western world, where such acts are rare. I agree with you, there's history here. There's misery, poverty and discrimination for Algerians living in Paris. Radical Islam has proven an ineffective antidote for that.

    Kouachi was brought to trial in 2008; according to trial testimony, he had become radicalized by the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the later images of detainee mistreatment in Abu Ghraib prison...link

    Said and Cherif Kouachi are the massacre suspects. They became radicalized because of the US invasion of Iraq. Which France opposed.

    Republicans applauded George W. Bush when he said "America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our people."

    You can find that quote at boycottliberalism.com, on a page headlined: "Conservative Words of Wisdom".

    For those with memories longer than a news cycle, it was March, 2003, just before President George W. Bush ordered the 'shock and awe' invasion of Iraq, supported by at least 935 'falsehoods' they spread like crop dusters on the US mainstream media, that Republicans in Congress proposed renaming French Fries as Freedom Fries in Congressional food facilities because France did not support the war in Iraq.

    The war not only gave Islamic terrorists a cause, recruits, it also gave them a training ground, a 'terror university' in Iraq, US troops as targets, while also supplying them with weapons and explosives looted from Saddam's stockpile which Bush/Rumsfeld failed to secure.

    So the fiasco of an unnecessary war, possibly an international war crime, which was justified by a 'use of force' vote in Congress which failed on the Democrat side of the aisle is the gift that keeps on giving....

    BTW - for right wingers, a war isn't legal if it passes a vote in Congress.

    Any action against a sovereign nation must be approved by the UN Security Council to be 'legal'.

    GWB tried and failed to achieve UN approval for his Iraq War when Colin Powell went to the UN to present why war was necessary in February, 2003. He failed to convince the French:

    France also suggested that it would veto any resolution allowing military intervention offered by the US or Britain.

    You list some good points NCD especially that Kouachi was radicalized by US aggression against Muslims long before the offensive cartoons were printed.

    When insurgents attack US occupying forces I don't think you can call it terrorism although they also attacked civilians which is terrorism. The US has used terror as a tool of war since its inception beginning with the Native American genocide through WW2 with Japan and Germany and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Islamic Jihadis have few tools to fight the Hegemon  and are reduced to using a disgusting but effective method of striking back.

    ...standing on principle in the face of violent opposition can end in tragedy

    I would truncate your prefix: Violent opposition can end in tragedy.

    The folks who worked in the World Trade Center weren't standing on principle. Nor were the schoolchildren who were murdered in Pakistan. Islamic extremism did not start with a caricature of Mohammed, and it will not stop if there are no more caricatures. If Charlie Hebdo's journalists had not stood on principle, they might have preserved their own lives, but the killers would have found some other target. The lightning rod does not cause the lightning.

    I agree. The lighting rod doesn't cause lightning, but why be the lightning rod? Charb and Cabu had made statements in the past that they were willing to die for their beliefs. Working at a place like Charlie Hebdo is a risk in itself, one I wouldn't make. This could be seen as cowardice, but I would rather risk my life for concrete flesh and blood people. This notion that we can fight fundamentalist with satire is one I can't support. Maybe those jokes make life easier for those trapped in fear or victims of terrorism, but my guess would be that it does nothing to soften the hearts of radicals. I'm not saying journalist and cartoonist shouldn't engage in their craft, but don't fall for the false safety blanket of freedom of expression. I have the right to make racist statements without the fear of legal prosecution, but I don't pretend that calling someone an offensive name is an equivalent. Thanks for commenting. I love the space you have created for dialogue.

    Re: I love the space you have created for dialogue.

    Isn't it great? It took a lot of hard moderation work by Michael and others helping him over many years. I wanted to take the opportunity of your comment to thank him for that, us older users take it for granted sometimes. Welcome to Michael's ittle discussion place for grownups, Danny, hope you stick around.

    Nah, dag is not "Michael's" place. We all created this place. But I appreciate your appreciation. ;)

    Why climb a mountain? Why treat Ebola patients in Africa? Why join the resistance? People take personal risks many reasons. Barring Darwin-awards stupidity, I don't see the point of criticizing people who suffer or die because they took a risk for something they believe in. It's their life.

    Worse, such criticism smacks of blaming the victim, like criticizing a rape victim for wearing provocative clothing. You'll never get equality for women by telling them to cover themselves in Victorian dresses (or burkas) for their own safety. Likewise, you'll never get a free and open society by telling people to keep their provocative opinions to themselves for their own safety.

    PS I'm glad that you joined us. We love smart, thoughtful, opinionated writers.

    I don't want to "slut shame" anyone. I see the point you're making. I would only supplement it by drawing a distinction in some of the examples you listed. Climbing a mountain is a risk with the ending aim being accomplishment be it personal or for a cause one feels bigger than self interest. Treating Ebola is the kind of altruistic cause that benefits the giver and the recipient. I don't mean to cast any negative light on their deaths. That isn't my intention. I don't equate what I do with the risks soldiers make. Pushing the envelope is a great way of creating a dialogue. My point is that the pen is mightier than the sword, but provocation without any practical solution to the problems your pointing out seems empty. I admire their courage, but I don't equate it to someone in Afghanistan on the ground. I hope this doesn't seem callous.

    This is not a lightening rod gets hit by lightening, 1 + 1 =2. Although it seems many cannot compute much beyond action, reaction....simple addition....

    Saying "it does nothing to soften the hearts of radicals"......hey, I don't think the cartoons of Allah were to soften the hearts of radicals! 

    Neither were the cartoons of the Pope, Sarkozy, Hollande, the British or any other Charlie cartoons meant to soften hearts!

    They were meant to get people thinking skeptically about authority, religious and secular, and highlight hypocrisy, or contradictions between actions and words.

    The fact is, as I posted above, these Paris terrorists were reported to have been radicalized by the US invasion of Iraq, and US torture of Muslims.

    France did not support that invasion.

    Maybe French journalists and maybe their audience, the French, Muslim and non-Muslim, are smarter than us. Maybe they can compute beyond 1 +1 = 2. They did not get on the Iraq War bandwagon that set the Middle East in flames.

    Maybe journalism like Charlie, a French tradition of satire, is one reason why France did not make that fatal mistake and join the invasion of Iraq. My belief:

    Maybe it is our media, our journalists who are the real problem, maybe they are the ones most responsible for radicalizing so many Muslims by willfully going along with 'power' and 'President' and being a megaphone of support and propaganda for the Iraq invasion of 2003.

    As Churchill said of war, (it's outcome is not 'simple or foreseeable')

    Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy or that anyone who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events...

    Isn't this attack along the lines of 9/11 to the extent of getting maximum publicity and cred for the terrorists organizations, the purpose to keep dragging us into military action and improving the recruiting results of the terrorists? As tragic as this was, and as insensitive as this sounds, it was a tactic. Let's not repeat the insanity of invading Iraq.

    I don't think that this is that kind of Bin Laden theory scenario at all, don't see any evidence for it.

    I believe they are being straightforward, what they want is people worldwide to be afraid to blaspheme the prophet. It is all tied up with the inferiority complex thing, that the rest of the world doesn't show Islam enough respect. They will terrorize those who have the power to stir the blasphemy pot until it sinks in: show our religion and us great respect, fear us.

    In places like Pakistan where Islam rules, this is clearly a power issue of one culture over another. It is about showing respect to power. Minority religions must know their place. If people of other religions step out of line,and do or say something judged blasphemous, someone may put a boot on their neck and be backed up by the government rather than being punished for taking the law into their own hands.That's what these guys want, for everyone else in the world to be terrorized into great respect for Islam.

    P.S. If there is any overriding agenda here, I would think might be to recruit more young males to the cause with the power thing. And then once you have more of them, you can move on to Bin Laden theory....

    I just found this NPR story, it not just backs up my theory on this attack but suggests that the new direction of "Al Qaeda et. al." is the same. Al Qaeda online magazine Inspire has been pushing the same meme while no one was paying attention, their most wanted list all about striking the insulters, they're even after Salman Rushdie after all these years:

    ....To see how these threats and attacks have evolved over the past quarter-century, consider al-Qaida's most-wanted list, published in 2013 in its online magazine, Inspire.

    A couple of things stand out in the article titled "Wanted: Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam." First, it attracted little attention because it's the kind of thing the group does regularly. Second, the group did not target Western political or military leaders — the people who have actually waged war against the group.

    It didn't even mention the U.S. Navy's SEAL Team 6, which two years earlier had carried out the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

    Rather, the 10-person list was devoted to those who had committed a greater crime in the eyes of al-Qaida: They had insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. On the list were several cartoonists, along with a writer, a filmmaker and a fundamentalist U.S. preacher with a minuscule following.

    Among those named was Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, who was killed Wednesday. Another was Rushdie, who has earned a lifetime achievement award among Muslim radicals for The Satanic Verses, his novel that re-imagines parts of the prophet's life.....

    They care more about this than the U.S helping.bomb ISIS. Salman Rushdie and Ayann Hirsi Ali are important enemies over Barack Obama, Israel, France, the Saudi royals or Egyptian military, It's cartoonists, writers and talking heads.

    The lightning rod does not cause the lightning.

    How apt to the discussion. While true that the rod does not cause lightning, how it is shaped can affect how often or likely it is to be struck. Tesla proved and explained how Franklin's original pointed lightning rod made it a more likely lightning target than his improved, more rounded design. Charlie Hebdo's pointed humor made it the most attractive target for terrorists who were apparently fully-charged and ready to strike. A shame they failed to ground themselves someway to mitigate the damage. A rod, especially a pointed one, without a ground is worse than useless.


    Let's not get carried away with the analogy ;)

    Everyone should support the right to free expression even if it is crude and offensive but it appears that some people are moving beyond supporting the right  to supporting the content of the Charley Hebdo cartoons.

    Glen Greenwald at the Intercept has written an interesting post on this development.

    Re: where are we? In the face of rising fears in the western world

    You want to go really big picture, long term? Leave the freedom of speech issues behind, think about the attackers meme of enforcing their religious rule of no blasphemy of the prophet anywhere in the world.  And look at what is happening to the Mideast, what the real big picture goals of many of the radical Islamist groups of many varieties are: Religious segregation now, religious segregation forever in the region.

    What got me thinking on that  is this New York Times article "No Safety for Christians in the Mideast"

    ....The Middle East’s demography, in other words, is being fundamentally rewritten, particularly in recent months when militants of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, have expelled, murdered or persecuted Christians and other minorities in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

    For the first time in centuries, scholars of Middle Eastern religion say, Iraq is becoming an exclusively Islamic state after hosting one of the region’s biggest Christian minorities.

    “There is a feeling of ‘fin de race’ among Christians all over the Middle East,” the prominent Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi was widely quoted as saying before his death in 2011.

    “Each time a Christian goes, no other Christian comes to fill his place, and that is a very bad thing for the Arab world.”

    Indeed, Pope Francis told Middle Eastern Christians: “Your very presence is precious for the Middle East. You are a small flock, but one with a great responsibility in the land where Christianity was born and first spread. You are like leaven in the dough....

    What does that mean for us in the West? If it continues, doesn't look like it's going to reverse for decades at least. With the West.as pluralistic by choice? Maybe not much, as we've been able to get along with countries like Saudi Arabia for decades? As long as we stop supporting Israel so much? What about Southeast Asia, Hindu India vs. Muslim Pakistan/Afghanistan? Does that affect us?

    A world with much more religious segregation by country, how does that affect us? It's the trajectory we are on right now and attacks like these are just pushing it faster. Maybe it means a lot more immigration for the next few decades, of people that don't want to live in Islamic states.  Things like that. What about the Sunni/Shia rift and whether Iran gets nukes?

    Well, where does that take us? War of civllizations maybe if not physical, metaphorical? Certainly just the opposite of the initial promise of the internet.

    I would remind that meantime, elsewhere in the world, China is struggling with assimilating Christmas, the ancient western pagan celebration that was appropriated long ago by the Roman Catholicism...

    I'm not asking these questions in a judgmental way, I'm asking them in a "business analyst" kind of way, a "try to predict the future" kind of way. It's obvious radical Islam is not going away anytime soon! And it's forcing a lot of changes on the rest of the world and will continue to do so. We will have to deal with the repercussions of that for the rest of our lives, we should think about what those really might be, big picture.

    P.S. meta: I been bad doing all this posting, I've got to get back to work (on deadline.) Discuss amongst yourselves, don't get mad at me if I don't participate for a couple days.I thought it better for me to leave this up rather than delete it.

    Au contraire, Artsy is not bad.angel

    (You can take a girl away from the Nuns but you can't take the Nuns away from the girl.)

    As long as we're going meta...

    We should think about what basic human need religion, class and culture satisfy for not just radical Islamist groups but for the entire world's surplus population particularly its young men, including our own. What to do with the world's rapidly increasing surplus population (mostly male thanks to China's one-child policy, sex-selective abortion practices in India and a general preference for males in almost all cultures) may be the 21st century's biggest challenge. 

    You say we have have been able to get along with Saudi Arabia for decades and yet it was its dissatisfied and surplus young men who formed Al-Qaeda and almost all of the 9/11 hijackers, who were relatively affluent and well educated. And Saudi Arabia is pretty much the kind of Sharia state they say they want yet they were willing to sacrifice themselves for --- what? And why? What were they seeking or what were they missing in their lives?


    Emma, I think I understand your concern about excess male population and violence but I think it is a much deeper problem than merely numbers. Patriarchal societies have dominated the world for about 6000 yrs, violence and aggression   have been the hallmark of most of these societies including our own.

    Your point about the gender imbalance in China may be a problem for young men there but it may also offer some advantages and power to young Chinese women and immigration could relieve some of the imbalance. Excess poor Amerikan young women might find opportunities there that are unavailable in the Homeland because unemployment in China is one of the lowest in the world.

    Al Qaeda was started by a multimillionaire heir to a construction empire,OBL. The 9/11 hijackers were not that young nor were they part of the surplus young male population, that population is mostly in the West. Al Qaeda despises the Saudi ruling royalty because they are tools of the West and allowed US troops on what they consider sacred Islamic land, this was the stated reason for the 9/11 attack.

    Trying to frame the problem as , what is wrong with 'Them', only deflects from the root problems of 100 yrs of Western dominance and humiliation of the whole ME.



     In the original post . . .

    Mr Carldwell is quite correct.

    ''...everyone wasn't laughing or willing to laugh."

    From the Daily Mail.

    Why you shouldn't poke a bull with a big stick...

    I'm not saying you shouldn't... Only that it's obvious there are repercussions to consider.


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