Thursday, January 22, 2015

Better commentary on the Charlie Hebdo massacre

Since I often have offered the opinions of William Donohue as my own on a wide range of topics, I've been planning to post for some time with regard to how much I disagreed with his press release two weeks ago in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Donohue mentions how important it is to be "unequivocal", then he coughs this up:

Stephane Charbonnier, the paper’s publisher, was killed today in the slaughter. It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. In 2012, when asked why he insults Muslims, he said, “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.” Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive. Muhammad isn’t sacred to me, either, but it would never occur to me to deliberately insult Muslims by trashing him.

This is pure victim-blaming, and the only explanation I'll offer cannot be an excuse for a man as bright as Donohue. He had waged battles against Charlie Hebdo and other publications which insulted religion in the past and he seems to have felt a certain justice had been served by their murders. This is not unlike the phenomenon of Jodi Arias supporters who go too far in their empathy for someone suffering at the hands of a sex-abusing reprobate. But Arias didn't get a restraining order against Travis Alexander, she murdered him. If a sensible man educates himself on what we know about the type of person Alexander was, he wouldn't want him near any of his female friends or relatives. But he was murdered; it's not about him anymore. It's about a crime which is worse.

What troubles me even more is that this characterization of an anger which is supposedly righteous and yet leads to murder misses out entirely on the nature of Islamic jihad and the threat it poses. The men who perpetrated this violence were soldiers. If there was a miraculous religious conversion at Charlie Hebdo two months ago and everyone repented and disbanded the paper, is it sensible to think that these jihadists would not have perpetrated any terrorist attack ever? They would have just waited until another target was acquired; that's what soldiers do. Look at the Boston Marathon bombing — jihadists didn't need an insult to their religion to target a foot race. Is it insulting to Muhammad to watch a soccer game? Should kids who watch a soccer game be publicly executed? Some Islamists think that's a wonderful idea, obviously, and so in a country without any "satirical" magazines that's as good a target as any for the jihad. And we could list more.

So once again, I think that William Donohue has done a very poor job of picking the bad guy here, and I'm wondering if it might be a good time for good old Bill to take a senior advisory role at the Catholic League. You don't have to hang a Je suis Charlie sign around your neck to get your priorities straight in a response. A better Catholic response was offered yesterday by George Weigel who wisely waited a few weeks before pointing out the vulnerabilities of Europe's secularism which are epitomized by Charlie Hebdo. Excerpt:

If all that Europe can say in condemning the despicable murders of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists and editors is “We are all Charlie Hebdo,” then what Europe is saying is, in effect, “We are all nihilists.” And how, pray, is nihilism—nothingness raised to a first principle, skepticism taken to the last extreme—supposed to defeat conviction, however warped that conviction is? If all that Europe can say to murderous jihadism is “Why can’t we all just get along?” its fecklessness will make it an even softer target for the kind of lethal fanaticism that recently turned Paris into a war zone.

There’s another aspect to this tangled and bloody business that’s worth noting, and that is the high price that Europe, and France in particular, is paying for culturally engrained (and sometimes legally enforced) political correctness. Virtually proscribing public discussion of the threat to European civility and order posed by Islamist maniacs has made dealing with that threat far more difficult: for citizens, for the security services, and for the public authorities. In the years since 9/11, the French public square has been dominated by the jihadists and the xenophobes; and in that volatile social environment, something very bad was going to happen. Now that it has, perhaps steps can be taken to bring the adults—and the real issues—back into the discussion.

Unfortunately I'm not sure that William Donohue is one of the "adults" on this topic any more than those infected with nihilism and/or political correctness. One of the secondary effects of the murders is to send the popularity of Charlie Hebdo soaring and selling more copies than ever before. So if the true purpose of these jihadists was to silence those who attach their religion, they are miserable failures. But if their purpose is to "[C]ast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve... (Qur'an 8:12)" then they are a success. Yes, many Muslims have already voiced this opinion; the them what these jihadists did in the name of Islam was fully justified.

No comments:

Post a Comment