Mocking Jordan's monarch is a criminal offence liable to prosecution in a military court, but when King Abdullah of Jordan (pictured above with the French president, François Hollande) attended the demonstration on January 11th in Paris to express support for free speech in the wake of the Paris attack, some found ridicule hard to suppress. How could he march in defence of freedom of expression abroad, they asked, when he is such a serial abuser of that freedom at home? Last June he expanded the remit of an anti-terrorism law to include public criticism of the king or his allies. His spooks trawl social media for dissenting Jordanians to arrest. On December 18th the deputy leader of Jordan's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood was tried before military judges for a colourful posting denouncing Jordan's allies in the Emirates on his Facebook page. Salafi preachers declining to opine in favour of coalition attacks on Islamic State are sent back to jail. "Everyone in Jordan is assumed to be a terrorist until proven innocent," says an embittered Islamist.
Ah enfinShlomo Sand speaks on the attacks in Paris and as almost always adds much needed perspective to the debate:
Some of the caricatures I saw in Charlie Hebdo – long before the shooting – seemed to me to be in bad taste; only a minority made me laugh. But that’s not the problem. In the majority of the magazine’s cartoons about Islam that came to my attention over the last decade, what I saw was manipulative hatred, mainly designed to appeal to its (obviously, non-Muslim) readers. I thought Charlie’s reproduction of the cartoons from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten was deplorable. In 2006 – yes, already back then – I thought that the drawing of Mohammed wearing a bomb as a turban was a pure provocation. It wasn’t so much a caricature attacking Islamists, as a stupid reduction of Islam to terrorism; it’s a bit like identifying Judaism with money!
Some say that Charlie took on all religions indiscriminately, but what does that really mean? Certainly it did mock Christians and sometimes Jews. All the same, neither the Danish paper nor Charlie would go so far – fortunately enough – to publish a caricature presenting the prophet Moses as a crafty usurer loitering on a street corner in a kippah and tassels. It’s a good thing, indeed, that in what people today call ‘Judaeo-Christian’ civilisation it’s no longer possible to spread anti-Jewish hatred in public, like it was in the distant past. I am for freedom of expression, but at the same time I’m against racist incitement. I’ll admit that I’m happy to go along with the ban on Dieudonné publicly expressing his ‘critique’ and his ‘banter’ about Jews. However, I am absolutely opposed to him being physically assaulted, and if by chance some idiot did attack him, I would be very shocked… but then again, I wouldn’t go as far as waving a placard around bearing the words ‘Je suis Dieudonné’.
This mistake in James D. le Sueur article's on the terrorist attacks,in Paris at the Walrus irks me because it isn't innocent:
French Muslim comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala—who already had established himself as a controversial figure—now faces up to seven years in prison for using Facebook to declare his apparent solidarity with the Kosher-market murderer (“Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”). The arrest seemed hypocritical for a nation seeking to reaffirm its protection of speech—even highly irreverent speech.
Dieudonné isn't Muslin and is as French as Sarkozy. Thus, I wonder why his frenchness is always questioned when both his brand of 'humor' and his antisemitism are very French!
Although the French are in no mood for compromise at the moment, they might want to reflect on the fact that America’s Muslim minority, which is free to wear headscarves or not, is far more integrated into American life than France’s. The immediate response in France to the recent massacre has been more forcefully to push its “our way or the highway” form of assimilation, which has, frankly, not been working. This past week, when the French school system enforced a minute of silence for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack (generally under “Je Suis Charlie” signs), incidents were reported at some seventy French schools—mostly ones with large Muslim populations—where students resisted the observance. While many French see this as siding with the terrorists over the victims, this is not necessarily so. The French state was, in fact, forcing those students to pay homage to a publication that had, in their view, mocked their religion. If it is legitimate for Charlie Hebdo to publish offensive cartoons, it must be legitimate to object, peacefully, to its doing so.
Dark times are ahead and yes, I am afraid and not optimistic!
Our biggest advantage is that our Muslim populations, they feel themselves to be Americans (...)There are parts of Europe in which that’s not the case. And that’s probably the greatest danger that Europe faces…It’s important for Europe not to simply respond with a hammer and law enforcement and military approaches to these problems.
Ah I can't believe that some still believe that Obama gets the world because he claimed to be a citizen of the world!
In Baga, [Nigeria] world political leaders will soon gather to demonstrate in defense of freedom and against terrorism. They will mourn the loss of 20,000 Black Africans. It is expected that these events will lead to intense media exposure and public debates worldwide.
Que dire ? Aesthetics matters more than anything in politics and activism; black still isn't beautiful...enough...
Western societies are not, even now, the paradise of skepticism and rationalism that they believe themselves to be. The West is a variegated space, in which both freedom of thought and tightly regulated speech exist, and in which disavowals of deadly violence happen at the same time as clandestine torture. But, at moments when Western societies consider themselves under attack, the discourse is quickly dominated by an ahistorical fantasy of long-suffering serenity and fortitude in the face of provocation.
One if my core beliefs is that we are all Westerners now and that the West cannot separate itself from the rest. From that perspective, the attacks in Paris aren't solely about the ills of French society but rather a reminder that il n'y a plus de frontiéres ..
It is no longer possible for any country to behave as if the world doesn't matter. That's said they are all going to try and to act as if our age is still the one of Manifest Destiny.
Happy new year with a sugary excerpt from Tom Slater:
Art is no longer judged on its own terms. Instead it is an artist’s social responsibility, the pertinence of their work to the political and cultural concerns of the day, that matters. It’s what the novelist Howard Jacobson warned of in 2005, when, in the wake of 9/11, he was perturbed by the shallow art that was celebrated for, in some way, ‘dealing with’ the ‘war on terror’. ‘We are in a new dark age of the imagination’, he wrote. ‘(...) In 2014, the philistinism Jacobson warned of has gone a step further. Not only is socially irresponsible work ‘bad’ - apparently it’s dangerous. Fuelled by a growing contempt for the audience – a refusal to believe in their ability to grapple with nuanced, subversive or even exploitative subject matter – these cultural colonialists have decided to weaponise culture. If all people are blank slates, if we are so easily programmed by the ‘messages’ we receive, then someone should at least make sure we are getting the right kind of messages, or so the logic goes.
Torture is a sign of hubris–of the arrogant feeling that we have the power and knowledge to carry out torture properly. We don’t. The ancient Greeks knew that the antidote to hubris is reverence, a quality singularly missing in modern American life.
American campus feminists and the majority of people who write for mainstream websites are among the most privileged, the most protected, the freest people on the planet. It is unbecoming, and unproductive, to continue to cling to a sense of invincible unfreedom.
Feminism is not fragile. To borrow from Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, memorably portrayed by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men (1992), feminism can handle the truth, told straight. Sisterhood is powerful. Instead of devouring their own, feminists should use that power against the real enemies.
Criminals and gangsters should not be fetishized as “terrorists.” It is just a way for them to inflate their egos. People are violent and sadistic because they are violent and sadistic, not because they have any particular ideology.
(...) herein lies the Torture Report's central paradox. It is because the Senate report provides such devastating details into the Torture Program that the stakes for the rule of law are now so high. By demonstrating the depth and degree of America’s lawlessness, the Torture Program shines the light even more brightly on law’s absence in addressing the crimes of the past.
The Taliban’s credibility had been low when they were driven out in 2001: they’d failed to deal with a drought, they’d mysteriously banned the cultivation of opium but not its sale, they’d built nothing for the people except madrasas, and they were operating an obnoxious system of conscription. It took the coming of the Americans and the return of the mujahedin commanders to make the Taliban look good by comparison.
There’s an entire generation of children, now grandchildren and great grandchildren, of Nazis and their fellow travelers, and they’ve all had to come to terms with the actions of their parents and grandparents.
Ferguson is turning into a poor exhibit for the policy causes that it’s being used to elevate. We will never know exactly what happened in the shooting of Michael Brown, but at this point the preponderance of the available evidence suggests that this case is at the very least too ambiguous, and quite possibly too exculpatory of the officer involved, to effectively illustrate a systemic indictment of police conduct. Meanwhile, while I continue to believe that the looting and vandalism in Ferguson do not, by their mere existence, prove that a full-metal-jacket police response to the protests was wise or productive — quite the reverse;
I am reminded of Donald Rumsfeld affirming during the looting in Baghdad and elsewhere during the 2003 Iraq war that freedom was untidy.
Sugary excerpt from last week's Ta-nehisi Coates must-read article on Obama and Ferguson:
Hope is what Barack Obama promised to bring, but he was promising something he could never bring. Hope is not the naiveté that would change the face on a racist system and then wash its hands of its heritage. Hope is not feel-goodism built on the belief in unicorns. Martin Luther King had hope, but it was rooted in years of study and struggle, not in looking the other way. Hope is not magical. Hope is earned.