Like every decent human being, I am aghast at the slaughter that occurred...at the Paris offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. We do not yet know for certain who is responsible for the massacre of 12 people, although the attackers reportedly stated that “the prophet is avenged,” suggesting that responsibility lies with an Islamic extremist group. In any case, we can be sure that it was one of the many satirical images published by the magazine that led to the attack. For Charlie Hebdo was in the business of giving offense, and it tried hard to offend everyone — right and left, Protestant and Catholic, Muslim and Jew, male and female, Western and non-Western. It was, if you’ll pardon the expression, an equal opportunity offender, and it reveled in its freedom to vex, irritate and derange.Some wise words from the New Yorker. Who is to blame for the murders? Only the murderers. To quote:
If the magazine’s omnidirectional impudence had been limited to words, it probably would not have ended in a bloodbath. Language creates boundaries that words cannot transcend, even with the help of translators. Images, however, can cross linguistic boundaries as if they did not exist. Images are immediate, their effect is visceral, and as the journalist Jeet Heer reminds us, they move rapidly. The artists at Charlie Hebdo made no effort to blunt their impact or to convey the full historical context out of which their imagery grew.
There is an old Parisian tradition of cheeky humor that respects nothing and no one. The French even have a word for it: “gouaille.” Think of obscene images of Marie-Antoinette and other royals, of priests in flagrante delicto with nuns, of devils farting in the pope's face and Daumier’s caricatures of King Louis-Philippe, whom he portrayed in the shape of a pear. It's an anarchic populist form of obscenity that aims to cut down anything that would erect itself as venerable, sacred or powerful. Such satirical humor has little in common with the kind of witty political satire with which Americans are familiar today through watching Jon Stewart or John Oliver. While not apolitical (attacks on Marie-Antoinette surely had a political valence), gouaille does not seek to stake out a political position or mock one political party to the benefit of another. It is directed, rather, against authority in general, against hierarchy and against the presumption that any individual or group has exclusive possession of the truth.
The satire that Charlie Hebdo exemplified was more blasphemous than political, and its roots lie deep in European history, dating from a time when in order to challenge authority, one had to confront divinity itself. In that one respect, the fanatics are not wrong: Charlie Hebdo was out to undermine the sacred as such. (Read more.)
The murders...in Paris are not a result of France’s failure to assimilate two generations of Muslim immigrants from its former colonies. They’re not about French military action against the Islamic State in the Middle East, or the American invasion of Iraq before that. They’re not part of some general wave of nihilistic violence in the economically depressed, socially atomized, morally hollow West—the Paris version of Newtown or Oslo. Least of all should they be “understood” as reactions to disrespect for religion on the part of irresponsible cartoonists.The terrorists and the Revolution. From Godfather Politics:
They are only the latest blows delivered by an ideology that has sought to achieve power through terror for decades. It’s the same ideology that sent Salman Rushdie into hiding for a decade under a death sentence for writing a novel, then killed his Japanese translator and tried to kill his Italian translator and Norwegian publisher. The ideology that murdered three thousand people in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. The one that butchered Theo van Gogh in the streets of Amsterdam, in 2004, for making a film. The one that has brought mass rape and slaughter to the cities and deserts of Syria and Iraq. That massacred a hundred and thirty-two children and thirteen adults in a school in Peshawar last month. That regularly kills so many Nigerians, especially young ones, that hardly anyone pays attention. (Read more.)
"No country knows better than France that freedom has a price because France gave birth to democracy itself,” John Kerry said. “France sparked so many revolutions of the human spirt [and] that is what the extremists fear the most.”What? The case could be made that the extremists were only copying what the French revolutionaries did. Why should they be condemned? They were only following a long French tradition that is celebrated around the wold.
It's no surprise, therefore, that Christiane Amanpour described the terrorists as "activists."
In terms of what most young people learn, it was Greece that gave birth to Democracy. While this is a popular interpretation, Democratic elements can be found in the Hebrew republic (Ex. 18; 1 Sam. 8). In modern times, especially if we are to count the 18th century, it was the United States that gave birth to democracy, and France tried to emulate the birthing process but failed miserably and bloodily.
Contrary to John Kerry, the French Revolution is nothing to celebrate. It should be condemned with the strongest possible language. The world has lost its moral center and is unable to account for moral outrage at a time when moral relativism reigns.
Those on trial at Nuremberg pointed to our nation's eugenics' policies and Supreme Court decision in Buck. v Bell (1927) in their defense.
The storming of the Bastille was a catalyst for what became known as the reign of terror. “French society underwent an epic transformation as feudal, aristocratic and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from left-wing political groups and the masses on the streets.” How bad was it?
“Internally, popular sentiments radicalized the Revolution significantly, culminating in the rise of Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins and virtual dictatorship by the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror from 1793 until 1794 during which between 16,000 and 40,000 people were killed.”Did you get that? Between 16,000 and 40,000 French citizens were killed for a better France. Consider the following:
“Ordered by the king [Louis XVI] to surrender, more than 600 Swiss guards were savagely murdered. The mobs ripped them to shreds and mutilated their corpses. ‘Women, lost to all sense of shame,’ said one surviving witness, ‘were committing the most indecent mutilations on the dead bodies from which they tore pieces of flesh and carried them off in triumph.’ Children played kickball with the guards’ heads. Every living thing in the Tuileries [royal palace in Paris] was butchered or thrown from the windows by the hooligans. Women were raped before being hacked to death.