Friday, January 09, 2015

France doth protest too much about Charlie Hebdo

How dare I say "I am NOT Charlie Hebdo"!* How dare I think the World Trade Center twin towers were ugly (I did and I do) and the bond traders within were somewhat less than saints and heroes!

It turns out that the much vaunted freedom of speech does not extend to the contrarian who says "wait an effing minute, here" when everybody suddenly chants the same chant -- while the war profiteers rub their hands with glee.

In emails with a French friend across the Atlantic, who amuses me with her Gaullocentric opinions, I am hitting the bedrock of self-contradiction in the values of the Eurocentric West, which includes the United States and territories south and north.

Our supposedly open and free Western values prevent us from acknowledging that the point of view and values of Jihadists, as distasteful as they may be to us, are equal to ours.

The Jihadists feel about Western power pretty much the way Catholic medieval Europeans felt about the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Their societies, let's remember, function largely as traditional societies functioned in Europe 1,000 years ago.

They are not democracies and proud of that. All authority is theocratic and absolute. Women are subject to men. People get limbs (and sexual organs) cut off for transgressions, or to comply with law.

That's not my cup of tea, either, dear Western reader. But it's theirs and they have -- by our Western "enlightened" values -- a right to it.

Let's step back from our cultural biases for a moment.

When we Westerners go and try to "modernize" them with "human rights," we think we are being enlightened and helping them. Thus the huge Western mistake of demonizing the Taliban and anathemizing the burka.

When the citizens of countries that are predominantly Muslim look at our Western behavior, they reasonably think we are imposing our values. They think we are introducing heresies and wrongdoing. They are deeply offended by what they perceive as the blasphemy of humanism and the immorality of naked hedonism.

And this says nothing of the way Western governments have set up and supported all sorts of monarchs, sultans and dictators -- none of them stellar advocates of human rights other than their own -- so long as they would sell us oil at a price we like.

So it is all fine and dandy to act outraged at their violent behavior in Paris, but it is only one more way we in the West ignore their cultural values and treat them as inferior savages in need of our superior ideas.

Who says democratic humanist secularism is better than theocratic Islamism? Didn't "civilized" Europe annihilate about 300 million people between 1914 and 1945? How dare we, Western Eurocentrics, proclaim that we have the superior values?

What gives us the gall to assert that all the brown and dark people, if they won't worship the Christianity we have never exemplified, should at least worship the human rights we don't respect?

This why I am NOT Charlie Hebdo. This is also why, the French and all their sudden "I am Charlie Hebdo" sympathizers, in the Shakespearean paraphrase, do protest too much.


* I apologize to readers who could not comment on my last post. For a variety of artistic and technical reasons, I wanted to change my post's headline and the headline-related link, ending up deleting and replacing the post. No Jihadists (or Western intelligence agencies) were hurt in the writing of this blog.
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