Je Suis Charlie: Stand Together in the Face of Violence
We cannot allow the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris to influence our thinking. Otherwise, freedom has lost.
Twelve people are dead and many others are critically injured. Four cartoonists from the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo died because they drew images fanatics didn't want to see. Two police officers died because they were assigned with protecting their freedom to draw those images. Six additional people died because they got in the way of the three heavily armed murderers during their attack on freedom.
Those who feel the need to posit that the dead Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were "stupid" to have engaged in "Muslim baiting," such as Tony Barber did in his opinion piece for the Web version of Financial Times mere hours after the crime was committed, certainly have the right to do so. But he is misguided on two counts: He implies that the murderers somehow represent all Muslims, rather than merely being violent fanatics of a kind that are detested by the overwhelming majority of the Islamic faithful just as they are by all people capable of reason. And he partially vindicates the terrorists' despicable crime by deferring to their barbaric view of the world at a time when a strong defense of the freedom of expression would be in order -- even if that freedom is not always used constructively, and even if some opinions expressed are profoundly disturbing.
Leave the Bickering for Later
Then there are those -- like the German anti-Islam movement Pegida -- who contentedly gloated on the day of the attack that they have long been warning of violence-prone Islamists. And those, like Alexander Gauland of Germany's right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, who sought to use the horrific attack to promote his party's reactionary political views. They certainly have the right to do so. But they are engaging in the detestable business of dividing society.
Later, we can continue arguing with words and images about which religion is the best, or whether none at all might be better. Later we can continue arguing about whether a newspaper is funny, insulting or merely foolish. Later we can continue demonstrating for one worldview or the other. But now, all of us who don't want hate, all of us who detest violence, must stand together, no matter what might otherwise divide us.
Because we are all Charlie.
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