A couple of articles from Foreign Policy that are worth reading:
In the decade since 9/11, the United States has conquered and occupied two large Muslim countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), compelled a huge Muslim army to root out a terrorist sanctuary (Pakistan), deployed thousands of Special Forces troops to numerous Muslim countries (Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, etc.), imprisoned hundreds of Muslims without recourse, and waged a massive war of ideas involving Muslim clerics to denounce violence and new institutions to bring Western norms to Muslim countries. Yet Americans still seem strangely mystified as to why some Muslims might be angry about this situation.
Earlier this week a much-linked-to article by Chris Hedges blamed poverty, but I don’t buy that entirely. No doubt it’s a factor in recruiting the discontented, but the people actually engaged in terrorism often aren’t that poor. I think poverty is a supporting factor, not the main cause.
French legal history is choked with cases of bloggers, celebrities, and ordinary folk being dragged through the courts on charges of defamation or hate speech. Worse still, when the ink does flow, it predictably steers clear of powerful sacred cows, while baiting and stifling the usual suspects. If the French don’t learn the lessons of the Paris attacks and fail to confront the free-speech double standards that divide the country today, blood — not ink — will continue to flow.
Barely a day after an estimated 3.7 million people rallied across the country in support of Charlie Hebdo’s right to offend Muslims, French officials embarked on yet another legal effort to protect Jews from hate speech. In an embarrassing display of the complexity of the French free-speech debate, the Paris prosecutor’s office on Monday announced an investigation into a since-deleted Facebook post by controversial comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, in which he proclaimed, “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly.” (Update: He was arrested and held for questioning in Paris on Wednesday.) The post was a characteristically insidious, Dieudonné-esque play on the now-ubiquitous “Je Suis Charlie” slogan invoking Amédy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed a policewoman on Jan. 8 and died the next day during a standoff in a kosher supermarket that killed four Jewish hostages.
I wrote a few days ago that a lot of the people who declared their support for free expression over the last few days have a rather dismal record on supporting free expression in the past. Basically, a lot of these folks aren’t so much for free expression itself; they just don’t want anyone to interfere with their right to bash Muslims. See also “Happily, President Obama N’est Pas Charlie,” which is in The American Conservative, of all places.
Muslim inhabitants of the Paris suburbs have ample reason to believe that France is far more committed to the defense of free speech which insults them than it is to free speech in the abstract. Charlie Hebdo was free to plaster on newsstands all over Paris vivid cartoon depictions of Mohammed as an eager homosexual bottom, but five years ago when one of its cartoonists wrote an item suggesting that a son of the president was making a good career move by converting to Judaism he was summarily fired and put on trial for “inciting racial hatred.” Literally, put on trial. The country of Voltaire, yup.
OT, but while you’re at The American Conservative read Daniel Larison’s “Romney and the ‘Vindication’ Fantasy.” It’s a hoot.
Going back to “It’s the Occupation, Stupid,” see
My belief that Muslims are at special risk after a terrorist attack perpetrated by Islamist radicals is grounded in the fact that after the September 11 terrorist attacks, despite a conservative president urging his countrymen to refrain from blaming their Muslim neighbors, hate crimes against Muslim Americans spiked dramatically.
My notion that Islamophobia, or irrational fear of mainstream Muslims, is a recognizable feature of post-9/11 America is informed by the several cities that have attempted to stop the construction of mosques, state attempts to ban sharia law as if we’re on the cusp of being ruled by it, fears that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, profiling of Muslim college students for no reason other than their religion, the anti-Muslim training materials that the FBI somehow adopted and used after 9/11, and dozens of Muslims I’ve interviewed who say that other Americans are more fearful of them than was the case prior to the September 11 attacks.
Which is, of course, why America was so easily stampeded into doing al Qaeda’s recruiting work and invading Iraq — that and the clueless wonders who were in charge of policy at the time.