First, that massacre was fucked. Fuck whoever was behind that shit. Let me say that right now, before I dive into the controversial, non-obvious bits. Fuck a cartoon-shooter.
Back when the Great Danish Cartoon Scandal of Ought-Five happened, I was like, “Oh those crazy Muslims, irrationally over-reacting again.” Now I’ve discovered what I like to call the Faggot Principle, my thinking has changed.
Here’s the Faggot Principle in a nutshell: if someone in a passing pickup leaned out the window and yelled HEY FAGGOT at you, you’ll get mad, even if you don’t have a homophobic bone in your body. Because even if gayness isn’t a bad idea, in this particular case you know “faggot!” is MEANT as an insult. And you’d be even more mad if a second pickup truck sped by with someone yelling “YOU’RE SO HOMOPHOBIC TO GET MAD HE CALLED YOU A HUGE FAG! STOP BEING HOMOPHOBIC, YOU FAG!”
So if you apply the Faggot Principle, the response of the Muslim community might still be over-reacting, but it’s not irrational or superstitious. Sure, some of the mad people really ARE psychotics who want a violent revenge on a cartoonist, but a huge amount of offended Muslims are probably just mad because they feel they’ve been fag-yelled and then called homophobic to boot. It’s this vast majority of fence-sitters (that is to say, everyday schmucks that have yet to choose a side in the coming clash of civilizations) that is going to make all the difference how that clash turns out in the end. So it’s unwise for us to write them all off as ‘irrational superstisious and hateful’ just yet.
When someone like Rushdie, Charlie Hebdo, or Theo Van Gogh, gets fatwa-ed, it’s a huge international scandal, and those guys are rightly regarded as heroes who were willing to die for freedom, western values, democracy, etc. But here’s the rub: the vast majority of the time someone gets killed for standing up for individual freedom, the heroic victim is a non-famous Muslim schlub who doesn’t give a fuck for Western values or secular pluralism, etc. . . he or she just wants to have a beer and listen to some tunes, and was willing to die for that freedom. Which is – and if you stop reading now I’ll have made my point – JUST as heroic as a ‘creative’ Westerner dying for lofty ideals.
99% of these “die-for-insulting-my-interpretation-of-Islam” incidents occur in some small bumfuck town that gets taken over by some extremist militia – Boco Haram, Al Shabab, Taliban, ISIS, whatever . . . and then suddenly the towns-people are told: “You guys better cut out listening to music, no more flying kites, cover up the women-folk, no more movies, no booze, no football on TV, etc.”
In that situation, just having the wrong-length-beard can get your wig split.
How many small-town schlubs have died just as courageously as Van Gogh or the Hebdo people, just for saying, “Fuck you guys, i’ma going to fly this kite. ” or, “Fuck you guys, I’m going to listen to some phat jams up in here.” And yet, with the sole exception of Nobel Prize winner Malala , we never know their names or respect their sacrifices (and Malala clearly has been coached in how to articulate her message in terms of Western values like equality, pluralism, democracy, etc, so that’s why she’s the exception, bless her.)
I think the main reason that muslim-on-muslim fawta-violence doesn’t get the same amount of press is because it fucks up the narrative of Pro Western Freedom Lovers Vs. Muslim Menace. The martyrs in the small towns aren’t pro-western, and nor are they a menace.
But that negative (‘It fucks up our narrative’) is actually a positive: if we drop the unspoken rule that “You have to admit your culture is inferior to ours, in order for us to give a shit if you die”, if we embrace these courageous martyrs in Bumfuck Pakistan the same way we do Charlie Hedbo, then it would send a history-changing message of “You don’t HAVE to be pro-kardashian, pro-usury, and pro-mcdonalds to join our anti-terror group!”
We could , like, instantly triple the amount of people on our side, for example ,if the west said: “let’s never fuckin’ mind about ‘the clash of civilizations’ and just get together over a shared love of un-forbidden kites, rockin’ tunes, free-flowing booze, and movies. Let’s fuck up anyone who takes that stuff away, and then maybe AFTERWARDS, if we’re still not sleepy, we can argue about niquabs vs jeggings vs butthole-wiping techniques.”
After all, these small-town but anti-western-values fence-sitting schlubs have more reason than anybody to be mad as fuck at extremism. Maybe they’re even mad enough to become pro-western . . . .but only if the western media puts THEIR martyrs’ faces up there right next to Rushdie or the Charlie Hebdo martyrs.
All, “OK we westerners DO like the gays, and we DO like the bikinis, and gays IN bikinis, . . .but we are ALSO down with rampant kite-flying, music playing all the time, movies, women drivers, beers, foot-ball-tv-watching, and end to sectarian violence, and all the other stuff that you WISH you could do. We’ll support you if you support us.”-style.
it’s precisely world-famous terror attacks like this Charlie thing that create an opportunity for all sane people to pull together, but the ensuing anti-muslim hysteria that inevitably follows just wastes that opportunity.
1 – in the west it’s ok to make fun of a particular god or preacher, but not an entire ethnic group/ religion, because groups are made of individuals who might not subscribe to fucked extremist beliefs. That’s why Jews can successfully (and non-violently) censor anti-semetic cartoons, but Muslims don’t get to non-violently censor anti-prophet cartoons; Jews understand the western system and are able to frame their objections in terms of ‘That’s offensive because not all jews are like that’ rather than ‘That’s an offense to G-d and should not be allowed.’ Jews running the mass-media helps, but it’s hardly essential, since they know the rules.
But here’s the thing: those rules are just like any social rule: arbitrary, and they don’t apply everywhere. Sure, our rule is right, and the middle-east rule of “never criticize the prophet, that’s way worse than racism” is wrong. . . but it’s also dopey to expect someone who’s never been out of his or her little dust-town-cum-opium-farm to instantly understand the West’s distinction between mocking a religion and mocking an ethnic group who happens to believe that religion. It’s a pretty fine distinction , you have to admit.
2 – max blumenthal – one of my major heroes – is being just a huge twitter-dick about this whole thing. like to the point where i don’t really want to read him anymore. when michael brown happened he was quick to point out that the media was ‘demonizing he victim’, but that’s exactly what he’s doing to Charlie Hebdo, 24/7, ever since this thing went down. Plus it’s kind of disappointing how he strongly hints that Charlie Hebdo deserved what they got, without actually coming out and saying it. You can imagine him hotly denying, “Hey! I never *SAID* that! In so many words!” Honestly him and his cronies’ tendency to all dogpile onto allies that agree with them about 90% of politics, but disagree over some trivial shit, is so high-school-girl.
3 – it’s cool to make fun of religion but it’s just not EFFECTIVE to offend 99% of peaceful people in a given community. . . ., just to get the goat of the remaining violent 1%, that are your real target. Fuckin’ counterproductive! Show me one ‘satirist’ who offends 90% of white people ACCIDENTALLY? Not that it’s racist, but that it’s not an effective joke with that much collateral damage. Whether you’re Danish, French, or a Branch Floridian . . . can’t you think of a cartoon that would only offend the Islamic militants? Or is that fruit not low-hanging enough? Would that require spending too much time learning about the distinctions between different sects of Islam? You might SAY you don’t hate muslims, only extremists, but if the way you make jokes shows you don’t care about the very muslims that might otherwise support you, and if you’re so willing to accept 99% of them as ‘collateral damage’ of your joke, then why on earth should they believe that you ‘only hate extremists’.?
It’s like when Ice Cube explained why every other word in his raps was BITCH, he said, “What makes you think I was talking about YOU, bitch? If you get that mad, that just proves you ARE one. If the shoe fits, wear it, bitch!”
As much as I love early-90s Cube, I really doubt his explanation changed the mind of a lot of bitches.3 comments