Charlie Hebdo

by Chris Bertram on January 7, 2015

We don’t have all the facts about the attack on Charlie Hebdo, but it seems very likely that it was carried out by extreme Islamists as revenge for the magazine’s satirizing of Islam. I’m sure there will be a lot of comment over the next few days about the symbolic and principled aspects, the need to stand up for freedom of speech, and so on. I don’t dissent from that, but I’m finding it hard to see past the immediate horror of ten, eleven or more human beings, journalists, gunned down like that in a West European capital city. Awful.

The attack comes just after the Islamophobic marches in Germany by Pegida and the many reports of desperate refugees fleeing Syria in unseaworthy hulks. No doubt the Islamophobic parties, the Front National, UKIP and the rest will try to take advantage and ordinary Muslims will feel more isolated and threatened. We need to remember that most of the victims of extremists of this type have been everyday people who happen to be Muslims, we owe those victims our solidarity and to resist the voices who will try to shut them out. We can do that by affirming that citizenship and inclusion are for everyone, regardless of religion, and that we will help those fleeing from persecution by IS and the like.

{ 873 comments }

1

Lee A. Arnold 01.07.15 at 3:18 pm

Hollande’s got one thing right: These people are cowards. People who kill people are cowards. Torturers are cowards. Bush and Cheney are cowards. Obama’s a coward for not calling out both Islamic terrorists, and their torturers, as cowards.

2

Peter Momtchiloff 01.07.15 at 3:45 pm

I would like to respectfully disagree with Lee Arnold. I don’t see why acts of violence and intimidation are so often condemned as cowardly. For one thing, it is an odd way to characterize acts that involve exposing oneself to danger. But in any case, where the acts stand on the bravery/cowardice spectrum is not essential to what is bad about them. Perhaps the idea is that people of violence might pride themselves on their bravery, and we should deny them that. But I think it would be better to invoke other values in our condemnation.

3

Adam 01.07.15 at 3:51 pm

These extremists can employ only fear. Making fun of them is something that they can not tolerate, as it is the most effective weapon against them. While these deaths are tragedies, of course. We should honor the efforts of Charlie Hebdo, and others, who hold extremists and terrorists in the proper light: comical misfits having limp tantrums in an effort to get their own way.

The inequities of the modern world need redress. This fact is simply a propaganda point for these power-hungry, fake-religious organizations, not a justification.

4

Dylan 01.07.15 at 3:52 pm

What fear did these attackers fail to overcome? Coward actually has a fairly specific definition, you know. And it generally is properly applied to those who avoid danger or confrontation. Charlie Hebdo – definitely not cowards. Today’s attackers – almost certainly not cowards. Everyone else – well.

5

Barry Freed 01.07.15 at 3:57 pm

I agree with every word of Chris Bertram’s statement.

6

QS 01.07.15 at 4:03 pm

We also need to remember that most of the victims of Muslim extremism are other Muslims.

7

MPAVictoria 01.07.15 at 4:04 pm

“We also need to remember that most of the victims of Muslim extremism are other Muslims.”

Indeed.

8

Eszter 01.07.15 at 4:07 pm

Thank you for this post, Chris. I agree with what you said and I hope we’ll see more such public commentary, although I suspect that is wishful thinking.

9

yabonn 01.07.15 at 4:07 pm

Context about CH : some of the people killed there were part of French daily furniture. First time I saw Cabu was in a kid show, 30 years ago. Saw the first Wolinski strips in papers I didn’t understand. It’s a part of childhood that goes away.

10

reason 01.07.15 at 4:11 pm

What I would really like to see is a more vigorous effort of the part of the Muslim communities to oppose the extremists. I see signs that it is slowly starting, but we really need to see Muslims picketing radical Mosques. That really is the best form of defence, for themselves.

11

reason 01.07.15 at 4:14 pm

P.S. What I mean, is that ordinary muslims should start to make it clear that not only do they not condone what the radicals do, but that they identify more with the general community than they do with the radicals who claim to be from the same religion. They really need to make it absolutely clear which side they are on in this. When they do that, they should get the support they deserve.

12

MPAVictoria 01.07.15 at 4:33 pm

Do we expect Christians to make it clear they are not on the side of ‎Timothy McVeigh?

13

Merian 01.07.15 at 4:36 pm

What I hate about this, beyond the obvious (loss off life …), is how this event will retroactively justify Charlie Hebdo’s style of arrogant islamophobic superiority. (I don’t know how many have followed this very long running controversy — I recommend the texts by Mona Chollet, if your read French, for context: http://lmsi.net/L-obscurantisme-beauf .)

Even just writing this here will appear as if I’m blaming the victims, which I’m not. They had the absolute right to their editorial line, and my agreement or disagreement are irrelevant.

Maybe that’s these people’s ulterior goal, I often think.

14

reason 01.07.15 at 4:43 pm

MPAVictoria @12
Did Timothy McVeigh claim to be acting on their behalf?

I really do mean this. There are signs now that it is happening in Germany, that some Muslims are standing up and saying these people are harming us, they don’t represent us. But too many instead resort to try to merely saying we are not like that.

15

reason 01.07.15 at 4:45 pm

Ironically, IS has damaged themselves in Germany immensely by attacking Kurds. There have been running battles between Kurds and Islamic extremists in Germany, so that has contributed to a more vocal split within the German Islamic community.

16

CJColucci 01.07.15 at 5:04 pm

Just a few thoughts on “sane Muslims should speak out,” which, of course, ought to be encouraged. Part of the problem is that there is no go-to spokesperson for sane Islam. Religious authority is decentralized; there is no Pope, no obvious person to call for comment, and few organizations with spokespeople who can command attention. In fact, a number of imams have spoken out, but this gets little media play because nobody had heard of these guys before. I don’t fault the media for this any more than I would fault the media for not giving big play to a Monsignor in Rochester who spoke out against clerical child abuse, but it does leave the unfortunate impression that there’s nobody out there doing what ought to be done.
In that situation, random Muslims will face demands that they, in particular, have some special responsibility to speak out just because they are Muslims, much as, say, black elected officials, however moderate and unthreatening, are often taken to task for not jumping up and denouncing some loon who shares nothing with the elected official but a race. The David Dinkinses of this world quite rightly resented being called upon to denounce every Louis Farrakhan who popped up.
When Muslims do speak out, we should praise it. We should encourage it. We should make an effort to inform ourselves about when they are actually doing it. But it would be impolitic and impolite to demand it.

17

reason 01.07.15 at 5:05 pm

P.S. With regard to MPAVictoria’s point about Timothy McVeigh, no Timothy McVeigh was not a Christian terrorist, but a terrorist who happened to be Christian, but this:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/19/presidential-poll-atheists_n_5353524.html
suggests that America still has a problem with Religious bigotry.

18

reason 01.07.15 at 5:09 pm

CJColucci @16
yes what you say is correct. But I did suggest they should picket radical mosques. It is in their own interests. It is these mosques that in many ways are destroying the future of their own children. But yes it will take organization, and if it doesn’t come from the top it will be hard. When they do it, though, we should encourage it, because without it happening, I’m afraid it will be seen as us versus them.

19

Joshua W. Burton 01.07.15 at 5:13 pm

Did Timothy McVeigh claim to be acting on their behalf?

Charles Taylor would be a better example: should everyone who has watched Pat Robertson’s network (or donated to his university or his charities, or voted for him) email a brief apology to the Hague?

20

Jesús Couto Fandiño 01.07.15 at 5:30 pm

#12 For all I know, Charlie Hebdo regularly mocked Islam, Christianty, Judaism, the far right, the not so far right, Hollande…

And the deceased editor made quite clear that he blamed the previous attack on their office on “idiot extremists” and not French Muslims.

21

Ronan(rf) 01.07.15 at 5:42 pm

Of course ‘Muslim elites’ (in these countries that have been attacked) should dissociate themselves from the violence and explain the reasons such acts don’t represent mainstream thought, or have widespread support. And they have done this, consistently, over the past decade – afaict.
If someone carries out violent acts in the name of an ideological, political, religious tradition that you have a strong association with, then it’s up to your political elites to explain forcefully why it’s inexcusable. The Irish political class (and various religious leaders) had to do this vis a vis the IRA (to varying levels of outrage) and it was right and proper that they did. The ordinary wo/man on the street, on the other hand, doesn’t really have any such obligation.
Unfortuantely, this *is* the way this ‘conflict’ has been framed, both by the far right and radical Islamists – as a world wide religous war. Stupid as that may be, there it is. People involved in this ‘conflict’ are borrowing from very specific historical, religious and political ideas; a global Muslim community in opposition to Western oppresion, much as the IRA took from political and ideological traditions with deep roots in Irish history . If you want to defeat these people, then you have to openly reject their nonsense.
Also bear in mind Merkels words against pegida. Does anyone think she was wrong to say it so forcefully and clearly ? Of course not, it’s her responsibility.

22

RoyL 01.07.15 at 5:43 pm

Charlie Hedbo was pretty relentless in attacking Catholics, and I have seen a fair amount of very anti Jewish, not just anti Israel, material, I even remember mockery of Buddhism, so they always seemed to me to be pretty universalist in this sort of thing.

23

Dave W. 01.07.15 at 5:52 pm

Scott Roeder (assassin of George Tiller) or James Charles Kopp (assassin of Barnett Slepian) might be better examples of “Christian terrorists” in the US. They were certainly using violence to terrorize abortion providers in support of an anti-abortion agenda that grew out of religious conviction. I haven’t seen any calls for the rest of us to picket their churches, or the churches of their supporters, nor do I think there should be such calls. It shouldn’t be incumbent on everyone else to prove that they don’t speak for us via such picketing.

24

Marc 01.07.15 at 5:52 pm

It’s actually quite important for Christians to speak out against Christian radicals too. That doesn’t make it less important for Muslims to speak out against Muslim radicals; and there is obviously a difference between crimes committed by an adherent of a religion with a religiously motivated crime.

As Chris noted, this isn’t something to be done for the good of the wider population. People closer to home are the first, and most common, victims.

25

Bill Murray 01.07.15 at 5:53 pm

Ronan,

Did the English political elite ever have to explain forcefully why the violent acts of their ideological, political, religious tradition perpetrated on the Irish were wrong?

26

MPAVictoria 01.07.15 at 5:55 pm

Should individual Muslims who wish to make it known that they oppose these sort of actions? Sure. Are the required to? No of course not.

27

Lee A. Arnold 01.07.15 at 5:56 pm

#2 “…an odd way to characterize acts that involve exposing oneself to danger.”
#3 “What fear did these attackers fail to overcome?”

The short answer is, they fear exposing themselves to an even greater danger.

The stated reason they killed was to avenge Mohammed because the press had printed caricatures of the Prophet. I see two possible reasons here, not mutually exclusive: 1. The killers are in religious practice, and performing dhikr to attain fana. 2. And/or, the killers want to continue political jihad.

But, in the first case, it is possible for them to learn that other religious practices are able to attain spiritual enlightenment alongside the continued existence of those who oppose or caricature your scriptures, your hadith. You don’t pay attention to them. You must be stronger and braver, because this is more difficult.

It is also possible for them to know that their own religion, Islam, has moderate teachings too, you are not required to kill anybody, and that Western democracy allows freedom of speech and freedom of religion, to practice that way, and to continue in coexistence with others.

And in the second case, the killers are guerrillas hiding in a liberal democracy (France) until they can take sudden, violent advantage against unarmed people. Now yes, there is a modern view that would justify guerrilla warfare against an overwhelming oppressor, plus there is lots of Bob-Dylanesque romanticization of the “outlaw” in the West. But most other people think it is braver to argue your point of view in a nonviolent discussion, and to listen to the viewpoints of others, and to try to come to an agreement that includes everybody, by obtaining concessions from everybody, realizing that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are concessions that we already adhere to.

In either case, therefore, whether as religious or political practice, this is a cowardly act.

At some point I think that non-Muslims ought to give continuous verbal support to moderate Muslims who want to live together with everybody else, and you can start by calling this killing what it is: spiritual, emotional, and intellectual cowardice.

28

Ronan(rf) 01.07.15 at 6:01 pm

Bill Murray – in bits and pieces, and with encouragement, yes. Though I’m not really talking about accounting for historical sins (which should also be done) but challenging a violent ideology in the here and now. I’m also not talking about apologising, but delegitimising.
But anyway, without taking this off topic, I agree with your general point. There’s a lot more room for this to be done by *everyone*.

29

David Coombs 01.07.15 at 6:02 pm

You know what makes more sense that asking random Muslims to declare that they don’t support radical militants? Asking the U.S. and EU nations to stop supporting the Saudi monarchy because it plays an enormous roll in disseminating and funding militant religious radicalism abroad. That might, like, actually make some kind of tangible difference.

30

Greg 01.07.15 at 6:04 pm

Yeah, all ordinary Muslims should have to prove that they are not potential terrorists.

31

Ronan(rf) 01.07.15 at 6:05 pm

Do people really not understand the difference between a political elite and a random person ?

32

Luke 01.07.15 at 6:06 pm

There have been so many of these attacks, now, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more. It’s tragic, but it also seems increasingly banal. We’ve made this bed, now we lie in it. There’s no Schadenfreude in that statement; it’s just the sad truth.

33

Jesús Couto Fandiño 01.07.15 at 6:10 pm

#31 From BBC reports of the news

16:52
Hassan Chalghoumi – an imam of the Paris suburb of Drancy, visited the site of the attack at Charlie Hebdo headquarters.
Of the attackers, he said: “Their prophet is Satan. There is no connection between the Islamic faith and this minority.”

I think there have been many others.

I dont think is necessary to call for anybody to do what decent people, freely, will do.

34

Ronan(rf) 01.07.15 at 6:14 pm

Jesus – as my first comment said:

“And they have done this, consistently, over the past decade – afaict.”

And these elites do it because they realise this is their obligation to do it.

35

David Coombs 01.07.15 at 6:20 pm

I can see asking local political elites in Parisian Muslim communities to say something about these kinds of attacks, Ronan, but I just doubt it will serve any useful purpose. The bigots will blame all the Muslims anyway and the militants will continue to be able to draw support from transnational networks and find disaffected local youths who won’t care what the local community leaders have to say. There’s an analogy here to the continuing failure of respectability politics for African American communities–what the local preachers have to say doesn’t do one whit to stop the emergence of the next Ismaaiyl Brinsley or the shooting of yet another Michael Brown. The problem rests with another set of political elites than the local ones.

36

js. 01.07.15 at 6:27 pm

Completely agree with Chris’s post and with Dave W. @23.

37

Andrew F. 01.07.15 at 6:29 pm

The greatest enemy of equal rights, of humane refugee and immigration policies, of peace and understanding between human beings, is not any Western government, nor many non-Western governments, but people like these three gunmen.

As to some of the comments in this thread, it is important that acts like this are openly and vehemently condemned within Muslim communities for three reasons.

First, open and vehement condemnation is needed to combat the perverse and barbaric ideology that people like these gunmen use to motivate and justify their actions, and that serve as a point of coordination for such people to connect, combine and develop resources and capabilities, and finally devise plans and execute them.

Second, cooperation from those within Muslim communities is needed to prevent these attacks from occurring. If extremist elements are taking root, if extremist elements are recruiting, and if extremist elements already exist, intelligence must be gathered so that, if necessary, preventive action can be taken.

Third, open and vehement condemnation weakens the support that bigoted anti-Muslim groups and ideologies might draw from an event like this.

In the ideological space, what extremists like these gunmen want to create is the perception of a clash of civilizations, encouraging persons to choose sides as the gunmen see them. Ironically, anti-Muslim groups contribute energy to the establishment of the perception, aiding the terrorists.

The counterattack in the ideological space must be: this is not a clash between civilizations, but a clash between civilization and the uncivilized, between those who value human life and those who out of ignorance and savagery desecrate themselves and brutalize others.

And while I do not wish to exaggerate this attack, which will hopefully remain an isolated incident, dwarfed in human cost by the annual toll of motor vehicle accidents and ordinary murder, it is worth remembering that the lines between many who celebrate these three gunmen and seek to emulate them, and the offices of newspapers everywhere, would be thin indeed were it not for aggressive counterterrorist efforts in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, and in other places around the world.

38

bianca steele 01.07.15 at 6:30 pm

Ronan @ 31

I’m not sure I do understand the difference between a member of the elite and an ordinary person. You have an advanced degree, I think, or are studying for one? Are you an elite? Is a corporate division manager an elite, or maybe only an elite for fellow employees, or not at all? Is a physician an elite, but not a nurse, or both, or neither? Or w/r/t religion, more specifically, are all members of the clergy elite, or are people who deal mostly with congregation members day-to-day exempt from the obligation?

39

bianca steele 01.07.15 at 6:31 pm

I mean, I agree with your main point, but I really think the distinction is a big FAIL in most cases.

40

Ronan(rf) 01.07.15 at 6:47 pm

David Coombs – I agree that any difference it makes will probably be miminal and around the edges.

Bianca – it’s obviously a fuzzy term, but I’m not talking about ‘social elites’ (people with advanced degrees or whatever) but people who hold a position of political responsibility in a community, who have a support base, constituency, power etc. This is obviously contingent and difficult to pin down, but to use Dave W’s example above – who should dissociate themselves from the actions of violent anti abortion terrorists ? The leadership of the anti abortion movement, of course. Should the clergy reject and attempt to delegitimise violent acts done in their name ? Of course they *should* – but only do when it suits their interests. (the Pope doesnt have to care about the actions of the IRA, a priest in West Belfast does)
There obviously has to be a nuance to this, and it’s dependant on context, but I’m surprised to see so many on the left (not you) depoliticise this completly, imagining individuals ripped from all historical, political or ideological context. It’s apolitical individualism run wild.

41

Roger Gathmann 01.07.15 at 7:04 pm

I see at the NYT that a bunch of people want the paper to publish the cartoons mocking Mohammed, seemingly in blissful ignorance of CharlieH’s cartoons, for instance, showing Jesus sodomizing the good lord and such. I’d love to see their reaction to that! I mean, the piss christ seemed to many to be beyond the beyond.
The particular strain of Islam that the killers adhere to is easy to locate. It is the state ideology of Saudi Arabia. And as long as we have a discussion in which, vaguely, these radical Moslems have to be repressed, and we pretend that we don’t see that our ally and the elite in the Gulf states finance and nourish this kind of shit – because we love their oil and their “moderation” – we will get nowhere.
There were millions of Moslems in Europe in the sixties and seventies. It was in the eighties, when the Saudis, under the blessing of the anti-communist West, started a mass global campaign of building mosques, that the terrorism started. It is happening in Bosnia today, for instance – the takeover of mosques by other Moslem believers by the Saudi-financed Wahabists. The interconnection between the Saudis and the financial and political elites seems to be too strong to be penetrated, but someday questions will have to be asked about why this has been going on. I’m not a big subscriber to the terrorist export industry, which is mostly bogus, but I think Sarah Ehrenfeld is right, here: http://acdemocracy.org/their-oil-is-thicker-than-our-blood/

42

mud man 01.07.15 at 7:07 pm

Sentiments in the OP here are counter to Sangiovanni in last week’s “Best Political Philosophy”, isn’t it? “More specifically, I will defend the idea that equality is a demand of justice only among citizens”.

Pardon me if I’m being stupid some more. Be clear, I’m with this, not with that.

43

stevenjohnson 01.07.15 at 7:13 pm

Instead of racist hysterics that lay out ultimata for Muslims a la @37 and defend Christendom’s bloody performance as anti-terrorism, shouldn’t a little common sense be used? Gunmen supposedly shouting “Allahu akbar” doesn’t make them Muslims. Government agencies or rightist militant groups are entirely capable of performing this deed to advance a new military intervention or anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim legislation, either in their own persons or by false flag recruitment. I can’t but think anyone who dismisses this possibility is letting their prejudices show.

But, if it did happen that the individuals were Muslims ordered by a jihadi group to undertake this provocation, then the most likely aim was to portray the indiscriminate response against Muslims as indiscriminate hatred of Muslims. That’s a very difficult argument to refute, which means a serious desire to thwart the assassins’ will means keeping a cool head.

And, on a personal level, a desire for simple justice for murder victims, really does imply a concern for who actually did it. Using an atrocity to make political points like a Jerry Coyne (who managed to use dead bodies for a shot at… Ben Affleck!) or Lubos Motl, demeans the victims. Why add insult to such a grave injury?

44

stevenjohnson 01.07.15 at 7:19 pm

Following the link @41, I noted that the author claims that the Saudis have betrayed the US by appeasing Iran. I think this woman is either insane or completely dishonest. For what it’s worth (?)

http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/American_Center_for_Democracy

45

MPAVictoria 01.07.15 at 7:25 pm

“As a non-Muslim, I’d like to apologize to Muslims for the non-Muslims demanding that all Muslims should apologize for the attacks today.”

-John Scalzi on twitter about 15 minutes ago.

46

MPAVictoria 01.07.15 at 7:27 pm

“Government agencies or rightist militant groups are entirely capable of performing this deed to advance a new military intervention or anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim legislation, either in their own persons or by false flag recruitment. I can’t but think anyone who dismisses this possibility is letting their prejudices show.”

This is close to 9/11 truther territory. You are dangerously close to being a nutter.

47

Roger Gathmann 01.07.15 at 7:36 pm

Steve Johnson, here’s a better, non-nutter link: from the EU https://drive.google.com/viewerng/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxoYWlkZXJub3Rlc3xneDo3NDEwMDI3NjViZTNjODZm

By the way, I’ve had Bosnian friends who have been complaining about the Saudi financed attempt to take over and build mosques in Bosnia, and it is no joke. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130801242

I would bet a large sum of money that when these killers are caught, you will find a money trail that eventually goes back to the Gulf states – although of course from “private” donors there.

48

engels 01.07.15 at 7:44 pm

‘I can’t but think anyone who dismisses this possibility is letting their prejudices show.’

This is close to 9/11 truther territory. You are dangerously close to being a nutter.

What does this mean? 9/11 wasn’t a false flag, therefore there are no false flags, and anyone who countenances the possibility in a given instance is ‘close to being a nutter’? (Fwiw I’m not proposing anything like that in this case, just find the comment bizarre.)

49

Greg 01.07.15 at 7:44 pm

Ronan, just to be clear I was responding mainly to reason.

Muslims “should really make it absolutely clear which side they are on”? Fuck you, that’s what side I’m on. Not a helpful comment, Greg. Never mind. I apologize.

It’s personal to me because my wife is Muslim. I have two small children who will be raised in the Muslim tradition. Will this responsibility be passed on to my children as well? Will my wife and kids have to make public displays of contrition and condemnation to appease their local communities? Will they have to prove which side they’re on? How exactly will they prove that? To whose satisfaction? Is there ever a point where it’s a settled matter, or do they have to prove it every year, like your car passing its safety check?

50

yabonn 01.07.15 at 7:48 pm

About the muslims having to condemn etc : I don’t really what the discussion is about. About anyone sane with an official turban has already done it, no need to ask for it. As for the muslim in the street, he has a right to be left in peace about this – particularly in the French context where faith is a private affair, etc.

51

MPAVictoria 01.07.15 at 8:01 pm

“(Fwiw I’m not proposing anything like that in this case, just find the comment bizarre.)”

You find MY comment bizzare? And not the one how this could totally just be a false flag operation by the French Gov’t? Sheesh people are weird.

52

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 01.07.15 at 8:03 pm

I hope USA! USA! USA! white thought leaders will condemn the bombing of the NAACP office.

Won’t hold my breath, though.
~

53

Andrew F. 01.07.15 at 8:19 pm

stevenjohnson @43: Instead of racist hysterics that lay out ultimata for Muslims a la @37 and defend Christendom’s bloody performance as anti-terrorism….

37 points out that one of the reasons condemnation is important is that it undercuts a narrative promoting division between Muslims and others. This helps undermine the perverse ideologies that support attacks like this, while also undermining the ability of bigoted anti-Muslim groups to use this attack as propaganda. There isn’t any ultimatum, and there certainly isn’t any racist hysterics.

Instead there’s simply practical reasoning about how open and vehement condemnation in Muslim communities connects to a broader strategy to combat violent extremism as well as religious bigotry.

Government agencies or rightist militant groups are entirely capable of performing this deed to advance a new military intervention or anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim legislation, either in their own persons or by false flag recruitment. I can’t but think anyone who dismisses this possibility is letting their prejudices show.

One of my points at 37 is, again, that open and vehement condemnation within Muslim communities undercuts those who will use this as part of an argument for the types of legislation you name.

But the absurd conspiracy theories you list as possibilities are indeed possibilities, as is the possibility that this is all part of a Martian plot to weaken Earth until all the pieces are in place for the final attack. Nonetheless, life is short, and I don’t think dismissing such theories is a good indicator of prejudice. Your mileage obviously varies, and good luck with that.

54

LWA (Liberal With Attitude) 01.07.15 at 8:25 pm

I think its a mistake to strip things out of the wider context- I think the cartoons themselves are a bit irrelevant.
Had they not been published, would these gunmen have been happy, peaceful, productive French citizens?
Or would they have just chosen a different target?
There is a lot of free-floating rage within the Mideast, some of it directed at Westerners, and a lot directed at each other. I don’t have the number of casualties, but think of all the wars within the past few decades in the Mideast- not just the ones America and the West have been involved in, but all of them; and the constant low level terror directed at the citizens by their own government. The deaths run into the millions. What I see is an entire region of the world that is brimming with grief and rage.

Almost none of which the editors of Charlie Helbo had anything to do with; but like that poor trucker in LA in 1992 who got dragged out and beaten nearly to death by a mob, Charlie Helbo made a convenient target for things vastly larger then themselves.

55

Mike Schilling 01.07.15 at 8:56 pm

@42
I’d like to apologize for the NAACP bombing, as a middle-aged, balding, white guy who doesn’t know crap about building bombs.

56

stevenjohnson 01.07.15 at 9:10 pm

engels@48 “What does this mean?”

I was sure it meant that MPAVictoria is certain that it is impossible for any part of the French government or any other Western (aka white Christian) government security agency, or even any militant anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim group to have done something so dastardly. By elimination, only Muslims could do such a thing. And MPAVictoria is certain that even being able to conceive of such a possibility is more or less as crazy as a 9/11 truther. Which implies that MPAVictoria is also certain that no Western security agency could have had any foreknowledge of any aspect, or in any way acted as provocateur, too. I’m afraid I have no doubt that is the prevailing opinion.

57

LWA (Liberal With Attitude) 01.07.15 at 9:15 pm

@55
As a liberal, I hereby denounce Stalin.

58

MPAVictoria 01.07.15 at 9:18 pm

Steven you are making claims with less than 0 evidence. I suppose the moon landing was faked as well.
/keep on shining you crazy diamond.

59

Zephyrus 01.07.15 at 9:27 pm

As a human being, I hereby apologize for these barbaric monsters.

60

Ze Kraggash 01.07.15 at 9:33 pm

“I’m afraid I have no doubt that is the prevailing opinion.”

Well, only a quarter of the world population attribute 9/11 to al Qaeda. So, it’s a rather crackpot opinion. Here as well, considering the extent of surveillance in the ‘free world’, I’d say there is a good chance.

61

J Thomas 01.07.15 at 9:46 pm

#53 Andrew F

“stevenjohnson @43: Instead of racist hysterics that lay out ultimata for Muslims a la @37 and defend Christendom’s bloody performance as anti-terrorism….”

37 points out that one of the reasons condemnation is important is that it undercuts a narrative promoting division between Muslims and others. This helps undermine the perverse ideologies that support attacks like this, while also undermining the ability of bigoted anti-Muslim groups to use this attack as propaganda. There isn’t any ultimatum, and there certainly isn’t any racist hysterics.

Then we need to press hard for more media coverage of muslims who denounce the attack, and less emphasis on demands that muslims denounce the attack.

The actual demands give the impression that not enough muslims are denouncing it, while the lack of coverage of muslims who do denounce it also gives that impression. In both cases exactly the wrong impression that we don’t want.

#16 CJColucci

Part of the problem is that there is no go-to spokesperson for sane Islam. Religious authority is decentralized; there is no Pope, no obvious person to call for comment, and few organizations with spokespeople who can command attention. In fact, a number of imams have spoken out, but this gets little media play because nobody had heard of these guys before. I don’t fault the media for this any more than I would fault the media for not giving big play to a Monsignor in Rochester who spoke out against clerical child abuse, but it does leave the unfortunate impression that there’s nobody out there doing what ought to be done.

Is this apologetics for the media? They don’t deserve it. They should publicize what’s there, and not publicize demands that random muslims should apologize and disclaim etc, which in fact is being done and not being adequately reported.

To the extent that the media is reporting the wrong things and making the problem far worse, this is directly the media’s fault.

62

J Thomas 01.07.15 at 9:51 pm

#58 MPAV

Steven you are making claims with less than 0 evidence. I suppose the moon landing was faked as well.

OK, why don’t you tell us the truth about what you believe, so there will be evidence.

You clearly believe the moon landing was real and not faked.

And you believe 9/11 was real and not a false-flag operation by anybody other than Al Qaeda.

And you believe this latest attack was done by fanatical muslims and was not a false-flag operation by anybody else.

Do you believe that everything is done by the people the media report it done by? Do you believe there has ever been a false-flag operation in the history of the world?

63

engels 01.07.15 at 9:53 pm

I’m finding it hard to see past the immediate horror of ten, eleven or more human beings, journalists, gunned down like that in a West European capital city. Awful.

As a resident of a West European capital city, I sympathise, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to to learn that across the world those who react in this way are in the minority.

64

LWA (Liberal With Attitude) 01.07.15 at 10:00 pm

A lot of the times, the political dialog seems to fall into a sort of high toned USA today snap poll-

Muslims- Good, or Bad? Vote Now!

As if passing judgment on Islam is a worthwhile or productive action to take.
Suppose we did pass judgment- then what? Go out and kill a billion people? Make them wear little green crescent moons on their sleeves?
There doesn’t seem to be much call for how to find a course of action that resolves or points towards a pathway to peace.

I will admit, that the desire for a hasty and all-too-pat answer isn’t limited to xenophobes. I was tempted after 9-11 to fix the blame on poverty in the 3rd World, believing that the attackers were impoverished radicals seduced by money. They weren’t, and laying a veneer of contemporary American politics over it only obscured things.
I’m not sure that there exists some silver bullet, some “one weird trick” that can fully address the sources of Islamic radicalism and thereby solve them.
Maybe the best thing we can do is grasp that it isn’t going away anytime soon, we can’t hide from it, and we are yoked to it regardless of whether we want to be or not.

65

Roger Gathmann 01.07.15 at 10:01 pm

One of the things I really liked about the editorial board of CharlieHebdo is that they were serious about the freedom of expression. When the French government wanted to ban a demonstration against them for their Mohammed cartoons, Charb opposed the government – he really was for freedom of expression. The massacre of the cartoonists and editorialists is truly maddening as well as so incredibly sad.

66

Roger Gathmann 01.07.15 at 10:03 pm

67

David 01.07.15 at 10:06 pm

For those who are interested, there is now a much better and more complete picture of what happened this morning. See for example Le Monde: http://www.lemonde.fr/attaque-contre-charlie-hebdo/article/2015/01/07/comment-s-est-deroulee-l-attaque-contre-charlie-hebdo_4550930_4550668.html#xtor=RSS-3208
Among other things, this makes it clear that the first reports, suggesting a high degree of preparation and intelligence, were greatly exaggerated. In fact, the attack seems more opportunistic – the attackers first went to the wrong building.
French police claim to know who the alleged perpetrators are:
See http://www.metronews.fr/info/attentat-a-charlie-hebdo-les-trois-suspects-ont-ete-identifies/moag!6R1qjYdgLbxjQ/

68

Marc 01.07.15 at 10:18 pm

Le Monde is publishing that the attackers have been identified as French Muslims (with AQ connections.) Given that the same magazine has been firebombed before it’s not exactly a stretch to think that the obvious explanation is the correct one.

If you’re staking out the false flag claim, you’re basically staking out a position immune to evidence and based on wishful thinking. Why shouldn’t this be a problem?

69

geo 01.07.15 at 10:27 pm

LWA @63: I was tempted after 9-11 to fix the blame on poverty in the 3rd World, believing that the attackers were impoverished radicals seduced by money.

Actually, the second half of this sentence doesn’t follow from the first. Why are impoverished people the only ones likely to be incensed by the spectacle of large-scale poverty? It’s perfectly possible, after all, to care enough about injustice to other people that one (foolishly) resorts to violently protesting it. Like most left-wing terrorists throughout history, in fact.

Krugman has mentioned several times that right-wingers sometimes bait him by saying, in effect: “Who are you to complain about class warfare when you’re one of the 1 percent?” Just goes to show how limited a moral imagination right-wingers (I don’t mean you, LWA) generally have.

70

Mike Schilling 01.07.15 at 10:32 pm

@61

It’s possible that one of the cartoonists owed money to a loan shark and the other 11 murders were to throw people off track, but it’s not the way to bet.

71

David 01.07.15 at 10:33 pm

On reflection, much of this comes down to whether you actually think the religion you profess is literally true or not. If yours is true, then by definition, that of others must be false.
This was the case for most of human history, and in most societies the punishment for blasphemy was death. I don’t know when the last such sentence was carried out in Europe (others may have a better idea) but it was certainly well into the seventeenth century. They found plenty of justification in the Bible for doing so.
The modern tendency, on the other hand, is to see religion as a kind of improving moral philosophy, which is valuable, but not necessarily literally true. Different faiths exist rather as different schools of philosophy do. We are therefore understandably frightened when we encounter people who act as though their religion is literally true, and as if its commandments are literally to be carried out.
This is the problem we have today with fundamentalists of all types, although, historically speaking, they are not the anomaly, we are.

72

Omega Centauri 01.07.15 at 10:43 pm

Stevejonhson @43, didn’t say it was a false flag operation, he said it was a possibility. I’d give ten to one odds it wasn’t a false flag operation, but was a deliberate act to provoke rightwing anti-muslim sentiment. The only way the radicals can effectively recruit in Europe is if muslim youth feel they are being discriminated against (or worse), and choose Islamic radicalism as a way to fight back. This is almost certainly a case of radicals delibereately provoking a counter reaction from anti-muslim quarters, in order to create a stark us versus them situation for French muslims.

This sort of violenece in order to provoke counter violence, in order to separate communities, in order to advance some cause or another has a long history.

Juan Cole, thinks this is what Al_Qaeda in Iraq did there: stage enough violent attacks against the Shia that the Shia will commit attrocities of their own. And it worked, Iraq’s Sunnis became so
afraid of the Shia goverment/population that they allowed ISIS to rescue them. The perps likely are hoping to repeat that process with some segment of the European muslim community.

Of course part of countering this sort of dynamic is for muslims to be seen condemming this sort of thing. I know it sucks to have to do that. But trying to take actions that reduce the temperature is what any responsible player has to do in these sorts of situations.

73

Tabasco 01.07.15 at 10:44 pm

Funnily enough (though not laugh out loud funny), when Anders Behring Breivik massacred those children in Norway a few years ago the internet was full of right wingers claiming it was a left-wing false flag operation.

74

Tabasco 01.07.15 at 10:49 pm

“it was a deliberate act to provoke rightwing anti-muslim sentiment.”

In the alternative, it was some Muslim men who were angry that their religion was mocked, and decided that the appropriate punishment was to kill the mockers.

It’s been known to happen. Ask Salman Rushdie.

75

Brett Bellmore 01.07.15 at 10:52 pm

“but was a deliberate act to provoke rightwing anti-muslim sentiment.”

Or it could have been a deliberate act to scare people into giving Islam more respect than they otherwise would. Terrify the media into self-censoring. That strikes me as entirely plausible, too.

76

J Thomas 01.07.15 at 10:52 pm

#66 Marc

Le Monde is publishing that the attackers have been identified as French Muslims (with AQ connections.) Given that the same magazine has been firebombed before it’s not exactly a stretch to think that the obvious explanation is the correct one.

It isn’t a stretch. If there’s solid evidence, then we should go with the solid evidence. Who has provided this solid evidence? Is there any reason to think that the people with the evidence are the ones who mounted the false-flag operation?

If you’re staking out the false flag claim, you’re basically staking out a position immune to evidence and based on wishful thinking. Why shouldn’t this be a problem?

I don’t want it to be false-flag. I want to see the evidence.

I don’t want there to be successful false-flag operations unless they are done for my benefit by people I trust. When people assume without solid evidence that things are not false-flag, they make it more likely that false-flag operations will succeed. Also they make it more likely that false-flag operations will be attempted. That is bad. (Except of course for the tiny minority of false-flag operations done for my benefit by people I trust.)

77

Omega Centauri 01.07.15 at 10:59 pm

Tabasco & Brett.
The alternatives seen to be not very likely. My reasoning is the attack was obviously carried out with a very high degree of copmtence, this wasn’t a couple of people who just got angry and decided to take action -it had a lot of planning and thought behind it.

We will just have to wait and see what is discovered of course.

I only wish it were a false flag operation, as that would discredit the far right segment that this was meant to provoke. But, the odds are against it.

78

Peter Dorman 01.07.15 at 10:59 pm

First, I share the emotions of the OP: this is simply a horrible event. Yes, I know many more are killed each moment in perfectly ordinary, quotidian ways, but these people were part of the lives of millions (that’s the real cost of death — to the living), and the motive behind their murder was heinous.

That said, I think it’s necessary to pull back and consider the larger picture. Europe has become more open, not just through policy, but also the social, cultural and technological forces of globalization. Its destiny cannot be separated from that of the next door Muslim world. And that other world is in crisis. Tyranny is the norm, not the exception. Economies are weak and harshly divided. The oil curse has become a nightmare. A large part of the region is in civil war, and in much of the rest it is only that this war has been repressed. Of course, western intervention (and forbearance of Israel) has made matters much worse. In any such crisis there will be a surplus of groups that direct their frustration toward national/religious/racial Others.

No doubt the CH attack will lead to more stringent surveillance and policing. There will be calls for the good people on “both sides” to come together. Some of this will be productive. But my pessimistic view is that unless there is significant progress toward democracy, human rights and economic opportunity in the Muslim world, the outlook in Europe as well is not good.

We need solidarity on a very large scale.

79

Roger Gathmann 01.07.15 at 11:21 pm

75, undoubtedly all this is true. However, I can’t help but have a sick feeling that lately, western interventions – such as arming the syrian rebels, which is just a waystation to arming al qaeda and ISIS – are putting more ak 47s in the hands of more post-adolescent thugs. Under Fabius, france’s foreign minister, France has been pursuing a robustly neo-con policy in North Africa and the Middle east. It really is nutty. There’s no way that one can be non-porous and still be a democratic european country. One of the brothers who is alleged to have done this, Cherif Kouachi, already has been in jail for organizing a brigade to go to Iraq in 2005 and fight the occupiers. Now, the same groups are being aided in Syria by France and the US, in all practical terms, and the Gulf states, who claim to have stopped resourcing ISIS, are most likely still resourcing al qaeda in Syria.
I don’t at all get the false flag reasoning – everybody has known since the attempt to blow up Charlie hebdo in 2012 who their enemies are. Although it is true, the cartoon of jesus sodomizing the father did rile up catholics in the Manif pour tous group. What militarizes Moslems in Europe is not, from what I have read, oppressive conditions in the banlieu communities – it is very much what is happening in the rest of the world. I mean, perhaps a mastermind terrorist is getting the french to bomb Isis and arm “responsible” syrian rebels because he knows that this is the way to ultimate power, but I doubt it. A fucked up policy based on sunk costs and a refusal to look at what is happening in the Middle East is more likely to blame.

80

Omega Centauri 01.07.15 at 11:24 pm

“We need solidarity on a very large scale.”
Correct. The terrorists best friend is always the extremist on the other side. It is the outrageous actions that the other sides extremists take, which drives “your people” to your cause. Human nature greatly aids the process of creating an us versus them situation. The spillover of conflict creates tensions within neighboring “peaceful” societies which threaten to grow out of control. There will always be elements that think they can benefit from an extreme us versus them situation, and they will deliberately act to make it worse.

81

engels 01.07.15 at 11:26 pm

Nato defends TV bombing
Nato has defended its bombing of Serbia’s state television station, saying it was a legitimate target and a “ministry of lies”.

Al-Jazeera ‘hit by missile’
A US missile has hit the Baghdad offices of Arab news service al-Jazeera television, killing one member of staff and wounding another, the station reported on Tuesday

MPs leaked Bush plan to hit al-Jazeera
Two Labour MPs have defied the Official Secrets Act by passing on the contents of a secret British document revealing how President George Bush wanted to bomb the Arabic TV station, al-Jazeera.

82

engels 01.07.15 at 11:28 pm

(And for the avoidance of doubt, none of the above makes this anything other than a horrific crime.)

83

MPAVictoria 01.07.15 at 11:31 pm

“We need solidarity on a very large scale.”
Yes. In fact it is the best possible response to many of the problems we face.

J Thomas, you have proven in multiple threads that you are willing to argue any position regardless of the evidence so forgive me if I don’t bother with you tonight. Go troll someone else.

More generally, if anyone actually does believe this is a false flag operation I will happily give five to one odds for a bet to that effect up to 100 dollars. Money to be donated to a chosen charity. We can give it a 6 month time frame.
/my charity will be a local pug rescue group that does great work.

84

J Thomas 01.07.15 at 11:35 pm

#76 Roger Gauthmann

I don’t at all get the false flag reasoning – everybody has known since the attempt to blow up Charlie hebdo in 2012 who their enemies are.

That’s exactly the sort of reasoning which makes false-flag operations more effective.

On the one hand there’s the argument that goes “Somebody who wants this to happen doesn’t have to make it happen, they can just wait until it inevitably happens on its own”. And that’s a possible way for them to think. But then they might want it to happen on their own schedule. They might not want to wait.

See, this is one of the reasons you should never announce that you intend to kill somebody. Because if you do, then anybody in the whole community who wants him dead can kill him and try to make it look like it was you. And your announcement helps them a whole lot.

I certainly don’t claim this was a false-flag thing. How would I know? I wasn’t involved in the planning of it. But since there are organizations that train hard to be able to do false-flag operations, don’t reject the possibility until you have strong reason to be sure. Look at who might think they would benefit, and who might have the capability. Who collects the evidence and how competent do they look? Don’t be too sure you know the truth until you’ve seen evidence that would be hard for a competent secret group to falsify.

85

J Thomas 01.07.15 at 11:38 pm

#80 MPAV

J Thomas, you have proven in multiple threads that you are willing to argue any position regardless of the evidence so forgive me if I don’t bother with you tonight. Go troll someone else.

You are the one who derides other people’s positions without ever stating your own. You make extreme claims with no evidence. For example that you know who did (and who didn’t do) this particular crime, when you have given no evidence whatsoever and no reasoning.

You are the troll.

86

Mitch Guthman 01.07.15 at 11:43 pm

Here is a link to the video of Hassan Chalghoumi referred to by Jesús Couto Fandiño #33:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/ohth5jn

Here is statement by UOIF (an umbrella organization of conservative French Islamic groups) condemning the attack and calling upon all French Muslims to show their solidarity by participating in marches or rallies in memory of the victims and stating that a delegation of the management of the UOIF went [to one of the many demonstrations today] in order to show their solidarity. (NB, there were many marches and demonstrations today throughout France in hommage or to show solidarity). http://preview.tinyurl.com/o96a966

Here is a statement by the Grand Mosque of Paris condemning the attack: http://preview.tinyurl.com/ka3cyf9

They are in French and I couldn’t find English versions but the statements are in very simple, very direct and very strong French and I believe that Google Translate will handle it nicely.

The video is in French but I’m trying to have it subtitled in English and will update this comment when that’s accomplished.

Also, Arun Kapil has offered an excellent comment and the best collection of links:

https://arunwithaview.wordpress.com/

87

MPAVictoria 01.07.15 at 11:45 pm

“You are the troll.”

Both of our comments are out there for others to read. Let us just let other people decide who exactly is making claims without evidence sparky.

88

MPAVictoria 01.07.15 at 11:49 pm

Also if you are feeling brave J my offer from #80 is open to you as well.
/These pugs are super cute and could use some of your money.

89

Donald Johnson 01.07.15 at 11:50 pm

“it is worth remembering that the lines between many who celebrate these three gunmen and seek to emulate them, and the offices of newspapers everywhere, would be thin indeed were it not for aggressive counterterrorist efforts in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, and in other places around the world.”

Yeah, we should stop complaining about civilian casualties and cheer for Western violence wherever it occurs.

And Syria? The Syrian security forces are by far the biggest killers of Islamic radicals in Syria. Should we applaud them too?

90

hix 01.07.15 at 11:50 pm

“As a resident of a West European capital city, I sympathise, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to to learn that across the world those who react in this way are in the minority.”

I think thats quite alright. We cant possibly manage to be emotional about all the sad and tragic things that happen arround the world, not even just about the bigger events that get media play or are somehow closer to home.

91

Watson Ladd 01.07.15 at 11:56 pm

LWA, it might amuse you to learn just what it took to make Europe and the Americas into what it is today. Violence, lots of it: the heads of multiple kings, several civil wars, which combined into a Continent-wide conflagration. Even during the supposedly peaceful 19th century, revolutionary violence extracted a toll. But it was never necessary to resort to genocide: most people are unwilling to die for a lost cause.

Arabs and Persians are not different from us. They too have a history of liberal and revolutionary politics: Ataturk overthrew one self-described caliphate, and there is no reason liberals in Iran could not do the same. Afghanistan was run by the Communist Party before Islamists seized it and plunged it into the dark ages. Today it has a relatively democratic government. Pakistan was a hotbed of labor unionism, before decades of Islamist and military rule destroyed civil society. Palestinian terrorism used to be carried out by Stalinists, and now is conducted by Islamists.

92

engels 01.08.15 at 12:05 am

93

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 12:25 am

94

Brett Bellmore 01.08.15 at 12:37 am

“Afghanistan was run by the Communist Party before Islamists seized it and plunged it into the dark ages.”

Well, very briefly they had a nominally indigenous communist government, but I find it interesting that you’d omit the subsequent invasion and occupation by the USSR, in as much as it represents most of the period of Communist rule in Afghanistan. A lot of people would say that those “dark ages” actually began with communist rule, given the number of people the communists killed.

You might say, they were so vicious, they made the Islamicists look attractive by comparison.

95

Watson Ladd 01.08.15 at 12:47 am

The Communist government lasted after the end of the USSR occupation, only falling when the money ran out. The Taliban and mujahadeen were somewhat popular, but the majority of their support came from outside Afghanistan. Besides, we shouldn’t let a Vendee or two deter us from our commitments to human rights.

96

LWA (Liberal With Attitude) 01.08.15 at 12:54 am

I saw a series of photos somewhere from an Afghan ex-pat showing Afghanistan in the 1950’s, showing that universities there were coed, and had plenty of young engineers and intellectuals in Western dress.

I doubt it was universal, but the point of his memoirs was that its a mistake for us Westerners to imagine that all Muslim countries are irrevocably and monolithically primitive and barbaric.

More importantly, we just assume that progress runs only forward- But religious fundamentalism can arise anywhere, and turn back the clock to the Dark Ages anywhere.

I note with grim lack of surprise that Bill Donohue, the American Catholic version of a Taliban mullah, is gingerly sympathizing with the rage that the attackers felt, stopping just short of endorsing the attack.

97

Roger Gathmann 01.08.15 at 12:56 am

There will be a small demonstration in support of Charlie Hebdo in Los Angeles at 6 pm tonight at the Figaro Restaurant in Los Feliz. For any CT commenters in LA.

98

Collin Street 01.08.15 at 1:19 am

I doubt it was universal, but the point of his memoirs was that its a mistake for us Westerners to imagine that all Muslim countries are irrevocably and monolithically primitive and barbaric.

I think that if your perception of Indonesia and Albania is that they’re some sort of monolithic entity you’re far beyond “mistake” and well into “major problems”.

[likewise if your perception of ‘muslim country’ doesn’t include Indonesia or Albania.]

99

Omega Centauri 01.08.15 at 2:47 am

False flag attacks are relatively rare. I think there is a good reason. Anyone holding a terrorist attitude thinks of and perhaps even does some planning for them. [I’m defining terrorist attitude, as holding some agenda (usually nationalist, but sometime ideological or religious) as far more important than human lives -even innocent lives.] But, the potential damage to ones cause of a botched false-flag operation (especially if it causes casualties and outrage, but the who-done it is obvious to the public) can be fatal to the oh-so important cause. So they aren’t attempted very often.

100

QS 01.08.15 at 2:48 am

I would hazard that the Muslim world is more diverse than the Christian. This is impossible to properly measure, but considering it counts Malaysia, Bosnia, Kazakhstan, and Sudan…

101

engels 01.08.15 at 2:55 am

From MPA’s link in #89:

The Associated Press quoted Cherif Kouachi in 2008 as saying he’d been motivated by outrage at images of torture of Iraqi inmates at the U.S. prison at Abu Ghraib. “I really believed in the idea,” it quoted him as saying.

102

J Thomas 01.08.15 at 2:56 am

#95 Omega Centauri

False flag attacks are relatively rare.

Unsuccessful false flag attacks are relatively rare.

How would you find out how rare successful false flag attacks are?

103

Ronan(rf) 01.08.15 at 3:00 am

I find Scott Atran’s answer most plausible:

“If so many millions support jihad, why are only thousands willing to kill and die for it? We shall see that young men willing to go kill and die for jihad were campmates , school buddies, soccer pals, and the like, who become die-hard bands of brothers in a tragic and misbegotten quest to save their imagined tribal community from Crusaders, Jews, and other morally deformed, unrepentant, and therefore subhuman beings. It’s in groups that they find the camaraderie of a cause , however admirable or abhorrent, and the courage and commitment that come from belonging to something larger. Terrorists generally do not commit terrorism because they are extraordinarily vengeful or uncaring, poor or uneducated, humiliated or lacking in self-esteem , schooled as children in radical religion or brainwashed, criminally minded or suicidal, or sex-starved for virgins in heaven. Terrorists, for the most part, are not nihilists but extreme moralists— altruists fastened to a hope gone haywire. And there is basis for real moral grievance, whether one believes exclusively in secular human rights or in the religious ethics of the house of Abraham. There’s no excuse, “collateral damage” or otherwise, for the killing of innocents in Afghanistan , Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya, and elsewhere. But a divine justice that rewards the killing of innocents in the name of an eye for an eye, exalting death over life for its own believers, is the will to power of a cruel and sadistic Moloch that would leave the whole world blind.”

(also for anyone interested Olivier Roy’s ‘Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Ummah’ makes similar arguments, which I cant really recall at the moment)

104

Ronan(rf) 01.08.15 at 3:20 am

I also think that explains the neocons, btw.

105

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 3:46 am

I have this rock that keeps away tigers. I mean do you see any tigers around? No? Then it must work!

106

J Thomas 01.08.15 at 3:48 am

“If so many millions support jihad, why are only thousands willing to kill and die for it? We shall see that young men willing to go kill and die for jihad were campmates , school buddies, soccer pals, and the like, who become die-hard bands of brothers in a tragic and misbegotten quest to save their imagined tribal community from Crusaders, Jews, and other morally deformed, unrepentant, and therefore subhuman beings. It’s in groups that they find the camaraderie of a cause , however admirable or abhorrent, and the courage and commitment that come from belonging to something larger.”

Consider Timothy McVeigh. The Unabomber. Lee Harvey Oswald. The DC sniper had one underage friend. A lot of US terrorists are loners who do not have bands of brothers to help them. Most of the muslim terrorists arrested in the USA since 2001 have been loners, or pairs.

107

Collin Street 01.08.15 at 4:27 am

> How would you find out how rare successful false flag attacks are?

It seems implausible that adding “and we have to pretend to be someone else the whole time” makes your operation more likely to succeed, wouldn’t you think?

So a comparison of rates of unsuccessful false-flag operations to unsuccessful non-false-flag operations is — absent evidence to support the otherwise-implausible claim that [see first para] — a pretty good [conservative] proxy for total false-flag operations to total non-false-flag operations, and for successful &c to &c.

Straightforward?

108

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 4:28 am

“> How would you find out how rare successful false flag attacks are?

It seems implausible that adding “and we have to pretend to be someone else the whole time” makes your operation more likely to succeed, wouldn’t you think?

So a comparison of rates of unsuccessful false-flag operations to unsuccessful non-false-flag operations is — absent evidence to support the otherwise-implausible claim that [see first para] — a pretty good [conservative] proxy for total false-flag operations to total non-false-flag operations, and for successful &c to &c.

Straightforward?”

Yes but how does your logic apply when considering my tiger repelling rock?

109

Tyrone Slothrop 01.08.15 at 4:40 am

This is one of the dumber CT threads I can recall. Charlie Hotel would have at it unmercifully…

110

Andrew F. 01.08.15 at 4:49 am

Donald Johnson @85: Yeah, we should stop complaining about civilian casualties and cheer for Western violence wherever it occurs.

Yeah, that’s why I said Donald. I also promised to give all my worldly fortunes to Rolling Stone so that they could expand their model of responsible journalism.

We should understand that aggressive counterterrorist efforts abroad prevent like-minded men from developing the organization, and the monetary, technical, and human resources to travel west or north for a few hours and make a much more bloody statement.

If you want to respond to that with a load of hyperbolic horseshit that I’m telling you to indiscriminately celebrate Western violence and never say a word about civilian deaths, you’re welcome to do so. Since you clearly can’t read very well though, I won’t bother to tell you what I think your comment.

And by the way Donald Johnson, failed states and the extremist groups that love to cozy up in the anarchy that follows aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Nor is the absurd and perverse ideology that allows these extremist groups to coalesce, fixedly focus on violence, and make attacks.

So while keeping our eye on longer-term, truly strategic threats, we’re going to have to deal with the fanatical fuckjobs who are just aching launch a terrorist attack as some kind of redemption and affirmation that their lives were worthwhile for a long time.

Just something to keep in mind next time you’re thinking about policy in Yemen, or Syria, or many other places.

111

Collin Street 01.08.15 at 4:59 am

> Yes but how does your logic apply when considering my tiger repelling rock?

That logic gets you “insufficient data owing to low background rates of tiger attacks in [your location]”.

Other logic is less inconclusive: if we’re focussed purely on the practical we can estimate NPV of future tiger-attack costs and compare with the price you’re charging for the rock. If we’re more interested in theory we could look for other effects from the causative mechanisms, or how the rock works in tiger-attack-richer environments [including controlled studies].

112

engels 01.08.15 at 5:29 am

‘This is one of the dumber CT threads I can recall.’

You haven’t been reading CT much recently, have you Tyrone?

113

Mitch Guthman 01.08.15 at 5:53 am

Engels at 108′,

This was shaping up to be a pretty intelligent discussion until it took a wrong turn somewhere around Neverland and ended up looking like what I imagine a comment thread at Infowars would look like.

114

ZM 01.08.15 at 6:47 am

Chris Bertram,

“We need to remember that most of the victims of extremists of this type have been everyday people who happen to be Muslims, we owe those victims our solidarity and to resist the voices who will try to shut them out.”

I don’t know if this got international coverage or not. In Australia during the tragic recent siege and killings incident in Sydney some Muslims/Middle Eastern people were scared taking public transport in case they were attacked due to the hostage taker and killer being Muslim and people started a Twitter hashtag #illridewithyou to show solidarity . These are some articles about it –

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-15/illridewithyou-hashtag-takes-off-following-siege/5969102

“Sadly, we also saw a rush of racist hatred towards innocent people. But we saw an even greater outpouring of solidarity by ordinary people with the ordinary people who were being threatened with this violence and abuse, crystallised in what can only be described as a love poem written by the people to the people, namely ‘I’ll ride with you’.

It looked like a simple offer of human support and protection to people of the Muslim faith who were in danger as they rode on the buses, trams and trains across Australia the next morning. But it was always more than this. In its concreteness it was also a deeply profound declaration of a vision for a just and inclusive Australia. It was particularly beautiful because it came from ordinary people and it so strongly struck a chord with ordinary people.”
http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=42421#.VK4m20ZXfCQ

115

js. 01.08.15 at 7:11 am

OC @69:

Even that seems too complicated by half, tho. This is one of the cases where the simple, they were fanatics, explanation seems far more plausible. It’s not as if fanatics are incapable of planning well.

ZM,

Yeah, I followed that on twitter a bit; it was really quite brilliant. Thanks for pointing it out.

116

Vanya 01.08.15 at 7:52 am

@114. Apparently the whole incident turned out to be something of a hoax. No Muslims had been threatened, one woman just saw a woman in a headscarf (who may not have even been Muslim) on a train, and imagined that she looked uncomfortable. Then started a hashtag campaign, because she wished she had reached out. Kind of a pathetic story actually. For the most part Western populations have been pretty decent about not lashing out, which is why the constant exortations after every terrorist attack for inclusion seem like condescending overreactions. What generally happens in response to terror attacks, and will probably happen now, is that the West responds by killing large numbers of Muslims in foreign countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Libya) for no good reason. It looks like something similar will happen this time, and we will pound ISIS into the ground even though there may be no connection between ISIS and the attack yesterday.

117

Ze Kraggash 01.08.15 at 8:25 am

Just a few days ago:
http://www.newsweek.com/940-cars-torched-france-new-year-celebrations-296360
“940 cars were set on fire across France by frenzied revellers as they welcomed the arrival of the New Year, according to France’s Interior Ministry.

Pierre-Henry Brandet, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry told French broadcaster BFM-TV that the car burning was most frequent in eastern France, as well as in the suburbs of Paris, particularly in the banlieues (ghettos) of Seine-Saint-Denis, which were the epicentre of riots protesting police brutality in 2005 resulting in the torching of more than 10,000 cars.”

Something’s rotten in the land of social democracy.

Maybe this is something similar to the workplace and school massacres of the late 1980s and 1990s in the US…

118

reason 01.08.15 at 8:43 am

Just a small question – who is insisting that the moslem communities “apologise” for what happened? I don’t think anybody here did. They are not responsible for the attacks. But it seems to me that there is a lack of public demostrations from the moslem communities of condemnation for the attackers and their ideology. It could of course be that is as some people have suggested the fault of the press, but their seems to have been plenty of coverage for Kurdish anti-Turk demonstrations and vice versa. The scale of the problem (and the number of young Europeans ruining or giving their lives for IS) suggests that now is the time stop being passive about this, before deep rifts open in European communities.

119

Z 01.08.15 at 9:00 am

“We need to remember that most of the victims of extremists of this type have been everyday people who happen to be Muslims.”

True in general, but even in this particular case it is well worth remembering that one of the victim is Ahmed Merabe, a 42 year old policeman gunned down (and apparently later summarily executed) during the chase. I don’t know if he would have self-identified as muslim, but his name suggests it is at least plausible.

120

Z 01.08.15 at 9:02 am

And one Mustapha Ourrad, corrector at Charlie, is also among the victims.

121

reason 01.08.15 at 9:16 am

P.S.
Yes and more fingers needed to pointed at Saudi Arabia as the source of this plague.

122

ZM 01.08.15 at 9:48 am

In Australia the Sydney siege was condemned by the council of imams

“The Australian National Imams Council (ANIC), commenting on the siege at a Sydney cafe on Monday, said it “condemns the act unequivocally.”
Speaking to Al Arabiya News, the Grand Mufti of Australia, Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, said that the Australian Muslim community strongly condemns the “criminal act” which he said “does not reflect Islam or Muslims.””

I guess in France the situation might be a bit different because of Algeria and I am not sure if France has an overall policy of multiculturalism like Australia ?

Vanya,

“Apparently the whole incident turned out to be something of a hoax. .., .Kind of a pathetic story actually. For the most part Western populations have been pretty decent about not lashing out, which is why the constant exortations after every terrorist attack for inclusion seem like condescending overreactions. “

I do not see how you conclude the hashtag was a hoax from what you’ve written ?
You also do not seem to be very aware of racial tensions in Australia – for example female international students who wear headscarfs can be too scared to take public transport by themselves at night at normal times let alone after such incidents, and offensive racist speech on public transport happens too often as well.
And furthermore in the Sydney context people in Australia would be remembering the Cronulla race riots of 2005

“A crowd gathered on the morning of Sunday, 11 December 2005 and, by midday, approximately 5,000 people gathered at Cronulla beach to protest against the recent spate of violence against locals. However, fuelled by alcohol, the crowd turned to violence when a young man of Middle Eastern appearance was spotted on the beach. He was surrounded by a crowd outside a local hotel and attacked, along with similar attacks later that day. Retaliatory riots also took place that night and on subsequent nights, resulting in extensive property damage and several more assaults, including one stabbing and even some attacks against ambulance and police officers.”

123

J Thomas 01.08.15 at 10:17 am

#107 Collin Street

> How would you find out how rare successful false flag attacks are?

“It seems implausible that adding “and we have to pretend to be someone else the whole time” makes your operation more likely to succeed, wouldn’t you think?”

Not particularly relevant.

So a comparison of rates of unsuccessful false-flag operations to unsuccessful non-false-flag operations is — absent evidence to support the otherwise-implausible claim that [see first para] — a pretty good [conservative] proxy for total false-flag operations to total non-false-flag operations, and for successful &c to &c.

False-flag operations that fail to meet their official objectives can be almost as effective — or more effective, depending — as those that do. An unsuccessful attempt by arabs to attack the White House with poison gas might generate just the right amount of outrage, while a successful attempt might not only generate too much but also put the wrong person into the presidency.

Then there’s the question whether a particular group which is blamed for an attack makes a public denial. Would they say “We agree with the intent of whoever did this, and we would have been glad to do it, but in fact we did not do this one”? Or would they claim credit? We might estimate this by looking at how often more than one terrorist group claims credit for a particular incident. As far as I know, AQ stopped denying doing 9/11 after the first few months. But if they didn’t do it, still it would be a troubling tactical decision to admit not doing it.

They had been blamed for a previous WTC attack by egyptians, when the main connection was that one of the conspirators had attended an AQ infantry training camp. I haven’t heard that they denied that one. Iraq captured one of the conspirators and after interrogation Saddam speculated that it was done by Israel, USA, or factions in Saudi Arabia or Egypt. That is, he didn’t trust the cover story but he had no idea what the truth was.

Consider the Lavon affair, a failed false-flag operation with serious consequences. Apparently it failed because the leader of the group had been a double agent all along. Also it was done by egyptian jews recruited by Israel, who were not good at denying their involvement. Israel would have done far better to pretend to be an arab fanatical group and recruit arab fanatics who could then be caught to confirm the story. Israel publicly denied the attacks for 51 years.

I have no evidence how common it is for false-flag operations to “succeed” by being attributed to the wrong groups. I don’t understand why you would think you know.

124

Vanya 01.08.15 at 10:23 am

@122, “hoax” might be a little strong. But the original story is much less interesting than what has been amplified in the retelling

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/how-illridewithyou-began-with-rachael-jacobs-experience-on-a-brisbane-train-20141216-128205.html

All of the Australians I have met have been world travelers or otherwise living abroad as expatriates, and have struck me as a very tolerant and open minded bunch compared to many other nationalities I have dealt with. Maybe it is a skewed sample.

125

Z 01.08.15 at 10:38 am

But it seems to me that there is a lack of public demostrations from the moslem communities of condemnation for the attackers and their ideology.

Well, just as you were writing the seven largest French muslim organisations issued a joint statement “condemning in the sternest way” the “dreadful attack”, pointing out that such “abject and unjust acts” are “in no possible way a reflection of Islam”, urging “the Muslims of France to take part in the demonstration scheduled on Sunday in solidarity with the victims” and wishing for the “quick capture and sever punishment of the perpetrators” (my translation throughout).

126

bunkerbuster 01.08.15 at 10:50 am

While it seems rational to ask moderate Muslims to be more vocal about distancing themselves from the quasi-religious gangsters who kill and destroy in their religion’s name, such a demand is shamefully naive and, often, echoes with the sound of a bigot clearing their throat.
Muslims from Syria to Pakistan, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt are laying down their lives to protest against radical Islam. They are not just protesting, they are fighting against it from the mosque, from the courts and, even, on the battlefield. The implication that this isn’t happening betrays a vast ignorance about the Islamic world and the conflicts dividing it.
In America, moderate Muslims are widely ignored in the media in favor of heavy coverage of radical Islam, adding a very tragic irony to the claim that Muslims just don’t speak out enough. Moderate Islam is involved in schools, hospitals and charities across the Middle East and around the world, but that simply doesn’t warrant coverage. That’s fine, since news isn’t supposed to be about the ordinary things in life that lack urgency or alarm. But when media consumers then turn around and pretend moderate Islam doesn’t actually exist, you have to question their motives and their intelligence…

127

David 01.08.15 at 11:04 am

I think the “Muslims-should-apologise” theme is a misunderstanding of what this incident is about. It’s not Muslim vs Christian, but devout believer vs blasphemer. Such distinctions (which occur in all monotheistic religions) relate to what is done, not who did it. Indeed, historically, monotheistic religions have punished blasphemy by their own communities at least as harshly, if not more so, than blasphemy by outsiders. So if people of Muslim extraction were working at the magazine, that only made it worse. We in Europe no longer kill people for “taking the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Exodus, 20:7). Others do.
Incidentally, there was another shooting incident in Paris this morning, with one policewoman killed. At the moment, the police are saying that they don’t think there’s a connection with yesterday’s killings, but a large part of southern Paris has been shut down all morning.
http://www.franceinfo.fr/actu/faits-divers/article/derniere-minute-des-coups-de-feu-ont-ete-tires-ce-matin-porte-de-chatillon-dans-le-sud-de-paris-628399

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Jim Buck 01.08.15 at 11:14 am

t I find it interesting that you’d omit the subsequent invasion and occupation by the USSR

I find it interesting that you omit US manoeuvres in Afghanistan, prior to the Soviet intervention. S’ not as if it’s a big secret:

http://dgibbs.faculty.arizona.edu/brzezinski_interview

You might say, they were so vicious, they made the Islamicists look attractive by comparison.

What a Taliban spokesman did say was that the Soviets were much cleaner fighters because they engaged hand-to-hand with their Afghan opponents; whereas the Americans preferred: fighting prisoners to death; bombing wedding parties; and avoiding the more manly aspects of warfare.

http://dgibbs.faculty.arizona.edu/brzezinski_interview

129

reason 01.08.15 at 11:18 am

Z @125
Good.

130

Val 01.08.15 at 12:21 pm

Vanya @ 116 and 124
I think in your apparent need to downplay the virtue in the #illridewithyou you’ve overlooked or elided some key facts, particularly that the originator did approach the woman on question (woman with headscarf) and say something to her (because they both happened to get off at the same station) but the woman said she was ok. That wasn’t mentioned in the article you read because it was a follow up article about something that had already been publicized. It’s possible to see why you made the mistake, but the more interesting question is why did you want to? Any why on earth did you originally use the ridiculous word ‘hoax’ (which you yourself admit in your second comment was wrong)?

Where does your need to denigrate a maybe awkward, but certainly well-intentioned, gesture and campaign come from? And why the need to sound so knowledgeable about something that happened in a country and culture you obviously know so little about? Sounds like cheap cynicism to me.

131

Shamash 01.08.15 at 12:51 pm

‘This is one of the dumber CT threads I can recall.’
‘You haven’t been reading CT much recently, have you Tyrone?’

The most acrimonious and emotionally charged CT debates are still an order of magnitude more erudite and polite than the same discussion would be at any other site.

132

Val 01.08.15 at 12:53 pm

Vanya @ 116 and 124
I just realised I might be doing you a bit of an injustice. You could be mixing this up with another publicized incident that happened prior to the cafe siege. Some students in Sydney (I think) apparently made a video of a guy (acting) apparently verbally abusing Moslems and some passers by intervening – that was all a bit shonky, although apparently also well meaning.

133

Philo Vaihinger 01.08.15 at 1:31 pm

“Islamophobia”? Is that like “an inordinate fear of communism”? An irrational fear of cockroaches? Rabies?

As for Islam, it is the most dangerous and culturally retrograde religion in the world today.

Islam is and always was more like a cult of war and murder than any other religion today, and because of that and because it is so widespread and has much greater access to funding and weapons than, say, Aum Shinrikyo, it is the most active immediate threat of mass violence anyone in the West faces.

But, sure, let’s spend nearly all our time worrying about Islamophobia, a largely imaginary disorder that, if it has killed anyone, is way behind the Muslim body count, even looking only at victims since 9/11.

By the way, historically, most of the victims of Christian religious extremism have been other Christians.

Nobody seems to think that makes historic Christian extremism less awful.

The aim of the “Islamophobic” parties in Europe is simply to end or severely limit Muslim immigration and deport dangerous Muslim fanatics.

It is not to kill anyone.

And who can blame them?

Comparing both ends and means, the so-called Islamophobes come out far more benign than the Muslims, and anyway they would not even exists were it for the constant attacks and other cultural horrors of the Muslims, both in Europe and elsewhere.

134

reason 01.08.15 at 1:41 pm

@131
…. exists were it for the constant attacks and other cultural horrors of the SOME Muslims …
get the point?
You are treating 1 Billion people as though they are all the same, if that isn’t racism, I’m not sure what is.

135

reason 01.08.15 at 1:47 pm

I’m pleased to say that here in Germany the Islamic community is taking my advice.
http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/attacke-auf-charlie-hebdo-muslimische-verbaende-planen-kundgebung-a-1011926.html

136

Ze Kraggash 01.08.15 at 1:58 pm

“You might say, they were so vicious, they made the Islamicists look attractive by comparison.”

I had the impression that Karmal’s regime was actually quite decent on most accounts, with the exception of being too anti-religious. Karmal himself was quite popular.

137

Shamash 01.08.15 at 2:11 pm

Philo Vaihinger@131
I prefer to think of the Christian vs. Muslim comparison as Christianity simply having a several hundred year head start on being civilized. After all, what would the daily headlines look like in the Christian world circa 1450CE? It’s not like Christians would be massacring Jewish communities for bringing the plague on them or anything…

Give it another 600 years and the extreme factions of Islam will probably reach the current, entirely civilized, abortion clinic bombing-level of extreme Christian religious disagreement with other cultures and beliefs.

But for whatever part of that 600 years I am part of, I will continue to judge individuals based on their personal conduct rather than a stereotype based on the aberrant actions of an extreme minority.

138

Philo Vaihinger 01.08.15 at 2:12 pm

No, this is right.

“Comparing both ends and means, the so-called Islamophobes come out far more benign than the Muslims, and anyway they would not even exist were it for the constant attacks and other cultural horrors of the Muslims, both in Europe and elsewhere.”

Most people in either group are non-violent and perfectly peaceable.

Almost none in the Islamophobe group are actual terrorists or cult warriors.

The case is quite otherwise with Islam, born as it was as a cult of war and slaughter.

Those other horrors include stoning of homosexuals, beheading of apostates, and flogging of uppity women.

Not to mention the bombings and murders directed at disrespectful unbelievers.

Christians gave all that stuff up centuries ago, fortunately.

139

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 2:16 pm

Oh Philo… We were having such a decent conversation, excluding ridiculous conspiracy theories from the usual suspects, before you showed up. Be a dear and take your racism and fear somewhere else.

140

reason 01.08.15 at 2:29 pm

Philo Vaihinger @136
You mean that http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anders_Behring_Breivik is almost no-one.
But of course you are still not getting the point. Even if there is a cultural problem among an element of the Islamic population, painting the 99% with the brush of the 1% (just as you might call all Germans neo-Nazis) is not very useful of productive. What you need to do is make a wedge between the 99% and the 1% and what you are saying is doing the opposite.

141

Chris Bertram 01.08.15 at 2:38 pm

I’ve not been paying as much attention to this thread as I should have been, but since Philo Vaihinger has been good enough to link to his blog, I think I have enough information to see where he’s coming from.

Philo Vaihinger: Please go and comment somewhere else, not here (and see our comments policy).

142

bianca steele 01.08.15 at 3:14 pm

Is no one made uncomfortable by the “I’ll ride with you” thing? I mean, yes, it seems well-meaning. But unless I’m misremembering badly, a couple of days after 9/11, Bush asked white Americans to do exactly that. Sure, I’ll bet he was being well-meaning, too . . . I’m not sure that’s how it would have seemed to me, if I was on the other side of people from a religion that’s declared war on mine, knocking on my door to make sure I wasn’t going out without one of them to walk alongside me.

143

Jesús Couto Fandiño 01.08.15 at 3:28 pm

… who declared war on who? “From a religion”?? Which?

I see that as, simply, citizens telling citizens that we stand together with them, because some assholes may target them for their religion. Same as standing with the journalist of Charlie Hebdo for being attacked for their “blasphemy”.

144

Ronan(rf) 01.08.15 at 3:41 pm

J Thomas -it doesn’t have to be true in every case. His case studies were quite interesting, and it does seem to say quite a lot about these types of Al Q ‘self starter’ groups.
Beyond that though, my emphasis was more on his argument that they aren’t monsters but ‘extreme moralists.’ People who like to write Islamic terrorism (specifically the Al Qaeda ideological ‘brand’) off to ‘western imperialism’ do a real disservice to the people who sign up. It is oddly patronishing, removing all agency from the individual, imagining them solely as the product of our play/out victimisation.
US foreign policy can work as one part in a radicalisation process, but usually as a small part, and something approaching a post hoc justification. But anyway, plenty of people become radicalised by US human rights abuses in *positive ways* (campaigners, researchers, layman humanitarians etc), so the question is what radicalises some people to violence, but others to peaceful , positive contributions ?
The other thing we have to understand is that these people *believe in this ideology.* This isnt the product of false conciousness, or shouldn’t be seen through the western lefts romantic notions of postcolonial political struggles, these individuals are reactionary Utopianists. They believe fundamentally in this radical, religious based ordering of society. They believe it will come about, and see themselves as positive moral actors bringing it into existence. They are not reacting mindlessly to western provocation. They are certainly creating strategies to provoke response and develop narratives to build support, but the driving force at the core is a vision of society (much like communism, facism, or even the worldview of the neocons) that is millenarian, Utopian and morally serious, if awful.
So religion is important,and it’s not. If it wasn’t Islamic Utopianism it’d be something else, but it is Islamic Utopianism so people should take the Islamic part seriously.
Obviously there are differen’t seasons of this stuff. In largely nationalist, or distributionalist, struggles (Palestine, Lebanon etc where there are governing structures, domestic constiuents, different narratives) it (imo) explains less. This is just one of the ways society and politics is structured in those societies, along sectarian/ethnic,/class grounds, and so a specific cleavage becomes salient and built into the conflict.
But in the case of groups like Al Qaeda and the vision they propagate, it is morally serious, if akin to facism (as an aspiration for society if not a threat), and will probably inspire a low level terrorist campaign across the west (with perhaps bigger gains elsewhere) for decades.

145

bianca steele 01.08.15 at 3:53 pm

JCF: What, would that be your response to someone who said someone had offered to “ride with them” and they hadn’t liked it? You’d ‘splain that their opinion didn’t respond to the good intentions of the person who’d offered, and it would be more polite of them to keep their bad feelings to themselves, and recognize that the white person’s feelings were more important?

And then you’d expect them to conclude that you don’t have anything in common with the people harassing them, and that your society respects them the same as everybody else?

Isn’t this one of those situations where the feelings of the actual people in the real situation are more important than vague feelings of praise for the idea of having good intentions?

146

Jesús Couto Fandiño 01.08.15 at 4:17 pm

#143 I would start by saying that any action like that should start by identifying people that WANT to have somebody ride with them. Because I’m not a creep, or so I hope.

But I still dont know what you were talking about when “people from a religion that has declared war on mine” means in this context, given that we are talking about citizens of a country, from whatever religion or even atheist, standing together with citizens or residents of the same country (again, I assume, those that feel the need and want the support) that are Muslim, against religious discrimination.

147

CJColucci 01.08.15 at 4:19 pm

@JThomas 61

Aspirationally, I don’t disagree with you. In a world in which journalism was much better done than it is, someone, and maybe lots of someones, probably would be thinking that a better effort to identify and publicize condemnation by sane Muslims of Muslim extremism is necessary precisely because otherwise people would think no sane Muslims are doing that. But in the journalistic world we live in, with its “opinions on shape of earth differ” reporting, such an effort is severely hampered by the absence of people in the Rolodex (am I showing my age) to call or official spokespeople well enough known that their comments automatically count as “news.”

148

bianca steele 01.08.15 at 4:31 pm

JCF: I don’t think the Muslim majority, in the US or in Australia, thinks of the white majority as anything other than “Christian,” since most of them are. That’s how the country is represented to them. And that’s how Bush represented himself, and false or not, the country at large. “I’m not a Christian, though all my friends are, and I say ‘Jesus Christ’ when I take the Lord’s name in vain,” seems like a hairsplitting distinction to a religious minority.

And in the US case, there was a lot of question about the scope of the war he was calling for. In Australia, maybe, not so much, and I don’t know whether the hoodlums who were supposed to be attacking people on subways were declaring any larger purpose to their attacks.

But I really don’t understand why the optics of it don’t look bad to anyone, apparently, except myself. How are potentially recent immigrants supposed to understand the difference, between a situation where it’s illegal for them to go out by themselves, and a situation where it’s unsafe for them to go out by themselves (because a large number of people want to attack them)? Especially when the potential chaperones use exactly the same argument as the people in countries with Islamist militias who think all women should be wearing headscarves.

149

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 4:35 pm

“Especially when the potential chaperones use exactly the same argument as the people in countries with Islamist militias who think all women should be wearing headscarves.”

I am not sure I understand this. Would you mind expanding on it?

150

Jesús Couto Fandiño 01.08.15 at 4:44 pm

I dont know why you are assuming that the thing was a concerted movement to tell ALL muslim people not to go outside without their neighbourghood watcher, in the same way that I dont understand why do you think “recent inmigrants” would not be able to understand the realities of the places they are living in, like “I may be attacked in the subway by racists but there are many other people here that are not like that”.

All it was said, for all I can see, is “I’m willing to stand with you if you feel threatened”. Feel free to correct me if you find instances of something different.

And frankly the Christianity bit is a bit … I have no doubt many Muslims may think ours a Christian society. I’m sure the answer to that is show them we are not. The same way, say, I have to keep telling the RCC that I’m not theirs. Again, best way to show that is to offer your help openly to anybody in risk of being discriminated.

151

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 4:50 pm

“Again, best way to show that is to offer your help openly to anybody in risk of being discriminated.”

I like this a lot.

152

bianca steele 01.08.15 at 4:53 pm

MPAV: Sure. “If you wear a headscarf, bands of roving young men won’t attack you, it’s just for your own protection.” “If you don’t go out without a non-Muslim escort, bands of roving young men won’t attack you, it’s just for your own protection.” Seems pretty similar to me. Or other countries: “If you go out without a male escort, . . .”

JCF: I dont know why you are assuming that the thing was a concerted movement to tell ALL muslim people not to go outside without their neighbourghood watcher, in the same way that I dont understand why do you think “recent inmigrants” would not be able to understand the realities of the places they are living in, like “I may be attacked in the subway by racists but there are many other people here that are not like that”.

I don’t know why you are assuming that what I said has that meaning, in the same way it’s starting to seem like you wouldn’t understand why someone who’s afraid might be afraid of someone who looks like the person they’re afraid of, and who doesn’t listen when they talk.

153

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 5:00 pm

““If you wear a headscarf, bands of roving young men won’t attack you, it’s just for your own protection.” “If you don’t go out without a non-Muslim escort, bands of roving young men won’t attack you, it’s just for your own protection.” Seems pretty similar to me. Or other countries: “If you go out without a male escort, . . .””

Ah okay. I would not assume that this is how someone would take a general movement show that the populace at large is not afraid of Muslims, however I guess neither of us is in a position to know for sure.

154

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 5:00 pm

For what it is worth I think JCF is more likely to be correct. :-)

155

stevenjohnson 01.08.15 at 5:10 pm

If an asset for a security agency or militant group recruits operatives while posing as a representative of another agency or group, that is a false flag recruitment. Any public actions carried out then would be false flag operations, as I understand it.

In a purely domestic context, a supposed militant turned while in jail might pretend not to be working for the police but someone else. This is commonly called provocation or entrapment. But I think that is essentially the same thing, making it useful to call the possibility “false flag” when uncertain of a purely domestic context.

156

Jesús Couto Fandiño 01.08.15 at 5:11 pm

#150 Why are you assuming “they dont listen when they talk”? Again, you have this picture in your mind that this was some kind of pressure. Of course, if it was like that, like showing at their doorstep and saying “look, dont get out without an escort!!!!” and not taking no for an answer, that would be true… but so far I dont see any evidence, only your perception that it was like that. You add a lot of “ifs” to this scenario, from people being pushy to inmigrants completly out of contact with the realites they face day by day… do you have specific examples of people that did this with that kind of pushy behaviour?

So, in the view of more than probable retaliatory strikes for some idiot extremist actions (and we already have some in France, unfortunately), we should not offer our help freely and without pressure to those of our citizens that may fear retaliation by other extremists idiots?

157

bianca steele 01.08.15 at 5:29 pm

we should not offer our help freely and without pressure to those of our citizens that may fear retaliation by other extremists idiots?

Sure. And we should think ahead of time about how it will look, and how the people we’re helping might feel.

But I’m repeating myself and you’ve told me a few too many times what I think.

158

Jesús Couto Fandiño 01.08.15 at 5:46 pm

#155 I’m telling you what I understand to be what you think from what you write, and why I disagree with it. If you think I did not understand it correctly, then, only if you want, explain it again in different words.

If not, well, no matter either.

159

J Thomas 01.08.15 at 6:16 pm

#152 MPAV

I would not assume that this is how someone would take a general movement show that the populace at large is not afraid of Muslims, however I guess neither of us is in a position to know for sure.

For what it is worth I think JCF is more likely to be correct.

I feel kind of mean responding to you when everybody else is so polite. But this is better than your usual fare. You don’t know. You have no real basis to decide. This time you admit that, and then you present your unfounded opinion “for what it’s worth” with a smiley. Usually you splash your unfounded opinions over the topic and argue that they must be right just because.

This particularly clashes with my own style, which is to look for uncertainty, for ways that what people think might not fit the reality, and consider how we could find out more, and what we can do in the meantime that is unlikely to backfire in case we are mistaken. Then you reply that whatever you believe is obviously correct and only kooks would doubt it.

Oh well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1993_World_Trade_Center_bombing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emad_Salem
http://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/28/nyregion/tapes-depict-proposal-to-thwart-bomb-used-in-trade-center-blast.html?pagewanted=1

This is not the same thing, but I thought it was worth a look. As I interpret it, in 1993 there was a plot by some egyptians, maybe connected with MB, to do a bombing. One of them was an FBI spy who provided the FBI with lots and lots of info about them. The FBI plan was that their spy would give them inert ingredients to build the bomb with, and then they would try to set it off and the FBI would have indisputable evidence in court. But the FBI got into infighting among themselves, and the spy’s controller was demoted and the spy was fired. The terrorists then built the bomb with the correct ingredients and blew up a parking deck in the WTC. It would have been hilarious except for 6 dead and 1000 wounded etc.

160

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 6:17 pm

ELIZABETH STOKER BRUENIG on Disavowal Politics. Worth a read.

“..the urge to call for disavowal isn’t very good for politics. It can encourage the behavior it intends to discourage and it can cripple movements that have good intentions by conflating them with ones who have only bad intentions. Further, it can distort good messages and engender further resentment where it already exists, which is the last thing anybody should want in a particularly tense political moment.”

http://elizabethstokerbruenig.com/2014/12/21/disavowal-politics/

161

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 6:24 pm

“I feel kind of mean responding to you when everybody else is so polite. But this is better than your usual fare.”

Go troll someone else J.

Unless you are feeling brave then take up the bet I offered further up thread. Those pugs need your money.

“This particularly clashes with my own style, which is to look for uncertainty”
No. Your style is to play the devils advocate for any position regardless of a lack of evidence and then write thousands of words explaining why you are better than everyone else commenting here. Your comments in the consent, mansplaining and gun threads are proof of this to anyone who cares enough to go look.

162

rea 01.08.15 at 7:13 pm

Every time one of these attacks occur, you get:
(1) Numerous expressions of shock, horror, sympathy, and denunciation of the terrorists from Muslims.
(2) Numerous complaints that Muslims don’t express shock, horror, sympathy, and denunciation of the terrorists.

163

J Thomas 01.08.15 at 7:22 pm

#159 MPAV

Unless you are feeling brave then take up the bet I offered further up thread.

Sucker bet. You say there are basicly no false-flag operations. So you make a bet that would be a fair one if there was an 80% chance that the mass media do not announce that this particular incident was false-flag within 6 months.

But of course if most false-flag incidents go unreported in the mass media, it would be unlikely that this one does in 6 months.

I propose a better bet. You bet me 20 to 1 that this incident is not reported as false-flag in any of the traditional “secretive” websites like Stratfor within the next 2 years.

It has to be a traditional site, not one that I could get printed on, not that I would do that to win a bet.

If it is reported but essential details have been reliably falsified, that doesn’t count. So it has to be plausibly true, not Laurie Mylroie quality.

In case we disagree whether it’s plausible enough, ask some reputable person we agree about ahead of time to arbitrate? William Timberman? I suspect John Quiggen would be too busy, but of course anybody could be too busy, we’d have to ask.

164

J Thomas 01.08.15 at 7:27 pm

“This particularly clashes with my own style, which is to look for uncertainty”

No. Your style is to play the devils advocate for any position regardless of a lack of evidence

See, this is your disability speaking. You believe in two-valued logic, and it hobbles you.

For any logical statement there are four possible answers, not two.

Maybe it’s true and we know it.
Maybe it’s false and we know it.
Maybe we don’t know.
Maybe it reveals a contradiction in our thinking, and we can’t tell true from false until we repair the contradiction.

When I argue that we don’t know something, you think I am arguing for the opposite of whatever you believe without evidence. As if any argument that you don’t in fact know what you think you know, is an argument in favor of whatever you think the only alternative is.

165

Donald Johnson 01.08.15 at 7:29 pm

“Yeah, that’s why I said Donald.”

You praised tough counterterrorism activities in Yemen and Syria and Iraq–given that much of that activity in Yemen has included drone strikes, it’s not at all clear that we haven’t increased hatred of the US with such activities. And mentioning Syria in this context is just weird–again, numerically the Assad regime is killing vastly more Islamic extremists than we are. In Iraq our invasion helped cause the plague of Islamic extremism in the region, and our current allies the Shiites there have committed so many atrocities against Sunnis it drove many Sunnis into the arms of ISIS.

In that comment you also said this–

“The greatest enemy of equal rights, of humane refugee and immigration policies, of peace and understanding between human beings, is not any Western government, nor many non-Western governments, but people like these three gunmen.”

Why talk like this? It’s obvious that Western actions, including Western abuses of human rights, have fueled Islamic extremism. People who join jihadist groups sometimes do so out of a misguided sense of moral outrage (others may do so simply because the thought of killing people in a supposedly noble cause excites them). Islamic extremism in turn incites more Western atrocities. I jump on you because you consistently downplay Western atrocities–in my opinion, attitudes like yours are part of the problem.

166

Suzanne 01.08.15 at 7:32 pm

Here is how Denmark is coping with the problem of returning jihadis:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/09/denmark-introduces-rehab-syrian-fighters-201496125229948625.html

Seems much more promising than throwing the book at them, and Denmark is not forgoing tougher measures when called for. In addition they are being firm with the religious authorities – no encouragement of travel for jihad, period, or suffer consequences.

167

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 7:34 pm

“I propose a better bet. You bet me 20 to 1 that this incident is not reported as false-flag in any of the traditional “secretive” websites like Stratfor within the next 2 years.”

I have never heard of that site. So it is unacceptable to me. 20 to 1 does not leave enough room with my limit of 100 dollars for much money for needy pugs. 5 to 1 is my offer.

“In case we disagree whether it’s plausible enough, ask some reputable person we agree about ahead of time to arbitrate? William Timberman?”
That would be fine with me. How about ten to one odds? William, if he agrees, can decided in 8 months whether there is credible evidence that this was a false flag attack or whether you were just making stuff up to be controversial.

Really almost regular commenter/contributor would be fine with me as a judge. RF, Lynne, Omega, geo, Marc, The Temporary Name, all would be fine.

Any of you interested/willing?

168

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 7:36 pm

“When I argue that we don’t know something,”

You are not who you think you are. And you are not writing what you think you are writing.

169

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 7:37 pm

@Suzanne

Seems promising.

170

js. 01.08.15 at 8:41 pm

I don’t think the Muslim majority, in the US or in Australia, thinks of the white majority as anything other than “Christian”

I don’t think this is right. I mean, it’s true in the trivial sense that Muslim immigrants and communities recognize that the majority of people in the US, say, are Christian, nominally or otherwise. But I don’t think it’s true that they, the Muslims, thinks of them qua Christians, necessarily. My evidence for this is anecdotal, but I do have a fair bit of such.

But the second, stronger version is what your comment seems to imply and require, that the ‘#iwillridewithyou’ offer would be interpreted as coming from a ‘Christian other’, so to speak, rather than a fellow citizen. And as the previous sentence implies, ‘#iwillridewithyou’ was an offer, and based on what I’ve read, was by and large recognized and appreciated as such. So while the concern about some such thing being a demand or a veiled threat is right in the abstract, it just seems to me misplaced in this case.

171

bianca steele 01.08.15 at 9:12 pm

js.:

It’s certainly not my direct experience that non-Christian groups in the US (among one of which I was raised) have a word for the majority population that doesn’t signify “Christian.” (Obviously, those concepts don’t signify Christian to that small group of Christians who believe most members of Christian churches–and pretty much all members of some large churches–“aren’t really Christians,” but that’s after all a small group.)

It’s not my direct experience that those in the US who embrace the concept “Judeo-Christian,” or even “Judeo-Christian-Muslim,” such as George Bush, mean by that to exclude those who are called “the unaffiliated,” and so on.

I’m aware that the situation is different in the UK and other countries, who find it comical that the US is so religion-bound, as in France, where there’s a stronger tradition of secularism.

The situation in Australia may have been entirely innocent (I didn’t follow the links), but its similarity to the public pronouncements of Bush on the TV in the months after 9/11, was what struck me. The words, if not the situation and the person making the proposal, were almost identical. Obviously, I don’t know what went through the mind of every person in the country when they heard him make those remarks. I only know how they struck me, and a small number of other people whom I happened to be acquainted with.

172

Ronan(rf) 01.08.15 at 9:18 pm

“We should understand that aggressive counterterrorist efforts abroad prevent like-minded men from developing the organization, and the monetary, technical, and human resources to travel west or north for a few hours and make a much more bloody statement.”

This really needs qualification (as the statement itself is so broad, which ” counterterrorist efforts” specifically ?) and some show of evidence for your general argument.
My understanding is that even among experts sympathetic towards US ‘counterror efforts’ they don’t view things like the drone war as an unqualified ‘success’ (or at least they elaborate on what they mean by success) . There’s some evidence, but it’s contested, that it has helped retard Al Qaeda growth, but there’s still a lot of debate on it and there are certainly costs -even from a purely ‘national interest’ perspective – associated. And of course there are plausibly useful alternatives that the policy crowds out.
I don’t think the opposite is true either though (that it leads to significant blowback) Christine Fair, iirc, has conducted polling from the FATA region in pakistan which shows that most people are unaware of the drone attacks, and that the radicalising effect is pretty limited. (I’ll try find the article later)
Your general position on US policy – and I don’t mean this snarkily – is just so generous all of the time, and blinkered to any alternative. It seems to be a case of ‘if it’s happening it’s good, and there really is no other option available.’
I genuinely don’t know how you deal with these situations – the breakdown of order in the Levant and North Africa – or how you deal with these security threats ( which are real though much more limited than claimed ) and I’m not opposed to using force at times. But we really do need better ideas at this stage than the same old.

173

LWA (Liberal With Attitude) 01.08.15 at 9:21 pm

“Really almost regular commenter/contributor would be fine with me as a judge. RF, Lynne, Omega, geo, Marc, The Temporary Name, all would be fine.”

Don’t take the bait, J Thomas!
Those guys are all in on it!

174

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 9:32 pm

“But we really do need better ideas at this stage than the same old.”

We could try training and arming the good guys.

/hahahahahaah
//sob

175

Ronan(rf) 01.08.15 at 9:46 pm

“Really almost regular commenter/contributor would be fine with me as a judge. RF, Lynne, Omega, geo, Marc, The Temporary Name, all would be fine.”

Yeah Im in. Although for the sake of declaring an interest I should say that I’ve already called it as ‘not a false flag operation.’
If Obama admits to it I might change my mind.

176

J Thomas 01.08.15 at 9:56 pm

“I propose a better bet. You bet me 20 to 1 that this incident is not reported as false-flag in any of the traditional “secretive” websites like Stratfor within the next 2 years.”

I have never heard of that site. So it is unacceptable to me.

Your ignorance should not be the determining factor here. Stratfor attempts to present a cynical superior view of world events. They sometimes spread rumors that the mass media ignore. I don’t consider them reliable, but sometimes their speculations check out. Other times, no.

http://www.stratfor.com/geopolitical-diary/paris-attack-underscores-deeper-malaise#axzz3OGhaeN2X

Their current take on this event is that it may have been done by home-grown muslims or by muslims associated with one or another international conspiracy. Either way, their view is that this is primarily a muslim/muslim argument and that they bother westerners to affect their popularity among their own people. We are extras and spear-carriers in their own drama. The claimed jihadi strategy is to get us to oppress muslims in western nations etc, so that muslims at home will be more sympathetic to jihad.

I have no idea whether they will consider the possibility that this is a false-flag thing done by somebody else within the next 2 years. I mostly don’t follow Stratfor and I don’t know how likely they are to choose one idea and hang onto it as hard as they can.

20 to 1 does not leave enough room with my limit of 100 dollars for much money for needy pugs. 5 to 1 is my offer.

That’s low, but it might be acceptable if the other terms work out. If you reject Stratfor, what sites would you definitely accept?

If you’ll accept any CT member to arbitrate, I’ll suggest we ask William Timberman after we get all the other details straight.

177

ZM 01.08.15 at 10:12 pm

bianca steele,

I don’t think #illridewithyou should be compared to anything Bush said because it was just the spontaneous reactions of everyday people. In Australia it has mostly although not uniformly been seen as a good thing.

We have a policy of multiculturalism here, but there is also some ugly racism both in everyday ways that can be less obvious to white people, and in events like attacks or the Cronulla riots, and in politics. For instance our Attorney General last year wanted to reform our hate speech laws since he is of the view everyone has “the right to be a bigot” which should not be infringed upon. This was seen as directed at Middle Eastern/Islamic people – but Jewish groups got very cross too as well as the wider community and this reform was abandoned for the time being. Due to these things happening in Australia at times shows of public realm inter-racial solidarity are quite important .

Aljazeera has a post-colonial opinion piece by a Nazry Bahrawi from Singapore that criticises #illridewithyou as although being started in good will he sees it as participating in a tradition of identifying good Muslims from bad Muslims – as in the calls for Muslim leaders to show they are “good” by renouncing acts of violence. I don’t really agree with this view though – and there was a good article by Jenna Price in the women’s section of The Age responding to these sorts of criticisms:

“And here was an unusual moment in Australian political history – with hand wringers urging us not to use #illridewithyou because it colonised Muslims, placed white helpers at the centre, and patronised those who didn’t need help.
Now let’s make one thing clear before I proceed: it’s important to collaborate on any assistance. All of us have to listen and be guided about what makes our society the most civil it can be. And hand wringers, don’t turn this into an intellectual debate right now. Save it for later. This was straight from the heart and that’s a good thing.

While some of my best friends are handwringers — second guessing every reaction they have to these issues just in case it’s seen as disenfranchising — it’s actually not good enough to call out privilege when you see it. It’s time to call it in. Make it work for greater decency.

We should never wait for the opportunity to speak out in support of others.

You should never – ever – wait to speak out.

My four grandparents were all murdered by Nazis. Do you think they would have been reluctant to receive support from non-Jews? I don’t think so. Would they have thought that support was ‘patronising’? Doubt it.”

http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/illridewithyou-is-helping-attacks-on-it-are-not-20141216-1281fh.html

178

Omega Centauri 01.08.15 at 10:45 pm

If you read todays JuanCole, you will see he has a discussion of the radicalization of the perps.

Sharif and Said Kouashi, the two brothers for whom the French police are searching …
(During an earlier arrest Sharif said:)
Benyettou took them on the internet, and showed them images from Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. Sharif said, “It was everything I saw on the television, the torture at Abu Ghraib prison, all that, which motivated me.”

Sounds like a pretty clear example of our earlier clumy counterterrorism activities being instrumental to the recruitment/radicalisation of these very two terrorists. Counter terrorist activities may take out individuals and damage organisations, but it frequently has the effect of increasing recruitment. It is an open question whether our efforts have been effective, or have simply made the problem worse on net. I tend (strongly) towards the later view.

179

js. 01.08.15 at 10:57 pm

Ha. I came on here to comment @Omega Centauri that Juan Cole is making exactly the same case. I’m still not convinced—the it was well-planned, so it couldn’t have been pure fanaticism inference doesn’t make sense to me—but I see the argument.

180

Ronan(rf) 01.08.15 at 11:06 pm

I like Cole, but think he drifts into simple/convenient answers a good bit of the time. I’m not going to argue against his position on this specific case (as I, like him, don’t really know) ,but the radicalisation process is considerably more compliacted (IMO) than his article suggests. From what Ive read anyway.
For a very unsympathetic case study of a figure (in an article Ive just come across) radicalised to mass murder:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n22/adam-shatz/west-end-boy

181

Ronan(rf) 01.08.15 at 11:08 pm

I think it would be wrong to look at it as purely fanaticism with no strategic value. There’s always strategic value
ie

http://politicalviolenceataglance.org/2015/01/08/how-not-to-respond-to-the-charlie-hebdo-attacks/

182

Ronan(rf) 01.08.15 at 11:16 pm

178 – isn’t meant to imply that Iraq wasn’t a huge (humanitarian) mistake. Just that without Iraq and without Guantanamo I don’t see what set of realistic policies – or even unrealistic for that matter- would have completly ended the threat over the past decade.
That’s not to say Bush didnt play into Al Qaeda’s hands. IIRC, strategically, the decision was made by Al Q to concentrate on US policy as their primary grievance (and provoke the US into overreaction) to rally ‘Muslim’ support and legitimise Al Qaeda. This didnt work, in general. (although a number of western Muslims appear to have been radicalised over the 00s, at least plausibly primarily because of US policy)

183

Tabasco 01.08.15 at 11:23 pm

One aspect of this whole awful business that hasn’t got enough airtime is the possibility that this is Al Qaeda trying to regain market share, so to speak, from ISIS.

184

js. 01.08.15 at 11:26 pm

It’s certainly not my direct experience that non-Christian groups in the US (among one of which I was raised) have a word for the majority population that doesn’t signify “Christian.”

Here are two: “white” and “American”. The second one of those is problematic for a whole set of reasons, but I’m pretty certain that it does not carry undertones of “Christian”. It’s also used frequently (and again, problematically) by several of my relatives who immigrated to the US as adults.

185

MPAVictoria 01.08.15 at 11:50 pm

“Your ignorance should not be the determining factor here.”

Well considering the proposed bet involves me I think it should. I have never heard of this website and so am unable to judge its value. Rf has graciously offered to adjudicate and I trust their integrity. So how about we just allow rf to judge, in 8 months time and based on whatever evidence rf finds reliable, as to whether it is a reasonable claim that this was a false flag. If he finds your claim to be reasonable and backed up by evidence I will donate 100 dollars to the charity of your choice. If he finds that your claim was simply talk with no believable evidence behind it then you donate 20 dollars to a charity of my choice.

Under My Wing Pug Rescue would be my choice of charity. They are registered as a charity with the Canadian Rescue Agency.
http://undermywingpugrescue.com

186

J Thomas 01.09.15 at 1:23 am

#193 MPAV

So how about we just allow rf to judge, in 8 months time and based on whatever evidence rf finds reliable, as to whether it is a reasonable claim that this was a false flag.

My claim has never been that it was a false flag. My claim is that I have seen inadequate evidence so far to tell whether it was a false flag or not, and as far as I know none of us has seen any real evidence that it was not. You in particular have presented no credible evidence that it was not, even while you have claimed that you know it was not and that anybody who doubts your baseless claim is in tinfoil-hat territory.

So my offer is that we check whether in the next 2 years *someone* presents evidence that it may have been false-flag and that evidence is not credibly refuted.

I don’t want rf because he says he’s biased. How about William Timberman?

A fairer offer, given our respective claims, would be that you win if there is credible evidence to show that it could not be false-flag as fits your claim. But that becomes a sucker bet on my part.

187

Ronan(rf) 01.09.15 at 1:23 am

No problem. Keep in mind though my evidentary standard, ie nothing less than an admittance of complicity by Obama.

A bit more on the radicalisation topic

https://acrossthegreenmountain.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/background-on-the-19th-network-paris-france-2000-2013/

which seems to support Atran’s position noted above (small networks of close friends from the same area) Also worth noting that a lot of them are from poorer areas, *normally* the demographics skew better educated/wealthier.

188

MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 1:39 am

“You in particular have presented no credible evidence that it was not, even while you have claimed that you know it was not and that anybody who doubts your baseless claim is in tinfoil-hat territory.”

It is usually the one making the extraordinary claim that has to supply the evidence. To claim that the attack is most likely the result of Islamic terrorists and not a “false flag” attack is not a baseless or extraordinary claim as that appears to be exactly what has occurred.

You sound like the Gun nuts after a mass shooting. “The government did it so they could take away our guns!!!” Don’t encourage conspiracy theorists. It is not responsible. Of course I am not surprised, you proved in the last gun thread that you are willing to say anything to get a reaction.

“So my offer is that we check whether in the next 2 years *someone* presents evidence that it may have been false-flag and that evidence is not credibly refuted.”

In two years I could be dead. Let’s make it 8 months. William is fine but he hasn’t offered. If rf isn’t an acceptable choice then is anyone else out there who is willing?

189

Andrew F. 01.09.15 at 1:52 am

Have not seen much (hardly any) of the news coverage today, but did catch a glimpse of a television screen showing the windshield of a police vehicle with bullet holes. Depending on a lot of factors, and assuming these men were using AK-47s, the grouping of the shots and their location on the windshield seemed to me to indicate that at least one of the gunmen has had some amount of training with the weapon and its use in combat. The propitious timing of the attack, and their apparently fast movement away from the site of the attack while evading (apparently) close tracking, indicate either significant advance planning or remarkable luck.

Knowing so little about these men, and the facts surrounding the attack, it’s difficult to even speculate intelligently on the subject. My primary concern would be that the end phase of their plans might be the second option of these three types:

(1) Escape Europe, travel to an ongoing Islamist conflict.
(2) Execute a series of additional attacks, and die in glory.
(3) Vague plan to lay low and try to get somewhere, perhaps by connecting with like-minded souls who are willing to provide aid and comfort, and ultimately discreet transport.

Hopefully it’s 1 or 3, and I’d bet on 3 – though they may have stockpiled a few explosive devices and other weapons to cause problems upon being trapped.

The very little information I have points to this:

the gunmen have a fair understanding of tactics and a good familiarity with their weapons;
the gunmen have no strategic understanding or conception of their actions, which likely leaves them in some confusion as to what the end phase should be.

Donald Johnson @163, Fair enough and I do understand your view – I have a response in mind, but not the time to deliver it.

190

Ronan(rf) 01.09.15 at 1:53 am

I’m a little hurt that I’ve been shunted..I’d be willing to lower my standard from an Obama admittance to a high level leak from within the NSC ? Or a picture of Elvis hitching a ride with JFK on Shergar to a meeting with Osama BL in Yemen, .

191

J Thomas 01.09.15 at 1:57 am

#186 MPAV

“You in particular have presented no credible evidence that it was not, even while you have claimed that you know it was not and that anybody who doubts your baseless claim is in tinfoil-hat territory.”

It is usually the one making the extraordinary claim that has to supply the evidence.

That old rotten chestnut. That false claim has caused a lot of trouble.

It is the responsibility of anybody who makes a claim to supply the evidence for his claim.

Isn’t that obvious?

What you have done without thinking was a kind of special pleading. “Hey, I believe it and a bunch of my friends believe it, so we don’t need no steeenking evidences! But if somebody doubts it, they’re making an extraordinary claim and it should be dismissed unless they have indisputable evidence against us.”

No. Bullshit. If you make a claim, and you have no evidence, then it is a claim without evidence no matter how many other people also believe it.

You claim you know why this attack happened and who planned it. I claim neither you nor anybody else has provided evidence yet.

Which one is the extraordinary claim?

But you can disprove my claim easily — just point to the evidence that I say you don’t have.

192

MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 1:59 am

Sorry rf. I fought for you.

193

MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 2:04 am

Sorry J I am too busy partying with Elvis and DB Cooper to respond to your trolling. I might have some time after a party with the reverse vampires later but no promises.

/we are through the looking glass here people.

194

J Thomas 01.09.15 at 2:06 am

#186 MPAV

“So my offer is that we check whether in the next 2 years *someone* presents evidence that it may have been false-flag and that evidence is not credibly refuted.”

In two years I could be dead. Let’s make it 8 months. William is fine but he hasn’t offered. If rf isn’t an acceptable choice then is anyone else out there who is willing?

I haven’t asked William yet, we haven’t gotten the terms straight. Would you object to him if he’s willing to do it?

In 2 years I can contribute to your charity even if you are dead, and being an honorable person I would do so. If I’m not dead. I suppose I could put the money into escrow to do it. Or I could put it into my will.

8 months is only 1/3 of 24 months, and it usually takes time for evidence to accumulate and get published. On the other hand this is such a minor attack that in 2 years it probably won’t get much attention. I’d hate to lose the bet then the evidence comes out the next month. What do you say to 16 months and 10:1 odds?

195

MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 2:11 am

Dance and dance some more J….

196

MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 2:14 am

Also I don’t test you to donate after I die because you have proven yourself to be dishonest.

So 8 months and 5-1 odds is my offer. William is fine as long as he agrees to be impartial. However, I would prefer someone I know better. How about The Temporary Name? Or Omega?

197

MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 2:14 am

Trust not test.

198

MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 2:15 am

And the evidence is not credibly refuted is a bullshit way of describing it. How about we just let the judge decide whether a false flag operation looks lie a credible opinion a the appointed time.

199

J Thomas 01.09.15 at 2:36 am

#194 MPAV

Also I don’t test you to donate after I die because you have proven yourself to be dishonest.

That is a claim that definitely deserves evidence.

Will you give evidence for that? Your statement is personally defamatory and insulting.

200

MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 2:39 am

“Your statement is personally defamatory and insulting.”

It was intended to be.

201

MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 2:41 am

Anyway J you obviously don’t want to actually make this bet so I would appreciate if you did not refer to me anymore in this thread.

Thank you.

202

J Thomas 01.09.15 at 2:51 am

I’ve never before thought to ask the moderators to look in on someone. How do you do that?

203

Rich Puchalsky 01.09.15 at 3:12 am

No offense intended, but betting on the cause of these people’s deaths for rhetorical purposes wasn’t really the best idea in the first place.

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MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 3:37 am

Yeah Rich. You are correct. Dumb idea. My apologies if anyone was offended.

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J Thomas 01.09.15 at 3:45 am

#201

No offense intended, but betting on the cause of these people’s deaths for rhetorical purposes wasn’t really the best idea in the first place.

Agreed, but I once challenged somebody on CT to a bet and they ignored me. It didn’t seem right to just ignore her after I had done something similar. And I wanted to establish yet again that my claim is that we don’t know, not that I know. Someone else kept misquoting me about that.

There are already arguments about just how the attack fits into Al Qaeda’s global strategy.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2901892/ANALYSIS-Charlie-Hebdo-massacre-Al-Qaeda-s-bid-establish-global-terror-force-eclipsed-ISIS-asks-Michael-Burleigh.html

But Ronan’s idea implying that it could be a local group that doesn’t take orders from anybody is also plausible at this point.

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William Timberman 01.09.15 at 4:25 am

J. Thomas & MPAVictoria

Sorry for being so late with my two cents, but I hadn’t been reading this thread — I’d already absorbed about all the reports of madness I could stand for the week — and so missed my name being mentioned in the context of a wager between the two of you. It took me a while, reading backwards, to discover how my name came up, and why.

While I appreciate being considered a plausibly neutral person, I’d like to withdraw my name from your proposed list of arbitrators. The smaller crazinesses may be easier to get a handle on than the larger ones, but with all due respect, I doubt they’re worth the effort it would take to resolve them.

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Andrew F. 01.09.15 at 4:39 am

MPA, J Thomas, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The bet should be that reasonably persuasive evidence of responsibility either by the French Government or by a right-wing, anti-immigrant, group emerges.

The loser must append: “[name of winner] is brilliant and I have been humbled in a prior argument.” to all comments for no period less than a year and to no less than 365 comments. The false flag narrative is really beyond silly. I suggest a bet be made and we move, or we simply move on.

Donald Johnson @163: You praised tough counterterrorism activities in Yemen and Syria and Iraq–given that much of that activity in Yemen has included drone strikes, it’s not at all clear that we haven’t increased hatred of the US with such activities.

The Yemeni tribes are another matter. Hatred by them may have increased, though since we’ve long been viewed as allied with their worst enemies we’ve never been on their Christmas card list. But more importantly, among the key players in AQAP – the bomb-makers and the operatives – an ideology has already taken root. Combined with sufficient support, those bomb-makers and operatives could cause quite a bit of damage in Europe and the US. They haven’t – and it’s because of aggressive efforts against them.

And mentioning Syria in this context is just weird–again, numerically the Assad regime is killing vastly more Islamic extremists than we are.

Aggressive counterterrorism isn’t simply about a body count, but to the extent Assad’s forces kill al Nusra and ISIL elements, that works to our favor. Of course one must consider the means by which Assad’s forces do so, and whether there is a credible alternative in place to Assad loyalists or Islamists in much of Syria.

In Iraq our invasion helped cause the plague of Islamic extremism in the region,

Well, first off, I was talking about CT efforts, which the 2003 invasion was not.

As to Islamic extremism in the region, it was a major problem long before 2003.

Why talk like this? It’s obvious that Western actions, including Western abuses of human rights, have fueled Islamic extremism.

That’s a very Western-centric view. In fact we really should separate the motivations of alienated immigrants to the West from those fighting a struggle for power in their home region.

The former, for the most part (there are some big exceptions), are a small percentage of those who fell off the normal track for advancement as one moves through life, cannot see any normal way forward to gain a position of respect and security, are filled with anxiety and anger, and are ripe for the plucking by extremist recruiters or propaganda material. The problem isn’t Western atrocities so much as it is despair at leading a successful life through the channels available to them.

The latter, those indigenous to the various regions in question, are fighting a power struggle at home. The US is hated because (i) it is the main actor in every fevered conspiracy theory that runs through these worlds like street food through a tourist, and most importantly (ii) the US is a vital component of order in the Middle East, especially with respect to the governments that Islamists most desire to overthrow. Their attacks on the US, and Europe, have underlying strategic considerations; the propaganda fluff that they feed to angry young men on the net, around the camp fires, is simply a way of selling a war undertaken for much more self-interested reasons. But they sell much more than anger at the US or Europe. They sell wages, and respect, the prospect of family and of an elevated status in a community. They sell an identity and a vision, as all good recruiters for causes do, and then they use these men and women for their own strategic purposes.

The wet dream of the Islamists, or to put it differently the strategic objective of Islamist terrorism directed against the West, is to cause the West to consider any “interference” with such extremist groups to be so costly in blood that the West will cease to do so. It’s quite the fantasy, but stupid wars often involve men in position of some power who imagine they are in possession of much more – and they perish when their dreams meet reality.

Islamic extremism in turn incites more Western atrocities. I jump on you because you consistently downplay Western atrocities–in my opinion, attitudes like yours are part of the problem.

They’re not, unfortunately – I wish they were, since they’d be easier to stop. Islamist extremists grow from the combination of well funded and radical streams of ideology, corrupt or failing governments, and economic and social hopelessness. The US and Europe can have some positive effect towards changing those things, but it will take decades, and we’re really side-players in that particular drama. In the meantime, we have to deal with actual threats – actual bombs being devised and tested for use on aircraft bound for Europe and America, actual mass casualty plots (by whatever means) being planned inside and outside targeted countries, and so forth, actual organized movements to defeat governments in that region and install themselves.

While we make what nudges we can to move policies in those regions in a good direction, we must deal with the threats facing us – and, relative to the insurgents and terrorists, better governments in the region.

And in the meantime, we will continue to degrade the capacity of these networks to organize, develop, and execute attacks abroad, of which this atrocity in France is but one example, on a smaller scale, of what they would like to do.

The strategic lesson that their leadership must learn is this: if you wish to succeed, you cannot attack the West, and you cannot offend their values to such an extent that they feel they must respond. If you do, your network will be destroyed, your power will be lost, you will lose respect, and you will bring ruin to any who are close to you. Those that learn this will survive, perhaps even thrive. Those that don’t will die.

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MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 4:42 am

Yeah the whole idea was stupid William. I just find conspiracy theories based on nothing extremely annoying, not to mention dangerous. However, that is no excuse. It was stupid to propose the bet and stupider still to keep discussing it. Particularly with J, a commenter who never fails to drive me bananas. There is no way it was going to end well.

/I still do consider you to be a fair and good natured individual.

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Mitch Guthman 01.09.15 at 5:29 am

Ronan(rf) at 185,

Thank you very much for the link. It was very an interesting article. It explains a great deal. I hadn’t been aware of this network based in the 19e arrondissement, although it was often said that this quarter was a hotbed of Islamic radicalism.

I think the main reasons why French jihadists tend to come from a lower socioeconomic strata than the Arabs are peculiar to the situation of immigrant and Beur youth in France. Their families are often very poorly integrated into French society. Many are economically marginalized and they are often physically alienated from the larger society.

You often hear them speak of “the French” in the third person. There are frequently problems of identity: Ils sont français et non français, arabes et non arabes.

There’s a really good film called “La Désintégration” that was recommended to me at the time of the Mohamed Merah affair that is about exactly the two disaffected young men who are being hunted at the moment. Luckily for me, it has subtitles in very easy to read French but, regrettably, not English.

I wrote more about the Merah affair here: http://preview.tinyurl.com/og3cqlw

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Mitch Guthman 01.09.15 at 6:10 am

Andrew F. at 187,

Up until a few hours ago, I was thinking along the same lines, especially in thinking that their plan involved escaping to someplace like Iraq where they’d be relatively safe. Now, I’m just confused about what their plans were for getting away.

Presumably they did want to get away because they took what I assume was the precaution of having a lookout and driver for their getaway car. Also, unless they were very lucky, they seem to have had a sense of exactly how long they could stay at the Charlie Hebdo offices before heavily armed police reinforcement would arrive. And, of course, they hid their faces with masks—clearly, they intended not merely to evade capture but also to avoid being identified, which strongly suggests that they could envision either hiding out in France or returning once the initial hue and cry blew over.

They had sophisticated weapons, at least some training in their use, and plenty of ammunition. That suggests planning and the participation of others who supplied the weapons. As you say,
the careful timing of the attack, the calmness in returning to their car and their quick getaway away from the site of the attack suggests either significant advance planning or remarkable luck.

Assuming that the authorities are correct about the identities and probable whereabouts of the killers, I’m now leaning towards luck. Despite their initial calmness, they get into an accident at Place du Colonel Fabien and abandon their black car which has something in it that facilitates their identification.

Significantly, in light of the information provided by Ronan(rf), the car is abandoned in the 19e arrondissement which suggests that they were counting on being hidden by the members of the Islamist cell them and among inhabitants who might have been expected to be sympathetic to their cause and unlikely to betray them to the authorities. But they apparently don’t go to the 19e but seem to run helter skelter. Significantly, they don’t seem to have any money—perhaps because they lost in when they abandoned the black car or perhaps because they just don’t have any money.

Are they just on the run and improvising or are they moving towards a backup contact and a pickup somewhere else in France, perhaps in a suburb near Paris?

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David 01.09.15 at 8:58 am

French radio has just reported that there has been an exchange of fire at a building in the Seine-et-Marne (NE of Paris) and that two individuals, resembling the fugitives, are inside with hostages. We may therefore be at the end of the story, or very nearly do. It seems clearer and clearer that these are two (relatively incompetent) private operators, and that there are no big conspiracies to behind them
I will post more links in the hope that they will be useful, but, since the last one I posted is still in moderation purgatory after 24 hours, they may be a bit old by the time you see them.

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Val 01.09.15 at 9:06 am

bianca steele @ 169 and elsewhere
You seem a very fair minded person so it’s particularly concerning that you seem to be reading this whole #illridewithyou thing so wrong. No one is offering to “chaperone” anyone else. People who use public transport are offering to travel with others who might be at risk of, or concerned about, being subjected to racism – overt or subtle.

Do you yourself use public transport? My sense (based partly on my own brief experience, admittedly about 20 years ago) is that in some parts of the US it is not common for middle class white people to use public transport.

Anyway, regardless, I use public transport a lot, and certainly in Melbourne racist incidents don’t seem common, but they sometimes happen, and most people are aware that they happen, because several of them have been widely reported. I have seen two really unpleasant racist incidents on public transport in my own life, and in the second I intervened – which led to the racist guy turning his abuse on me, and threatening to cut my face. It’s horrible and frightening, and there is no “right” thing to do, but definitely to ignore it or pretend it’s not happening is the wrong thing. I’m sorry to have to say this, but you seem to have very little idea of what you’re talking about, or what these problems are actually like, which is concerning in someone who seems to be a well-educated American woman.

I will send you copies of some of the abuse a Muslim women on twitter has received here. I don’t think Australians are necessarily any more racist than many other countries, but I think it’s easy for privileged white people to pretend this stuff isn’t happening. #illridewithyou was an attempt to acknowledge it and do something about it. Have you a better idea?

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Val 01.09.15 at 9:15 am

Here’s the link for Bianca and anyone else interested in what some women wearing headscarves have to put up with. Seems that most people who see this tweet support Mariam but the fact that she is subjected to this is awful.

https://twitter.com/mariamveiszadeh/status/551339746631241728

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David 01.09.15 at 9:56 am

There’s a hostage rescue operation under way; There seems to be at least one more fatality. See http://www.rtl.fr
To agree with Mitch at 209, these people seem to have been lucky, up to a point, more than anything else. The first reports suggested a very professional operation, but it looks more and more as if they only had a vague idea of what they were doing. (Kalashnikovs have been in use in France among criminal gangs for a while now, incidentally, and they were always intended to be easy to use.) They clearly had some help (the French Interior Minister said last night that there were nine people in “garde-à-vue”, which is something short of actual arrest) but there does not seem to be a real conspiracy involved.
On the other hand, they represent a type of person well known, unfortunately, in French society today. Since the policy of assimilation of foreigners largely came to an end in the 90s, and the state encouraged the formation of huge immigrant ghettoes outside the major cities, crime and insecurity have increased massively, but because it’s contained in poor areas where the elites never go, nobody cares. The police largely don’t go into these areas (their numbers were cut under Sarkozy anyway) and law and order, such as it is, is largely in the hands of local caids. The school system barely functions, and many of the young people are functionally illiterate. It’s not a long step from that trough of despair, in which few of us would like to live, to some kind of radicalization; With the end of mass political parties of the Left, Islam doesn’t have much competition.
You’re gonna reap just what you sow, as Lou Reed said.

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Ronan(rf) 01.09.15 at 10:20 am

“But Ronan’s idea implying that it could be a local group that doesn’t take orders from anybody is also plausible at this point.”

Just to be clear (Im rushing here so havent read beyond this yet, so someone has prob said it) my impression is that theyre linked to AL Q in Yemen. Which (afaik) would imply some level of independence on their part but also some level of centralised control.

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Peter T 01.09.15 at 10:29 am

Andrew F:

“The strategic lesson that their leadership must learn is this: if you wish to succeed, you cannot attack the West, and you cannot offend their values to such an extent that they feel they must respond. If you do, your network will be destroyed, your power will be lost, you will lose respect, and you will bring ruin to any who are close to you. Those that learn this will survive, perhaps even thrive. Those that don’t will die.”

Ah. The endless urge to get into a pissing contest and win. No analysis, no attempt to understand, just “hit them until they die or cower away”. Same logic as Vietnam, Iraq, Cuba…Funny that often the same people who take this line brandish flags with “Live Free or Die” on them (not that Andrew F does anything so crass). No amount of failure teaches.

A few years back, I had the opportunity to listen to Marc Sageman, who has spent a lot of time listening to terrorists, analysing their origins and motivations, reading transcripts of interviews and so on. One of his points was that the typical terrorist is usually a “boy scout” type (often getting there after a period of dissipation, a revulsion and a change of heart), driven by moral outrage at what they see as continued affronts to their community and cause, tight-knit with their brothers in the cause. In other words, the same guys who in other circumstances would be candidates for the Congressional Medal of Honor or the VC. Death is not a threat to these people. They have no “leadership”. They have a mission. They rarely do more planning than they must, and their logistic requirements are very basic. There are a few other sorts – mostly marginal types like the Martin Place misfit, but this profile fits eg the 9/11 bombers, the London Tube bombers and most of those who go off to Syria.

We’ve been here before: The Wars of Religion saw a lot of assassination by similar types (William of Orange, Henry IV, Guy Fawkes….). As did various national causes in the C19/early C20. Force has its uses – the air campaign against Daesh is tangential to countering domestic terrorism, but has helped reverse its progress. But the main effort has to be to keep the community on side, open to ordinary policing. All Andrew F’s rhetoric would do is convince ordinary Muslims that the west is indeed a hostile force, not to be cooperated with, and lead others, brooding on their wrongs, to strike out.

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Brett Bellmore 01.09.15 at 10:30 am

“and that there are no big conspiracies to behind them”

Not necessarily true. There’s a potential that the big conspiracy is treating people like this as expendable munitions. Just enough encouragement and help to get the incident to happen, but not enough to risk being tied to them. You fire the bullet, and duck, you don’t push it all the way to it’s target, and plan on retrieving it after it strikes.

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David 01.09.15 at 10:42 am

IIRC, “Al Qaeda in Yemen” is actually Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and is a relatively small group with a largely regional focus. It’s unlikely that they could (or would want to) conduct operations in Europe, and certainly not against a magazine that none of those in command could read.
But the French government said yesterday that one of the brothers had known links with networks for the recruitment of French volunteers to fight in the Middle East, and these things often work in both direction. As I said, it looks as though the brothers had at least some outside help, but their tactics are clearly not classic AQ ones (wanting to survive, concealing their identity, trying to escape) so I think we should reserve judgement for the time being.

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Peter T 01.09.15 at 11:04 am

“Network”, “command structure”, “leadership” and similar words all take on different meanings in this context, as they do in criminal law. For instance, most countries define “organised crime” as crimes involving two or more people. You and your friend rob a bank? That’s “organised crime” (if the cops want to call it that). In fact, even continuing crime is – according to the handful of criminologists who have actually studied it, and not the FBI/police/Hollywood fantasy – rarely much more organised than your typical backyard barbecue group.

Likewise, “network” here can be taken to mean “talks to like-minded people”, and “linked to AQ” means “knew someone who knew someone who went to Afghanistan”. “Following AQ tactics” means “watches TV, surfs the net and has picked up a few tips”.

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Brett Bellmore 01.09.15 at 11:06 am

“But the French government said yesterday that one of the brothers had known links with networks for the recruitment of French volunteers to fight in the Middle East,”

Yes, yet another case of “known wolf” syndrome, just like the siege in Sydney.

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Ronan(rf) 01.09.15 at 12:10 pm

AQAP don’t only have a regional focus, afaik, they have planned and carried out attacks in the West. They have declared the West a legit target. The extent of ‘control’ they would have over the operation is probably limited, but it would take place under their general strategic outlook (ie @179) and would have some level level of ‘official support.’

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Ronan(rf) 01.09.15 at 12:12 pm

“Likewise, “network” here can be taken to mean “talks to like-minded people”, and “linked to AQ” means “knew someone who knew someone who went to Afghanistan”. “Following AQ tactics” means “watches TV, surfs the net and has picked up a few tips”. “

I dont think so,they appear to have pretty extensive links (see link at 185) and a history of deep involvement in Jihadi violence.

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Ronan(rf) 01.09.15 at 12:23 pm

just to say, 219 obviously isnt saying speculated links are accurate, I mean onviously we dont know. But AQAP arent only regionally focussed

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Ronan(rf) 01.09.15 at 12:27 pm

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J Thomas 01.09.15 at 12:28 pm

#216 David

IIRC, “Al Qaeda in Yemen” is actually Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and is a relatively small group with a largely regional focus. It’s unlikely that they could (or would want to) conduct operations in Europe, and certainly not against a magazine that none of those in command could read.

The US-centric view I linked earlier has it that they want us to attack them in muslim countries so they will get more support at home. Also as ISIS gets more attention, AQ would want to do something to stay important. I think that’s possible. But just as the argument says that their motives are primarily about each other and not about us, the argument itself is part of a western argument about us, and not so much about them. If attacking them more brings them more support, maybe it would be a mistake to hit them harder. On the other hand, if we attack them hard enough to KILL THEM ALL and the dog they rode in on, then their own tactic was a mistake.

Maybe they try to manipulate us based on their fantasies about us, while we try to manipulate them based on our fantasies about them.

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J Thomas 01.09.15 at 12:33 pm

#217 Peter T

Likewise, “network” here can be taken to mean “talks to like-minded people”, and “linked to AQ” means “knew someone who knew someone who went to Afghanistan”. “Following AQ tactics” means “watches TV, surfs the net and has picked up a few tips”.

Yes, if Timothy McVeigh had links to the NRA it wouldn’t mean much at all. If he had links to a particular militia which provided training in urban warfare, that might mean more but it wouldn’t have to.

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P O'Neill 01.09.15 at 12:35 pm

Anyone who thinks AQAP is regional and illiterate regarding western media may want to bing AQAP + Inspire…

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Ze Kraggash 01.09.15 at 12:37 pm

“Likewise, “network” here can be taken to mean “talks to like-minded people”

It doesn’t need to mean anything at all. Journos have the template for each topic, that’s all.

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Peter T 01.09.15 at 12:50 pm

Ronan

The link at 185 – with actual quotes from the people involved – says maybe 50 people from around the same area, some doing one thing (Algeria), others another, some studying etc. In short, about the level of organisation I would get if I were to chart just about any interest group at all. The link @222 is some wannabe speculating like some CT commenters. Worth spit all.

People hook up with other people with the same interests. That does not make them an organisation. In about three jumps you can go a long way from just about anyone (Brett Belmore’s wife’s cousins almost certainly know “terrorists” – members of the New People’s Army. So let’s arrest Brett). If you read the serious Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan blogs, you see the labels AQ or Daesh or Taliban attaching to uneasy coalitions with multiple aims, mostly very loosely organised. In many ways, their low level of organisation is a strength – there is no centre to disrupt. This is not to say they can’t do things, nor that their rhetoric does not inspire terrorism in the west. But that’s a policing problem, and the first best way to attack it is to have the best possible relations with the community.

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Ronan(rf) 01.09.15 at 12:58 pm

Of course there are different seasons of this stuff, different levels of links to organisations, different levels of central control vs independent initiative, just as there are different levels of organisation within criminal gangs/other terrorist organisations (Jacob Shapiro has written an interesting book ‘The Terrorists Dilemma’ on this) But there *is* space to try and figure out specifically what category these militants fall into.
Sageman’s view on the extent of the ‘leadership Jihad’ is seriously contested, it works better as an explanation in some cases than others.
I dont know what the ‘serious Syria, Iraq , afghan ‘ blogs are, but of course membership, alliances etc are in some way fluid in these orgs and conflicts, but that doesnt mean you cant speak about specific entities with specific organisational structures, stratgies, goals etc

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David 01.09.15 at 1:02 pm

I don’t think anyone believes AQAP is illiterate, and they certainly have an idea of the West, though it’s not necessarily more accurate than ours is of them. Information does not necessarily imply understanding, in either case.
But as several have said, we are arguing about the meaning of words here, and with radical political groupings throughout history, many of the words we use to describe formal western-style organisations are of limited use. (The classic example is the French Resistance, which was more of a state of mind than an organised movement, and whose various components had very difficult relationships with each other).
The practical question here is a slightly different one. Does anybody suppose that AQAP, or one of its leaders, ordered this operation to be carried out in France, and supported it, given that it has its hands full with other things at the moment? What’s been reported so far suggests not, but of course that may change.
Meanwhile, the French have said that there were no casualties this morning, and that the GIGN is trying to open negotiations with the Kouachi brothers. The latter, incidentally, seem to have had some “links”, albeit distant ones, with the presumed killer of the police woman south of Paris yesterday. Again, a lot is going to depend on the words you use and what you mean by them….

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J Thomas 01.09.15 at 2:06 pm

Just to consider it, without enough information….

What are the chances for a false-flag thing? First, it could be a few guys thinking about all their dead friends and considering a way to possibly die while making the world a better place. There is no need for outside expertise, outside supplies, etc and the participants have no obvious need to take orders from anybody.

The main thing an organization could give them, is assistance in getting away and a safe haven. Get away with identity undiscovered and they could do it over and over until they finally got caught.

If an organization made that offer, it didn’t do a good job of delivering.

Could that actually work? I don’t know. The DC snipers lasted 21 days but that was 12 years ago, when the city surveillance was primitive. Now my driver’s license has RFID, my car tracks me, there are cameras at a lot more intersections, my cell phone tracks me, my bank card tracks me every time I use it and they haven’t promised there’s no RFID in it, etc. If you’re a potential suspect you’d probably have to be a pro to stay unidentified. Paris may be that well organized.

The french police have probably identified the right perps. They could probably do it even without an immediate lucky accident. An organization might be able to get them out of the country, and it might be able to get them official new identities, but I’m guessing that it couldn’t help them do a terrorist incident and then go back to their normal lives.

So an organization could not offer them decisive assistance. Their only reason to follow orders rather than die when they’re ready to, would be loyalty to the organization. The belief that they had the same goals, and the organization had an over-arching plan which could win, which was worth following when they themselves did not know the plan.

To start a local group of terrorists, you’d need to start with somebody who had the right cultural background who would screen candidates. He would need to maintain sufficient deniability, to recruit without too-specific rumors naming him. Then he could provide training at foreign bases etc. He could show that he was backed by money and resources. When he said things would happen, they happened. An efficient organization where people did their part, and the trainees would get the idea that they should efficiently do their part too.

It wouldn’t matter who really funded it, as long as the organizer was persuasive. We have multiple stories of terrorist cells in the USA where all but one member were in fact FBI agents and had been all along.

So, this sort of thing can be done, but it looks expensive. Would you take dedicated trained patsies and use them up in a single minor attack that has no tactical importance whatsoever? Well, maybe.

One issue is that people who’re ready to commit suicide will demand to be used. They don’t want to wait around for decades waiting for their chance at glory, they want it soon. Use them or lose them. If you don’t have an important target in mind you might go ahead and waste them.

What organizations could have done it? Mostly governments, and bona fide muslim groups. It’s a big effort and most private organizations don’t have the resources or the intention to train arab terrorists on the theory that arab terrorists who might follow their orders are a good thing. But the FBI has a proven record of competence at doing it inside the USA. Presumably other US government organizations could. Israel, of course. Russia, why not? France would have an advantage doing it inside France because they could get french government investigations shut down.

Why would any of them do this? It makes a big media splash at a time they want the world media not to pay attention to something else? They want anger at arabs and muslims? I dunno. It isn’t necessarily easier to guess why a government does something than guess why a terrorist organization does something.

To me it looks possible but I don’t see anything to make it particularly likely. The various motives that a government might have for the attack match up amusingly well with the motives attributed to actual terrorist organizations. Some governments and some terrorist organizations align on some specific goals.

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MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 2:21 pm

Things are looking pretty bad in Paris. I hope they can resolve this without anymore blood shed.

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reason 01.09.15 at 2:29 pm

I don’t think it is much use comparing the value of dead people, but why is this a bigger tragedy than what happened on the same day in Nigeria? To some extend the problem is as some people have pointed that we don’t value giving people meaningful things to do with their lives highly enough (thinking that enabling them to make money should be enough). Being a terrorist, is for some people a step up in the world.

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bianca steele 01.09.15 at 2:39 pm

Val,

You find it troubling that a person disagrees with you, or that when they imagine themselves in a harassment victim’s place, they imagine a different reaction than you do? (Not that I see most of the people talking about this, thinking about the victims. They are thinking about the virtue of the people offering, pretty consistently.) I find your own reaction troubling. Just as I found the account of “I’ll ride with you troubling,” because my experience is different from yours.

I’ve already conceded that my reaction is based on similar calls–made by people, like George W. Bush, whose motives I don’t trust–and that I’m judging from afar. Because of this, and because this is OT, I’m not sure why you’re piling on at this point.

I do ride public transport, and if a person walked up to me and said “it’s not safe for you here, you know a lot of people hate you and want to attack you, I’m not like those other people, please let me stand next to you so you’ll be safe,” I would tell them to go away. I might, perhaps like the woman quoted above, say, “Oh no, I’m fine,” and edge away from them.

Maybe the level of harassment is SO great that every Muslim woman who ride the bus needs a small army, like Guardian Angels in New York, surrounding her. If that’s the case, people outside Australia probably aren’t aware things have gotten that bad, so maybe you should try to explain that.

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Donald Johnson 01.09.15 at 2:41 pm

“As to Islamic extremism in the region, it was a major problem long before 2003.”

True. The US supported it in Afghanistan. Israel initially supported Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO. I’m not saying that the West created Islamic extremism, only that we contributed to its rise. For example–

“the US is a vital component of order in the Middle East, especially with respect to the governments that Islamists most desire to overthrow. “

Support for corrupt authoritarian regimes is one way we’ve done this. Support for Israel no matter what it does is another way we discredit our alleged ideals. The use of torture is another. It would be nice if the conflict could be treated as civilized Westerners vs. uncivilized barbarians, but unfortunately there are uncivilized barbarians everywhere one looks.

And anyway, you identify a big part of the problem. The US is associated with governments like those of Egypt and Iraq which are repressive and create support for terrorism.

“That’s a very Western-centric view. In fact we really should separate the motivations of alienated immigrants to the West from those fighting a struggle for power in their home region.”

I don’t claim that terrorist leaders are all a bunch of misguided idealists who are motivated solely by moral outrage at Western atrocities, any more than I think Dick Cheney is a fine public-spirited man who wanted to invade Iraq because he loves democracy. If the leaders of ISIS and the Taliban and others were merely outraged by Western colonialism, it would be hard to understand why the bulk of their victims are their fellow Muslims. But Western hypocrisy fuels recruitment for their cause, just as 9/11 was ideal propaganda fodder for someone like Dick Cheney.

To JThomas–Leaving aside her nastier comments to you, something MPA said upthread is correct. You tend to argue for points of view ad nauseam. I like some of your posts, but not when you go off on one of these pointless tangents. Sometimes I can’t even tell if you are giving your own point of view or just trying to give an encyclopedic recitation of all possibilities no matter how unlikely. If there is actual evidence of Charlie Hebdo being a false flag operation, bring it forward. If there isn’t, then fine, note the (remote) possibility, but it’s not very interesting without evidence. Occam’s razor and all that.

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J Thomas 01.09.15 at 3:10 pm

#234 Donald Johnson

If there is actual evidence of Charlie Hebdo being a false flag operation, bring it forward. If there isn’t, then fine, note the (remote) possibility, but it’s not very interesting without evidence.

I see no evidence yet about who if anyone supported this particular attack.

I apologize for going on about it. I’ve tended to let this sort of thing happen sometimes when I point out a possibility in passing — look, here’s something we don’t actually know — and somebody announces that my possibility is actually impossible, can’t ever happen, no way, only an idiot Truther would imagine such a thing. So I ask for their evidence and it’s we don’t need any steenking evidence, it would be extraordinary if that came true so it needs extraordinary evidence but the other side is not extraordinary and needs no evidence whatsoever, it’s just true unless proven false beyond all possible doubt. And I let myself get trolled.

I’m going to make a solid attempt to respond less to idiots.

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MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 3:17 pm

“I’m going to make a solid attempt to respond less to idiots.”

I may just make this my new family motto….

“Im ‘iens ut faceret solidum fatuis minus respondere nituntur .”

Hmmm not sure it looks any classier in Latin…

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Ze Kraggash 01.09.15 at 4:08 pm

234 “If the leaders of ISIS and the Taliban and others were merely outraged by Western colonialism, it would be hard to understand why the bulk of their victims are their fellow Muslims.”

Not that hard, actually. It’s logical that the traitors, the fifth column, the renegade elements in your midst are more despicable than the natural enemies, who, after all, only pursue their natural interests.

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J Thomas 01.09.15 at 4:41 pm

I may just make this my new family motto….

“Im ‘iens ut faceret solidum fatuis minus respondere nituntur .”

Hmmm not sure it looks any classier in Latin…

If you want something short and classy, how about

ekki fæða tröll or

non cibos troglodytarum

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MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 4:46 pm

Comede, fili indusia J.

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MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 4:47 pm

Though I must say “non cibos troglodytarum” does the trick very well! Short, classy looking and all that. Yes. Good work there.

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MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 4:48 pm

And it looks like something awful is happening in Paris…

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MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 4:50 pm

“A police official on the scene of the standoff between two armed brothers suspected in the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo newsroom says the suspects are dead, and their hostage has been freed.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/09/paris-hostage-crisis-kosher-market_n_6442820.html?utm_hp_ref=canada

Though it looks like the other crisis at the Kosher market continues.

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Donald Johnson 01.09.15 at 4:51 pm

The best response I’ve seen to the treatment of Charlie–

why I am not charlie

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Donald Johnson 01.09.15 at 4:52 pm

I also liked the Michael Lerner piece below, with a few caveats that I won’t bother listing

link

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Andrew F. 01.09.15 at 4:57 pm

Peter T @214: Ah. The endless urge to get into a pissing contest and win. No analysis, no attempt to understand, just “hit them until they die or cower away”. Same logic as Vietnam, Iraq, Cuba…Funny that often the same people who take this line brandish flags with “Live Free or Die” on them (not that Andrew F does anything so crass). No amount of failure teaches.

No, you’re taking a comment about one line of effort and wrongly interpreting it as a comment about what the overall strategy should be.

I distinguished between the motivations of the leadership (which are strategic), those who join existing organizations (like ISIS) from local populations, and those who live in the West and are disaffected.

I noted the lack of ordinary avenues for advancement and social hopelessness in the case of disaffected individuals in the West, and the same (in addition to corrupt and abusive political institutions) in foreign areas.

I noted the importance of fostering cooperation within Muslim communities in the West, both in terms of undercutting radical ideologies supportive of violence and in terms of intelligence collection.

However, there are existing networks abroad with significant expertise in explosives, substantial knowledge of relevant techniques of planning, organization, and execution, and an ideology and leadership supportive of terrorist attacks against US and European targets.

US ability to effect meaningful social and political reform in areas where these networks are centered is minimal without the deployment of resources for a time and at a cost that would be politically unacceptable to the electorate and that would divert resources from national objectives of greater priority. These networks are also centered in areas where the local government is unable or unwilling to control them.

Though countering these networks involves multiple lines of effort, many of which are non-violent, direct action is therefore a vital component to degrading their ability to mount attacks. Eliminating key nodes, or clusters of nodes, within the networks does effect an immediate reduction in their capabilities while also producing follow-on effects that further weaken the network and enable additional operations against it. There simply is no other way to achieve their reduction at an acceptable cost.

Violent, militarized non-state actors will be a persistent feature of the world for some time. In most cases, the leadership will care about their own power, prestige, and survival. There is therefore an opportunity for deterrence. Deterrence here requires the establishment of a strong belief that to adopt a strategy of violence against the US or Europe, or to take action that will draw the US and Europe into a conflict, is to ensure the failure and destruction of one’s organization, one’s self, and potentially many other things one cares about. Not all organizations that use terrorism also target the US and Europe. Some quite wisely have an explicit policy of not doing so, precisely because it would provoke a reaction contrary to their interests.

Direct action that has become necessary against existing networks should be leveraged where possible to contribute to the deterrence of other networks, or the future leadership of existing networks, from provoking the US into a conflict.

So Peter, I’m not interested in a pissing match. I’m interested in encouraging actors to better assess their options in pursuing their goals so as to reduce unnecessary future violence. This will not prevent the occasional person or group from terrorist violence within the West, but it will help prevent far more serious acts of violence that some non-state actors are quite interested in achieving.

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David 01.09.15 at 5:01 pm

Both assaults over, all hostage takers dead at least one hostage safe

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js. 01.09.15 at 5:19 pm

Donald Johnson,

The 243 piece is so great—it’s what I’ve been wanting to read, pretty much. Thanks!

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J Thomas 01.09.15 at 5:19 pm

#245 Andrew F

US ability to effect meaningful social and political reform in areas where these networks are centered is minimal without the deployment of resources for a time and at a cost that would be politically unacceptable to the electorate

It would cost us less in the short run if we stopped preventing meaningful social and political reform. Maybe we should try that approach.

Though countering these networks involves multiple lines of effort, many of which are non-violent, direct action is therefore a vital component to degrading their ability to mount attacks. Eliminating key nodes, or clusters of nodes, within the networks does effect an immediate reduction in their capabilities while also producing follow-on effects that further weaken the network and enable additional operations against it. There simply is no other way to achieve their reduction at an acceptable cost.

Imagine it was 1980 and we faced essentially this same situation. Fanatics who know how to build bombs sneak into the USA and try to blow things up.

Did we face that situation? Yes, some.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_United_States_Senate_bombing

We have better technology to stop it and they have better bombs?

The border was at least as porous then.

Why do we have this problem now and we mostly didn’t have it then?

Maybe it’s coincidence. It just happened to start 20 years later for no reason. Or maybe somehow, the Cold War mostly prevented it. We could discuss how the Cold War might prevent it.

Anyway, I guess it’s kind of true that the more people you kill who know how to make bombs, the less trouble you’ll have with people making bombs. Maybe. I’m not at all sure this reasoning really works.

251

Ronan(rf) 01.09.15 at 5:20 pm

Thanks for those links Donald Johnson, they’re very good. I don’t know how I feel about it personally, mainly as I’ve not seen enough of the cartoons to form an opinion. I do think it’s a pity that the ‘debate’ has become one about free speech, rather than what it should be – law and order and protecting people from violence. This has suited both sides, the Al Qaeda faction and the anti Islam right who (over the decade) have used the rhetoric of free speech absolutism (which I generally agree with) as a soundbite cause in their moronic ‘civilisation war.’
This Joe Sacco cartoon is also alright

http://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2015/jan/09/joe-sacco-on-satire-a-response-to-the-attacks

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MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 5:24 pm

Excellent link rf

253

Donald Johnson 01.09.15 at 5:34 pm

“I don’t know how I feel about it personally, mainly as I’ve not seen enough of the cartoons to form an opinion. “

Same here, actually. But even if their opinions happened to match mine (and I read contradictory things about this), I don’t like that kind of humor. Which, it shouldn’t need to be said, doesn’t mean people should be killed because I disagree with them or how they express themselves.

I do hate the way, as the first link said, people advocating free speech are using this act in a paradoxical sort of way to say that people shouldn’t be offended by other people’s acts of speech. So we should have free speech, but we aren’t allowed to have negative reactions?

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Ze Kraggash 01.09.15 at 5:39 pm

The piece in 243 says, right in the first para: “Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence”.

But that’s obviously wrong. Words and pictures very much do exist on the same plane as physical violence. The most obvious example: Julius Streicher was convicted and executed.

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engels 01.09.15 at 6:19 pm

Sorry, but I thought 243 was long-winded, hand-ringing bloviation (admittedly I didn’t read it all, life is short). Ze’s right imo, another example could be John Yoo. Does he ‘exist on a different plane from physical violence’ because he’s never hit anybody (I assume)? Liberal BS.

Sacco’s cartoon was good though.

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engels 01.09.15 at 6:21 pm

PS. Not comparing Charlie Hebdo with John Yoo, just disagreeing with the quoted piety.

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Alex1 01.09.15 at 6:27 pm

Streicher wasn’t executed for the pictures he drew though, otherwise the rest of the staff of der stuermer would’ve been executed as well (but I think you know that very well). The point made in the blog post still stands

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Harold 01.09.15 at 6:46 pm

@230 “the FBI has a proven record of competence …”

Right.

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David 01.09.15 at 6:55 pm

Hollande is just speaking, and saying that “France has been attacked” three times in three days, including today’s hostage taking. He is praising the forces of order, whilst indicating that four people have died (presumably hostages at the supermarket).
Appeal for vigilance, calm and unity, and mobilisation and solidarity among the French.
He has asked all French people to join him in the demonstration planned for Sunday to be led by leaders of the main political parties, but to which the National Front has pointedly not been invited. A short speech, largely devoid of content.

260

Rakesh 01.09.15 at 7:57 pm

261

Marc 01.09.15 at 7:57 pm

I find it obnoxious to call the CH staff a bunch of racists, which is what the link in 243 does. (Demanding that people publish them is not justified, but pieces like this go beyond the general case to specific claims about the authors and their motives.) There is a temptation to squeeze alien events into familiar boxes: Muslims in France are a minority, thus cartoons mocking Islam are attacks on them, thus they are racist. Then, yet again, people like me have to point out that the same paper has attacked figures from all religions vigorously (a three way orgy for the holy trinity, for example); that there is a difference between making a point (you can’t proscribe what I can draw under death threats) and, say, writing a skinhead newsletter. And that the groups responsible for these atrocities are not representing disaffected peoples; they are themselves massacring minorities in places that they control, including an entire town in Nigeria by BH. If you’re talking about legitimate grievances, what offense did the people murdered in a Paris kosher grocery store commit, other than being Jews?
There are times where it’s worth not trying to point attention elsewhere (“why are you worrying about X when Y is worse?”) I think that this is one of them.

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J Thomas 01.09.15 at 8:12 pm

#255 Harold

@230 “the FBI has a proven record of competence …”

Right.

In this one activity, they have a proven record. For example:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amine_El_Khalifi

They found a man who could potentially be recruited to AQ, and recruited him themselves. They helped him plan a bombing, gave him a truck bomb, and picked him up after he delivered the bomb to a Federal building.

The only difference between this and a successful false-flag operation in the USA is that the truck bomb did not actually work, and they arrested him for cooperating with them.

If the FBI for some peculiar reason wanted to do terrorist attacks on the USA and blame them on AQ, they could have done at least a dozen of them by now. Instead they arrested their recruits and admitted that they were not AQ.

But — for some peculiar reason they wanted to — they could have done successful attacks, and arrested their recruits, and announced that the rest of the organization got away. They could invent an AQ mastermind who had not been caught yet and hunt for him with great diligence, perhaps eventually killing somebody who fit the description, or perhaps he could blow himself up to the point that only DNA evidence would be left and description would be moot.

They have proven competence at this one skill of creating false-flag AQ cells.

263

MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 8:17 pm

The question about whether to publish the pictures is a difficult one and I don’t have a firm perspective. The temptation is to say of course they should be! When someone tries to push you around it is human nature to say “Fuck you I will do what I want.” So the fact that these terrorists don’t want the cartoons published makes me want to publish them.

Is that a mature perspective though? Some of the cartoons do make gratuitous use of some pretty offensive ethnic stereotypes. They are so bad in fact that I would never share them outside of the context of this attack on CH. However, from my limited understanding the artists claim they were not attacking Muslims but rather Islam. In my mind people deserve respect but religion does not.

Anyway, tough question that I would suggest solving by publishing some of the cartoons that don’t make use of ethnic stereotypes but still contain an image of Mohammed. One in particular showed Mohammed with his head in his hands sayng “Why are some of my followers such jerks.”

Anyway that was a rambling.

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J Thomas 01.09.15 at 8:30 pm

#258 Marc

There is a temptation to squeeze alien events into familiar boxes: Muslims in France are a minority, thus cartoons mocking Islam are attacks on them, thus they are racist. Then, yet again, people like me have to point out that the same paper has attacked figures from all religions vigorously (a three way orgy for the holy trinity, for example);

If the same person makes racist claims against blacks, whites, and asians, if he commits blood libels against Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Taoists, if he makes sexist remarks denigrating men, women, and every form of trans — does that make him not racist, not sexist, etc?

“You can’t say I discriminate against this minority because I treat every other minority and every majority equally bad”?

There’s probably a place for that. I think it ought to be legal. If somebody thinks it should stop then they ought to take the perps to court and try to win there, and not try to kill them. But I’m not clear that these particular victims were particularly good guys.

I kind of like the idea, if you want to copy their (copyrighted?) stuff, copy a representative sample so all the other religions etc that they tried to insult can show by example the right way to deal with it.

265

Sebastian H 01.09.15 at 8:32 pm

That isn’t false flag. That is a sting operation. I have concerns about whether sting/entrapment operations don’t create problems that wouldn’t have developed otherwise, but they are a different bad thing. And can we please stop talking about the false flag thing. It seems to be a low enough probability that unless there is some particular reason to believe it, there isn’t a reason to talk about it. And if you don’t believe it is a low probability, expressly say so and explain why, or you’re trolling.

More on point, a key point of disagreement seems to be whether or not the cartoons are an important cause of the violence, or more of a pretext for the violence. I tend to think that if these cartoonists didn’t exist, radicalized Muslims would select other targets. Even if cartoons are one reason they are radicalized (an assertion that seems dubious) freaking out in a murderous rage about cartoons is a symptom of radicalization not a particularly enlightening cause.

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J Thomas 01.09.15 at 9:09 pm

#262 Sebastian H

That isn’t false flag. That is a sting operation.

The difference is that the explosives they provide are not real, and they admit to the world that they organized the terrorist cell themselves.

All it would take to eliminate that difference would be to use real explosives, and pretend that it wasn’t the FBI planning the event. So they certainly have the skill to do it either way.

And can we please stop talking about the false flag thing.

Sorry, somebody wrote something that seemed to disagree and I didn’t have evidence he was an idiot.

More on point, a key point of disagreement seems to be whether or not the cartoons are an important cause of the violence, or more of a pretext for the violence. I tend to think that if these cartoonists didn’t exist, radicalized Muslims would select other targets.

I think of it kind of like a lightning rod. You know how if you put a great big electric charge on a sphere the charge has to get great big before it will spark away? But if you solder a needle to the sphere it bleeds off much easier? Like that. If there are no lightning rods the potential has to rise a lot higher before you get lightning, and if it doesn’t rise that high then it just doesn’t happen — but of it does rise high enough you get *big* lightning. But when there is a lightning rod it’s moderately predictable that you’ll have lightning that hits the lightning rod.

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MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 9:20 pm

Vox has some info from a call between the terrorists and a french tv station. Worth a read.

http://www.vox.com/2015/1/9/7522015/cherif-kouachi-terrorist-charlie-hebdo

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Marc 01.09.15 at 9:27 pm

@260, @261: Fair points both. What I was trying to get at is that, particularly with satire, you have to know context to understand it. Swift was not advocating cannibalism, for example. A lot of the US (at least) commentary here seems to be simply mapping another language and culture onto our assumptions. Agreed that one can choose images that make the point without needing to be unpacked laboriously.

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Stephen 01.09.15 at 9:31 pm

For those who may believe, or pretend to believe, in the false flag theory:

How can anyone prove that the alleged killers, who believed themselves to have been recruited by an AQ group, had not really been recruited by the French security forces/US government/?

How can anyone prove that the alleged killers, allegedly dead, are not alive and well after a pretended death?

Over to you, J Thomas

270

novakant 01.09.15 at 9:33 pm

Thanks for the links, Donald.

271

js. 01.09.15 at 9:33 pm

What I was trying to get at is that, particularly with satire, you have to know context to understand it.

Why exactly are you assuming that Scott Long doesn’t know the context, or doesn’t understand it as well as you do?

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MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 9:35 pm

“What I was trying to get at is that, particularly with satire, you have to know context to understand it.”

Completely true. :-)

273

J. Parnell Thomas 01.09.15 at 9:36 pm

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Twitter: “Wow. This is a great piece on Charlie Hebdo by Joe Sacco. Sharp, creative and beautiful. http://t.co/YvKi9Dozod

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.09.15 at 9:39 pm

Oh, somebody already linked it. Never mind.

275

MPAVictoria 01.09.15 at 9:40 pm

“Oh, somebody already linked it. Never mind.’

Eh it was good enough to like to twice

276

bob mcmanus 01.09.15 at 9:51 pm

273: Thanks for the Sacco. Loved it.

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js. 01.09.15 at 9:52 pm

Is this also “squeez[ing] alien events into familiar boxes”:

Assia is typically Parisian, in her dress, accent and lifestyle. But that did not prevent her from being reminded, at every turn, of her otherness. ‘Assia, what sort of name is that?’ people would ask her since she was a child. With its strong centralising traditions, France shuns expressions of difference, notably the hijab, but continues to treat French citizens of Muslim origin as foreigners. Second and third-generation citizens are still routinely described as ‘immigrants’. The message: don’t wear the hijab, you’re French; but don’t bother applying for this job if your name is Mohammed. ‘When my brothers were growing up,’ Assia told me, ‘they would be stopped by the police ten to fifteen times a day – on the bus, getting off the bus, on their way to school, on their way home. Girls weren’t stopped; only boys. The French are more comfortable with “Fatima” than with “Mohammed”.’ French women of North African origin are doing better than men – which in part explains why some of the unemployed men take to dominating their mothers and sisters, as if they were their property, their only property. Assia is one of many French Maghrébins who have found it much easier to live outside France.

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Peter King 01.09.15 at 9:55 pm

#260 MPAVictoria

Regarding the (re)publication of contentious pictures/cartoons

Although the situations are hardly the same, Salman Rushdie’s decision to withdraw his insistance on immediate publication of The Satanic Verses in paperback (cf. para 7ff in Richard Webster’s generally useful piece “On Not Burning Your Enemy’s Flag” ) seems apposite.

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Peter King 01.09.15 at 9:59 pm

#278 Drat … dropped the link. Google the title if interested.

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tom 01.09.15 at 10:16 pm

I am conflicted on this one.

a) On one hand, other muslims should not apologize for anything. They did not kill the cartoonists and I do not see why one should expect an apology at all.

b) But I am more skeptical about solidarity. From the 2013 “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society” Pew report one can get the following:

– (p.15) in many, but not all, developing countries a majority of muslims favors making sharia the official law in their country (71% in Jordan e.g.)

Also, conditional on this belief:
– (p.48) many believe that sharia should apply to all citizens (58% in Jordan e.g.; so 0.58*0.71=41% of muslims in Jordan believe that sharia should be the official law of the country and should apply to all citizens).

– (p.54) many favor stoning as punishment for adultery (67% in Jordan; so the unconditional probability is 48%) and the death penalty for apostasy (82% in Jordan).

You can reinterpret these results in a more favorable way: maybe integration helps (p.10: “American Muslims are much more likely than Muslims in other countries to have close friends who do not share their faith”). But the picture is not pretty. When thinking about allowing more immigration from certain regions, one has to seriously take these facts into account.

Maybe more integration is the answer but I doubt that that will be successful without some push on quite a few muslims to revise some of their beliefs in a way which is more conducive to inclusion. Or, to put it another way, if you believe that one should be outraged, and push back, at moralizing by christians, then you should do the same when muslims engage in similar behaviors. And many on the left rarely do so, probably because of the fear that doing so may bring discrimination in domestic politics and horrible adventures in foreign politics (Iraq). But one should be able to distinguish the two things: push-back on bigotry from blunt racism.

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J Thomas 01.09.15 at 10:31 pm

#269 Stephen

How can anyone prove that the alleged killers, who believed themselves to have been recruited by an AQ group, had not really been recruited by the French security forces/US government/?

If you can get true information from AQ that they were AQ members following AQ plans, then you have it. Unless AQ itself is a false front for some western government etc. Or unless AQ is lying for their own reasons.

And of course some traveling AQ member could himself be a double agent and really take orders from someone else. Imagine for example that 9/11 was planned and paid for by AQ as a contingency measure, something they could do in some extreme crisis, and then somebody else figured out how to trigger it for just 4 planes but not the rest…. If there’s the chance that their electronic communications can be changed out from under them, so their agents actually follow somebody else’s orders, that would sure explain their fetish for courier messages.

How can anyone prove that the alleged killers, allegedly dead, are not alive and well after a pretended death?

Hey, why are you asking *me* these questions instead of the people who are sure they know it is not a false-flag thing? Ask them how they can find out whether they’re right.

Over to you, J Thomas

I pass. I couldn’t prove it was happening if it was — unless somebody gets clumsy or venal and reveals it. People find the question boring. They don’t want to think about it. It’s really none of our business. We need to give the various secret organizations their privacy.

Let’s talk about something else.

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Abbe Faria 01.09.15 at 11:54 pm

For what it’s worth, this doesn’t look to me too much like the conflict-related terrorism that’s dominated the past 15 years. Bombings and the like that were basically aimed at either provoking (9/11, USS Cole – which worked) or wearing down public support for foreign wars (7/7, 11-M – which also worked). This looks more like it’s a more traditional assassination campaign a la van Gogh, Fortuyn, Brahmi and so on, which pre-dates the WoT and runs back to the Rushdie affair and beyond.

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Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 12:14 am

Bear in mind though that there have been plots broken up trying to stage ‘Mumbai style’ attacks in Europe over the past number of years as well , so it does fit in to changing attack methods aswell..

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Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 12:26 am

I have to say I disagree a bit with the Adam Shatz post linked by js @277 (which isnt meant to be say anything about js or Adam Shatz in general, both of who I find generally to be beacons of sense ! ) , but I wont say anything about it at the moment , as Ill think a bit more about it.
That’s more of a longwinded throat clearing to link to this

https://arkivni.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/a-brief-note-on-agency/

which I think is relevant (a bit)

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Roger Gathmann 01.10.15 at 1:00 am

273, Sacco asks us to look up Maurice Sinet. The point being, I guess, that Sinet’s firing proves that Charlie Hebdo wasn’t as thoroughly free in satirizing the powerful as they claimed. But when I look up Maurice Sinet, what do I find? Why he has a site. Here it is: http://www.sinemensuel.com/ And he seems to be in mourning for the death of his friends. I don’t know, it seems to me that Sacco could have “looked it up” himself. One could do a long rap about Charlie Hebdo’s inability to see through its own anti-religious stance to the deeper levels of comedy involved in the use the West has made of one sect of Islam, the salafi sect dominant in Saudi Arabia. I’ve put up a little thing myself on my site concerning that: http://limitedinc.blogspot.fr/2015/01/reflection-after-solidarity-with.html It seems to me that Sacco’s implicit point – that two drug dealers who drifted through their twenties trying to be celebrities, and converted to a narrow sect of Islam, are representative of the Moslem community – is absurd. I might as well say that the guys blowing up abortion clinics represent the Christian community in the U.S. I appreciate Sacco saying I am not Charlie – I myself despise the new idea that I protest by identifying with an experience I don’t at all have – but I think he definitely doesn’t get it.

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Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 1:07 am

I’d link to this as well (though I dont agree with everything in it)

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/01/charlie-hebdo-the-time-of-the-assassins-114115.html

‘Understanding’ is a two way street, everyone has to make an effort.
I think a lot of the problems Shatz views as local to France, are broader. The anti semitism, and patriarchy, in the banlieues exist in Damascus and Rammalah as well. Are they really primarily the result of poverty, discrimination and France not excepting responsibility for its colonial crimes ? The poverty he identifies as driving radicalisation is *not* (in general) a good predictor of radicalisation – terrorists generally skew wealthier and more educated than the general population.
That doesnt mean the questions he raises aren’t legit, but it’s too strong a case and he too readily dismisses the position of ideology(or more specifically ideas) and the broader political context. (I do agree that Packer’s article, which he’s riffing from, is mostly banalities though)

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Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 1:15 am

Gregory Johnson

https://twitter.com/gregorydjohnsen

is worth reading on the plausbility of an AQAP link

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Abbe Faria 01.10.15 at 1:28 am

The 284 agency link’s really good. It’s worth also reading Al Qaida’s 2000-2020 strategy. You can go back to 2005 and read things that panned out more or less according to a plan.

http://m.spiegel.de/international/a-369448.html

As for Mumbai style attacks – I may be wrong, and we only see so many attacks out of many that must be planned. But back in 2010 when that was busted France, Germany and the UK were still all in Afghanistan. Recently, we’ve had targetted attacks on soldiers in Canada and the UK and the 2012 shooting in France, and stabbings of police in New York and Australia, and attacks on Jews, and continuing assassination attempts on mohammed cartoonists. Any of these could have been directed at the ordinary populace, but weren’t – it’s just strikes me that the method’s changing slightly.

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Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 1:34 am

abbe faria – you’re probably right. It was more a stray thought on my part .. I think you’re probably closer to the truth.

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.10.15 at 1:38 am

Roger Gathmann: looked at it again; not seeing that as the “implicit point.”

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Donald Johnson 01.10.15 at 1:45 am

“More on point, a key point of disagreement seems to be whether or not the cartoons are an important cause of the violence, or more of a pretext for the violence. I tend to think that if these cartoonists didn’t exist, radicalized Muslims would select other targets.”

I’d have to go back and read through the thread, but for me at least, that’s not the question. I don’t think the cartoons caused the violence. I’d listen to people like Scott Atran (mentioned way upthread) about the reasons why young men decide to become mass murderers. I doubt it’s because of some nasty cartoons. As you say, the cartoons are more of a pretext, I would guess.

For me the value of the cartoons and the reasons for the murderous attack are separate questions. From what little I’ve seen, I don’t think the cartoons (or that style of humor) have any value and no, I don’t think it helps to say that they attacked all religions equally (even if that is true, which as usual is a disputed claim). People should have the right to publish this material without fear of violence or state repression, but others have the right to denounce it as a pile of crap.

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Mitch Guthman 01.10.15 at 2:02 am

Ronan(rf) at 286,

I think that some of this is common with all of the Western European countries who basically saw immigrants as a source of cheap labour and assumed that men would come to make some money in France, Germany or England and then go home to their families or, if they already had families, would return to their country of origin. There really wasn’t any planning about how to integrate these people into very closed-knit, homogenous countries because there was any intention they either say or become integrated. Providing expensive social services such as education and housing for people who were seen as “guest workers” tended to defeat the purpose of importing cheap labour.

At the same time, there was a theory on the part of some on the left that the host countries should respect the immigrants’ culture by empowering those patriarchal and tribal aspect that dominated the socities from whence many of these immigrants came. It was assumed that the attractiveness of French society would cause immigrants to gradually become more integrated, which would inevitably loosen the hold of the very conservative cultural and religious practices that differed greatly from those of the secular French. The inevitable conflicts between the host and immigrant culture were generally downplayed but the result was to heighten the isolation of the incomers and make their eventual intregration into the host culture more difficult.

I think we’re seeing all of those themes playing out in France today. I have very little knowledge of most immigrants from Muslim countries but I do know that Maghrebian immigrants have been largely excluded from French society. They are not accommodated by the educational system, are discriminated against by many employers and have extremely high rates of youth unemployment. Their ever increasing ghettoization and isolation in the banlieues has caused many Beur youths to be become “disintegrated” from a French society that doesn’t want them, thinks it was a mistake to let them into the country and considers them basicly “dirty Arabs” and gravitate to a version of Islam that validates them as worthy individals and offers an opportunity to strike back at the French.

The growth of a version of Islam that demands strict adherence to its religious dictates (including such outward manifestations of faith as the voile)and is offended at violations of its mores by nonbelievers conflicts with an established tradition of Laïcité in the host culture that is offended by religious intrusions into public spaces. I believe this is a major barrier to assimilation, as well as a source of tension between Muslims and the indigenous French.

I think part of the reaction to the Charlie Hebdo attack was a realization that in France blasphemy against Islam is now punishable by death. Right now, France is terrified of becoming Pakistain. I think that unless the Islamic community in France can find a way to accommodate themselves to a French society that wants religion to be practed in the heart and in the home but not in public spaces, there terroristic attacks will only grow more intense and more frequent and the backlash from the host society will be harsher and more intolerant as well.

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Roger Gathmann 01.10.15 at 2:09 am

290 – I do. If Sacco was listing true offenses against Moslem belief, I don’t think charlie Hedbo would even count over the last couple of years. How about the destruction of the shrines to the Sufi saints in timbuctu? http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/06/2012630101748795606.html Or the blowing up of three mosques in Mosul by the Islamic state, a group to which the killers were allied? But apparently these don’t count as Muslims according to the penultimate frame in Sacco’s cartoon, which implies that Western journalists have been the main victim of the Islamic State – while all is hunky dory with “muslims”. It is that conglomerating term which, I think, ties Sacco to the very thing he is criticizing in Charlie Hebdo, which also seemed to see Muslims as some blank global other. It is a rather infuriating fiction, a critique vitiated by its own unconscious prejudice.

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Mitch Guthman 01.10.15 at 2:25 am

Donald Johnson at 291,

A great many people who comes from many faiths and walks of life have regularly and strongly denounced Charlie Hebdo. An earlier incarnation of the publication was shuttered because people were furious at their extremely offensive treatment of De Gaulle’s death. They’ve been taken to court, boycotted and picketed. Newspaper columnists and television commentators have frequently condemned them.

But the response of Charlie Hebdo to people denouncing their work as crude and uncivil was to become even cruder and ruder. Charlie Hebdo is indeed very much in the business of giving gratuitous offense. Mockery of religion is their bread and butter. The question, then, is whether they should refrain from exercising their right to blaspheme. I say no. Self-censorship out of fear is the same as giving the Islamists the power to censor.

There can be no prohibition against blasphemy in a republic. If God is unhappy at being mocked, let him appear in the Place de la République and speak for himself, something which one assumes the Supreme Being is perfectly capable of doing. In the absence of such an appearance, I say let men speak for themselves and leave God out of it.

I don’t want to live in a country where there are limits against blasphemy that are enforced by religious lunatics armed with AK-47’s. Basically, I don’t want to live in what Pakistan has become.

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engels 01.10.15 at 2:28 am

It seems to me that Sacco’s implicit point – that two drug dealers who drifted through their twenties trying to be celebrities, and converted to a narrow sect of Islam, are representative of the Moslem community – is absurd

Why would anyone think Sacco believes this? He thinks the cartoons are offensive to Muslims. He doesn’t think Muslims favour murder as retaliation. (They don’t, and no-one sane thinks they do.)

He explicitly says that there is something ‘deeply wrong’ with the murderers but explicitly advises against concluding that there is something deeply wrong with Muslims. This is in itself shows he does not think the first represents the second (in case there were there was any reason to attribute such a crazy view to him in the first place…)

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engels 01.10.15 at 2:40 am

Self-censorship out of fear is the same as giving the Islamists the power to censor.

You should try to get this guy re-instated then:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/4351672/French-cartoonist-Sine-on-trial-on-charges-of-anti-Semitism-over-Sarkozy-jibe.html

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.10.15 at 2:42 am

Roger Gathmann: both of your responses to that cartoon just seem like strings of non sequiturs to me. Me, I thought it was a good cartoon.

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.10.15 at 3:08 am

Sorry, I just can’t think of anything coherent to say in response to all that stuff, because it doesn’t seem to have anything whatsoever to do with anything in that cartoon.

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Roger Gathmann 01.10.15 at 3:24 am

I don’t think they are non-sequitors. Cartoons are always built on implications. The implication is pretty clear in Sacco’s cartoon. Charlie Hebdo offended “Moslems” – meaning apparently all Muslims. CH was operating within a context that is not too subtlely likened to cartoons of Jews in 1933. Then there is a final panel representing driving the “Moslems” into the sea.
Who is doing this driving?
Apparently white Westerners, no?
Now, of course, it would be a non-sequitor to say that CH was contributing to driving Muslims into the sea. They are just, like anti-semites in 1933, making fun of Muslims. And are afraid of being accused of being anti-semitic, hence the firing of Maurice Senet – which. as he doesn’t tell us, happened under another editorial board. But whatever.
My point is that this idea of “moslems” being driven into the sea ignores a number of things. First, it supposes that all muslims are offended by the caricatures in CH. This is I think wrong. It ignores the fact that the “muslims” who have been most driven into the sea and most wounded in their religious cult have been wounded by exactly the belief of the people who killed the CH staff. If one can imagine a Jewish group in 1933 that went around killing Hassid and destroying their temples, I think we would have a parallel – but that didn’t happen, and the parallel makes little sense. Except of course that we always have to reach for Hitler in order to find something “evil”. In general, if I boil Sacco down to his sequitors, his implicit accusation is that CH was especially anti-Muslim. And this we cant support.My counter accusation is not that Sacco ignored that CH supported “moderate Muslims” – a phrase that is ridiculous. My point is that Sacco is right that CH grouped all Muslims together, the first step in prejudice against Muslims, and b, that Sacco then proceeds to do the same thing – save for the nasty Muslims, who are left unexplained. He even seems to think all Muslims are opposed to the image of Muhammed, which one would think is an idea that was exploded long ago.(here’s a nice You tube about how pious images of the prophet are sold in the souk in Teheran). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxyFwf8gRzQ
I find it hard to take Sacco very seriously, with the dodging, the generalizing, and the exploitation of Maurice Senet without linking to his site.

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engels 01.10.15 at 3:40 am

First, it supposes that all muslims are offended by the caricatures in CH.

No, it doesn’t. If I say that (eg.) violent pornography is offensive to women, or that minstrel shows are offensive to black people, it doesn’t mean that every single woman or black person on the planet must personally take offence at them (that would be ridiculous and as a matter of fact won’t be true). Saying this, does not mean that I view eg. women or black people as a monolithic entity. You are confused.

In general, if I boil Sacco down to his sequitors, his implicit accusation is that CH was especially anti-Muslim. And this we cant support.

You haven’t argued this but even if you’re right it wouldn’t matter when the effect of their calculated shows of contempt will always be different on a relatively powerless group than it will be on a relatively powerful one.

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js. 01.10.15 at 4:53 am

‘Understanding’ is a two way street

Are power, discrimination and marginalization also “two-way streets”? I’m not trying to be facetious here, but there’s a reason that, e.g., it’s a bit odd to tell black people in the US that they really should be paying more attention to white people problems. It’s also pretty strange that you’d pick Ramallah of all places as a contrast class. What is that supposed to show exactly?

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js. 01.10.15 at 4:53 am

Fuck. Second para is me in last comment.

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Mitch Guthman 01.10.15 at 5:00 am

Engels at 296,

Unfortunately, my memory is dim and I’m too lazy to do much Googling but I am slightly familiar with the case because it got some coverage on a legal website that I like. I’ve never actually seen any Siné’s work (except the cats). I’ve certainly never seen any of his cartoons in Charlie Hebdo, a magazine that I’ve read only once and would never have bought again but for this tragedy. In any case, I don’t think the affair represents the hypocrisy you seem to think it does.

To begin with, I don’t think any of us could get Siné his job back, even assuming he wanted it, which apparently he doesn’t. He mentions on his blog that the French courts did give him some money in his suit against the magazine. I don’t remember what happened in the other suits and couldn’t find it on his website.

The one perfectly symmetrical, but truly ironic, thing—and something I never knew until I looked at his website— was that Siné received death threats from the Jewish Defense League, which is still today very active in Paris, especially during the recent riots.

The Sine Hebdo website brought back a few memories.The Jean Sarkozy affair seems to have been a very convoluted business with many different facets, at least some of which were obviously quite personal to the individuals involved. There were a lot of personalities at Charlie Hebdo and I gather from the press that, like reasonably famous people everywhere, they didn’t always get on perfectly with each other or with everyone in the circles in which they moved.

One of the things you might have noticed in their obituaries was that many of the victims at Charlie Hebdo were quite famous and beloved but mainly for things they did away from the magazine. Again, reading between the lines, many of these people moved in circles where personal friendships may have been called upon by prominent French Jews in this affair.

Another aspect was that the cartoon and the article were basically cheap shots at Jean Sarkozy for something very intimate and personal in his life that had nothing to do with politics or his father. I certainly have no idea how young Sarkozy feels about his Jewish ancestors (which he does, in fact, have) or his marriage but probably neither did Siné. Which made it a cheap shot as far as I was concerned.

Perhaps of even greater significance than the arguably anti-Semitic aspects of the cartoon was that Siné was very possibly on the wrong side of the line between satire and slander, especially because the cartoon was illustrating an article (which I’ve never read) that made claim about Jean Sarkozy’s reasons for the marriage and his alleged conversion. The lawyer’s website that had posts on the case that thought the article was significant because it seemed to be actually reporting on very specific facts about very specific people and therefore needed to be truthful. French defamation law is well beyond me but I believe it is not very forgiving. Much closer to the English model than the American.

As I say, I think a lot of people, including me, thought going after young Jean Sarkozy for something this personal was a seriously cheap shot—far beneath even the remarkably low standards of Charlie Hebdo—which is saying quite a bit. Jean Sarkozy is fair game for a lot of stuff, but this really was beyond the pale. I would certainly never have published that piece as described. I don’t know that I would have fired Siné for refusing to apologize but I don’t know that I wouldn’t, either.

Siné himself doesn’t seem to be holding a grudge. Neither does he seem to see himself as the victim of a double standard, as you seem to be painting him. He now has what appears to be his own extremely offensive rag and a blog to go with it. I’ve never read it but a quick glance at the website as I am writing this comment seems to confirm that Sine Hebdo is firmly in the grand and gratuitously offensive Charlie Hebdo tradition.

I wouldn’t ever subscribe to it but he says he’s totally skint, so I might buy a t-shirt if they come in a size extra-fat and he’ll send it to me in the states. If he’s got cat cartoons to sell, I might buy one. So there’s two ways to support the guy because, really, it’s true that you can’t go home again.

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Ze Kraggash 01.10.15 at 8:27 am

According to wikipedia, France has hate speech laws:
“The hate speech laws in France are matters of both civil law and criminal law. Those laws protect individuals and groups from being defamed or insulted because they belong or do not belong, in fact or in fancy, to an ethnicity, a nation, a race, a religion, a sex, or a sexual orientation, or because they have a handicap.”

“In 2006, the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo released a special issue which featured cartoons pertinent to Islam, including some from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. A Muslim organization initiated criminal proceedings against Philippe Val, editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, for insulting a group of people because of their religion. In March 2007, the court of first instance acquitted Val. The first court of appeal confirmed the lower court’s judgment on the ground that the cartoons targeted only terrorists or fundamentalists——not the whole Muslim community.”

Hey, maybe the frogs/cheese-eating surrender monkeys should get ’em some better judges.

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Val 01.10.15 at 9:31 am

bianca steele @ 235
The interesting thing about your response is that I gave you an example of vile abuse that a woman wearing a headscarf was subjected to, and you haven’t acknowledged it. I also told you that I was subjected to extremely frightening threats of violence when I tried to intervene in a case where another woman was being subjected to racist abuse (for the record, it was on a tram, she was Asian, the abuse was racist and misogynistic, and I was also subjected to misogynistic abuse when I objected). Probably doesn’t take much imagination to understand that it was pretty horrible for all concerned, including me, but you have completely ignored that also.

It’s not the first time I’ve come up against this kind of refusal to acknowledge the reality of racist and sexist abuse, but I’m not going to try to argue about it with you any further. This stuff happens, but if you don’t want to acknowledge it, you probably won’t, no matter what I or anyone else say to you. But it’s definitely not off topic, and people like me aren’t trying to “chaperone” anyone, no matter what you may think. I was actually in fear of my life in the incident I talked about, and people have actually been killed for standing up to bullies. Calling us do-gooders, while offering no better solutions, just isn’t helpful.

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Val 01.10.15 at 9:45 am

bianca steele @ 235 (again)
Again, I’m not arguing, just trying to explain – the point about using twitter, or other forms of social media, to draw attention to this stuff, is to try to mobilise support – so that if someone like me tries to stop a case of bullying and abuse, others will also get involved, rather than being bystanders. In Melbourne recently there was a case – I can’t remember all the details – but several passengers and the bus driver all intervened, and the bullying was stopped. Violence can’t always be prevented, but I think social media can help to prevent both the racist bullying and the retaliatory bullying of anyone who protests about it.

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David 01.10.15 at 10:28 am

Drawing some threads together, perhaps:
For fifty years there has been immigration into France from “Muslim” countries, initially the Maghreb (and especially Algeria). Most immigrants did not consider themselves “Muslims” in anything except a cultural sense. For the first half of that period, they generally integrated well, especially women, and moved up the traditional immigrant social ladder. Mixed marriages were common. In those days, there was little unemployment and the school system worked well. This changed with mass unemployment, harder-line government policies and the instrumentalisation of immigration as a threat, as well as lack of interest in educating the children. At the same time, poverty and violence in the Maghreb and elsewhere brought unprecedented numbers of new immigrants (2M over the last decade according to the government) mostly into poor areas where education and social services are stretched to breaking point, and which get little help from central government.
Over the last fifteen years, elite discourse in France, inspired very much by the US neoconservatives, has identified Islam and Muslims as a main enemy; On the Right, this is traditional racialism, on the Left it’s wrapped up with the rights of women etc. but amounts in practice to the same thing. Muslims are the only community in France which is systematically targeted this way, including by the media. As a result, an essentially secular, culturally Muslim but otherwise French, community has been in part successfully radicalised – one is tempted to say, radicalised by the very people who needed an enemy to fight against.
It’s not just Charlie either. Polemical articles and quite unpleasant cartoons stigmatising Muslims are quite common in the French media (“Le Canard enchainé” which should know better, is often disgraceful in this respect) and there have effectively been no sanctions. But nobody bothers attacking Christians, because few French people go to Church, and Jews (and most recently Roms, the new target) are effectively off limits. So the weakest, poorest and least educated section of French society is subject not only to economic and social discrimination, but also to official vituperation and unofficial mockery, and is confronted daily with stories of attacks by France on Muslim states, and grisly accounts of atrocities committed by Muslims, all over the world. I wonder how you and I would feel.
At this point, some idiot at the back gets up and says “this doesn’t justify killing people”. Please leave the room, because you haven’t understood the issue, which is not abstract moral justification, but concrete results – karma, if you like. If you do stupid things, shit happens. Stupid things have been done ….

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Abbe Faria 01.10.15 at 11:30 am

Muslims were murdering people for offenses against their religion before neoconservatism and the war on terror. There are indigenous traditions in France, and other European countries which have fought hard won battles for secularism and to make bringing religion into public affairs taboo. Muslims (and other groups like Sikhs who’ve tried the same thing) have tried to put religion back on the table, and yes people do resent them for reopening old battles. But filtering that through a US lense is mistaken.

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Brett Bellmore 01.10.15 at 11:59 am

“CH was operating within a context that is not too subtlely likened to cartoons of Jews in 1933.”

This I have to respond to, because it is an all too common sentiment, and it is almost precisely an inversion of the actual situation.

Excuse me, but who are the brownshirts here? The people who had thugs suddenly attack and murder them? Who are the brownshirts here? The people who are being censored by violence and intimidation?

Look at who is being attacked here. It is not the Muslims. It is anybody with the nerve to offend them. Yes, some of those attacked are Muslims themselves. Who offended the OTHER Muslims. They don’t even exempt their own from the terror, so don’t dream you can buy peace by converting.

Sure, it’s not all Muslims who are acting this way. “Merely” way too many of them for the situation to be stable. And, is there something about Islam that leads way too many Muslims to act this way, that seems to doom every society that ends up majority Muslim to being non-democratic and oppressive?

The forbidden question, I guess. We have to treasure every precious cultural flower, even as one of them is going around killing people, because looking too closely at the situation might offend somebody.

Maybe because it might offend somebody who’d drop by and gun you down? Looks like Stockholm syndrome is kicking in, and we’re all calling the religion of Boko Haram the “religion of peace”, because we don’t want to get peaced to death. Yeah, they’re the religion of “peace”, but by “peace” they don’t mean what we mean, they mean the peace of everybody submitting to them, so that they don’t have to go around killing everybody.

Look, I’ve known Muslims, even worked under them. Individually they can be, usually are, fine people. A gram of U235 isn’t terribly dangerous, either, it’s not even terribly radioactive, having a half life of 700 million years. Pile enough of it in one place, though, and you get a mushroom cloud.

Try that on for size: Some ideas are like a fissile element, harmless when few people hold them, and supremely dangerous if they become common. Some such ideas even call themselves “the religion of peace”, and kill you if you dissent too loudly from that description.

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Peter T 01.10.15 at 12:02 pm

“Muslims were murdering people for offenses against their religion before neoconservatism and the war on terror.”

Should read “Some Muslims…”, but even then does not advance the argument: “Muslims” is too large a category. Indonesian Muslims (largest single group)? Indian Muslims (more than in Pakistan)? Bosnian Muslims (who mostly made common cause with their neighbours and defended civilised values against people who claimed to be fighting in the name of Christianity)? That Europeans largely stopped fighting each other over religious differences is a good thing, except that they then took to fighting each other over other differences…

It’s undeniable there are problems with Muslim minorities in Europe, related but quite different problems with some forms of Islam in the Middle East and Africa, and related but again different problems between some Western states and most Middles Eastern states. Wrapping it all together under the label of the “Muslim problem” is uninformed, unhelpful, and rather too dismissive of our own part in the mess.

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Peter T 01.10.15 at 12:04 pm

And Brett, I’ve worked with Americans, have American friends, and consider them mostly good people. But pile them all together and….

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Zamfir 01.10.15 at 12:10 pm

@Brett, you make a good point. There are certain people, if you put enough of them together they start bombing entire cities with nuclear bombs.

I think it was Muslims, but it might have been carpenters, or Americans. One of those, I am sure of that.

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Ze Kraggash 01.10.15 at 12:12 pm

“Excuse me, but who are the brownshirts here?”

Who said anything about brownshirts? Someone said the cartoon are of the same nature as those in 1933 Germany. And you’re protesting against some other, imaginary, statement.

True, no one shot Streicher in 1933. This fact, however, is irrelevant to the question of alleged similarity of the cartoons then and now.

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Brett Bellmore 01.10.15 at 12:52 pm

The point is, Ze, that this is like Jews making cartoons about Nazis, not Nazis making cartoons about Jews. And that is the fundamental inversion in your analogy. Nobody shot Streicher in 1933, because Streicher was on the side of the guys shooting people. And Charlie Hebdo was on the side opposite the guys shooting people.

But a lot of folks pretend otherwise. Maybe because deep down, they’re afraid of being shot?

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Ze Kraggash 01.10.15 at 1:25 pm

You may think Charlie Hebdo is on the side opposite the guys shooting people, and characters in their cartoons are the guys shooting people. Yet there is a plausible point of view where the situation is exactly reversed. Similarly, Streicher and his activities in 1933 could easily be (and were being, for sure) interpreted the same way you interpret Charlie Hebdo today.

One way to break out of the disagreement would be simply banning this sort of stuff. A compromise.

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Marc 01.10.15 at 2:04 pm

The idea of calling people murdered by religious fanatics the equivalent of Nazi propagandists is astonishingly offensive. I know that CT draws people from the extremes of the political spectrum: but, Jesus Christ, think before you post.

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Freshly Squeezed Cynic 01.10.15 at 2:13 pm

“Look at who is being attacked here. It is not the Muslims.”

Wrong.

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J Thomas 01.10.15 at 2:36 pm

In western nations, muslims who break the law deserve a fair trial like anybody else. Muslims who do not break the law do not deserve to be treated badly because of those who do — that’s collective punishment. It doesn’t work.

In the long run there are two choices for western nations that have muslim citizens or residents. We can try to assimilate them, or we can try to expel them. Handling an inbetween state for any length of time is corrosive.

To assimilate them, we must show them how their religion can interact with us. They can celebrate Eid like Christmas or Saint Patrick’s day, and we won’t object at all. They must let others do their own religions of course. And for handling people who say tasteless things about them or their religion perhaps the Anti-Defamation League would kindly give them a lot of pointers and assistance setting up a sister organization.

If we choose expulsion, then ’twere well it were done quickly. But I dislike that approach. One reason is that if we do it one more time, after we haven’t for so long, then who’s next?

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J Thomas 01.10.15 at 2:39 pm

#316 Marc

The idea of calling people murdered by religious fanatics the equivalent of Nazi propagandists is astonishingly offensive.

I’m breaking my resolution not to respond to this sort of thing, but there are a bunch I haven’t responded to, and just this once….

Do you believe that being murdered by religious fanatics washes away all your own sins?

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Donald Johnson 01.10.15 at 2:46 pm

” The question, then, is whether they should refrain from exercising their right to blaspheme. I say no. Self-censorship out of fear is the same as giving the Islamists the power to censor.”

God, this is frustrating. This is where the terrorists win–they polarize discussion so that one has to take a position based not on what one thinks about issue X, but on what the terrorists think about issue X.

I don’t give a damn about the feelings of Islamic terrorists and I don’t think we censor the views of people in order to placate them. I think terrorists need to be stopped, not placated. But I am not going to praise Charlie Hebdo, based on what little I know about them, because some stupid contemptible fanatics murdered them. If North Korean terrorists blew up the Fox News headquarters I wouldn’t start praising Fox News. I wouldn’t say they should continue to do what they do because otherwise they’d be giving aid and comfort to the forces of totalitarianism. I would say that we need to support free speech rights and protect them even for people whose views we abhor.

But hey, good for you that you don’t want to live in a place like Pakistan where Islamic fanatics often seem to have free rein. For some reason you think I do. It isn’t true and there’s nothing I’ve said that should have given you that impression. In fact, I’ve been clear on this all along. I have no use for the kind of asinine humor that was apparently the product of Charlie Hebdo, but I think such people should have the legal right to do what they do and should be protected from violent thugs who want to kill them.

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Ze Kraggash 01.10.15 at 2:49 pm

“Do you believe that being murdered by religious fanatics washes away all your own sins?”

I thought he was being sarcastic, trying to demonstrate that anything even slightly controversial will make someone fly off the handle.

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Donald Johnson 01.10.15 at 2:58 pm

“I don’t give a damn about the feelings of Islamic terrorists “

I need to backtrack. I don’t think the feelings of people who murder cartoonists or make death threats against blasphemers should in any way determine what we are allowed to say or read or write. But my statement above sounds like the sort of overstated macho crap that Western crusaders say when they are dismissing the legitimate grievances of people who are the victims of Western oppression.

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Donald Johnson 01.10.15 at 3:01 pm

Sigh. I really need to think about all the ways my statements can be misinterpreted, as on this subject it’s pretty much a given that anything anyone says will be taken in the worst possible way. So, “legitimate grievances” and “Western oppression” would mean things like criminal invasions, bombing of civilians, land theft and all the other sorts of things that actually do motivate some people to become terrorists. Nasty cartoons, contemptible though they may be, are not on that list.

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Collin Street 01.10.15 at 3:11 pm

One way to break out of the disagreement would be simply banning this sort of stuff. A compromise.

Looks like Marc agrees with you; a call for people not to say things that “are astonishingly offensive”.

[but that “are” has me concerned; something is made offensive by its causing offense, there’s nothing that’s innately offensive outside of the offense that it causes to people and so there’s nothing that’s inoffensive apart from the lack of offense it causes. So you’d have thought the phrase “that cause people astonishing offense” might be better…]

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J Thomas 01.10.15 at 3:31 pm

#321 Ze Kraggash

I thought he was being sarcastic, trying to demonstrate that anything even slightly controversial will make someone fly off the handle.

Good! I hope you’re right!

326

Rich Puchalsky 01.10.15 at 3:33 pm

As someone often concerned with civility , I should mention that it is very widely held that one shouldn’t speak badly of the recently deceased. If you can’t do that and still write about this, then maybe you shouldn’t write about it. Speaking badly of a person does not equate to criticizing their art, a point that I think that Sacco successfully finesses but that most people here are too clumsy to. Lest this be seen as a call for self-censorship, consider that no one really cares about your opinion and that a large majority of people writing in this thread have made themselves look significantly more stupid than their usual CT comments make them out to be.

Val, thanks for trying to help that woman on the bus.

327

Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 3:40 pm

“Are power, discrimination and marginalization also “two-way streets”? I’m not trying to be facetious here, but there’s a reason that, e.g., it’s a bit odd to tell black people in the US that they really should be paying more attention to white people problems.”

Well, yes. Power, discrimination and marginalization do work in complicated ways. Of course they also fall primarily along specific cleavages (racial,ethnic, gender, class etc) but this wasnt the point I was making. The point I was making was such a banal one that I’d be surprised if anyone here would object. At times of political/ethnic polarisation everyone needs to take a step back, put away their (a lot of the time genuine) grievances for a second, and try to understand where the other side is coming from. In other words, don’t fall into Marcs ‘ familiar boxes’ (which I think was an astute phrase)
My problem was specifically with Shatz conflating things that don’t need to be conflated. Can I recognise the racism and discrimination in Europe and the problems it leads to without imainging everything is explicable by them ? Of course. Do I have to understand Tommy Robinson and the EDLs ideological posturing to understand the real grievances of the white working class? Of course not. And some of these problems have deeper, less local sources. Which leads to..

“It’s also pretty strange that you’d pick Ramallah of all places as a contrast class. What is that supposed to show exactly?”

It’s quite clearly not strange to pick Ramallah. Ramallah is the explanation for the phenomenon Shatz identifies, the growing anti semitism within certain segments of the Muslim population. The Israel/Palestine conflict is so clearly the fundamental cause of this anti semitism that the fact he hasn’t idenitified it is bizzare. Blaming ‘memorialising the Holocaust but ignoring crimes of colonisation’ makes about as much sense as identifying black history month as the source of white racism.
Anti semtisim is a real phenomenon in most Arab countries Ive lived in, to the same extent that anti Arab racism is in Israel, or racist xenophobia is in Europe. For too long ‘Zionism and US foreign policy’ has been allowed to fester as the main source of the underdevelpment in the Middle East (I think both are important sources, but..), and has created a virulent anti semitism. Much more than charlie hebdoe, the fact that they targetted a Jewish market is the worrying and inexcusable event in this situation.

(mitch, interesting comment above. Ill get back to it late, running out now)

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MPAVictoria 01.10.15 at 4:15 pm

329

Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 5:12 pm

Mitch Guthman @292 – interesting comment. Somewhat tangentially, and really not in opposition to a lot of what you’ve said..I think I generally (though not solely) see the world through a ‘materialist frame.’ That is to say, for example, if we see riots in the Banlieues the first order of explanation we should be looking at are material factors. (economic etc) If we see anti Muslim marches in Germany the same should figure strongly in our analysis. History matters, ethinicty, religion, culture – but they matter less, and matter in specific ways, at specific times * (normally subordinate to material factors)
As such, I don’t worry about the integration of ‘Muslim** immigrants’ on its own terms. All it would take is a little give and take on both sides. In the case of France there’s a need to relax the (admirable) politics of ‘aggressive seculariastion’ and pay attention to the political context of this moment. Integration has worked in the past, and will continue to work into the future.
The problem is that at this moment both extremes are polarising politics in places they don’t need to be polarised, and everyone else is playing their part (left victim politics against right wing small n nationalism) As a bog standard incrementalist liberal, I think the reply should be liberal in the best sense of that word..open minded, non ideological, restrained.
We need to dial back the hyperbole, dial back the self pity (on both sides) , and go about fixing the problems at the root of our current malaise (which are more resolvable than the ideological missionaries would allow us believe)

* this doesnt contradict my response to js above, which is talking specifically about people engaging in acts of political violence.
** for the sake of clarification, and to stave off the tedious ‘Muslims aren’t a monlith’ etc rhetoric (of course). This is shorthand, used in the context of this thread. Much like someone might use ‘white’ or ‘the west’ or ‘person of colour’. The terms are obviously so broad to be meaningless, but we cant caveat everything perfectly.

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J Thomas 01.10.15 at 5:13 pm

#326 Rich Puchalsky

As someone often concerned with civility , I should mention that it is very widely held that one shouldn’t speak badly of the recently deceased.

Should that extend to the recently-dead terrorists?

331

Brett Bellmore 01.10.15 at 5:56 pm

“So you’d have thought the phrase “that cause people astonishing offense” might be better…”

I’d think the phrase, “that people take astonishing offense at” would be still better, because it makes clear that “offense” is something happening in the head of the offended, not in ink on paper.

To let other people being offended veto your own expression, is to give the offended the power of censorship, to encourage people to be maximally offended by concepts they don’t want expressed. And that is exactly what is going on here: Muslims do not want people talking or writing against Islam, so they take offense at it, frequently violently.

These violent attacks are working. People are more and more fearful to say anything against Islam. You have to pretend it’s a religion of peace, you have to pretend it has nothing to do with the global epidemic of terrorism. You have to pretend, because if you don’t they’ll take offense, and Muslims taking offense means people getting killed.

And this makes it easier for Islam to spread, and increase it’s influence, and that is the purpose. To cow people into letting the “religion of peace” spread unopposed.

And how can you fight it, except by establishing the principle that we don’t care HOW “offended” you get, you aren’t allowed to silence somebody, let alone kill them? We have to win this fight today, or tomorrow we’ll be faced with a much worse fight.

And winning it starts with shrugging off the temptation to self-censor in response to violence.

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Roger Gathmann 01.10.15 at 6:00 pm

I thought some more about the Sacco cartoon, and the more I thought about it, the more counterfeit I found it.
Take the cartoon a la Der Sturmer of the Jew in 1933. The implication is that anybody satirizing Jews in Germany must be objectively helping the Nazis, right? But this is simply wrong. The greatest satirist in Germany in the 20s and 30s was Kurt Tucholsky, a Jew who edited the Weltbuehne, and who wrote scathing satire about Berlin Jews who only carried about money – yes, the stereotype – and were blind to the militarism and Naziism that were rising around them. Did the Nazis use these columns? No, of course not. When they took power, on the list of the top ten people they sought to arrest was Tucholsky.
Since this is Sacco’s comparison, we can go zipping up to now. Is there any evidence that the anti-immigration party, the one most opposed to “Muslims”, has ever used Charlie Hebdo? You would have to be totally disconnected from France to think so. For the past two years, the FN and the Manif pour tous people have been pushing back on both the issue of gay and women’s rights and the idea that the immigrants are aliens in France – and CH has violently satirized and opposed them. Sacco takes the theme that CH claimed that anything was fair game for satire and plays with it, disregarding the fact that CH’s principle concerning expression was set in the context of its own politics of absolute secularism and equality. Thus, they were opposed to the stunts of both Manif pour tous and the FN on a weekly basis – you have to ignore completely what they spent 90 percent of their time writing and drawing about to pretend that they were “racist” because they went after Imams. This, of course, is to identify completely a community description – Muslim, from countries that are generally Muslim – with the real politics and religion of the individuals in the community. It is in other words to make the pious claim that the community should be imprisoned in one’s oh so liberal definition. This has little to do with daily life in these communities. The most scabrous sexual joke I’ve ever heard about Mohammed was told to me by a Turk, who would, if she lived in France, officially count as a Muslim. It is a ridiculous slight of hand played by Sacco. Funny, he can include in his column one empirical fact – the dispute with Maurice Senet – but somehow he gives not a single instance in which anti-immigrants used or adhered to Charlie Hebdo to justify their stance.
This is like saying Ha’aretz is a pro-Nazi paper because it criticizes Jews. Sacco’s cartoon really is long on pc attitude, and devoid of fact.
It is ridiculous.

333

J. Parnell Thomas 01.10.15 at 6:14 pm

Yes it is.

334

Cranky Observer 01.10.15 at 6:28 pm

= = =
Brett Bellmore 01.10.15 at 5:56 pm
.
“So you’d have thought the phrase “that cause people astonishing offense” might be better…”
.
I’d think the phrase, “that people take astonishing offense at” would be still better, because it makes clear that “offense” is something happening in the head of the offended, not in ink on paper.
.
To let other people being offended veto your own expression, is to give the offended the power of censorship, to encourage people to be maximally offended by concepts they don’t want expressed. And that is exactly what is going on here: Muslims do not want people talking or writing against Islam, so they take offense at it, frequently violently. = = =

Perhaps you could explain that theory to the hard right wing christianists and denominists who are currently exercising way too much power over my state. They unleash the dogs of I’m offended at the drop of a woman exercising agency.

Cranky

335

bianca steele 01.10.15 at 7:00 pm

Val,

I apologize for not noticing you were offering your experience as personal conversation, and for not engaging in personal conversation in response. If I’d recognized the anecdote as the most important part of the post, I’d have responded to it.

For myself, I’ve found it’s safe not to engage in personal conversation with people I barely know in public Internet forums. Ironically enough, it’s pretty much the same rule I use on the subway. In most cases, it works out okay. I’ve also found it’s best to assume the best of other commenters, not the worst. Those two rules work most of the time because most other people also assume the best of others, and if they can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.

336

MPAVictoria 01.10.15 at 7:06 pm

Excellent comment Roger.

337

Hector_St_Clare 01.10.15 at 7:23 pm

F*ck Chrl Hbd.

338

js. 01.10.15 at 7:31 pm

At times of political/ethnic polarisation everyone needs to take a step back, put away their (a lot of the time genuine) grievances for a second, and try to understand where the other side is coming from.

As a general point, this seems completely wrong. Imagine applying to a different situation:

It’s the early ’60s in the (US) South, black communities are agitating for civil rights, Bull Connor is meeting protestors with dogs and fire hoses. Serious political polarization afoot! And now we say that both the black and white communities should take a step back and see where the other side is coming from? Sorry, but that’s fucking insane. Similarly, if there is indeed widespread and systematic marginalization of Muslim communities in France (and there very much seems to be, tho e.g. people like Arthur Goldhammer somewhat disagree), then it’s simply false to say that there are anything like symmetric obligations on the minority and majority communities to try and understand where the other one is coming from.

Anyway, look, I came on here to thank Donald Johnson for the link to the Scott Long piece, which I think is great, and then to question Marc’s apparent expertise on French society and politics—it’s still unclear to me why he thinks that Long lacks understanding of the relevant context. In any case, I’m hardly even forwarding a thesis here (tho I do think that Shatz is substantially right).

339

MPAVictoria 01.10.15 at 7:33 pm

Anyone Hector doesn’t like can’t be all bad….

340

Roger Gathmann 01.10.15 at 7:55 pm

The enemies of Charlie Hebdo are, at least, honest. Here’s the founder of the front national, Jean-Marie Le Pen. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4613491,00.html
He’s referring to a longstanding hostility to Charlie Hebdo stemming from their part in protesting the 1997 FN Congres in Strassburg. Again, far from taking the anti-immigrant side, CH has always actively opposed the anti-immigrant right.

341

Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 7:56 pm

“As a general point, this seems completely wrong. Imagine applying to a different situation”

I wouldnt say *completely wrong * but context dependant.

“Similarly, if there is indeed widespread and systematic marginalization of Muslim communities in France”

Well, that depends on the specifics. Certainly not equivalent to the treatment of African Americans under Jim Crow (I would think) Probably not even the equivalent of the discrimination suffered by Catholics in Northern Ireland (which was a moment when aggravating political/ethnic divisons – and peacefully initially – was completly counterproductive)

“It’s the early ’60s in the (US) South, black communities are agitating for civil rights, Bull Connor is meeting protestors with dogs and fire hoses. Serious political polarization afoot! And now we say that both the black and white communities should take a step back and see where the other side is coming from? “

Well, the civil rights movement did, no ? I mean they explicitly worked within the system. They explictly embraced non violence and being better than their opponents (that’s not to deny the threat of violence etc from other avenues didnt help the movement, plausibly it did) but the rhetoric and action was surely to some degree accommodationist?

” In any case, I’m hardly even forwarding a thesis here “

Absolutely. I didn’t mean to target anything specifically towards you (I’m also thinking it through myself, in some part, so am not *trying* to sound dismissive – although perhaps it comes across like that) It was more in response to Shatz than anything else.(who I do like generally. He had an article that I linked to above about Breivik -again, I dont agree with all of it – that I think is more applicable when explaining *these specific* attacks)

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Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 7:57 pm

Fwiw- I found Roger’s comment @332 quite convincing aswell (or at least well argued)

343

engels 01.10.15 at 7:59 pm

The implication is that anybody satirizing Jews in Germany must be objectively helping the Nazis, right?

The panel shows a hook-nosed Jew counting money ‘in the entrails of the working class’ and asks whether that would have been ‘funny’ in 1933. Are you unable to distinguish (i) the specific question Sacco posed (ii) the ludicrous over-generalisation of it you have attributed to him?

But this is simply wrong. . …. Is there any evidence that the anti-immigration party, the one most opposed to “Muslims”, has ever used Charlie Hebdo? … they were opposed to the stunts of both Manif pour tous and the FN

There are various currents of Islamophobia in France and just because the FN doesn’t support a publication doesn’t mean it can’t be Islamophobic or even that it can’t unintentonally advance their agenda. This is not difficult.

The most scabrous sexual joke I’ve ever heard about Mohammed was told to me by a Turk, who would, if she lived in France, officially count as a Muslim.

This seems to be on the level of ‘gay people sometimes use the word ‘faggot” so it can’t be offensive / homophobic.

This is like saying Ha’aretz is a pro-Nazi paper because it criticizes Jews.

Don’t. Be. Ridiculous.

344

J Thomas 01.10.15 at 8:14 pm

#338 js

It’s the early ’60s in the (US) South, black communities are agitating for civil rights, Bull Connor is meeting protestors with dogs and fire hoses. Serious political polarization afoot! And now we say that both the black and white communities should take a step back and see where the other side is coming from? Sorry, but that’s fucking insane.

And yet, to the extent that anything has worked, wasn’t that what worked?

People who hate and fear each other are not going to get along well no matter how often you intermittently try to force them to.

… it’s simply false to say that there are anything like symmetric obligations on the minority and majority communities to try and understand where the other one is coming from.

After things fail we can look at who failed at their obligations to decide who to blame. Or we can decide who to blame ahead of time on the assumption of failure. But hope of success is built on mutual understanding. Very likely the minority community has a much better understanding of the majority community anyway. They know that they need to.

345

Ze Kraggash 01.10.15 at 8:21 pm

I would like to know more about Kurt Tucholsky, who, according to wikipedia, first: wasn’t a Jew at least since 1918 (but probably since 1914), and second: doesn’t sounds like someone who would engage in propagating ethnic stereotypes.

346

Louis Proyect 01.10.15 at 8:26 pm

Among the many articles on Charlie Hebdo defending Western Civilization and the Enlightenment, especially the Voltairean precept (that he never actually stated) “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”, it was inevitable to find some that debunked the notion that Islam banned pictorial representation of Mohammad.

full: http://louisproyect.org/2015/01/10/representing-mohammad/

347

Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 8:32 pm

” This seems to be on the level of ‘gay people sometimes use the word ‘faggot” so it can’t be offensive / homophobic. “

Making a joke about Mohammed isn’t perpetuating an ethnic stereotype, it’s attacking a specific historical figure (a political representation) It isn’t equivalent to printing a hook nosed Jew, or a black man falling out of a tree with a banana.

348

Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 8:35 pm

..I do agree with Sacco’s general point, but the analogy is off.

349

engels 01.10.15 at 8:36 pm

A woman has described her shock after being found guilty of a public order offence for telling David Cameron he had “blood on his hands“. Bethan Tichborne, 28, said initially she assumed her court summons was a bureaucratic error after she was arrested for protesting against cuts to disability benefits. But she was told by a district judge that her comments must have hugely insulted the prime minister…

350

novakant 01.10.15 at 8:37 pm

Roger #332

The important point is that there are limits to our freedom of speech and everybody obeys them, be they imposed by law or by what is considered acceptable in polite society. Those now pretending that these limits do not exist are simply hypocrites and CH caving in immediately when it was accused of anti-semitism is proof of that.

Another point is that constantly depicting minorities in a stereotypical manner is probably not very helpful if we are interested in a tolerant society – secularism isn’t the be all and end all of humanity and “western values” would be a very good idea indeed …

I say all this as a total atheist and a big fan since my early teens of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Marc_Reiser whose work definitely offends but I wouldn’t want to be censored (just do a google image search, lol).

351

Rich Puchalsky 01.10.15 at 8:38 pm

“Should that extend to the recently-dead terrorists?”

“Speaking badly of” recently shot suspects isn’t seen as uncivil in the same way, but it generally means one or more of 1) you think that people won’t understand that criminals shooting people is very wrong unless you tell people that the criminals were bad; 2) you want to claim that an entire group of similar people is guilty of something because those people were; 3) you want to give some kind of long-distance diagnosis of why the crime occurred, without having any more information than what anyone can get from the news; 4) you are a victim of the crime or a friend or relative of one and you understandably need to react in this way. Unless anyone here is in case 4), which I doubt, then I think that again you’re better off not doing it.

352

MPAVictoria 01.10.15 at 8:38 pm

Engels that is a fucking outrage.

353

engels 01.10.15 at 8:41 pm

… The rallies come ahead of a march expected to draw up to a million people on Sunday in which French president Francois Hollande will be joined by a host of world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.Others due to participate include Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and US attorney-general Eric Holder. The prime ministers of Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands will also attend along with the presidents of Mali, Niger and Ukraine. Mr Hollande will also be joined by NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg

354

Roger Gathmann 01.10.15 at 9:09 pm

345 – here’s an article from Commentary: https://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/the-bitter-bard-of-weimar/

“It was not Tucholsky’s baptism that has led some to charge him with Jew-hatred—Gershom Scholem, the great historian, pronounced him “the most talented and most repellent of Jewish anti-Semites”—but rather his acerbic criticism of bourgeois Jewish society. Most notorious is his Mr. Wendriner character, whose clumsy attempts to avoid offending Nazi storm troopers at a theater come across today as desperately unfunny: “Oh, wait, there’s the [Horst] Wessel song. Stand up. What else are ya gonna do—go along with it…the English sing their national anthem after the theater, too.”

355

Roger Gathmann 01.10.15 at 9:13 pm

And for those who can read German http://www.textlog.de/kurt-tucholsky.html

356

engels 01.10.15 at 9:31 pm

Oh Jeez, this is worse than ‘Hitchens is the new Orwell…’

357

engels 01.10.15 at 9:35 pm

Charlie Hebdo to publish one million copies of next issue …Other media companies, including Le Monde and Vivendi SA’s Canal Plus, among others, have offered to help pay for the giant run, he said. Roughly €250,000 ($300,000) will come from a fund Google Inc. set up two years ago to settle a copyright fight with French newspapers, the fund’s director said…

358

Collin Street 01.10.15 at 9:39 pm

> This is not difficult.

It can be. For example, there’s a biological condition that leaves those affected by it with a significantly impaired ability to comprehend that different people have different experiences and desires; for those affected by this condition, arguments that rely on imagining how they would act and what they would want had there experiences been different can be literally incomprehensible.

359

Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 10:03 pm

@358 – yeah – if you ignore Roger’s argument entirely, then your ad hominem has merit.

360

engels 01.10.15 at 10:18 pm

Is there a developmental condition that causes people to troll comments threads with passive-aggressive insinuations that random strangers might be suffering from autism?

361

engels 01.10.15 at 10:49 pm

‘I agree with Sacco’s general point but the analogy is off’ It’s good job he didn’t claim they were analogous then. (Btw ‘making a joke about Mohammed’ /= ‘intentionally and very publicly causing gross offence’ [to an already marginalised religious group]).

362

engels 01.10.15 at 10:57 pm

‘Making a joke about Mohammed isn’t perpetuating an ethnic stereotype’ see http://qph.is.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-ddd3904e07d024cc09ecc4d76145f73d?convert_to_webp=true

363

Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 11:15 pm

That’s not making a joke about Mohammed. that’s perpetuating an ethnic stereotype.

364

MPAVictoria 01.10.15 at 11:18 pm

Yeah I reserve my right to mock any religious figure I so choose.

365

ZM 01.10.15 at 11:19 pm

Mitch Guthman,

“. I think that unless the Islamic community in France can find a way to accommodate themselves to a French society that wants religion to be practed in the heart and in the home but not in public spaces, there terroristic attacks will only grow more intense and more frequent and the backlash from the host society will be harsher and more intolerant as well.”

This is not the proper method of integration that has been found to work. Integration is not the same as assimilation – and assimilation is old fashioned from more racist times.

I read some things about settlement and integration last year – and for integration to work it has to be a two way process between both host society and immigrants .
The immigrants change the host society and the host society changes the immigrants too.

It is unfair to say only the immigrants have to change to suit the host society – and this sort of idea often underlies a bad settlement process which leads to marginalization and alienation instead of integration between the host society and immigrants.

French people can read An Apologie for Raymond Sebond by the French author Montaigne who says it is not enough to follow God in spirit – but you also need to in body – and then they can have this nice French example that sanctions practicing religion in public.

And the French people cannot complain with any true sense of justice about immigrants altering French culture since they were the ones with their colonialism who altered lots of the immigrants’ cultures in the first place.

Of course it is very wrong to kill people and quite tragic for the people whose lives are cut short and their grieving families.

But on the matter of the cartoons – I have not seen these ones – but during English colonialism in the Pacific the London papers’ cartoonists would draw horrible mocking cartoons of the Pacific Islanders and indigenous people , so such cartons can and have in the past acted as a tool of dehumanization and delegitimization of the world’s less powerful in a way that also gives support for the oppression of these less powerful people by Western societies’ powerful parliaments and armed forces and companies etc – and these powerful Western bodies I guess must have killed more Middle Eastern people in recent years than Middle Eastern people have killed Westerners .

366

Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 11:42 pm

Anyway, I guess sometimes a Mohammed drawing could perpetuate an ethnic stereotype.(depending how it was done) In those cases, that would be worse. That’s my only point.
engels – The analogy I was saying was ‘off’ wasn’t Sacco’s, but your comparison of Roger’s statement:

“The most scabrous sexual joke I’ve ever heard about Mohammed was told to me by a Turk, who would, if she lived in France, officially count as a Muslim.”

To:

“This seems to be on the level of ‘gay people sometimes use the word ‘faggot” so it can’t be offensive / homophobic.”

I don’t think that comparison makes a huge amount of sense.

Just to clarify. I’m not carrying any water for charlie hebdo as an institution.As I said above, I dont know enough about it. If 362 an example of their output then I’d assume it’s pretty racist and not very interesting.

367

Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 11:54 pm

just reading back on my 366, – that ‘Anyway’ might be construed as replying to ZM’s comment (or ‘dismissing it’, whatever) That wasn’t my intention ZM, it was just an add on to my comment 363 (I know these ‘clarifications of previous comments’ comments are tedious, so apologies to all)

368

Ronan(rf) 01.10.15 at 11:54 pm

Just on my comment at 367 ..

369

J. Parnell Thomas 01.11.15 at 12:21 am

2 cents: some of the insinuations about the essence of Islam I’ve seen here seem already seem awfully reminiscent of some of the ones that were being made here about the essence of Judaism not too long ago. Different commenters, different target, same mindset.

Also, while Germany in 1933 might be a bad analogy, it seems to me that a rough analogy to the attitudes of 19th century elites of Germany or Russia toward the “backward” ghetto Jews might be more fitting – bearing in mind that any analogy between two different places or times will be imperfect, hence the words “different,” “rough,” and “analogy.”

370

J. Parnell Thomas 01.11.15 at 12:22 am

Bad proofing – scratch “seem already.”

371

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 12:27 am

do you have any specific examples ? I dont mean that as a gotcha but I really dont see that many (any) comments that have essentialised Muslims.

372

J. Parnell Thomas 01.11.15 at 12:37 am

I said the “essence of Islam,” not “Muslims.”

309 is the one that leapt out at me. Of course, some of his best friends…

373

Mitch Guthman 01.11.15 at 12:41 am

ZM at 365,

You seem to be saying two totally incompatible things. One the one hand you say it’s wrong to kill but the bulk of your comments seems to suggest that the cosmic justice of anti-colonialism grants the colonized peoples a hunting license to kill anyone who dares to mock them. And, equally, you seem to be granting moral permission for indigenous peoples of former colonies to do the indigenous peoples of the colonizers the exact same thing that you argue was unjust in the first place. That strikes me as nuts and, more importantly, irrelevant in the context of a comment about what will happen in France if the current situation worsens.

I don’t think it’s axiomatic that the host society must always give way to the immigrants. Muslims are probably about 10% of the population of France. Yet, as a practical matter, they’ve imposed a very strict prohibition against blaspheming against Islam that is enforced at the point of a gun. The problem is what will happen if there are more incidents like this one. France has a very long, blood-soaked history of religious warfare.

In many ways, the point of the French Revolution was to free the country from the Church and the point of laïcité was to prevent the revival of the Church’s power and to allow people of different faiths or no faith to coexist in harmony. The state is neutral between religious. In France, the public spaces belong to all of the people, who are free to practice their religion in their hearts, their homes and their churches, synagogues and mosques but are forbidden to intrude upon the public sphere.

French wariness about public displays of the Muslim faith is flows, in no small part, from the fear of what will happen if the principle of laïcité breaks down. Right now, for example, the there is no established church in France even though probably 85% of the French are at least nominally Catholics. Based on things that Sarkozy said during his presidency, there is a nostalgia among conservatives for a greater, more formal role for the Church in French life. A conflict between the conservatives and Voltaire’s “missionaries of laïques” would be disastrous for the republic—but it would likely be fatal for French Muslims and Jews.

That is why I believe that the principle of the separation of civil society from the society religious is fundamental to the republicanism of France. France cannot survive as a republic without it. In the case of the French republic, the principle of laïcité evolved to free the country from the grip of a very power church.

Which brings us to my actual point, which was, in part, what might happen if the host society comes to view the immigrants as being essentially a 5th column that holds values that are antithetical and even dangerous to those of republicanism. All I’m saying is that the immigrants must accept the fundamental principles upon which their host society is founded and become French. I believe that, for their part, the Français de souche (indigenous French) must make that possible through investments in education, better housing and, most importantly, by understanding that égalité means hiring and promoting qualified people who just happen to be named Muhammad.

But I believe that Muslims must reject those Islamic sects such as Salafism that are incompatible with laïqué. In the way, people of all faiths can live together in peace and harmony.

374

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 12:44 am

372 – ah, ok. He thinks theyre generally ‘fine people’ though, so there is that.

375

Abbe Faria 01.11.15 at 1:10 am

There are various currents of Islamophobia in France and just because the FN doesn’t support a publication doesn’t mean it can’t be Islamophobic or even that it can’t unintentonally advance their agenda.

Islamophobic is a really poor word choice in these circumstances.

376

ZM 01.11.15 at 1:18 am

Mitch Guthman,

“You seem to be saying two totally incompatible things. One the one hand you say it’s wrong to kill but the bulk of your comments seems to suggest that the cosmic justice of anti-colonialism grants the colonized peoples a hunting license to kill anyone who dares to mock them. “

Please do not misrepresent me :/

That is quite obviously not what I said anywhere – if I said that you could quote me directly which I notice you don’t. I quite clearly said it is wrong to kill – and anybody can read my comment to see that I said mockery of Pacific Islanders and indigenous peoples in cartons aided the killing and oppression of them by powerful bodies from Europe.

“And, equally, you seem to be granting moral permission for indigenous peoples of former colonies to do the indigenous peoples of the colonizers the exact same thing that you argue was unjust in the first place.”

Colonisation was unjust – Europeans should have stayed in their lands. I wish the ending of The Tempest had influenced Europeans in the 1600s but it didn’t. Since the Europeans chose to change other cultures via colonisation (and two world wars etc) they cannot with any sense of justice object to migrants from those cultures changing European cultures. They can complain grievously to their ancestors for not preventing colonialism if they don’t like migration, but I am not sure complaining to your ancestors is going to help much so you may as well make the best of the situation now giving what they did do.

I am quite dubious about your idea that contemporary French people can’t think up plenty of conversation to make without blaspheming Islam. People in translated French books seem to manage to converse over matters all and sundry with no trouble at all – do it’s come to a pretty pass indeed if conversation has gotten so stilted there these days.

You say the state is neutral towards religions – but didn’t they make a rule banning headscarfs? That is not very neutral.

People in Australia can practice religion in public spaces and it works fine. Are people really banned from practicing religion in public spaces in France? What if a little old lady sees a beggar on the street and gives them some money and offers them a prayer – is that really illegal in France? ‘Tis a strange country if it be so.

If 85% of French people identify as catholic it does not seem a very secular country to me. Anyway – in Australia we have interfaith dialogue for the purpose of different faiths getting along and recognizing other faiths – not banning religion from public. Our parliament even has The Lord’s Prayer regularly, Indigenous welcome to country ceremonies, and I’m not sure what other faiths can do in parliament.

Well the French may have freed themselves from religion in the Revolution (?) – but then they went about warring on and oppressing other cultures so their freedom from religion just seems to have encouraged them in exploiting and doing bad things to others as far as I can tell.

Immigrants are already French by migrating to France. Now France is multicultural and French people can learn how to have interfaith dialogue and respect different faiths and let them wear head scarfs like Grace Kelly.

377

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 1:23 am

Wise words, ZM….

378

J Thomas 01.11.15 at 1:26 am

#373 Mitch Guthman

One the one hand you say it’s wrong to kill but the bulk of your comments seems to suggest that the cosmic justice of anti-colonialism grants the colonized peoples a hunting license to kill anyone who dares to mock them.

I see no hint of that. Unless you think he’s saying that it’s OK for immigrants to influence the people they live among, which seems uncontroversial to me. If you want people not to influence you then you need to put minefields around your borders and machine gun nests and kill anybody who tries to get in.

<i.And, equally, you seem to be granting moral permission for indigenous peoples of former colonies to do the indigenous peoples of the colonizers the exact same thing that you argue was unjust in the first place.

?? Conquer them and send in administrators to rule them? Give status and economic privilege to natives who learn the conquerors’ language and who toady to them?

In France, the public spaces belong to all of the people, who are free to practice their religion in their hearts, their homes and their churches, synagogues and mosques but are forbidden to intrude upon the public sphere.

I’ve never visited France in the winter. They don’t have Christmas? No Christmas songs on the radio, in the muzac in stores, no Santa Claus on TV or in department stores? No Christmas vacations for government workers? It sounds kind of nice, mostly.

But I believe that Muslims must reject those Islamic sects such as Salafism that are incompatible with laïqué. In the way, people of all faiths can live together in peace and harmony.

Yes, peace and harmony are good. People who commit personal violence are criminals and must suffer the law. People who try to overthrow the government with violence are also criminals.

I dunno. If France is dedicated to being only for the ethnic french, why are they in the EU? Doesn’t that mean they have to open their borders to a bunch of foreigners who are also in the EU? If French culture can only survive if everybody in France tries to be French, how can they be part of the EU?

379

J. Parnell Thomas 01.11.15 at 1:52 am

Ronan, I’m sure I could pick out better examples, but I’m afraid citing them would inspire responses, and I’m really not interested.

380

Hector_St_Clare 01.11.15 at 2:18 am

ZM,

Gvn tht ths Pcfc slndrs wr lrgly cnnbl svgs, ‘d sy tht thy ndd bth t b clnzd nd (n rdr t brk dwn thr prd nd slf-stm) mckd s wll. Th fct tht y smngly cn’t dstngsh btwn cvlztn nd svgry s trly dstrbng.

381

engels 01.11.15 at 2:26 am

Ronan @363,366,367,368 I think we;re at cross-purposes. Sacco assumes (rightly imo) that the cartoons are offensive to Muslims. Roger pointed out (I think) that some Muslims have told him scabrous jokes about Mohammed. I replied that doesn’t necessarily mean such jokes would not be offensive to Muslims when told by an outsider in a mainstream mass publication, for similar reasons that the fact that some gays may use the word ‘faggot’ with familiars doesn’t mean the word wouldn’t be offensive to gays if the New York Times, say, started using in regularly. In addition to this, the offensiveness of what Charlie Hebdo was doing goes far beyond ‘telling jokes’ anyway, as I pointed out in my last comment. Anyway, Roger has greeted my responses with polite silence and I’m getting pretty tired of this anyway. It seems to me there are lots of obvious problems with what he wrote. Ymmv.

382

engels 01.11.15 at 2:31 am

Islamophobic is a really poor word choice in these circumstances.

Is there any chance you could give a hint as to why?

383

Abbe Faria 01.11.15 at 2:40 am

If being bombed and shot doesn’t give cause for rational fear of something, I’m not sure what does. What sort of event would – in your view – give rise to legitimate fear?

384

ZM 01.11.15 at 2:43 am

Well it’s always interesting to read your different sorts of ideas Hector St Clare, and here you have happily provided me with the opportunity to quote from another famous French Western cannon classic by Montaigne – Of Cannibals – which was referenced the The Tempest which I already mentioned above –

Before doing so I will note you seem not be very familiar with Pacific history – and then ask you what is exactly so civilised about torture and dropping bombs on civilians and drone assassinations etc? It is technologically advanced I grant you – but surely you don’t think civilised ?

“This man that I had was a plain ignorant fellow, and therefore the more likely to tell truth: for your better bred sort of men are much more curious in their observation, ’tis true, and discover a great deal more, but then they gloss upon it, and to give the greater weight to what they deliver and allure your belief, they cannot forbear a little to alter the story; they never represent things to you simply as they are, but rather as they appeared to them, or as they would have them appear to you, and to gain the reputation of men of judgment, and the better to induce your faith, are willing to help out the business with something more than is really true, of their own invention.

I am sorry that Lycurgus and Plato had no knowledge of them: for to my apprehension, what we now see in those nations, does not only surpass all the pictures with which the poets have adorned the golden age, and all their inventions in feigning a happy state of man, but, moreover, the fancy and even the wish and desire of philosophy itself; so native and so pure a simplicity, as we by experience see to be in them, could never enter into their imagination, nor could they ever believe that human society could have been maintained with so little artifice and human patchwork.

The Hungarians, a very warlike people, never pretend further than to reduce the enemy to their discretion; for having forced this confession from them, they let them go without injury or ransom, excepting, at the most, to make them engage their word never to bear arms against them again. We have sufficient advantages over our enemies that are borrowed and not truly our own; it is the quality of a porter, and no effect of virtue, to have stronger arms and legs; it is a dead and corporeal quality to set in array; ’tis a turn of fortune to make our enemy stumble, or to dazzle him with the light of the sun; ’tis a trick of science and art, and that may happen in a mean base fellow, to be a good fencer.

Three of these people, not foreseeing how dear their knowledge of the corruptions of this part of the world will one day cost their happiness and repose, and that the effect of this commerce will be their ruin, as I presuppose it is in a very fair way (miserable men to suffer themselves to be deluded with desire of novelty and to have left the serenity of their own heaven, to come so far to gaze at ours!) were at Rouen at the time that the late King Charles IX. was there. The king himself talked to them a good while, and they were made to see our fashions, our pomp, and the form of a great city. After which, some one asked their opinion, and would know of them, what of all the things they had seen, they found most to be admired? To which they made answer, three things, of which I have forgotten the third, and am troubled at it, but two I yet remember. They said, that in the first place they thought it very strange, that so many tall men wearing beards, strong, and well armed, who were about the king (’tis like they meant the Swiss of his guard) should submit to obey a child, and that they did not rather choose out one among themselves to command. Secondly (they have a way of speaking in their language, to call men the half of one another), that they had observed, that there were among us men full and crammed with all manner of commodities, while, in the meantime, their halves were begging at their doors, lean, and half-starved with hunger and poverty; and they thought it strange that these necessitous halves were able to suffer so great an inequality and injustice, and that they did not take the others by the throats, or set fire to their houses.”

385

engels 01.11.15 at 2:44 am

That’s not what Islalmophobic means. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamophobia

386

engels 01.11.15 at 2:44 am

387

Brett Bellmore 01.11.15 at 2:47 am

Phobias being irrational fears, I would expect, and it not being particularly irrational to fear a group that kills people.

388

Brett Bellmore 01.11.15 at 2:50 am

That’s what phobia means, Engles. If you want a term to refer to rational fear of a group, go find some other ending besides “phobia” to use.

389

engels 01.11.15 at 2:51 am

See #385, (and Islam isn’t ‘a group that kills people’, racist prick)

390

MPAVictoria 01.11.15 at 2:54 am

Hector weren’t you banned for inappropriate behavior?

391

engels 01.11.15 at 2:57 am

Do I want to spend the rest of my evening arguing about semantics with a racist grammar Nazi or do I want to go to bed? Tricky decision….

392

Brett Bellmore 01.11.15 at 2:58 am

I did see 385. I am not a fan of the practice of labeling viewpoints that have nothing to do with irrational fear “phobias”.

And, no, Islam isn’t a group. Muslims are. Another thing Islam isn’t, is a “race”, pronoid Catachresisist.

393

Abbe Faria 01.11.15 at 3:03 am

Colonisation was unjust – Europeans should have stayed in their lands. I wish the ending of The Tempest had influenced Europeans in the 1600s but it didn’t. Since the Europeans chose to change other cultures via colonisation (and two world wars etc) they cannot with any sense of justice object to migrants from those cultures changing European cultures.

ZM. You have a warped understanding of history. Muslims invaded Europe first and got as far as the Pyrenees and Vienna. Most the Middle East was never colonised. Most the bits that were got themselves invaded as Europeans who wanted to stay in Europe kept being forcibly migrated and sold as slaves by Barbary pirates (yeah, that’s the culture change you’re objecting to, supression of widespread sex slavery; the one you’re supporting is supression of free speech). BTW Turkey was the aggressor in WWI.

394

ZM 01.11.15 at 3:05 am

Are you seriously arguing European countries did not colonise a large number of other countries in the world? References please…

395

Abbe Faria 01.11.15 at 3:16 am

No. If I’m arguing that while they colonised the USA, and New Zealand, and Australia, they didn’t colonise Turkey, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia.

396

Hector_St_Clare 01.11.15 at 3:19 am

“Phbs bng rrtnl frs, wld xpct, nd t nt bng prtclrly rrtnl t fr grp tht klls ppl.”

mn, mn.

MP Vctr,

Ys, knw ws bnnd, lthgh tht sms t hv xprd, nd hv n ntntn f bthrng y ppl frthr: drppd by hr t lt th mrns hr knw tht wll b r-strtng my blg wthn wk r s, nd tht nyn wh wshs t b dctd (r, r-dctd) my bgn rdng m thr.

397

Hector_St_Clare 01.11.15 at 3:21 am

ngls,

slm sn’t rc, y dgnrt fck. t ls sn’t rlgn tht Chrstn s bnd t rspct.

398

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 3:22 am

hector – what kind of topics will you be blogging about ?

399

ZM 01.11.15 at 3:28 am

Abbe Faria,

“No. If I’m arguing that while they colonised the USA, and New Zealand, and Australia, they didn’t colonise Turkey, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia.”

Oh for goodness sake – Europeans certainly colonised more countries than the USA, New Zealand, and Australia.

What history books have you been reading to get this strange idea of some very small scale European colonialism and imperialism?

Oil resources in the Middle East were gained through imperial tactics – even in the post-WW2 era – see about the Suez intrigue , or the fall of the Iranian nationalist government caused by the CIA… And how do you think the national boundaries of countries in the Middle East were devised ?

400

Val 01.11.15 at 3:57 am

Rich @ 326
Thanks Rich, appreciated, but the point wasn’t really about my virtue (or otherwise). It was about the fact that you can’t just ignore this kind of racist abuse (well I think you can’t) but intervening as an individual can be difficult and indeed dangerous. I think anything that can raise public consciousness about this and work towards some kind of coordinated social response can help, and twitter campaigns like #illridewithyou I think are a genuine attempt to do that – even if not perfect – and that’s what I was trying to say to Bianca (obviously without much success).

Bianca @ 335
I’ve got absolutely no idea what you’re trying to say to me. It sounds like a patronising faux apology, but as I say, I don’t know, because I can’t understand what you’re trying to say and the relevance to my comment is not apparent to me. The only possible thing I can think of is that it’s some attempt at a defence of being a bystander, which, as I’ve said, I think is wrong. So maybe we have to leave it at that. But if you were patronising me, please don’t.

401

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 3:57 am

I think this is more convincing on the role of race, Islam, ideology etc

http://tompepinsky.com/2015/01/10/on-the-racism-of-charlie-hebdo/

402

ZM 01.11.15 at 4:04 am

Commenter Ikonockast on John Quiggin’s Australian blog pointed out this very good article by Teju Cole

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/unmournable-bodies

403

MPAVictoria 01.11.15 at 4:11 am

“hector – what kind of topics will you be blogging about ?”

Mostly Swedish bondage porn from what I understand.

404

Mitch Guthman 01.11.15 at 4:20 am

ZM at 376,

I don’t mean to misrepresent you but I don’t see how you’re explained what I see as contradictory positions. If descriptions of past injustices don’t equate to a license to get even, then I don’t understand why you have mentioned them. Okay, mocking people is bad. Colonization was bad. We should accord extra respect and sensitivity to some people. But so What?

You seem to have some very breezy notions of what you think the French should or shouldn’t be permitted to do in their own country. For a man with such deep concerns for how other cultures are treated, you seem remarkably cavalier about telling people in France that they should either refrain from blaspheming against Islam or prepare to die in the name of multiculturalism.

In any case, the people at Charlie Hebdo didn’t have your sensitivity and choose to blasphemy against Islam instead of “conversing over matters all and sundry” and were executed for their “crime”. Islamists who have made it clear that and they alone will decide what is blasphemy and they will kill whoever they want in response. The point is that as of Wednesday, France has, de facto, has a prohibition against blaspheming Islam. Islamists with AK-47’s now effectively sit in judgment of every word that is published. When you say something along the lines of just don’t offend those people and everything will be fine, you’re giving the Islamists the ultimate heckler’s veto. That’s what you seem to be missing.

As an aside, nobody in France or elsewhere is telling people in Australia that they can’t practice religion in public, pray in the legislature or give religious fundamentalists a veto or everything like they do in Iran. Why do you think you’re entitled to tell them what to think about the role of religion in the public sphere?

As I’ve tried to make clear, France is not the Australia. France is a république laïque. The laic principle is foundational for the French republic. Laïcité came about in France as the result of a long historical evolution which revolved, in no small part, on the question of whether the Catholic church (the first estate) had too much power. So I would urge you not to understand it in the context of apparently idyllic state of harmony between religions and between religious people and those who are not religious but rather as part of the historical conflict between the various estates of France and, in particular, between the iron grip of the Church on every aspect of French life and the new idea of republicanism.

Laïcité, as expressed in the 1905 law and the 1958 Constitution, was intended to reduce the power of the church while preserving both the neutrality of the public space and the freedom of religion for believers of all faiths. It applies equally to all faiths. The French scholar Jean Rivero said: “[T]here is a refusal, by the State, to endorse one faith, to give to it an official seal of approval by making a religious judgment, or to give it any material aid in whatever form. Religious choice is a private matter; the State presents itself to all, stripped of all metaphysical symbols, distant from any trace of the spiritual. My domain is the earth, it says to all of its citizens. Manager of the temporal world, it refuses to envisage what is beyond this management.” This is also expressed in the principle of “*une et indivisible*” meaning that the same justice must be given to all.

That is to say, laïcité is at the very heart of French democracy. The laic ideal represents a careful balance between church and state; it rests upon the twin pillars of freedom of conscience and the necessary submission of all individuals to the law of the republic. The purpose of bans on the display of religious symbols is to preserve the neutrality of the state and of public places by insuring that no religious faction may seek to dominate in public places. This is what makes it possible for people of different faiths to share a common space. Without the carefully separated, neutral spaces afforded by application of strict laïcité conflict between different faiths and between church (probably the Catholic church) and state is inevitable.

Critically, I think you have misunderstood what I was trying to say about the status of the Catholic religion and about France’s history of bloody religious conflicts. During the Revolution of 1789, the Church was stripped of it official status and much of French politics ever since has revolved around blocking real or perhaps imagined efforts by the Church to regain to previous role. At the moment, France is trending towards allowing Muslims ever greater leeway in evading the restrictions imposed by Laïcité but if recent events in Germany are any guide, there’s dark clouds forming over Europe. If everything falls apart and it becomes impossible for people of different faiths to share the public space, the majority will be able to enforce it’s will against the minorities. France amy lose republicanism but the Muslims and the Jews will probably lose everything.

405

Abbe Faria 01.11.15 at 4:31 am

“And how do you think the national boundaries of countries in the Middle East were devised ?”

I think the Ottoman Empire launched an Imperial war of aggression against Russia, France and the UK. And lost. Note which religious grouping was trying to expand into which continent (clue: Christians and Asia are the wrong answer), that’s not European colonialism.

406

Mitch Guthman 01.11.15 at 4:58 am

J. Thomas at 378,

If the history of colonial oppression or whatever isn’t being offered as a justification for these killings, then why exactly is it being discussed at all?

Yes, France has Christmas. In fact, it is the best time of year there. I’m thinking about going this year so that I can see the Christmas Market in Strasbourg. Everyone says it spectacular. What the French don’t have and don’t want is a public sphere that is dominated by an oppressive, exclusionary, highly intrusive and frequently violent established religion such as exists in my country.

Apart from attacking a straw man instead of addressing my argument that it is only through secularism that all religions can harmonously share the public space, you have ignored the fact the laïcité is what prevent the Roman church from imposing itself and its strictures on minority religions such as Islam and Judaism. It sort of like giving a mouse a cookie, except that if you give a cookie to the Islamists the Catholics will want one, too. And eventually, they’ll fight over the milk, and the slippers and the circle will be complete when one religion rules and all the other are gratefully to be left alone. That’s how things are shaping up in my country and it’s what the French have been trying to avoid since 1789.

Your points about the EU are perfectly valid. It’s a hodgepodge that’s being held together because it can’t be allowed to fall apart. There are countries with various types of constitutional monarchies, countries with republican traditions that rebelled against having a king. There are countries with a wide variety of established churches, countries that are resolutely secular and countries whose dominant churches regard the dominant faith in other EU countries as not being the “one true faith”. Like I say, I think you right about this. I just don’t see it’s relevance except perhaps to say that Europe’s history of religious wars means that it can’t afford to backslide. The marches in Germany, the FN possibly coming to power in France, Golden Dawn in Greece—think about it.

407

ZM 01.11.15 at 5:07 am

Mitch Guthman,

“I don’t mean to misrepresent you but I don’t see how you’re explained what I see as contradictory positions. If descriptions of past injustices don’t equate to a license to get even, then I don’t understand why you have mentioned them. “

I mentioned them because the Western countries need to be more proactive in reconciliation and contrition with the other countries they hurt in colonisation and imperialism and all the wars and so on. Instead they continue to exploit resources and labour if other countries, pretend their GHG emissions have gone down since 1990 when they gave gone up by 47% actually since they import more now, and continue to want high material consumption ways of life at the cost of people in poorer countries and the environment and future generations.

If I say France and other Western countries should acknowledge the wrongs they have done then this does not mean I have to support some sort of eye for an eye revenge tragedy leading to WW3 :/

“For a man with such deep concerns for how other cultures are treated, you seem remarkably cavalier about telling people in France that they should either refrain from blaspheming against Islam or prepare to die in the name of multiculturalism”

I am not a man with any deep concerns whatsoever since I am not a man – I am constantly surprised at how men seem to think women do not have initials. It is simple politeness to refrain from blaspheming against other people’s faith – are you really going to argue this is a vital part of French culture – if so I might point out it is an ugly one and maybe think of the Algerians.

I am very dubious the French State does not use metaphysics at all like that scholar said you quote – likely it’s just a neat trick of rhetoric – without invoking metaphysical concepts of good and bad and justice and mercy etc how does France manage to have any laws governing its people whatsoever?

“This is what makes it possible for people of different faiths to share a common space.
Without the carefully separated, neutral spaces afforded by application of strict laïcité conflict between different faiths and between church (probably the Catholic church) and state is inevitable”

You can quite easily have religious symbols in public spaces without generating great conflict like Australia does. It is very enjoyable to go to Chinese New Year celebrations in public in one month, a Christian water festival another, and then Diwali in another and so on. And since I had a subject on 20th c French history and the Avante Garde I am completely unpersuaded by your extravagant claim that this ban has erased all conflict over ethical behavior and right and wrong in France.

” France amy lose republicanism but the Muslims and the Jews will probably lose everything.”

Then you can counter this dark cloud by offering your support to Jews and Muslims in these grim times – I am sure they would appreciate it .

408

ZM 01.11.15 at 5:14 am

Abbe Faria,

“Note which religious grouping was trying to expand into which continent (clue: Christians and Asia are the wrong answer), that’s not European colonialism.”

How can you write such nonsense – European countries (nominally Christian) had been expanding in to the continental Americas, Oceania and the Pacific, Asia, and Africa for several centuries ?!? Was there a continent left untouched? Europeans were also exploring Antarctica but found it was too cold to colonise.

409

js. 01.11.15 at 5:19 am

Mods, honest question: Do you want to do something about the flat out racism in this thread? See e.g. Brett Bellmore, passim, and some others too.

410

js. 01.11.15 at 5:38 am

Leaving Brett Bellmore’s blatant racism aside, imagine that Abbe Faria were talking about Jews rather than Muslims. “Anti-Semitism is a rational attitude because some Jews somewhere killed some people.” (cf. 375, 383, etc.)

And thanks genuinely for J Parnell Thomas’s 369.

411

john c. halasz 01.11.15 at 5:48 am

“I think the Ottoman Empire launched an Imperial war of aggression against Russia, France and the UK. And lost. Note which religious grouping was trying to expand into which continent (clue: Christians and Asia are the wrong answer), that’s not European colonialism.”

I tend to stay out of these sorts of threads because I don’t want to participate in rival displays of irrelevant self-righteousness, but that bit is a remarkable display of irrelevant and fictitious historiography.

412

Hector_St_Clare 01.11.15 at 5:50 am

“ thnk th ttmn mpr lnchd n mprl wr f ggrssn gnst Rss, Frnc nd th K. nd lst. Nt whch rlgs grpng ws tryng t xpnd nt whch cntnnt (cl: Chrstns nd s r th wrng nswr), tht’s nt rpn clnlsm.”

++1. Cvlsd mn fght svgs, nd th cvlzd mn wn.

413

J Thomas 01.11.15 at 5:51 am

#406 Mitch Guthman

If the history of colonial oppression or whatever isn’t being offered as a justification for these killings, then why exactly is it being discussed at all?

I haven’t heard anybody argue that the killers should get away with it. Everybody here agrees that they should be arrested and tried for their crimes if possible, and if they resist arrest too strenuously then it might be necessary to kill them during the arrest attempt. If they kill themselves while committing a crime, that prevents arrest but it could also be considered a self-execution.

It seems to me that the argument is more about what to do with the muslim immigrants who do not commit crimes. On the one hand we have the argument that they cause too much trouble and the trouble is their fault so we should have no sympathy for them. On the other hand there is the argument that we should look for ways to help them get along.

If muslim immigrants are the cause of the problem then it makes sense to drive them away or kill them. Eliminate the cause and the problem goes away. Short of that, we can wring our hands and complain that they are the problem and it’s all their fault and do nothing about it.

On the other hand if they deserve some tolerance while everybody learns how to get along, then perhaps we can avoid ethnic cleansing. That would be a good thing. Why do they deserve any tolerance, though, when the most obvious direct solution is to get rid of them? Colonialism is one possible reason they might be owed something. Particularly in France, some of the muslim immigrants are people who collaborated in colonialism and then felt unwelcome in their home countries when the French were driven out. If they can’t stay in France where should they live?

They might have a lot to offer but that’s hard to argue when there aren’t enough rewards to go around and whatever special talents they may have are going unused.

Punishing people who have not committed any crime because they share some sort of label with criminals, is called “collective punishment”. Most people agree that’s bad. Still if they are an effort to reach an accommodation with, it could be easier to get rid of them and whoever said they had a right to immigrate to your country in the first place?

It looks to me like mostly the arguments in favor of not ethnic cleansing them are that we ought to be good people and not evil people. The arguments in favor of ethnic-cleansing them point out that they are inconvenient and a bother, and some of them are criminals who very occasionally kill people, and being good instead of evil requires a certain degree of sacrifice which we can avoid by being evil instead. And we have a right to be evil to these people because they are poor and different from us and a few of them are criminals so we have the right to be afraid of them and angry at them.

And anyway a lot of muslims hate us. If they ever became rich and powerful how could we trust them to act in our best interest? So it makes a certain sense that we should do our best to keep all muslims poor and powerless so they can’t hurt us much. And since some of them will try to attack us stealthily when they can’t possibly win a fair fight, doesn’t it make sense we should spend whatever it takes to kill them first anywhere in the world we find them? And if it turns out that muslims hate us too much, isn’t it obviously best to kill them all?

The argument for evil seems so rational and so obvious. It isn’t racism or bigotry to do our level best to keep them down because they hate us, it’s just self-preservation. They don’t hate us more because we keep them down, they already hated us. There’s nothing else we can do, because they are such a threat. It simply does not make sense to be nice to the enemy. Because they are the enemy. The only reason to let muslims live is if they stop being muslims.

In the USA if we had this attitude toward the anti-abortion movement, when they bomb clinics and kill doctors we would find names of people who are in that movement and systematically remove their votes, and encourage them to leave the country, and we would make abortion drugs be non-prescription so anybody could buy them with no questions asked. But somehow we try to live with those people though they have no tolerance for us.

414

js. 01.11.15 at 5:58 am

Most the Middle East was never colonised.

Just noting.

ps. ZM pretty much wins the thread for quoting Montaigne to Hector St. Clare.

415

js. 01.11.15 at 5:59 am

Fuck, again. First sentence is a quote from Abbe Faria, rest is me.

416

Hector_St_Clare 01.11.15 at 6:21 am

JS,

‘v dsgrd wth Brtt Bllmr n th pst rgrdng hs rvltng ntcmmnsm, nd f wr rnnng th shw ‘d hpply snd hm t lbr cmp. Nvrthlss, wll ndrs hs cmmnts hr. F*ck y nd yr pltclly crrct rlgs gltrnsm, by th wy.

Rnn,

Ths wll b my lst cmmnt hr, s Crkd Tmbr s clrly ncpbl f dlng wth hrd nd ncmfrtbl trths. Sffc t t sy, my blg wll b plc ddctd t th trmph f cvlztn vr svgry, ntllgnc vr gnrnc, nd vrt vr mmrlty. t wll b ‘sf spc’ fr Chrstns wh wsh t drd slm, bt wll nt fr mmnt prmt ny Mslm t crtcz Chrstnty (jst s wll prmt ntfmnsts t mck fmnsm, nd cmmnsts t mck mrc, bt nt vc vrs). Qd lct Bv, nn lct Jv. Gdby.

417

MPAVictoria 01.11.15 at 6:28 am

So Swedish bondage porn Hector? I bet you have a huge collection. You religious fanatics tend to love that kind thing.
/Not that there is anything wrong with that. I support everyone’s right to their own kinks as long as everyone involved is an adult willing participant.

418

Peter T 01.11.15 at 6:29 am

I was a bit testy in my response to Andrew F. My central point is that calculations of deterrence, or gestures of reconciliation for that matter, are almost never simple, and have to start with some understanding of who the various other parties are, what they want and how they feel – not a projection of one’s own desires, guilt or prowess. Most of the comments to date miss this entirely in one direction or another. The calculation is usually too impossibly complex to be done to more than an approximation, so flexibility coupled with good faith is essential.

In this case, lumping all Muslims together (as with Brett) is a sure way to have as much hostility and as little good will as possible. Lumping all Muslims together in another way, as in “sorry about the colonialism, how do we make it up to you?”, is nearly as bad, for it’s patently insincere as policy, fails to distinguish between very different Muslim aspirations and discontents, and takes no account of the small but violent group of Muslims who don’t want an apology but something else altogether. The key allies in this are the majority of non-Salafist Muslims, both in migrant communities and in the Middle East. The present policy mix is one of continual affront to these, often indiscriminate force against some Salafists and winks and nudges to others (Saudi, Taliban in the old days..) as convenient. A better recipe for continued failure could hardly be imagined.

419

js. 01.11.15 at 6:29 am

Dude, Hector, I’m a “religious egalitarian” like you’re a Catholic. At least get your fucking insults right.

420

MPAVictoria 01.11.15 at 6:35 am

I thought Hector WAS a catholic?

421

js. 01.11.15 at 6:42 am

Word on the “street” was he was some weird kind of Anglican. I suppose I could be wrong.

422

Hector 01.11.15 at 6:44 am

MP Vctr,

‘m n nglcn, nd hv bn rpdly mvng twrds th Prtstnt nd vr th lst tw yrs. Whn t cms t cclslgy, knw thnk Lthr ws rght.

ncdntlly, ‘m srry fr ntgnzng y lst yr, ws gng thr tgh tm. Whl thnk t’s bst lv ths blg, wld lk ndrs yr cmmnt t 11:18. wld rthr lv n wrld whr y cn mck jss , thn n whch Dnt lghr s nt prmttd t mck Mhmmd.

423

Mitch Guthman 01.11.15 at 6:45 am

ZM at 407,

It still seems to me that all of your concern about the wrongs of European’s is confusing. What does it mean to say that Western countries should “be more proactive in reconciliation and contrition with the other countries they hurt in colonisation and imperialism and all the wars and so on”? If it doesn’t mean an “eye for an eye” and a hunting license for previously oppressed peoples, what does it mean? It seems to me that all this handwringing about the misdeeds of the West is really a distraction from the real issue.

Yes, you’re right that generally speaking it is polite to refrain from crude attacks on people religious beliefs. But that doesn’t mean that the prohibition is absolute. The cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo were believed in blasphmy as a positive good. Even in my country where blasaphmy against the fundamentalist Christian faith is punished (informally but often very harshly), there’s still an absolute right to publish. Murdering these artists and threatening any who blaspheme against Islam destroys that right.

I personally was not a fan of Charlie Hebdo. Over the years, I’ve seen a number of their covers, mostly because Arun Kapil frequently posted the most controversial ones on his website. I bought an issue last year, thumbed through it and didn’t enjoy it. I have written about some of the covers and I’ve been critical of them for being pointlessly offensive. What’s different now is that Islamists have murdered these cartoonists and threatened journalists and others who offend against their vision of Islam.

Several of the covers were gratitiously offensive. But many others, while equally offensive, made extremely valid points through satire and were effective in ways that a mere article could never be.

So, while blasphmy isn’t a part of French culture, it is nonetheless integral to satire. It is simply impossible to satirize a person without giving offense. It is impossible to satirize a religious without blaspheming.

It therefore seems clear to me that it a response to threats of murder against blasphemy that does not include more blasphemy in defiance of the threats is no defense at all. What matters is the right to publish blasphemy. If it exists only in the abstract and with the tacit understanding that the right won’t ever be exercised, then it really doesn’t exist at all and you will be living in a society in which the Islamists are in charge.

Finally, on the question of religion:

First, France, like the United States does in theory, derives its laws not by reference to God’s law but rather by enacting the community’s sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. People and societies can have values that reflect beliefs about justice and how they want to live that don’t require God’s blessing to have validity. Most of Western Europe is secular and humanistic in outlook. They have democracies and the social welfare state and that’s a whole lot better than anything that a theocracy has delivered.

Second, I don’t know much about Australia and it may indeed be a paradise of religious harmony. If it is, good on you but your country is very much an outlier in human history. The history of mankind has been a history of religious strife. A huge amount of the conquests and colonialism you decry was done as part of the struggle touched off by the reformation. Islam was an aggressive, colonizing religion that that fought with other religions for world domination. The Protestant Reformation ushered in centuries of unspeakable savagery that continue to this very day.

It is in the nature of organized religions—every religion believes it represents the one true God and, almost without exception, they’ve brought nonbelivers to the faith with fire and sword. In the end, only some version of laïcité can offer people of different faith the ability to share the public sphere without brutal oppression and endless bloodshed.

424

ZM 01.11.15 at 6:49 am

Mitch Guthman,

“If it doesn’t mean an “eye for an eye” and a hunting license for previously oppressed peoples, what does it mean?”

This is because you are unfamiliar with my concerns. We need a pleasant global war-time-mobilization-style economy to stop climate change and environmental damage – advanced country economies need to contract and converge with developing country economies . global reconciliation and truth and justice should be part of this.

425

gianni 01.11.15 at 7:07 am

i give the Hector impression a 6 out of 10

426

js. 01.11.15 at 7:43 am

Nah, if some impostor can that consistently get a spelling mistake into every comment, it’s at least a 9 out of 10.

427

Hector_St_Clare 01.11.15 at 7:49 am

ZM,

Th nly ‘rcncltn’ wnt s fr th ntns f frc nd s t xprss sm fckng grttd t th cntrs tht cvlzd thm.

428

ZM 01.11.15 at 7:54 am

I’m not sure – Did the old Hector St Clare swear as much as this one?

429

Chris Bertram 01.11.15 at 9:18 am

Hector St Clare: you were indeed banned, and you still are.

430

Ze Kraggash 01.11.15 at 10:37 am

What could possibly be wrong with (simply) enforcing the existing French laws, which, according to wikipedia, “protect individuals and groups from being defamed or insulted because they belong or do not belong, in fact or in fancy, to an ethnicity, a nation, a race, a religion“, etc? That’s what I would like to know.

Protect, obviously, only in the public sphere, and perhaps only when there is a clear pattern, so that the Turkish woman from 332 and Roger Gathmann would still be able tell each other any joke they like. Common fucking sense.

As for determining whether a publication does or does not constitute an insult to a group, it seems to me a no-brainer that mass protests around the world should be taken as a strong clue, over the dubious intuition of some upper-class over-educated judges, who obviously have no idea.

431

Daniel 01.11.15 at 11:11 am

I like Muslims but I hate Islam. I hate it, hate it, hate it. It is a wicked creed that justifies the criminal, cut-throat and bully. I hate it.

432

Abbe Faria 01.11.15 at 11:57 am

“imagine that Abbe Faria were talking about Jews rather than Muslims. “Anti-Semitism is a rational attitude because some Jews somewhere killed some people.””

But I’m talking particulars, these particular people were under threat for violating the tenets of Islam, and had direct reason to be fearful. Sure, I agree islamophobia is irrational if you’re deep in rural Texas and have no contact with Islam, it’s unlikely to harm you one jot. But is that true if you’ve drawn cartoons of mohammed, been firebombed, and are living under police protection?

It’s also notable the complaints are islamophobia rather than muslimophobia; and anti-semitism rather than anti-judaism. Which one foregrounds people and which one religion?

“How can you write such nonsense – European countries (nominally Christian) had been expanding in to the continental Americas, Oceania and the Pacific, Asia, and Africa for several centuries ?!?”

True. You know, if you were talking about Madagascar or Vietnam I’d agree, but Europeans didn’t colonise everywhere. Some places weren’t colonised like Japan and Thailand, and Iran and Turkey are among them. On the other hand some European countries were indeed colonised by islamic empires (Greece and Spain).

It’s equally true that the involvement of the Ottomans in WWI occurred when they allied with the central powers in an attempt to take the Caucasus, and then bombarded Odessa. It entered WWI against the triple entente in a war of conquest, not the other way round.

433

novakant 01.11.15 at 11:58 am

Mitch Guthman:

There has never been true laicite in France – it’s a great idea and I would be all for it, but the crooked timber of humanity will not conform to it, cf. eg.:

French Muslims Find Haven in Catholic Schools

nb. : 8,847Catholic schools vs.4 Muslim schools

And anybody who will look up on Wikipedia:

“French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools”

“Islamic scarf controversy in France”

“Islamic dress in Europe”

will see that the issue is much more complex than you make it seem.

434

Ze Kraggash 01.11.15 at 12:14 pm

“It is a wicked creed that justifies the criminal, cut-throat and bully.”

Nah, I don’t think so. All successful religions operate like that. They are expansionist. In times of peace and prosperity they inspire and enlighten, and in times of hardship and crisis they unite and organize. They do what they are supposed to do, that’s why they are successful. Christianity has been, in the last few centuries, more successful, so perhaps it’s been or has become even more cut-throat and bully, when it’s necessary, when the situation calls for it. These days we, the Christian civilization, are in a period of prosperity, so the nasty side is mostly invisible. But perhaps the nasty side will take over again one day, if there is some equivalent of kondratiev’s waves in it.

435

J Thomas 01.11.15 at 1:26 pm

I’m surprised by how much less I write when I ignore people who are stupidly wrong.

I want to compare the reaction in the USA to muslim terrorists versus anti-abortion terrorists. At first sight it seems disproportionate.

There have been close to 200 more-or-less successful bombings of abortion clinics, and a large handful of murders of abortionists beyond the occasional people severely injured or killed in bombings. But there’s hardly any outrage about this.

I think one reason is that lots of people have friends who are anti-abortion, while far fewer people have muslim friends. So it’s much easier to understand their outrage at murder of unborn children.

A second reason is that there are large, well-organized pro-life groups, and many of them have publicly announced that they do not condone violence against abortion clinics. Some of them say that they hope God will strike them down, but no reputable pro-life source tells people to do it. On the other hand, the main spokesmen for Islam, AQ and ISIS and some backwoods preachers in Iran, are widely reported telling people to kill blasphemers.

Then there’s the moral difference. Lots of people believe that MDs do not have any inherent right to commit abortions. There’s certainly nothing in the Constitution about it. But most of us agree that everybody has the right to say that the Pope is a pederast who defrauds hundreds of millions of poor people from their money because they are too stupid or ignorant to realize there is no God and the Pope has no relationship whatsoever with any God. Subject to libel laws etc. Similarly everybody has the right to say that Judaism as a religion is a fraud and a mockery that has caused untold harm and absolutely no good to anybody ever, that Moses while fictional was morally on a par with Hitler and Stalin, and King David was a bloodthirsty dictator who created a small empire — a vassal-state of Hiram of Tyre — that lasted 2 generations. Etc. It’s obviously wrong to punish people for practicing free speech, but it might be right, or at least understandable, to kill abortionists.

Also people have short memories. The last reported abortion bombings were in 2012 and no one was killed in any of the 2012 attacks. The last reported killing of cartoonists in France was just last week.

So it’s understandable that people would think of the two cases as very different. Muslems are the alien, other people while anti-abortionists are our own kind with a strong opinion. Muslims get upset when we ridicule their religion, while the pro-life movement is upset about the murder of innocents. (And anyway we never get upset when people ridicule our own religions.) The Pro-Life movement is widely reported to speak out against violence, while muslims are not widely reported to oppose violence but instead are widely reported to approve of their violence against us. The Pro-Life movement will evaporate when they win, and it won’t affect all that many people all that much, but Muslims will not stop trying to get other people to convert until everybody in the world is converted — like Christians or Mormons but with violence added.

So it’s understandable that we’d have a lot more tolerance for one than the other.

436

Watson Ladd 01.11.15 at 1:29 pm

Sorry, but fearing the Spanish Inquisition when it existed wasn’t anti-Catholic bigotry. Neither is fearing an organization and ideology whose adherents have nothing less than the goal of ending the modern era, with its rights of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, secular states, etc.

Muslims have more freedom of religion in France than Pakistan. Blasphemy laws become tools used to control religious minorities: the fanatics might not care about Christians, but they certainly will kill a Shiite for blasphemy, or even worse some other minor sects. I don’t see how you make “That’s because there is no goo, Mr. Cruz” (see this for details) without portraying Muhammed.

The idea that we should ban criticism of religion from the public sphere should be a nonstarter to anyone who thinks Kant was right. To mock the lavish spending of a prelate, or the ponderous language of a pontefix, or even to satirize the magical transformations carried out by a minister, are essential aspects of competition between religions and commentary on religion. What is desired is precisely to muzzle the most cutting speech, for fear it might convince someone.

There is nothing Christian about 1789.

437

J Thomas 01.11.15 at 1:43 pm

I get this great big urge to respond to stupid comments, and so far I’m mostly resisting it. Yay, me.

I know a lot of you have been very proficient at this for years, and it doesn’t seem like any big deal, but it’s a big deal to me. Thanks for your patience.

438

Brett Bellmore 01.11.15 at 2:09 pm

Wondering why my comment is in moderation. Because I explained to JS the difference between “racism” and “disagreeing with JS”? Or because of a link?

Anyway, Watson’s comment is more concise.

439

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 2:27 pm

I’d point to the link @401 as the most sensible thing said on the topic of ‘Islam and racism.’

440

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 2:31 pm

..in the case of Charlie Hebdo, rather than Brett and Watson’s nonsense.

441

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 2:35 pm

“As for determining whether a publication does or does not constitute an insult to a group, it seems to me a no-brainer that mass protests around the world should be taken as a strong clue, over the dubious intuition of some upper-class over-educated judges, who obviously have no idea.”

I’m surprised by you here Ze, as you usually are a man of some sense..but what if those protests are by the ‘upper-class over-educated judges’ ? If the protests are over some banal bit of offense taking ?Just with a different demographics protesting ? Which does happen, now and again ..

442

Brett Bellmore 01.11.15 at 2:39 pm

Is this where I point out that “nonsense”, also, is something distinct from “mistaken”? Watson’s comment is perfectly comprehensible, communicated meaning. My comments have, too, particularly 434, (In moderation at the moment, I suspect due to a link.)

“Racism”, “nonsense”, these are just ways liberals avoid coming to grips with viewpoints they dislike, but find it hard to argue against. If it’s “nonsense”, there’s no argument there to refute, after all. You might not agree with Watson or me, but we are not speaking “nonsense”, and your own link points out the viewpoint isn’t “racist”, either.

443

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 2:48 pm

how can you expect me to judge a comment you have that’s in moderation ? perhaps that will be the convincing one, sure.
Watson’s comment is just four seperate comments put into four paragraphs which really make little sense when combined. If each para was a standalone comment that might be something. There could be something there to deal with. As is it’s just a succession of non sequiturs and generalisation. like someone rushing out a series of irrelevant historical facts at the end of a pub quiz. afaict

444

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 2:49 pm

“, and your own link points out the viewpoint isn’t “racist”, either.”

I know, I agree with that viewpoint.

445

Brett Bellmore 01.11.15 at 2:51 pm

No, I don’t expect you to judge it until it emerges. Just letting you know to expect it.

I’ll be turning 56 next week, and if there’s one thing it took me a good long while to internalize as a cocky kid, it was that “I don’t understand that” does NOT mean, “That doesn’t make sense.” Perhaps we’re making a sort of sense that you’re so hostile to, you shy away from understanding it?

446

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 2:52 pm

It points out it wasnt racist in the case of Charlie Hebdo, and a good bit of it is ideological rather than racist. But that doesnt mean (as the link notes) that Islam’isnt ‘racialised’ in other ways in the West. We just have to be precise when and where it is.
With respect Brett, you’ve written enoyugh that is explictly racist that I dont really have to give you the benefit of the doubt on this (and that ‘with respect’ isnt meant passive agressively, really. Just clarifying)

447

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 2:55 pm

@445 – no it’s because ive rarely found you or Watson to argue in good faith or be interested in an actual conversation. Im sure some feel the same about my comments and ignore them for the same reasons..we can all make that choice. Time is limited and engaging with people you dont think are making a good faith effort is pointless.

448

J Thomas 01.11.15 at 2:59 pm

#439 Ronan

I’d point to the link @401 as the most sensible thing said on the topic of ‘Islam and racism.’

I don’t see it.

I see that we can define racism in terms of subtle genetics, things that cannot be changed. Then Islam is not about race because people are not born muslim and they can in theory change their minds at any time. There is no such thing as being ex-Black. We can redefine our concepts to that Colin Powell and Barack Obama are not black, but nobody can change their genes.

So what word should we use instead? It doesn’t take you very far to say it is not racism because X. It’s something a lot like racism, and we need a name to call it so that pedants won’t argue about whether it’s truly racism or not.

Back in the days when a lot of Americans treated the Irish rather like white southerners treated blacks after the war, it could be argued that wasn’t racism or maybe it was. They were white, after all. If they worked hard at changing their accents and their culture, a lot of them could easily pass for not-Irish. Was all that prejudice racism or was it something else? Does it really matter whether it was really racism or something else?

What should we call it when groups of people just don’t get along, and one of the groups is a whole lot more powerful than the other? Islam is not exactly an ethnicity, there are black american muslims with their own culture and filipino muslims ditto and so on. It isn’t exactly a religion, more like a cluster of religions that don’t get along.

But when an american acts afraid of a Sikh because he thinks the Sikh is Muslim, what is going on there? Maybe the reality is blurred enough that it would be a mistake to use over-precise language.

Anyway, I want a word for what to call it when two groups of people live in the same general area, and they don’t get along, one is much more powerful than the other, and liberals would think it would be a good thing for them to get along.

Let’s use that word instead of arguing wither “racism” is the right word.

449

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 3:06 pm

J Thomas – his argument is specifically to CH, saying it was attacking ideas not a race. I think that’s true. And a good bit of the reaction to radicalised Islam *can* be seen as a response to an ideology rather than to a race/ethnicity. The concerns (as Watson does note, in fairness) are a lot of the time ideological.
That doesn’t mean that the position of Muslims in Europe isnt racialised in ways, just that calling everything ‘racist’ is imprecise and undermines actual racism.

450

Brett Bellmore 01.11.15 at 3:10 pm

“With respect Brett, you’ve written enoyugh that is explictly racist that I dont really have to give you the benefit of the doubt on this (and that ‘with respect’ isnt meant passive agressively, really. Just clarifying)”

Yeah, that’s the topic of my 434, clarifying my thoughts on how the left abuses the term, “racist”, reducing it to not much more than “viewpoint I dislike”. Rather than be redundant, I’ll just wait for it to emerge.

451

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 3:13 pm

undermines *IDENTIFYING* actual racism..undermining actual racism probably wouldnt be so bad.

452

Brett Bellmore 01.11.15 at 3:15 pm

“So what word should we use instead?”

“Prejudice”, J. I’m pretty sure that’s the word you’re looking for.

453

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 3:26 pm

“Back in the days when a lot of Americans treated the Irish rather like white southerners treated blacks after the war, it could be argued that wasn’t racism or maybe it was.”

Yeah, but there are two seperate but related things here, afaict (1) how the Irish were seen, which (afaik) could plausibly be seen as racist ie they were subjected to racist tropes/seen as biologically and intellectually inferior (2) how Catholicism was viewed, which was closer to an ideological threat to the Protestant norm.
Obviously both are releated and overlapped, but not entirely. They also existsed as seperate ‘concerns.’

454

Lee A. Arnold 01.11.15 at 3:31 pm

I love Islam in the same way that I love Christianity and the world’s other great and long-lasting religions.

Its story is the marriage of a worldly story with an interior psychological transformation that has broad and lasting import and value.

Scientists and secularists are wrong to reject religious claims in total, without admitting Wittgenstein’s observation that religion performs a language game that describes something that happens in real life. Science so far has nothing to offer that is comparable and can replace this.

Islam’s esoteric tradition (Sufism, e.g.), which is the most important part of any religion, is replete with subtle accounts of changes in consciousness which are finally, only now today, beginning to be admitted into the study of science under the methodologies of MRI and other neuro-imaging. (A nice handbook is Journey to the Lord of Power by Ibn ‘Arabi, equal to Sankara’s Crest Jewel of Discrimination, as good as dozens of manuals on Buddhism, and as succinct as any thing in Western Christianity including Pseudo-Dionysius.)

There are other reasons to cherish Islam, as well.

If it weren’t for Islam’s intellectual pre-eminence in medieval times, Aristotle would not have been preserved, thus Europe would not have received Aristotle, and thus the development of science might have been delayed by a couple of centuries as medieval scholars first would have needed to reinvent, then correct, the great schoolman’s methodologies and observations.

Islamic art and architecture is equal to the greatest of any of the world’s art, and surpasses most of it. It is dazzling.

And Muhammed’s story! Someone should make a motion picture about the fact that the world’s greatest motion picture can never be made, because it is about a real leader who once existed whose image may not be shown. (Of course the psychologically aware will realize that this injunction is related to the psychological reality that the qualia of higher consciousness cannot be described before the experience of it; or that “yahweh” cannot be named; or that alternately, there are 99 names of god, etc.) But what an incredible motion picture it would be! Muhammed’s story has desert caravans, marriage, revelation, language, poetry, war, dynasty. Islam is EASILY the world religion with the most dramatic and astonishing birth story.

All religions (possibly with the exception of Buddhism) have counseled violence against unbelievers and apostates, but of course the trend is to reject this in the modern world, and to find ways to live in peace. Freedom of speech (even freedom of satirical cartoons) and freedom to practice religion are non-negotiable necessities.

The people of France are doing exactly the right thing in this huge demonstration for fraternity and liberty, and if I lived there, I’d be out with them. I am just an ex-Lutheran from New Jersey, but I am now French.

455

Ze Kraggash 01.11.15 at 3:59 pm

@441 “but what if those protests are by the ‘upper-class over-educated judges’ “

Anything is possible, but like I said: a very strong clue. If you want it to sound more ‘scientific’: for this sort of laws, they’d do better deciding based on the spirit of the law and empirical evidence, rather than legalistic logic.

456

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 4:04 pm

..which I think is my problem with the adam shatz link above. All he sees in the Kouachi brothers is their enviornment; the discrimination faced by the people they associate with, their relatively poor background, their place in French society etc He doesnt view them as genuine moral actors in their own right, it’s as if they couldnt possibly believe seriously in the ideology they were willing to kill and die for.

This is oddly patronishing. Would you say about a communist commited to armed struggle that they were solely the product of their enviornment ? That they were reactive agents rather than willing believers in a specific political ideology ? You can disagree with their tactics (which I do ) and their belief system (which I also do) but treating them mainly – on one extreme- as the product of their circumstances, or – on the other extreme – as mindless fanatics, doesnt explain why *they* made the choices *they* did.

457

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 4:05 pm

455 – yeah, but a lot of the protests arent ‘bottom up displays of outrage’ , theyre manipulated by ‘upper-class over-educated judges’..just those ‘upper-class over-educated judges’come from within Islam.

458

J Thomas 01.11.15 at 4:15 pm

#449 Ronan

… calling everything ‘racist’ is imprecise and undermines actual racism.

Godforbid we undermine actual racism.

So anyway, what word should we use instead?

459

Ze Kraggash 01.11.15 at 4:28 pm

457 “theyre manipulated by ‘upper-class over-educated judges’..just those ‘upper-class over-educated judges’come from within Islam.”

Most emotional responses are manipulated by someone. But that still requires genuine emotional response from a large number of people; I don’t think you could seriously argue that all those protests are manned by paid provocateurs.

460

Watson Ladd 01.11.15 at 4:33 pm

Ronan, if you have trouble seeing how the Enlightenment, blasphemy, and religious freedom go together, I’m afraid I can’t help you. And it shouldn’t be a big jump from the men with AK-47’s saying what you can say about Muhammad to those with stakes saying what you can say about Jesus.

But the story is like this: In 1517 Martin Luther started a major schism in the Catholic church, and the schisms repeatedly schismed. So long as each schismatic splinter was unwilling to recognize the other’s validity, there had to be bloodshed. So the solution was forged: everyone gets to talk about Christianity, no matter what they say, and go to church, no matter what church they go to. The state became a neutral party. In France, achieving this required overthrowing the monarchy.

Islam is not one monolithic block. Beyond Sunni-Shiite, there are dozens of minor divisions, some of which are regarded as heretical by others. In Pakistan minority sects have frequently been the victims of blasphemy prosecutions. Some of these have recently begun seeking political power, after several decades of largely secular rule in the Arab world, and others have seen that violence works.

We already know what the political alternative is: free speech, freedom of religion, democracy. But we’re unable to make that sound attractive, in large part because it no longer is to us.

461

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 4:50 pm

459- I would guess reactions fall into 3 main categories. People who get very offended for reason X, people who think it’s politically correct radical Islam gone mad, and pretty much everyone (90%) else who either don’t care, who are offended but not so much, who are offended at the offence taken by the offended, or who just want everyone to give it a rest.
Logically, your argument would seem to to imply that anyone who could raise a posse should be seen as representative of situation Y and placated immeditately and completly. Always. Isnt that just going to lead to the twitterfication of the world?

462

Hector_St_Clare 01.11.15 at 4:57 pm

“Then Islam is not about race because people are not born muslim and they can in theory change their minds at any time”

++1.

463

David 01.11.15 at 5:27 pm

Well, we’ve just had French schoolchildren singing the “Marseillaise”, the most violent and bloodthirsty national anthem in the world, and a bunch of elderly politicians talking about defending the values of the Republic (when their own abandonment of those values is largely responsible for this mess) and defending liberty of expression, (when they are busy passing laws to limit it). Altogether a depressing afternoon, but not really a surprise when you consider a hermetically-sealed political class, essentially ignorant of the realities of life, and speaking almost exclusively to each other.

464

Ze Kraggash 01.11.15 at 5:34 pm

Ronan(rf), I don’t know about categories and their percentages.

I’m saying that if you believe (as the French do, apparently) that a law against hate-speech is a good idea, then the shock-jock magazine with its business model based on offending religion (or several religions), that generates mass protests, sometimes violent, all over the world, should be – just by common sense – an obvious target of that law.

That was my point, if it wasn’t clear, though I believe it was.

I could add that the obvious corollary is that the French ruling elite is full of shit and their hate speech laws have the agenda different from maintaining tranquility. But that’s trivial.

465

JanieM 01.11.15 at 7:07 pm

Freedom of speech (even freedom of satirical cartoons) and freedom to practice religion are non-negotiable necessities.

It’s not that simple. The people who killed a bunch of journalists in France this week thought they were practicing their religion.

Maybe this has already been said (I haven’t read the whole thread), but that’s okay, because it can’t be repeated too many times: “Freedom to practice religion” should be “non-negotiable” only insofar as you can practice your religion while leaving me alone to practice mine, where mine may be a different religion from yours or the total lack of anything that you would recognize as religion at all.

Freedom from other people’s demands made in the name of religion, and from harms done in the name of religion, is as non-negotiable as freedom to practice. You can’t hang virgins in the public square just because you think your deity demands it. You can’t make me refrain from sexual practices that you think your deity disapproves of. You can’t shoot people just because you think your deity demands it. You can’t (or shouldn’t be allowed to) take away my rights to full citizenship because you think your deity disapproves of me.

And so on, and on, and on. We have a long way to go.

466

bianca steele 01.11.15 at 7:09 pm

Lee Arnold @ 454 describes an attractive but limited idea of religion, which some religious people may find accurate, others may consider to be close enough for an outsider, and others may consider offensive: religion should have nothing to do with everyday life, which is just cultural customs on the one hand and common-sense practicalities on the other, but is a kind of added-on thing that you can use if you’re able to take time away from practical matters for it.

If that’s true, then the complaints of French Muslims are just a matter of speech, others’, whether to criticize or not. And if that’s true, then, maybe, it makes sense for the question whether Muslims are discriminated against, socially and economically, to shift to the question whether anti-Muslim prejudice is “racist” or something else. (How are black Catholics treated? Secular or Jewish French people of Algerian descent? Are they discriminated against in employment? Required to act as “model minorities”?)

The fact is that the French Republic made its peace with the Catholic church in a very specific way: by laicizing the public sphere, while providing state support for Christian and Jewish sects in certain areas like schools, and while only partially diminishing the pre-republican Catholic elites. The refusal to support Islam in the same way as Judaism and Christianity–particularly the reluctance to permit/provide Muslim schools and to grant Muslim religious symbols the same special privileges as Christian and Jewish ones–suggests a contradiction within that peace (which can’t be finessed by universalistic platitudes), and there doesn’t seem to be an explanation for why France should treat Muslims differently than Protestants and Jews. Other than that they were allowed to immigrate as a temporary working class (which doesn’t seem accurate w/r/t former French colonies, at least) and that nobody thought further than that.

467

Watson Ladd 01.11.15 at 7:16 pm

@JamieM: Notice how all those rights existed in the US for a considerable time, and gained currency in the Arab world (and other areas) during the 1930’s and 1950’s. What we’re facing today is the aftermath of the bourgeois revolution, which secured those rights, but ultimately foundered and experienced a crisis. If you aren’t willing to die for freedom of speech, don’t be surprised that others aren’t. It’s not because we’ve not spent enough words on the difficulties of these freedoms that people don’t see them as compelling as they once were.

468

J Thomas 01.11.15 at 7:21 pm

#461 Ronan

Logically, your argument would seem to to imply that anyone who could raise a posse should be seen as representative of situation Y and placated immeditately and completly. Always. Isnt that just going to lead to the twitterfication of the world?

Somehow we don’t have much of this discussiont t when the topic is people saying things that other people think sound antisemitic. Or maybe we do, but the people who complain about placation are not the same people. Oh wait, the same people do complain about both but they’re a much smaller group when it’s antisemitism at stake and not anti-muslim.

So, back when we were doing integration in the USA and the black muslims were starting to get violent, should we have pointed at them and cancelled civil rights? Blacks were only 10% of the population. Shouldn’t they have learned how to get along with the majority white culture, and not the other way round? No, I think we needed to do integration anyway.

And we needed to pay attention to the concerns of white southerners too. Despite their violence. They rightly saw integration as an improvement for blacks *at their expense*. People increasingly saw southerners as racist know-nothings who themselves should be discriminated against. And the violence continues sporadically to this day.

We don’t need to pay attention to the desires of people who do violence. We need to pay attention to what everybody wants, even if a few of them do violence.

If we ignore them until they start killing people and then appease them when they do, that’s the wrong message. If we ignore them and then do collective punishment when a few of them get violent, that’s another wrong message.

469

Brett Bellmore 01.11.15 at 7:22 pm

Looks like the war continues. I expect we’ll see a fair number of attacks on media outlets that go beyond saying “we are Charlie”, and actually dare to do what Hebdo got attacked for. Well, perhaps not so many, because not so many are actually doing that.

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MPAVictoria 01.11.15 at 7:24 pm

Excellent comment JanieM. Your freedom of religion has to end where mine begins.

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Brett Bellmore 01.11.15 at 7:24 pm

So, what time zone is “moderation” in?

472

MPAVictoria 01.11.15 at 7:26 pm

J if you are beating me and the government makes you stop is that an improvement in my life at your expense?

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J Thomas 01.11.15 at 7:39 pm

#464 JanieM

Freedom from other people’s demands made in the name of religion, and from harms done in the name of religion, is as non-negotiable as freedom to practice.

How should that apply in the USA about abortion? Should your religious demand get to decide whether other women can have abortions?

Feminism is not exactly a religion because it’s mostly secular. But should your opinion about patriarchy determine how other women get along with men etc?

I think the question of where my rights begin and yours end has not been decisively answered yet. Libertarians tend to have very strong opinions about it, and I only partly accept their answers.

In a republic, we usually want the laws to reflect some sort of prevailing morality. We sort of want that not to be religious because we don’t want religions to have too much control. But when we point to moral values as a basis for the laws that we will enforce, we can hardly insist that those moral values have to be disconnected from religion.

It’s a mess.

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.11.15 at 7:49 pm

JT, yeah that’s a valid observation; I don’t have quite the same visceral reaction to anti-Muslim bigotry as to antisemitism (although tone can make a difference, too). Of course I’m not a Muslim and it seems like nobody else here is either.

Which got me kind of wishing Talk Islam were still active… but at least their twitter feed still is.

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.11.15 at 7:52 pm

That was @467

476

Brett Bellmore 01.11.15 at 7:53 pm

“How should that apply in the USA about abortion? Should your religious demand get to decide whether other women can have abortions?”

Perhaps we should discuss a demand that doesn’t have substantial support across religions and lack thereof? According to Pew, even a quarter of the non-religious consider abortion a moral wrong, and that’s with a poll wording almost designed to minimize nuance. Gallup left in the nuance, and found an absolute majority of the non-religious think abortion should sometimes be illegal.

So, religious or not, the majority don’t think it’s entirely up to the woman.

477

geo 01.11.15 at 7:55 pm

JanieM @464: That’s a very cogent and eloquent statement of the standard liberal understanding of freedom of speech and religion. There’s an intricate and powerful critique of that position in Stanley Fish’s There’s No Such Thing As Free Speech … and It’s a Good Thing Too and The Trouble with Principle. FWIW, I’ve reviewed both books, here (http://www.georgescialabba.net/mtgs/1994/01/theres-no-such-thing-as-free-s/print/) and here (http://www.georgescialabba.net/mtgs/2000/04/the-trouble-with-principle-by/print/).

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J Thomas 01.11.15 at 8:03 pm

#471 MPAV

J if you are beating me and the government makes you stop is that an improvement in my life at your expense?

Yes, it is. You deserve not to be beaten whether or not beating you improves my life. (Actually, I haven’t imagined circumstances where my life is better by I’m beating you. I am happily married, I don’t need a BDSM relationship with a blogger.)

But see, if we agree that it’s OK to discriminate against some people because they have been discriminating against some others, where does it end?

In the 1960’s the USA was becoming wealthy faster than ever before. We had the chance to provide opportunities for our various poor people to get a big step up, to get education and good jobs and create wealth and earn wealth, and nobody had to suffer for that — the wealth was increasing fast enough to pay for that assistance without making anybody else poorer than they were before. But we failed. We spent too much of that wealth on Vietnam. We got into big arguments about blacks and blaming southern whites for their past and current sins. Our support for Israel and other geopolitical practices gave us oil shocks. And then the surplus wealth was gone or funnelled away somehow, and the poor had not been helped much.

We might have had another chance when the USSR collapsed. The politicians talked about how to spend the peace bonus. But it didn’t happen.

“It’s OK to discriminate against them. They deserve it.” Did you know that some white southerners used to say that blacks deserved to be slaves because they were descended from Ham, Noah’s third son, who did a sin whose punishment was passed down to all his descendants? People come up with all sorts of reasons why other people deserve to be mistreated. And the result is more of the same.

479

JanieM 01.11.15 at 8:03 pm

geo, thanks for the links. I’ll check them out. I should have added a sentence to my comment to recognize that my formulation wasn’t all that much simpler than Lee’s; freedoms often clash, and that’s where the hard decisions can (or should) be found.

Even so, I think it’s important to keep making the point, because it’s all too easy to talk about freedom “of” religion without paying any heed to freedom “from” it. My perspective on this has been sharply informed by the fact that I’m gay. And female.

480

MPAVictoria 01.11.15 at 8:05 pm

Is it discriminating against someone to require them to stop beating someone else?

481

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 8:06 pm

J Thomas 467 – The fact that there might be a double standard on anti semitism (I don’t know if there is, but let’s assume so) I dont think is necessarily relevant.
As I said above (but didn’t elaborate on, as I agree with Rich that it isn’t the right time), what CH did wouldn’t necessarily be my preference. I’d prefer people to step back a little from these extreme positions and not try to aggravate the situation. CH *weren’t* passive victims , though they were victims, they were political actors making a political point. Of course that doesn’t justify violence.
Also the people who murdered in Paris weren’t mindless fanatics, they had political goals . (1) to try to silence criticism of radical Islam. (2) to help recruit for radical Islamist causes. Equally the people who organise marches against Mohammed cartoons arent the aggrieved masses, theyre dedicated ideologues with specific political goals. So everyone here is playing their part, to a degree. People shouldn’t ignore the politics at the heart of all of this.
Also, as mentioned above, drawing a picture of Mohammed is not (by nature) engaging in racist or ethnic stereotyping. It’s attacking a specific political idea. It’s an ideogical cause, not a ‘racist’ one. Afaik depicting Mohammed is a contested topic within Islam, so represents not just a contest between western secularism and Islam, but between various schools of thought within Islam.
I don’t know what all of this has to do with the civil rights movement. There, it seems, they worked with the groups commited to non violence and sidelined the extremists. The situations don’t really map though, so im not sure of what point the comparison serves.
On the specific questions of the limits of free speech, how we should accomadate different belief systems/cultures in secular societies, race based discrimination etc , I think theyre slightly different questions. Related, in a lot of ways, but not dominant, I dont think. I dont have firm opinions on all of them, and I dont think this is really primarily about any of those topics.(from my POV anyway)
There are a lot of other questions attached to this of course, it’s complicated and I dont really know how I feel about all of them.* But I think it confuses what this was (a terror organisation commiting murder for political reasons) by conflating it with a series of second order issues (integration, race based discrimination, free speech etc)

* Obviously I’m not saying others shouldnt talk about them, just that I dont have clear opinions.

482

J Thomas 01.11.15 at 8:19 pm

I don’t know what all of this has to do with the civil rights movement. There, it seems, they worked with the groups commited to non violence and sidelined the extremists.

Maybe we could try that approach again?

As opposed to focusing all of our attention on the extremists, and arguing that whatever they want we should make sure can’t happen….

Do you see a possible connection yet?

483

bianca steele 01.11.15 at 8:27 pm

geo,

FWIW, after many years thinking about it, I believe Fish’s analysis is correct as far as it goes, but then he gets up to the point of something like it really just depends on who has the power, and that’s okay because religion is pretty much what Lee Arnold says it is. People whose religion says they shouldn’t mix with the general population, don’t. People whose religion allows them to, do. No one gets into a position of power and suddenly learns an “esoteric” religious fact about firing all the women in management, or something.

484

Lee A. Arnold 01.11.15 at 8:27 pm

Janie M. #464: “It’s not that simple. The people who killed a bunch of journalists in France this week thought they were practicing their religion.”

It is already quite simple. Freedom of religion must apply to everybody, and already means freedom to believe whatever you want about religion, and so that begins by not harming others.

As I wrote at #27, It was also already possible for the killers to know that their own religion, Islam, has moderate teachings too, including as practiced by many others around them. It was possible for them to know that you are not required to kill anybody, and that they are in a democracy that has a route for redress, and to continue in coexistence with others. They made a choice to kill; they weren’t “practicing their religion”.

485

Lee A. Arnold 01.11.15 at 8:28 pm

Bianca #465: “religion should have nothing to do with everyday life”

This appears to be another misunderstanding. A “language game” (Wittgenstein) is not “just a matter of speech”; it is the direct opposite. If the cultural customs of the “form of life” (Wittgenstein, again) are not supported, or even forbidden, by the polity, then the correct route is conversation and the process of redress through democracy. I already choose freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Perhaps it might be made easier to understand by quoting Wittgenstein, where he uses “Christianity” because it is the form he himself chose, for reasons he explains:

“Christianity is not a doctrine, not, I mean, a theory about what has happened and will happen to the human soul, but a description of something that actually takes place in human life. For ‘consciousness of sin’ is a real event and so are despair and salvation through faith. Those who speak of such things (Bunyan for instance) are simply describing what has happened to them, whatever gloss anyone may want to put on it.”

Here, in a brilliant description of what it is, Wittgenstein also manages to state the bottom line: you don’t get to judge another.

486

William Timberman 01.11.15 at 8:29 pm

geo @ 476

I have as much respect for SF’s cogency and wit as you do, I think, but it often maddens me to read him. The effect is rather like the buzzing in one’s ears that come of drinking too much, yet somehow not quite enough. I follow the arguments, gasp at the audacity, wink at the cleverness, marvel at the erudition, but when I’ve finally finished a piece of his, I sometimes have the vague impression that what I’ve just read could be summed up as philosopher announces that he’s invented common sense — and much else besides. It’s the much else besides, of course, that appears to be at fault for my not-quite hangover afterwards.

487

bianca steele 01.11.15 at 8:30 pm

Lee, is it possible I misunderstood you because I interpreted “esoteric” as “spiritual” or “visionary”?

488

Lee A. Arnold 01.11.15 at 8:40 pm

Bianca, I don’t know. Please explain.

489

bianca steele 01.11.15 at 8:43 pm

Explanation: “Esoteric” seems to imply “not known to everybody, even within the religion,” something that adds meaning to people’s lives if they have time to study it. It definitely doesn’t mean basic ethics, how to treat people, which seems to be what you’re getting at in your Wittgenstein comment, which I admit I didn’t fully understand.

490

Collin Street 01.11.15 at 8:48 pm

Maybe this has already been said (I haven’t read the whole thread), but that’s okay, because it can’t be repeated too many times: “Freedom to practice religion” should be “non-negotiable” only insofar as you can practice your religion while leaving me alone to practice mine, where mine may be a different religion from yours or the total lack of anything that you would recognize as religion at all.

Nice idea, but this runs into the pareto-efficiency problem of privileging currently-extant and manifest interests: a good rule of thumb, not something to strictly follow, and sometimes we’ll be able to get better outcomes if we don’t preemptively bar ourselves from stopping people from doing things that they can currently do to make room for the religious freedoms of others.

[the public space is a shared space: “freedom” is incompatible with equity, because some people don’t want to share.]

I find myself in entire agreement with Ze.

491

geo 01.11.15 at 8:52 pm

bianca @482: then he gets up to the point of something like it really just depends on who has the power

I think that’s right. In one of the essays in her Don’t Think, Smile, Ellen Willis seems to me to get beyond that point. Forgive me for linking to my own stuff again, but I tried to acknowledge that in a review of her book: http://www.georgescialabba.net/mtgs/1999/10/don-t-think-smile-notes-on-a-d/print/.

WT @485: That may be the best comment I’ve ever seen about Fish.

492

JanieM 01.11.15 at 9:10 pm

they weren’t “practicing their religion”.

Who are you to say? Because, as you also say:

you don’t get to judge another.

If you think this conundrum is simple to put into practice, all I can say is: your head is not the world.

(P.S. Thanks to William Timberman for saving me the trouble of trying to articulate why I don’t have a lot of use for Stanley Fish. I do appreciate geo, and will still look up his reviews, but Fish is one of those people who give me the chills.)

493

Lee A. Arnold 01.11.15 at 9:14 pm

Bianca, sorry, I was using “esoteric” to refer to the path of mystical practice.

494

Lee A. Arnold 01.11.15 at 9:20 pm

JanieM, I’m not sure I see the problem here. Many Muslims preach living with others. Are they not practicing their religion? If your belief means hurting others, isn’t it just easier to rule it out of bounds?

495

JanieM 01.11.15 at 9:38 pm

If your belief means hurting others, isn’t it just easier to rule it out of bounds?

You’re talking in circles, or playing word games, or something. Of course “we” (if we’re the ones with the power to do so) can rule “hurting others” out of bounds; that’s exactly my point. (Never mind that it is often not easy to agree on what is harmful and what isn’t.)

But if someone’s own beliefs about what their deity demands include what you and I would consider to be the hurting of others, then it’s really just a word game to say that they have “freedom of religion.” It’s not “freedom” (as most people understand it) if it only applies as long as it’s the part of their religion that Lee A. Arnold and JanieM approve of.

Having lived through at least seven statewide referenda/people’s vetoes on my status as a full-fledged citizen in the past twenty years, I can tell you that most people don’t know a thing about Stanley Fish or pareto efficiency, but they can be quite vocal about their belief that I should be prevented from, or penalized for, doing things that violate their religious beliefs. And a great many people think that it does constrain their freedom of religion if I try to stop them from acting on that belief.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t rule “hurting others” to be out of bounds. I’m objecting to your blithe assertion that that doesn’t constrain freedom of religion. People get to define their own religion; whether they then get to practice it fully is a separate question.

496

ZM 01.11.15 at 9:40 pm

Lee A Arnold,

“And Muhammed’s story! Someone should make a motion picture about the fact that the world’s greatest motion picture can never be made, because it is about a real leader who once existed whose image may not be shown.”

The Iranian film director Majid Majidi has recently made a film about Mohammed called The Prophet. I understand he had government support – which is somewhat irking given Kiarostami has to make his films abroad now, Mahkmalbaf lives in exile due to threats, and Panahi is under house arrest and banned from film making for some lengthy time. But I guess if some people didn’t make films that the regime agreed with then Iranian people would not have any films set in Iran.

This is a behind the scenes clip which is the only thing I could find on YouTube from the film

http://youtu.be/cnAp92m5HUc

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js. 01.11.15 at 9:51 pm

And Muhammed’s story! Someone should make a motion picture

It’s been done.

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Collin Street 01.11.15 at 10:00 pm

I’m not saying we shouldn’t rule “hurting others” to be out of bounds. I’m objecting to your blithe assertion that that doesn’t constrain freedom of religion. People get to define their own religion; whether they then get to practice it fully is a separate question.

Complete agreement.

499

Ronan(rf) 01.11.15 at 10:05 pm

J Thomas 481 – Yes, but easier said than done (And I dont know how you do it) My only point was the context is so different that the comparison doesn’t explain much. The attacks shouldnt (I dont think) *primarily* be seen in the domestic politics of France , but in the political contests in the Middle East and North Africa.(and other places) It isn’t the militant wing of a French Muslims civil rights movement, but an ideological struggle primarily not happening in the west.
I agree that *at home* the best course is not to see it (as per Watson) as a civilisational clash, or frame it in terms of a battle for secularism and free speech, but as a criminal matter. Also not to scapegoat and harden specific ‘Muslim communities’.
I dont think you can really do anything about attacks like at CH though. They serve a specific purpose, so will happen regardless.

500

ZM 01.11.15 at 10:09 pm

JanieM

“If your belief means hurting others, isn’t it just easier to rule it out of bounds?

You’re talking in circles, or playing word games, or something. Of course “we” (if we’re the ones with the power to do so) can rule “hurting others” out of bounds; that’s exactly my point. (Never mind that it is often not easy to agree on what is harmful and what isn’t.)

I’m not saying we shouldn’t rule “hurting others” to be out of bounds. I’m objecting to your blithe assertion that that doesn’t constrain freedom of religion. People get to define their own religion; whether they then get to practice it fully is a separate question”

I think that Muslim people have objected that they found those cartoons hurtful. Similar cartoons about gay women I imagine you would find hurtful – and such cartoons could be used in public sphere debates to persuade people against gay marriage and other civil rights for gay people. So should people be freely able to draw and publish homophobic cartoons? I don’t think so – cartoonists can find some other more polite material or stick to mocking politicians.

501

JanieM 01.11.15 at 10:10 pm

So should people be freely able to draw and publish homophobic cartoons?

Yes.

502

ZM 01.11.15 at 10:16 pm

Well if cartoons were very hurtful I think they could be addressed with our civil hate speech laws in Australia, I think having hate speech laws is a good idea.

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JanieM 01.11.15 at 10:17 pm

1. When I write about “hurting others” as something we can rule out of bounds, I don’t mean hurting people’s feelings. I don’t believe we have a right not to have our feelings hurt. What a morass that would be.

2. Lee, maybe I’m misreading you, but it seems like you’re trying to get out of recognizing that the idea of freedom of religion for everyone carries a contradiction at its heart. You can’t bear to say it’s an impossible ideal, so instead you’re saying that we’ll define “religion” in such a way that our arrangements don’t appear to constrain it.

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Collin Street 01.11.15 at 10:25 pm

1. When I write about “hurting others” as something we can rule out of bounds, I don’t mean hurting people’s feelings. I don’t believe we have a right not to have our feelings hurt. What a morass that would be.

But this is the same redefinition circus you’re critiquing Lee for.

505

JanieM 01.11.15 at 10:35 pm

But this is the same redefinition circus you’re critiquing Lee for.

Collin — I don’t think so. Lee seems to be saying that religion isn’t really religion if he says it isn’t, regardless of what the believers who hold a given religious belief say it is; more specifically, he seems to be saying that religion isn’t really religion if it requires hurting other people (however you want to define hurt).

I’m not saying that hurt feelings aren’t hurt feelings; I’m just saying that hurting people’s feelings shouldn’t be punishable by law. He seems to be claiming that he’s the one who gets to define religion; I’m not claiming the right to define what “hurt” is, I’m just stating my own belief about what kinds of “hurt” should be out of bounds. Homophobic cartoons hurt. I would be the last person to deny it. But that doesn’t mean I think they should be banned.

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Ze Kraggash 01.11.15 at 10:42 pm

Hurting people’s feelings isn’t punishable by law. Actions that are likely to wreak havoc in society often are punishable by law, however. For obvious reasons.

507

js. 01.11.15 at 10:43 pm

Of course I’m not a Muslim and it seems like nobody else here is either

If one were, this thread would make for some unpleasant reading (and not in a good way), but still, I wouldn’t be too quick to assume.

508

J Thomas 01.11.15 at 10:53 pm

#493

If your belief means hurting others, isn’t it just easier to rule it out of bounds?

Yes. And announce that we will severely hurt anybody caught doing it, to teach them not to.

and if we see people get into one of those cycles where one hurts the other a little, and then the other hurts the first a little bit more, and around and around like that, we will decide which one is the bad guy who started it and who deserves to be hurt for being bad, while the other was the victim that had no choice but retaliate.

Because that’s the way the bad guys learn to stop being bad guys, when we show them that they are the bad guys who shouldn’t have been fighting the good guys, and we hurt them until they learn that it’s bad to hurt people and they turn good.

509

J Thomas 01.11.15 at 10:54 pm

#505

Hurting people’s feelings isn’t punishable by law.

Except when it is.

510

J. Parnell Thomas 01.11.15 at 10:56 pm

So I’m thinking of a certain youtube video I saw. If you go there and type in the words Redneck Seizure it will be the first result. And I think most people would agree that the so-called redneck didn’t deserve what happened to him. And I think most people would agree that he shouldn’t have said what he said. I think most people know that in certain situations saying that is likely to result in something similar happening to you. And, well, I don’t know about most people, but I don’t think the suitable way to respond to this reality is to splash what he said on the front page of the NY Times in the cause of “free speech.”

511

J. Parnell Thomas 01.11.15 at 11:07 pm

And another thing! I suppose these big rallies are nice if they make everybody feel better, but I’m wondering if there’s anything concrete they are intended to accomplish. To keep speech free? To keep murder illegal? To keep veils illegal? To encourage the magazine to double down on publishing stupid, gratuitously offensive crap?

512

Lee A. Arnold 01.11.15 at 11:11 pm

JanieM, If you are saying that everybody has her or his own religion, and some of those personal religions act to harm others, then I agree, there cannot be “freedom of religion”. But I was under the impression that most people understand the words “freedom of religion” to be a shorthand phrase for something like Article 1 of the UN Declaration On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Intolerance And Of Discrimination Based On Religion Or Belief, 1981:
Article 1
1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.
3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

…I haven’t said anything other than this, I think. If you want to say, “Freedom From All Forms Of Intolerance, And Of Discrimination, Based On Religion Or Belief,” I think that’s fine though a bit longer.

Similarly there is a contradiction in the phrase “freedom of speech”. You cannot be for freedom of speech! You do NOT have the freedom to falsely yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre (Oliver Wendell Holmes). And there are various forms of injunctions against incitement to violence, correctly so, I think. But most people still use the shorthand, “freedom of speech”.

513

geo 01.11.15 at 11:12 pm

JanieM@494: most people don’t know a thing about Stanley Fish

This is shocking. Can it really be true?

514

JanieM 01.11.15 at 11:38 pm

geo @512 —

:-)

515

Abbe Faria 01.11.15 at 11:38 pm

And another thing! I suppose these big rallies are nice if they make everybody feel better, but I’m wondering if there’s anything concrete they are intended to accomplish. To keep speech free?

Absolutely. Some of the biggest asshole politicians on the planet are on this march. Putting people like Netanyahu, Lavrov, Orban, Davutoglu, Bongo and King Abdullah in a position where to sate global opinion they’re compelled to march down Boulevard Voltaire for free speech is very politically constructive – even if they don’t believe it.

Ronan(rf) is also right that the attacks (and insults to Islam) are just going to keep happening again and again. The two worries are the far right response – either within the political system (National Front) or insurectionist (Breivik) – or that they inflame religious/race riots. Trying to get popular opinion to shut these out is important.

516

Lee A. Arnold 01.11.15 at 11:50 pm

ZM & Js. #495, 496: I had no idea these existed. Neither movie shows Muhammad onscreen:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Message_%281976_film%29
Muhammad “was not depicted on-screen nor was his voice heard as Islamic tradition generally forbids any direct representation of religious figures”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_%282015_film%29
Majidi stated, “The face of the Prophet is not shown in the film. By hiding his face I will make the character more intriguing for the viewer.”

517

engels 01.12.15 at 12:09 am

It’s nice they invited Stoltenberg along though. If there’s anyone who demonstrates that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ it’s got to be NATO’s Secretary-General. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t carry a sword. Or even a gun.

518

JanieM 01.12.15 at 12:14 am

Hey geo, your links seem to be kaput. ??

519

engels 01.12.15 at 12:21 am

Classic Terry Eagleton review of The Trouble with Principle:

It is one of the minor symptoms of the mental decline of the United States that Stanley Fish is thought to be on the Left. By some of his compatriots, anyway, and no doubt by himself. In a nation so politically addled that ‘liberal’ can mean ‘state interventionist’ and ‘libertarianism’ letting the poor die on the streets, this is perhaps not wholly unpredictable.

Stanley Fish, lawyer and literary critic, is in truth about as left-wing as Donald Trump. Indeed, he is the Donald Trump of American academia, a brash, noisy entrepreneur of the intellect who pushes his ideas in the conceptual marketplace with all the fervour with which others peddle second-hand Hoovers. Unlike today’s corporate executive, however, who has scrupulously acquired the rhetoric of consensus and multiculturalism, Fish is an old-style, free-booting captain of industry who has no intention of clasping both of your hands earnestly in his and asking whether you feel comfortable with being fired. He fancies himself as an intellectual boot-boy, the scourge of wimpish pluralists and Nancy-boy liberals, and that ominous bulge in his jacket is not to be mistaken for a volume of Milton. […]

520

bianca steele 01.12.15 at 12:30 am

@518

Ironic, since for Eagleton (at least 1980s Eagleton) the center of his left literary criticism was Michel Foucault, who now is himself being described (though I’m not able to understand the back-and-forth) as having flirted more seriously with neoliberalism than most of his followers would find themselves comfortable with.

521

Matt 01.12.15 at 12:40 am

@JanieM: all the links to georgescialabba.net were redirected to some “this domain is for sale” page when I was using my ISP’s default DNS service. I checked the domain with whois and saw that it is paid up through 2017. After I switched my DNS to Google’s service, 8.8.8.8, the links resolve correctly.

522

geo 01.12.15 at 1:30 am

Matt @520: Many thanks. That seems to have happened to other people as well. If you have any suggestion for how I might prevent whatever’s causing it, I’d be eternally grateful.

523

geo 01.12.15 at 1:39 am

The Eagleton review was rousing all right, but pretty vulgar. This seems to me the essence of his case: “The essays in The Trouble with Principle deal with racism, pornography, abortion, free speech, religion, sexual discrimination, in fact most of the stock-in-trade of enlightened US academia. This, on any estimate, is a pressing agenda; but it does not betray the slightest sense that there is anything else in the political universe worth discussing. With typical American parochialism and self-obsession, Fish’s book is silent about famine, forced migration, revolutionary nationalism, military aggression, the depredations of capital, the inequities of world trade, the disintegration of whole communities.”

In other words: 1) writing about some things and not others obviously means that you believe those other things are not worth discussing; and 2) because Fish does not write about political economy or foreign policy, he obviously has the same opinions about those things as Donald Trump.

Not Eagleton at his best.

524

Matt 01.12.15 at 1:56 am

@geo: According to your WHOIS record, your authoritative name server is ns1-bissel.webserversystems.com. It looks like this name server has a correct address record (“A record”) but it it has a name server record (“NS record”) that is delegating authority to ns1.neonetmarketing.com. The Neonet Marketing name server in turn directs name resolution for your domain in a way that ends with visitors landing on a scummy domain advertising/parking/buying service.

If you manage your own DNS records, you need to remove those NS records for neonetmarketing.com from your configuration. Or if you have someone manage it for you, you need to ask them to remove those records. I think that will do the trick. I am far from a networking expert; I basically learned through trial-and-error just enough to do my own web server administration.

525

geo 01.12.15 at 2:02 am

Thanks again, Matt.

526

js. 01.12.15 at 6:54 am

@Lee A. Arnold,

I’ve actually seen The Message, tho it was ages ago, and from what I remember it pretty much sucked (unsurprisingly). It would be fun if someone did a Pasolini-style take on the life of Muhammad, but sadly that doesn’t seem like an imminent possibility.

527

js. 01.12.15 at 7:03 am

Actually, although it’s not a movie, there is kind of a precedent. I haven’t read it.

528

basil 01.12.15 at 9:04 am

Thank you js. for your #507, happy to see that someone else shares my sense that this has been a sad to witness, if very illuminating, thread.

I wish it was surprising, but as always, it is the liberals’ positions that are most frightening.

529

Brett Bellmore 01.12.15 at 10:23 am

Oh, come on. 434 is STILL in moderation? Are you waiting for the U235 to decay?

530

J Thomas 01.12.15 at 11:26 am

#520 BB

Oh, come on. 434 is STILL in moderation? Are you waiting for the U235 to decay?

Is it one of yours? Maybe they ought to wait for the U235 to decay, in preference to sending in the bomb squad. ;)

531

David 01.12.15 at 12:06 pm

I’m afraid yesterday’s march came over as a an expression of solidarity among everyone who wasn’t an excluded, poor immigrant from a ghetto. It was almost entirely middle class, educated, and largely (though to be fair not exclusively) white. Ethnic minorities were featured to the extent that they were well integrated into French society.
I don’t know how far all this was intended (the march was organised at very short notice and soon got out of the organisers’ control) but both it, and the glutinously sentimental live concert that followed, where white celebrities from the media congratulated each other about how brave they were being, seem to me to have done a lot more harm than good, if you take the longer view.
Meanwhile, there were some ghastly PR moments which were clearly not designed, but happened because of the failure of the organisers and the media to understand what this episode is all about. The worst I noticed was a placard-bearing representative of a Jewish organisation wearing a “Je suis Charlie” cap, shaking hands with a police woman of African extraction while the media oohed and gushed over the solidarity on display. I suppose that if you deliberately set out to inflame opinion among poor Muslim kids in the ghettoes, by suggesting that “Charlie” is run by the Jews (which it isn’t) and protected by the police (which it is) you couldn’t have done a better job.
This is not going to turn out well, I’m afraid.

532

reason 01.12.15 at 12:10 pm

David @531
Not sure where you are, but in Germany it was not presented that way (in the US media of course priorities might be different). There were quite a few interviews with not obviously prosperous self-declared Moslems in the procession.

533

Ze Kraggash 01.12.15 at 12:31 pm

I’m thinking, JanieM is right: legislating against insults, hurt feelings is a fool’s errand. That’s why “hate speech” is a misnomer. “Incitement of ethnic (etc.) hatred” would be a better framing.

534

David 01.12.15 at 12:31 pm

I watched it in Paris, and I can’t speak for all of the French TV coverage, which went on for a long time anyway, on different channels. Yes, as I said, there were minority voices, women in headscarves and so on, and no, I don’t think the intention of the organisers was to polarize opinion or encourage prejudice, but nonetheless the effect on a certain population from which the killers came, and which might generate more, clearly wasn’t given much if any thought. In turn, this is because the whole day was weirdly context-free, as though some randomly-chosen group of journalists had been killed by Martians. No two people or groups seemed sure what the march was about, and so commentators took refuge in concepts like “freedom” (see also today’s press) which were so general that nobody could object to them.

535

Ronan(rf) 01.12.15 at 12:43 pm

“I wish it was surprising, but as always, it is the liberals’ positions that are most frightening.”

I’d be interested again in some evidence for this. I mean, if the scapegoats are Brett and Watson, then one is an anarcho captialist the other a communist. The vast majority of opinion here has been pretty much opposed to both of their perspectives afaict.
If the problem is the usual one from the left, that in reality all we are allowed critcise/debate are the holy trinity, US foreign policy/neoliberalism and American Christians..then fair enough. But can we make this explicit so no one steps out of line ?

536

reason 01.12.15 at 1:29 pm

“but nonetheless the effect on a certain population from which the killers came, and which might generate more, “

Not sure if that was the main point. It is more important as I see it that
1. that something is done to combat the ISLAM vs THE WEST dichotomy as the story in which terrorism is seen.
2. that as much as possible the communities that the terrorists live in don’t support them (by protecting them from police or providing them with resources).

There will always be alienated and potentially violent outsiders. The main point is to isolate them, so that they stay minor criminals rather than self-righteous killers.

537

J. Parnell Thomas 01.12.15 at 1:33 pm

Ronan, that’s just what conservatives always says.

538

J. Parnell Thomas 01.12.15 at 1:33 pm

say

539

Ronan(rf) 01.12.15 at 1:35 pm

I do think the kind of mass display of solidarity that happened in France, while stirring and very understandable, is more or less what the attackers would want. To raise their attack to the level of an act of war.
Ideally, IMO, everyone would just go back to work, and the police would go about investigating a mass murder.

540

reason 01.12.15 at 1:42 pm

Ronan(rf)
Have to disagree. The big difference here is that the terrorists (rather than being complete outsiders as is usually the case – e.g. Red Army faction, IRA in England) claim to represent a substantial fraction of the population. That pretense needs to be invalidated. The French did a good job of doing that.

541

Ronan(rf) 01.12.15 at 1:52 pm

JPT- it is, but there is some truth to it, I think. I mean, seeing Islam everywhere,as some do, is stupid and redundant. Watson and Brett (and HSC) have their shtick and that’s fine, but they’re hardly representative of this thread.
But I dont think the opposite is much better, imagining some idealised ‘Muslim’ out there taking offence. Most of the strongest pushback against this violence will come from within ‘Muslim’ communities, most of the strongest criticisms of the way Islam is being used to justify violence comes from within the faith. I don’t see anything that’s been said on this thread that wouldnt be said 100 times over in the Banlieues, or wherever. (and the opposite, and evrything in between and nothing)

542

Ronan(rf) 01.12.15 at 1:59 pm

reason -you have a point. I’ll leave it there though rather than argue it, as I think it will come across as meanspirted and overly cyncical, given the context. (although I wouldnt say the IRA were outsiders in the UK though. There were large Irish communities (from past migrations to recent) where they had varying levels of support, which were subjected to different degress of policing/intelligence gathering. There are some parallels there that probably arent for the Red Army faction)

543

J. Parnell Thomas 01.12.15 at 2:07 pm

There is a big difference between criticism within the faith and pornographic pictures of Allah, or some moron on a blog spewing about how he likes Muslims but hates hate hates Islam.

544

Ronan(rf) 01.12.15 at 2:11 pm

Some moron saying that he hates hates hates Islam really can’t be stopped. I dont think the conversation needs to be dictated or defined by said moron.

545

J. Parnell Thomas 01.12.15 at 2:13 pm

Sorry, Muhammed, not Allah.

546

J. Parnell Thomas 01.12.15 at 2:20 pm

As I’ve said, there are no visible Muslims here, though this might be an idealization, but I imagine there may be be one or two actual Muslims out there who are able to who simultaneously reject violence and find the magazine’s insults offensive, and doubly so in light of their second-class status in France.

547

J. Parnell Thomas 01.12.15 at 2:22 pm

I really did try to proof that, but “though this” ought to be “and this”.

548

Ronan(rf) 01.12.15 at 2:28 pm

Sure, CH were clearly saying f**k you to France’s Muslims. Or at least, prove yourself to us. People can make of that what they like. No one here writes for CH and the magazine has gotten more criticism here than in other places.
All I’m talking about is basil’s characterisation of ‘liberal opinion’ on this thread. Anyway, I’ll leave it there.

549

J. Parnell Thomas 01.12.15 at 2:40 pm

I disagree that the liberals aren’t much better. The liberals are much better. The conservatives are much worse.

550

J Thomas 01.12.15 at 3:34 pm

#540 reason

The big difference here is that the terrorists (rather than being complete outsiders as is usually the case – e.g. Red Army faction, IRA in England) claim to represent a substantial fraction of the population. That pretense needs to be invalidated. The French did a good job of doing that.

Surely these terrorists did not claim to represent nonmuslims. Did they even claim to represent muslims? Do we have a recent statement from them? I saw something about one of them saying he was upset about Abu Ghraib years ago. But if you were suddenly famous and incommunicado and somebody found a statement of something you said you were upset about sometime in the last 7 years, what’s the chance it would fairly represent you?

There were some people with headscarves but I doubt they did much to show that these guys didn’t represent a sizeable fraction of the muslim population in France. (I don’t believe they do, but this didn’t speak to the question.)

Oh well. Whatever good or harm it did, the effects will likely be mostly forgotten within a month or so.

551

David 01.12.15 at 6:54 pm

Agree it’s essential to stop this being seen as a Muslim/Christian thing, although I fear that’s the way it’s going, in spite of the government’s efforts. Like most communities, you can divide French Muslims in all sorts of ways. There are those who are completely secular, those who are part of the business and political establishment, those well integrated but more traditional, recent immigrants who are not integrated at all, pious immigrants of all generations who genuinely abhor violence, Muslims of all sorts who see it as expedient to reject violence publicly, whatever they may privately feel, those who are desperate or angry but draw the line at violence, those that don’t ….. In other words, there’s nothing special about Muslims in France, and it’s not helpful to see them as a bloc, or to assume that they have collective causes, or that people necessarily act in their name. On average, Muslims suffer more official and unofficial discrimination than other groups, but many are prosperous and successful, and many more are essentially disadvantaged because they are poor and live in crap areas.
On the march, I think the effects will be felt for some time because, even if it was not the effect the killers wanted, it would certainly have confirmed their worst fears. An allegedly marginal publication which hardly anybody read and most people were apparently ashamed to be seen reading is attacked and people killed, and suddenly millions of French people are in the streets claiming to be “Charlie” and the dead journalists are treated as secular saints. So it turns out that the abusive attitudes of the journal are actually apparently shared by the French establishment and much of the population, behind a polite facade of tolerance and defence of free speech. That’ll go down well in Saint-Denis, whatever rationalisations are officially offered for it.
And, like the IRA, they don’t claim to represent their people (though the IRA saw themselves as defenders of the Catholics at the very beginning). They see themselves in a vanguard role, behaving righteously, punishing criminal blasphemers and representatives of a state that attacks Muslim countries. They don’t expect other Muslims necessarily to agree with them. But in their eyes they are right.
Getting out of all this may require more intelligence and political skill than the current government has yet displayed, and almost superhuman patience and judgement from a Muslim community which has no real central control.

552

yabonn 01.12.15 at 7:30 pm

the abusive attitudes of the journal are actually apparently shared by the French establishment

Noooo. Nonono. If only.

Take, for instance, CH critics of the state of the banlieues. Its defence of paperless migrants. Or the of poors in general. Or it’s opposition to bombing people far away. It’s critics of life in the jail. Its pooping all over the powerful, the holy, the patriotic, the unquestionable, the bloody fucking transcendent.

No. Or maybe the establishment shares it, but just not professionally.

553

Brett Bellmore 01.12.15 at 7:52 pm

“Agree it’s essential to stop this being seen as a Muslim/Christian thing, although I fear that’s the way it’s going, in spite of the government’s efforts.”

Nah. It’s a depressingly large subset of Muslims/everybody else including the rest of Muslims, thing. It just looks like a Muslim/Christian thing because anti-semites make excuses for the Jew killing aspect, and the western media mostly blow off the killing other Muslims part, though it makes up by far the majority of the killing.

The problem is, you can’t tell the snarks from the boojums until they kill somebody, and snarks ‘spontaneously’ (Like hell it’s spontaneous, but freedom of religion says you can’t arrest the Imams.) transform into boojums at some non-trivial rate.

554

David 01.12.15 at 8:16 pm

@yabonn (552). Indeed, that’s why I said “apparently”. I certainly don’t think that French elites share most of CH’s views on the subjects you mentioned. But from the point of view of a French Muslim kid who has never read CH, but has a vague idea that it’s been saying rude and even aggressive things about part of his culture, and then sees millions of people, led by heads of state from all over the world come out marching in its defence …. well, let’s just say it’s not very helpful. And there is no doubt that the march, and the associated media frenzy, enabled certain groups to express a genteel anti-Muslim feeling they’d never normally feel able to articulate, usually under cover of “fighting terrorism”.

555

Ze Kraggash 01.12.15 at 8:24 pm

Of course it’s not a Muslim/Christian thing. It’s mostly a middle-eastern anti-colonial/anti-western thing. The Algerian war of independence ended only in the 60s, Iraq was invaded and occupied in 2003 for 10 years, Palestine is still struggling. That’s the context, even if it’s often denounced as a long new crusade.

556

yabonn 01.12.15 at 9:07 pm

David @554
No. First the French Muslim kid has to be a real idiot if he hasn’t noticed that all muslim organizations have called to participate to the demo. Then, the certains groups – on all sides – are saying about the same as before, arguing that what happened proves their point.

557

Val 01.12.15 at 10:28 pm

Ze @ 533
Perhaps lawyers here might be better able to advise, but I think legislation relating to prejudice and discrimination (including hate speech) relates to shared attributes such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, culture, religion, etc (at least here in Australia as far as I know). It’s never just about individual “hurt feelings” in the sense you and JanieM seem to be thinking.

There can be recourse for individual hurt feelings under other legislation such as bullying or defamation, and all kinds of settlements and judgements can include compensation for hurt feelings ( or ‘pain and suffering’ in general), but if it relates to discrimination it has to be on prohibited grounds – ie not just ‘you’re a pain in the neck’ but ‘you’re a pain in the neck because you’re Muslim, or female, or gay’ etc. The implication being that it is that attribute which makes you inferior and by extension, people with that attribute are inferior (and worthy of hatred in the case of hate speech).

That’s my amateur explanation – as I say, lawyers may explain it better, and more elegantly – but I think that’s right. The whole discussion over “hurt feelings” (or “offense” which is the debate we’ve had here) tends to be a diversionary tactic by the right, so beware.

558

Ronan(rf) 01.13.15 at 12:43 am

Interesting article on these types of attacks (which supports David/Peter T all the way above about being sceptical of AQAP links)

http://warontherocks.com/2015/01/inspired-networked-directed-the-muddled-jihad-of-isis-al-qaeda-post-hebdo/?singlepage=1

(also next CH cover ,fwiw – http://mic.com/articles/108288/here-is-charlie-hebdo-s-next-cover-and-it-s-absolutely-perfect)

559

Ronan(rf) 01.13.15 at 12:53 am

..actually, it doesnt really support scepticism of such links. Just different ways of thinking about them.

560

JanieM 01.13.15 at 1:01 am

The whole discussion over “hurt feelings” (or “offense” which is the debate we’ve had here) tends to be a diversionary tactic by the right, so beware.

In the face of disagreement, condescend.

That’s sure to bring us around.

561

ZM 01.13.15 at 1:17 am

js,

” It would be fun if someone did a Pasolini-style take on the life of Muhammad, but sadly that doesn’t seem like an imminent possibility.”

It is not about Muhammad but I just saw yesterday that Aeon magazine is showing The House Is Black (1962) by the Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad on its website at the moment.
http://aeon.co/video/health/the-house-is-black-a-short-film-about-leprosy-in-iran-aeon/

It is a sort of short experimental poetic documentary film about lepers in a leper colony, and widely thought to be influential on the Iranian New Wave directors – Kiarostami’s The Wind Will Carry Us takes its name from one of her poems. One time at a screening Kiarostami sat in front of me and a friend who was doing her thesis on Italian films and politics, and Bakhtin’s theory of the carnivalesque (Rabelais and his world ). But I don’t think I have seen any of pasolini’s films myself.

There are many interesting Iranian films, but the two I have seen by Majid Majidi would make me think he is not among the most thoughtful of the Iranian directors.

If you like films that are conscious about films and filmmaking – then you would find a plethora among Iranian films, for example – Once Upon A Time Cinema; Close Up; Salaam Cinema; Bread and Flower (A Moment of Innocence); The Apple; The Wind Will Carry Us; Shirin; This Is Not A Film…

If you are thinking of a very confronting film – then there is Two Legged Horse (written by Mohsen Makhmalbaf and directed by his daughter Samira) but just reading about that one and watching a couple of shorts was too much for me. It is about a poor homeless boy who is paid to help another boy who is wealthy but doesn’t have the use of his legs – and the wealthy boy turns the poor boy in to a horse for himself . Very awful.

I think it must be very hard for the Iranian directors these days – much worse even than the Iran-Iraq-war days (see Marriage of the Blessed).. Mohsen Makhmalbaf recently made a film about a dictator and his grandson after the collapse of his regime . At the start the dictator has the lights of the city all turn off for the amusement of his grandson – then they are on the run together with a bounty on his head

http://youtu.be/SbMOfJzqTtk

562

Ze Kraggash 01.13.15 at 1:27 am

@557

I got it from wikipedia: “Those laws protect individuals and groups from being defamed or insulted” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_laws_in_France

Like I said, I think it’s a wrong approach, protecting people from being insulted. For many reasons, but I don’t want to get into explaining that.

Preventing incitement of ethnic/religious hatred, on the other hand, is definitely a compelling public interest.

563

Ronan(rf) 01.13.15 at 1:54 am

564

MPAVictoria 01.13.15 at 2:08 am

@563
Very interesting Ronan. Thank you

565

Val 01.13.15 at 2:10 am

JanieM @ 560
Apologies JanieM I wrote that last bit in a hurry because I had just gone past my tram stop! Didn’t mean it to sound condescending.

For a bit of context, we had a big debate here in Australia about whether the words ‘be offended by’ should be in anti-vilification or anti-discrimination legislation. The key point was whether people should have the right to be protected from statements that were offensive because they referred to race/ethnicity etc, but by focusing on the seeming triviality of people being “offended” the right hoped to make the legislation look trivial and silly. The point of course is that the statements are offensive because they’re racist (or sexist or homophobic or whatever) but by focusing on the supposed trivia of “being offended”, the right wing opponents of the legislation turn the whole thing into a victim blaming episode and distract from the issues.

566

Val 01.13.15 at 2:13 am

To put my point more simply and I hope more clearly – they try to shift the focus from ‘racism is offensive’ to ‘people who are offended by racist remarks are silly and weak’.

567

JanieM 01.13.15 at 2:31 am

Val, I shouldn’t have been snarky. But I have had a lot of unpleasant conversations over the decades with people who assume that if I don’t agree with them, it can only be because I’m either too stupid or too ill-informed to come to the correct conclusion. So it’s a bit of a hair-trigger for me.

I don’t have the time (or probably the patience) to go much further with this. But I see laws like the ones you’re describing as a potentially slippery slope, and as a precedent or a tool that can cut both ways. I find it all to easy to imagine my country evolving in such a way that I am the one being silenced.

568

ZM 01.13.15 at 2:42 am

“. I find it all to easy to imagine my country evolving in such a way that I am the one being silenced.”

I don’t really want to get into an argument with you – but you are not at the moment being silenced by your country – whereas your and our government in Australia has bombed and indiscriminately killed great numbers of probably mostly Islamic people in the Middle East, done extraordinary rendition and torture, still I think has people imprisoned in Guantanamo bay, the president come Tuesday decides who is to be assassinated by drone this week – all this shows Islamic people are in a much worse state than yourself just worried about being silenced in some far off future not being killed right now – and nasty cartoons just further this by dehumanising them so Westerners don’t feel impelled to vote for peaceful and fair governments.

And I noticed reading The Blood of Others for a subject that French people themselves bombed civilians during the resistance.

569

MPAVictoria 01.13.15 at 3:11 am

Part of the reason that Islamic states are in a worse situation is because of things like blasphemy laws and religious extremism.

570

js. 01.13.15 at 3:28 am

ZM @561:

Yeah, Jafar Panahi is one of my favorite directors from the last couple of decades, and I love some of Kiarostami’s stuff as well (Close Up is incredible, and The Cherry Tree is great as well; Certified Copy too, but that’s a bit different.) Oddly, I haven’t seen any Makhmalbaf films, but this is something I need to fix soon. Anyway, thanks for the link to Farrokhzad, I don’t know anything about it, or her, but I will be checking it out very soon.

571

J. Parnell Thomas 01.13.15 at 5:04 am

@346: great post!

572

J Thomas 01.13.15 at 8:15 am

#557 Val

The whole discussion over “hurt feelings” (or “offense” which is the debate we’ve had here) tends to be a diversionary tactic by the right, so beware.

A french communist once explained to me the basic approach to stopping things from happening in political meetings: Insist that whatever is decided must be fair to everybody, and then start imagining third parties that it would not be fair to.

A corollary — to inhibit discussion, insist that nobody say anything that could insult any possible third party, and call them on it when they do.

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Val 01.13.15 at 10:15 am

@562
Possibly we are actually in agreement, but anyway – the laws don’t protect people from being insulted or offended per se (nothing could do that, as I’m sure a brief reading of CT or any other blog with comments would show!). They protect people from being offended or insulted on the basis of race, ethnicity etc.

So you or I could say to each other ‘you’re stupid’ and apart from being uncivil, there’s not much we could do about it. But if I said to you, you’re stupid because you’re Jewish and Jews are stupid, or you said to me, you’re stupid because you’re female and females are stupid, that’s discriminatory. (On the other hand if I said to you, you’re stupid because you’re a yank, and you said to me, you’re stupid because you’re an Aussie, we might be insulted, but probably wouldn’t see it as discriminatory, because yanks and Aussies are in fact privileged groups in the greater scheme of things – so it’s about power and privilege, as ever, but anyway I’m sure you know all this anyway).

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Brett Bellmore 01.13.15 at 11:10 am

“” It would be fun if someone did a Pasolini-style take on the life of Muhammad, but sadly that doesn’t seem like an imminent possibility.””

I’d enjoy seeing a Python-style take on the life of Muhammad, something like Life of Brian. But it can’t happen, because it would end up looking more like “How Not to be Seen”

BTW, is there a pamphlet available on what triggers auto-moderation? Looks like I need to read it.

575

Lee A. Arnold 01.13.15 at 12:22 pm

ZM #561: “If you like films that are conscious about films and filmmaking – then you would find a plethora among Iranian films…”

One of the greatest of such films, for all time, is by Kiarostami, and it is only 3 minutes long:

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Lynne 01.13.15 at 12:53 pm

I haven’t followed this thread closely but just want to say how much I like # 465 and # 501, by JanieM.

The mantra “freedom of religion” is too often used without distinguishing practice from belief. I am glad to see it spelled out.

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Ronan(rf) 01.13.15 at 1:26 pm

Brett – has your moderated comment you were talking about not come through yet ? why not copy and paste it in a new comment minus the link ?

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MPAVictoria 01.13.15 at 2:17 pm

I would say that this article seems relevant:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/01/13/radicalization_in_french_prisons_moderate_muslim_chaplains_beg_for_more.html

Lets spend the money on prevention. It might help and it doesn’t seem like it would cost very much when compared to other approaches.

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engels 01.13.15 at 3:02 pm

Open letter by a Charlie Hebdo ex-staffer which is very critical of the magazine’s ‘growing obsession with Islam’ since 9/11:

http://www.article11.info/?Charlie-Hebdo-pas-raciste-Si-vous#pagination_page

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Brett Bellmore 01.13.15 at 3:19 pm

Ronan: I did, and it went into moderation. Then I tried posting half of it, thinking it was a length issue, and it went into moderation. Perhaps I’ll post it at my own blog, and just leave a link.

The essence of my point on “racism”, though, is that racism doesn’t consist of statistical beliefs about racial groups, which are empirical questions. It isn’t racist to think that blacks are more prone to hypertension, for instance. Racism consists of thinking that such generalizations tell you what you need to know about individuals.

The essence of racism isn’t holding beliefs about races. Such beliefs may, on a statistical basis, be mistaken, they may be correct. It is treating people as instances of a group, rather than as individuals. Thinking that it makes sense to lynch a random black because somebody said a black committed a crime is racism. Finding the specific black so accused, and lynching them, is vigilanteeism, not racism. The Bell Curve wasn’t ‘racist’, thinking that it tells you anything about the IQ of a particular black you meet most certainly would be.

Islam not being a race, a viewpoint concerning Islam can’t be “racist”. I may think that Islam has unfortunate social dynamics, especially as Muslims become more common in a society. But I don’t make the mistake of thinking this tells me diddly squat about any particular Muslim I might encounter.

The social dynamics of Islam explain why you would likely get killed trying to convert people to Christianity in many majority Muslim nations. The character of the individual explains why this particular Muslim points you out to the mob, or hides you from them.

We have to take both levels of knowledge into account when crafting policies. We can’t do that if we confuse them.

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David 01.13.15 at 3:21 pm

Interesting as it is, this thread is moving slightly away from the subject, which is not discrimination, freedom of expression, insults or tolerance, but blasphemy, and how we deal with blasphemy in a post-religious society.
In theory, law exists to articulate and protect the norms of a society. Until modern times, all European societies had strict laws against blasphemy, usually with horrible punishments attached, as a way of upholding some of these norms. Those who ordered and carried out these punishments saw themselves as following the will of God, as set down by various accepted biblical scriptures. Sometimes individuals took the law into their own hands. So in 16th century France or England, for example, the concept of religious freedom (even of belief) was essentially meaningless, and even dangerous. Religious freedom only really becomes possibles as religious faith itself starts to decay. So what do you do when a small group feels very strongly that the law should still punish blasphemy, but the majority of the population no longer does. (I don’t think any of the Muslim religious leaders trotted out by the media has actually said they think blasphemy is a good thing). Some, at least, of the believers will take the law into their own hands.
To get a faint idea of what blasphemy once meant, think of human rights today, which has many of the characteristics of a secular religion. It has its texts and its exegesis, its radicals and its moderates, and, most of all its militants who identify those they see as human rights violators and demand that they be punished, and even killed. In some countries (the US for example) such people have been influential in foreign policy, and caused much death and suffering as a result, feeling all the time morally justified in what they are doing. The analogy is not exact, of course, but will give you some idea.
And ironically these two traditions have in fact merged – Coulibaly, the second killer, saw himself punishing France (and also Israel) for its human rights violations in the Middle East.

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.13.15 at 3:47 pm

@579 great letter, although I had to use “translate.” Also some good examples of what we’re talking about, which goes way past “blasphemy” and is very reminiscent of Nazi propaganda cartoons.

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J Thomas 01.13.15 at 3:49 pm

#580 BB

Ronan: I did, and it went into moderation. Then I tried posting half of it, thinking it was a length issue, and it went into moderation. Perhaps I’ll post it at my own blog, and just leave a link.

I’ve experimented with it some. Mostly what I’ve seen has been keywords. If you mention a gambling game, like pokRr, that will do it. Sometimes the name of a country, like Semalia.

If the first half didn’t post there was likely a word in the first half that did it.

My approach was to look for candidate words and post just the words I thought might have done it, and if it wasn’t any of those candidates then try others. Then rewrite without those particular words. I’ve seldom had more than two trigger words in one post.

I have never been moderated for a post that was too long, but sometimes for one that was too short or too soon after the one before that. But for those it gives an error message and refuses it, it doesn’t keep it hidden until a later time. So that’s a different result from the keyword moderation.

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engels 01.13.15 at 3:49 pm

The essence of racism isn’t holding beliefs about races. Such beliefs may, on a statistical basis, be mistaken, they may be correct. It is treating people as instances of a group, rather than as individuals.

-racist troll

racism ra¦cism reɪsɪz(ə)m noun [mass noun] 1The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races: theories of racism.

-Islamo-communist OED

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engels 01.13.15 at 3:50 pm

586

Hector_St_Clare 01.13.15 at 3:53 pm

“The essence of racism isn’t holding beliefs about races. Such beliefs may, on a statistical basis, be mistaken, they may be correct. It is treating people as instances of a group, rather than as individuals. Thinking that it makes sense to lynch a random black because somebody said a black committed a crime is racism. Finding the specific black so accused, and lynching them, is vigilanteeism, not racism. The Bell Curve wasn’t ‘racist’, thinking that it tells you anything about the IQ of a particular black you meet most certainly would be.”

++1.

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bianca steele 01.13.15 at 3:58 pm

engels, thanks for the link. I wonder how much the self-consciously secular–like Dawkins, too–have convinced themselves that there’s so little to fear from religious fundamentalism in more traditionally “European” religions, that they can use “Islam” as a synonym for “religious fundamentalism.” They seem to think that they can recreate (by using compulsion alone) the calm secular society of the mid 20th century, in which religious Islam–like the other big monotheisms–will have been neutralized.

David, your “Religious freedom only really becomes possibles as religious faith itself starts to decay” seems to contradict what others have said above about making sure Muslims know their own religion allows for non-fundamentalism, and religious freedom for all. Possibly you have a way to reconcile these (I think I know how they can be more-or-less reconciled from the side of those others, but your statement is very absolute).

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J Thomas 01.13.15 at 3:58 pm

#580 BB

Ronan: I did, and it went into moderation. Then I tried posting half of it, thinking it was a length issue, and it went into moderation. Perhaps I’ll post it at my own blog, and just leave a link.

I’ve experimented with it some. Mostly what I’ve seen has been keywords. If you mention a game, like the card thing Bush Junior was famous for, that will do it. Sometimes the name of a country, like the one with the pirates.

If the first half didn’t post there was likely a word in the first half that did it.

My approach was to look for candidate words and post just the words I thought might have done it, and if it wasn’t any of those candidates then try others. Then rewrite without those particular words. I’ve seldom had more than two trigger words in one post.

I have never been moderated for a post that was too long, but sometimes for one that was too short or too soon after the one before that. But for those it gives an error message and refuses it, it doesn’t keep it hidden until a later time. So that’s a different result from the keyword moderation.

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.13.15 at 4:01 pm

BTW the other day I saw an (apparently) elderly woman in Muslim clothes and a black cloth with eye-holes over her face, accompanied by a teenage girl in western clothes, face and hair uncovered. I’m going to guess that the face cover was the woman’s preference.

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Stephen 01.13.15 at 5:07 pm

David@551: You say of Islamists that “like the IRA, they don’t claim to represent their people”. Minor quibble, but the way I heard it, the IRA used to maintain that they were the legitimate government of Ireland.

Ronan will no doubt correct me if I am wrong.

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Stephen 01.13.15 at 5:34 pm

Engels@583: not sure I can follow you here. The OED definition of racism seems accurate: “The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race”. This is trivially true of some anatomical and genetic characteristicss (skin colour being the one that some people are, for whatever reasons, obsessed with). The continued definition as “especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races” is fair enough. Racism, in that sense, is not biologically defensible with regard to existing populations: though I suspect that not many people would doubt that the races known as H. erectus, or H. neanderthalis, were in some ways inferior to H. sapiens.

But I cannot easily see why this is incompatible with what Brett Bellmore is saying with regard to qualities that are _not_ always different in every member of different races: that the different populations may differ statistically, but you cannot possibly treat individuals of one population as necessarily having qualities that, statistically, are more or less abundant in their population. For example: the ability to run short distances very fast does seem to be most highly developed in West African populations, but I have known West Africans whose diet has left them unable to run a hundred yards at all.

You say BB is a racist troll. For all I know, he may be: I haven’t followed his posting record. But even a racist may, from time to time, advance a coherent argument.

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engels 01.13.15 at 6:07 pm

Okay, Stephen, just one example – from the very paragraph you quoted:

Thinking that it makes sense to lynch a random black because somebody said a black committed a crime is racism. Finding the specific black so accused, and lynching them, is vigilanteeism, not racism.

Lynching of a randomly chosen black person – racism
Lynching of a black person who was suspected of a crime – not racism

This is offensive, racist bullshit.

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Ronan(rf) 01.13.15 at 6:14 pm

I agree with JPT @587. Wearing the Burqa should be seen as a personal choice rather than a political hot potato.. and most of the evidence I know shows that’s(personal cjoice) what it is, ie

http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/reports/unveiling-truth-why-32-muslim-women-wear-full-face-veil-france

also, this is a pretty good book for anyone interested

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/books/do-muslim-women-need-saving-by-lila-abu-lughod/2008723.article

(I think it’s an interesting topic, but incredibly complicated and a bit of a minefield. Live and let live is a good starting ground, IMO)

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Ronan(rf) 01.13.15 at 6:24 pm

Thats my impresion Stephen, although Im not 100% on the specifics. Anyway, as you no doubt know, claiming to be the legit govt of ireland isnt entirely unusual. Id assume perhaps 20% of the pop has done so at one stage.

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Mitch Guthman 01.13.15 at 6:32 pm

Ronan(rf),

Except that wearing the burqa isn’t a just a personal choice in a society that has secularism as one of its foundational principles. This is an outward manifestation of religious belief that intrudes upon the public spaces that belong to everybody. In the context of French society, it is very much a political statement, in much the same way as saying that everyone in France is forbidden to blaspheme against Islam. It is very much a clash between the rights of individuals against the right of a state to organize its civil society along the lines that it feels are best.

I have noticed that a great many people in this comment thread have simply chosen to superimpose their own views of how a society should be run on France, rather than respect the choices that the French people have made.

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JanieM 01.13.15 at 6:35 pm

engels: Lynching of a black person who was suspected of a crime – not racism

This is offensive, racist bullshit.

Yes. It’s not like lynching victims came equally, much less proportionally to population, from among people of various skin colors.

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Ronan(rf) 01.13.15 at 6:39 pm

Mitch – yeah, I was going to expand on that and say that the veil ban also makes sense in the specific political/historical context in France (I dont know enough about it though, so decided not to) I think though – and correct me if Im wrong – that the ban *also* has to be seen in the political climate of the present, which is a rise in opposition to Islam (for want of a better phrasing) So it’s implementation *isnt* entirely political neutral, it was implemented because of the rise of the far right and greater hostility to Muslims.
It’s not my cup of tea, personally, (leaving aside normative preferences i dont see how it’s enforceable, and it seems incredibly intrusive) but the French can of course do what they like

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Rich Puchalsky 01.13.15 at 7:10 pm

Mitch Guthman: “Except that wearing the burqa isn’t a just a personal choice in a society that has secularism as one of its foundational principles. This is an outward manifestation of religious belief that intrudes upon the public spaces that belong to everybody. “

Every now and then I check in on the thread to see if it’s gotten any better: nope. But this one stuck out even in this thread. Those French people are so *exotic*, so unlike the typical commenters here! Who knows what strange folkways and beliefs they have? Surely we can’t assume that our own cultural values are like those of a people so unlike us.

But I do wonder why these strange, exotic French people don’t ban wearing turbans in public. Those are a religious symbol which would equally well intrude on public space, one would think. Oh wait it’s a ban on face covering, so it only affects Muslim religious clothing, not that of any other major religion.

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Ronan(rf) 01.13.15 at 7:16 pm

That’s clearly not Mitch’s point Rich. He isn’t ‘exoticising’ anyone.
And I’m really not sure how much value the rest of your comment ads, even relative to the (by your accounts anyway) usefulness of the rest of the thread.
I love these CT ad hominem drive bys. Where would we be without them.

600

J Thomas 01.13.15 at 7:21 pm

#594 Mitch Guthman

Except that wearing the burqa isn’t a just a personal choice in a society that has secularism as one of its foundational principles. This is an outward manifestation of religious belief that intrudes upon the public spaces that belong to everybody.

I dunno. It sounds like a personal fashion choice to me. My wife used to wear a headscarf sometimes in college and the other women who wore them weren’t offended, or if they were they hid it well.

So some women are required to wear styles they think are obscene or at least highly provocative, or else stay home? For secularism?

I guess it wouldn’t be practical, but I sure think it would be a lot fairer to not allow any women to be clothed in public. That would likely offend all the major religions more-or-less equally. But it seems like the point is to offend only muslims….

I haven’t kept up with the controversy and my suggestion is probably a cliche without my knowledge. Sorry about that.

601

The Temporary Name 01.13.15 at 7:27 pm

I wonder why churches are allowed. You can’t see what’s going on in there. And they’re, like, IN YOUR FACE with the steeples and stained glass and such. The message to the thugs in the National Front is as plain as day.

602

Mitch Guthman 01.13.15 at 7:38 pm

Rich Puchalsky at 596,

Neither the turban nor the fez would be banned under French laws because they are not actually religious symbols or outward displays of faith. Both as simply head-coverings. The turban is popular on the Indian Subcontinent but its wearing and sometimes its colour or special markings do have religious and cultural significance but, essentially, it’s just a hat, just a the hats popular with ultra-orthodox Jewish men is just a hat. None of these head-coverings would be banned.The burqa, by contrast, is an entirely religious display.

By the way, the French version of secularism is not even remotely as strict as Turkey’s version that has been gradually hacked away at by the Islamists when they came to power there. There’s always been a lot of play in the joints of the system and until it became politicized by the Islamists and the extreme-right, there weren’t any significant problems.

The point is that laïque doesn’t discriminate against any particular religion. But it does try to keep religion out of the public spaces and schools as much as possible. It doesn’t bother most people in France because unlike in the United States, there is no state religion and people aren’t constantly being bombarded by the ravings of religious lunatics. Neither is the president of France required to end every speech by invoking Christ, which I think is a great improvement over my country.

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js. 01.13.15 at 7:50 pm

Neither the turban nor the fez would be banned under French laws because they are not actually religious symbols or outward displays of faith.

It’s lovely when people who have no fucking idea what they’re talking about are so blithely confident.

604

MPAVictoria 01.13.15 at 7:52 pm

“Neither is the president of France required to end every speech by invoking Christ, which I think is a great improvement over my country.”

I don’t agree with everything said in your comment Mitch but this is 100% right and 0% wrong.

605

Mitch Guthman 01.13.15 at 7:52 pm

J. Thomas at 598,

I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make and, frankly, you seem like you’re being deliberately obtuse for your own twisted amusement. Consequently, I’m sure I will regret this but I would like to point out that the rights of any woman who is wearing a burqa or voile purely as a fashion statement and not a an outward manifestation of her faith wouldn’t really be terribly infringed.   Surely respect for the rights of an entire society to something that is foundational to it republican values would vastly outweigh the making of a fashion statement? 

If you have an actual point to make, I really wish you just get on with making it and stop trying to be clever.  

606

MPAVictoria 01.13.15 at 7:55 pm

Mitch trust me you are wasting your time….

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Mitch Guthman 01.13.15 at 8:02 pm

JS at 601,

Your comment implies that you believe yourself to have knowledge and expertise that I lack. Perhaps you could demonstrate same?

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David 01.13.15 at 8:04 pm

@ bianca steele – yes, the comment about religious freedom was put in rather stark terms, because I wanted to insist on the point that blasphemy, historically, is only really seen as important when societies take religious faith very seriously, and see a challenge to religious faith as a challenge to society itself. In practice genuine religious freedom, as opposed to mere toleration, is very rare until modern times, and is correlated fairly exactly with the declining power of organised religion. In France, for example, less than 5% of people go to church, and many of those do so principally out of habit and nostalgia. Most people are not so much tolerant of religion as completely indifferent to it. They don’t really care, as such, what people with religions of their own do. On the other hand, the small hardcore Catholic community in France (which is growing in power) is not tolerant of other religions at all, and some of it hankers after a return to the Catholicism of the 19th century.
We shouldn’t confuse freedom with toleration. The Ottoman empire, for example, tolerated other faiths, but only as long as they behaved themselves, kept out of the way and accepted second-class status. If they started agitating for more rights, they were swiftly trodden on. In part, this was because Islam was never an organised state religion, and therefore other religions were warily tolerated, partly because of the absence of real means of enforcement, and partly because other religions did not pose a political threat. In Catholic France or Protestant England, on the other hand, state power and national identity were combined with religious identity. Heretics were therefore dangerous. In practical terms, all this only started to change when society became more secularized, and people started to care less.
@Stephen, no, your point on the IRA isn’t a quibble. As I understand it (and I’m English) the IRA claimed to be fighting for a united socialist Ireland, and refused to accept the division of Ireland after the Civil War, in, I think from memory, 1921. They actually saw the government of the Irish Republic as illegitimate, by virtue of having allowed the English to remain in power in the North, and were at least as hostile to it as they were to the English, something that was not often understood at the time. They did not see themselves as the legitimate government, so much as the military force, fighting to overthrow the governments in Belfast, and then in Dublin, to permit the creation of the socialist Ireland they dreamed of.
I think. But I’m open to correction…..

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js. 01.13.15 at 8:07 pm

MG, I’d just suggest you go tell a practicing Sikh how a turban is “just a hat” and “not actually [a] religious symbol” and come back and let us know what he or she says.

610

J Thomas 01.13.15 at 8:07 pm

#601 Mitch Guthman

The burqa, by contrast, is an entirely religious display.

I don’t think so. My wife wanted one so I looked for how to buy it online. They will sell them to anybody who has the money, there is absolutely no proof of membership required.

There’s a big variety in style, too. Lots of places they don’t wear burqas at all, and the places they do wear them there are differences to the point they’re sold not just by nationality but by substyle.

http://www.zarinas.com/burqas.shtml
http://www.zarinas.com/chador.shtml
http://www.zarinas.com/hijab.shtml
http://www.zarinas.com/dresses_abaya.shtml

This issue would be usefully muddled if more french women took up similar styles part of the time. It’s surprising how cool a wool burqa can be in the summer. They allow good airflow.

611

Rich Puchalsky 01.13.15 at 8:11 pm

The French law banning religious garb in state schools *does* ban turbans and yarmulkes. Gosh, how could this be? We were just told that they weren’t outward displays of faith. Can some expert on the exotic French people inform me further about their mysterious folkways?

You know, perhaps people could also inform me about why the poll tax in the U.S. was always considered to be racist. I mean, it affected everyone, right? There’s no mention of black people specifically anywhere in the old poll tax laws. Could someone educate me about that as well?

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David 01.13.15 at 8:11 pm

Mitch, you are right about burquas etc. There’s several hundred years of history here, bitter church/state confrontations, collaboration of the Catholic Church with the Nazis and a pile of other trivia. This is why there was a huge fuss last month when a right-wing town hall wanted to put a crèche with Jesus in the entrance. This is serious stuff in France.

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MPAVictoria 01.13.15 at 8:14 pm

“In part, this was because Islam was never an organised state religion, “

The Ottoman Sultan claimed to be the Caliph of all muslims…. So yeah no.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Caliphate

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J Thomas 01.13.15 at 8:14 pm

#601 Mitch Guthman

The burqa, by contrast, is an entirely religious display.

I don’t think so. My wife wanted one so I looked for how to buy it online. They will sell them to anybody who has the money, there is absolutely no proof of membership required.

There’s a big variety in style, too. Lots of places they don’t wear burqas at all, and the places they do wear them there are differences to the point they’re sold not just by nationality but by substyle.

http://www.zarinas.com/burqas.shtml

Also look at chador, hijab, and abaya. Abayas are sometimes just dresses and sometimes come with headscarf.

This issue would be usefully muddled if more french women took up similar styles part of the time. It’s surprising how cool a wool burqa can be in the summer. They allow good airflow.

These are not muslim symbols until you make them muslim symbols. They are fashion statements that originated in nations that had strong muslim influence. If you give yourself the freedom to wear them, then the symbolism evaporates.

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David 01.13.15 at 8:16 pm

@MPAVictoria. Yes of course it did, but there was never the equivalent of the politico-religious hierarchies we saw in most of Europe. This was the state co-opting religion as an instrument.

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MPAVictoria 01.13.15 at 8:18 pm

Sorry David I am not sure what you are saying. Being Islamic was every bit as tied up with the Ottomans identities as being Christian was for European countries.

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Ronan(rf) 01.13.15 at 8:20 pm

David 606 – you might be right (re the IRA) I personally dont know.Once you get involved in the minute of the Republican movement it gets complicated, and quite strange, pretty quickly ie

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_republican_legitimatism

(a lot it appears to depend on what Tom Maquire say. Scroll down)

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JanieM 01.13.15 at 8:21 pm

unlike in the United States, there is no state religion

wtf?

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.13.15 at 8:33 pm

Proyect linked to a collection of translations of the CH letter.
http://louisproyect.org/2015/01/13/charlie-hebdo-not-racist-if-you-say-so/

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David 01.13.15 at 8:41 pm

@MPA Victoria You are right of course, and what I was trying to say is that, whereas for political reasons the Ottomans laid claim to the Caliphate succession, they were realistic about the existence of other religions in their large and fragmented domain. It comes back to the distinction between tolerance and genuine religious freedom. For the Ottomans, Islam was their badge of honour, essentially internally focused. Other religions were tolerated, but no more

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bianca steele 01.13.15 at 8:42 pm

David, as a historical point you are correct, to some extent, maybe “historically” implies something like “with the exception of very recent times.” But you say,

blasphemy, historically, is only really seen as important when societies take religious faith very seriously, and see a challenge to religious faith as a challenge to society itself.

And I think it’s important that logically (if not, as I said, historically) this isn’t the case. For one thing, it’s entirely possible for people who are what I think you would call “secularized,” though still believing in some way, to take blasphemy pretty seriously. It’s just a step too far in the direction of causing offense about something important.

For another, here and in your earlier comment, you’re pretty much saying that people who tolerate others’ religions have weak faith. But that’s only true if faith is understood in a certain way. And the public existence of other faiths is only a challenge to faith if challenge is understood in a certain way. On the contrary, pretty much all religions have and continue to evolve in the direction of understanding other faiths as paths to the truth, and people of other faiths as deserving equal respect. And if the ultimate destination of that evolution, for some people, is secularism, then that’s the path France (like, for the most part, England) seems to have taken. From this point of view, it’s incomprehensible that France could be intolerant of any religion.

But also, how does that statement sound to someone who’s wavering on the verge of either radical Islamic separatism or reactionary Catholicism? To my ears, it’s indistinguishable from imaginable statements by reactionary Catholics about the need to enforce state religion.

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J Thomas 01.13.15 at 8:45 pm

#604 Mitch Guthman

I would like to point out that the rights of any woman who is wearing a burqa or voile purely as a fashion statement and not a an outward manifestation of her faith wouldn’t really be terribly infringed. Surely respect for the rights of an entire society to something that is foundational to it republican values would vastly outweigh the making of a fashion statement?

On looking at the link that Rich provided I see that as I vaguely remembered it applies only to primary and secondary schools. Do you want to apply it to all of french public society? (My own children in America face something similar, they are not allowed to wear hats or hoodies, apparently to make it harder for them to join youth gangs. But it turns out they can wear hoodies after all provided they keep the hoods down, and they can put the hoods up while they are outdoors. Also they can wear hats outdoors, which is a good thing when the rain is cold.)

It sounds like according to the wording of the law it is supposed to apply to yarmulkes, kippahs, turbans etc but not to Mormon garments (which incidentally are officially supposed to be for sale only to actual Mormons. NOT a fashion). But school administrators get to choose how to selectively enforce the rule.

I get the impression that the whole thing was quite controversial in france when it was decided, and there are various grounds to legitimately disagree, and it hasn’t really been sorted out yet. You certainly have a right to your opinion. I personally believe it would be better to make these clothing items into a fashion statement rather than a religious display. If they make some sort of patented or copyrighted version which can only be worn by muslims, then maybe ban *that*. Take away the emotional charge from the clothing as religious symbol and we’re all better off.

623

J Thomas 01.13.15 at 8:47 pm

#617 JanieM

“unlike in the United States, there is no state religion”

wtf?

Isn’t it interesting how perceptions differ….

624

bianca steele 01.13.15 at 8:50 pm

Like Janie, I’m perplexed by Mitch’s statement, and I’m wondering what this supposed state religion is supposed to be. Since I have never met a person who thought they belonged to it. And I’ve met a lot of people from a lot of different religions. Maybe the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

625

js. 01.13.15 at 8:53 pm

JT,

There are two different laws.

626

Rich Puchalsky 01.13.15 at 8:54 pm

J Thomas: “On looking at the link that Rich provided I see that as I vaguely remembered it applies only to primary and secondary schools.”

That’s strange, I linked to two different wiki pages. I wonder … could there be two different French laws? Really? Wow, that’s weird. And one of them covers state schools, an area where the state is traditionally allowed more control, and bans all religious clothing, while the other law covers everyone outside and just affects Muslims? Gosh, this is so difficult to understand.

627

js. 01.13.15 at 8:58 pm

Seems to me that very little of what Mitch Guthman has said makes much sense, so I’m not spending much time trying to figure it out. But what JanieM highlighted is really egregiously weird.

628

J Thomas 01.13.15 at 9:23 pm

#625 Rich Puchalsky

J Thomas: “On looking at the link that Rich provided I see that as I vaguely remembered it applies only to primary and secondary schools.”

That’s strange, I linked to two different wiki pages.

I was wrong. Sorry about that.

629

Mitch Guthman 01.13.15 at 9:41 pm

Rich Puchalsky at 608 and JS at 605,

Actually, I don’t believe any case have been brought about turbans so there isn’t any definitave interpretation yet but, as I read it, the 2004 law does not apply to turbans as such but only to those which are tied in a distinctive manner or have a peculier design that marks the wearer as a Sikh man.  A turban like any other worn on the Indian Subcontinent or in part of the Arab world would be treat as secular headgear and would not be prohibited.  Headscarfs are likewise permissible because they do not have outward religious significance.  Similarly, an observant Jew can wear a hat or a cap but not a headcovering that is an unmistakable religious symbol.  

There have been a number of different laws on the subject.  The 2004 law you’re looking at is part of the education code and only applies to schools.  The most generally applicable law was the 2010 “Burqa ban” which was based on secularism as “a way of living together”. http://preview.tinyurl.com/k28nxq3

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yabonn 01.13.15 at 9:58 pm

J. Parnell Thomas @616 and engels@579

Yes, you will find these. Also the Siné thing, and C. Fourest, and Ph. Val and and some other cases of leftists anathemising each other. I agree to some degree with O. Cyran : Charlie was (is?) getting worse, and – ah – a bit thematic about islamism. Being torched does that to you, I suppose. But racist? No, still not racist.

Here’s a drawing from Dutreix, he’s interesting here because he’s not really politic, he’s more the funnies :
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B7O4ueoIgAAwhgl.jpg:large

The CH deads are laughing the attack, the Marseillaises, the Presidents and demonstration and politicking and Notre-Dame and flags and Pope and all that crap. It’s funny only because they are (and CH) obviously the anti that-crap.

631

primedprimate 01.13.15 at 10:06 pm

Mitch, is the Pope’s hat a religious symbol? What about his ferula? Would he be allowed to parade in public in France while donning the (seemingly?) religious gear? Or would he need to discard any items of identifiable religious significance when in public in France?

632

Mitch Guthman 01.13.15 at 10:11 pm

America is probably one of the most stridently religious countries on the planet.  We are constantly being forced to conform to the strictures of the dominant Christian faith.  People are expected either to pray everywhere and at all times or at least to pretend to listen attentively while others pray, particularly when those praying are members of the majority sect of Christianity that is in charge here.  

The Christian God is invoked constantly.  At football games (particularly in Texas where he’s counted on to determine the winners), at car races, at almost every civic or political event since September 2001 (and particularly in the South and the Midwest).  

Sessions of almost every governmental body are open by a prayer.  Sometimes other religious other religions are allowed to be an innocuous, Christian friendly prayer at public event—but everybody know which sect of Christianity is the big dog. And the big dog bites! If you don’t think so, trying blaspheming against Christ and see what happens.

In my country, radical Christian clerics dominate the airwaves, they frequently run for the presidency and are regularly invited to pray with and advise political leaders.  Nearly every formal speech by a president closes with a religious blessing.

Now, maybe there’s a piece of paper that says there’s no established church in this country but if you are at all aware of what’s going on all around you, it’s quite clear that a particular sect of Protestantism is the de facto state religion of the United States.  And deviancy and blasphemy are punished.  Mostly by political and economic pressure, but, yes, sometimes by the organs of state security and sometimes by Christian fanatics who have been whipped in a frenzy by radical clerics (many of whom are among the richest and most power men in this country).

If a schoolchild doesn’t say “under God” during the pledge of allegiance, that child will be ostracized and perhaps even punished.  There are right-wing Christian militia groups—including the KKK— that have beaten and even killed people for blasphemy.  They’ve bombed buildings in protests, they’ve bombed African-American churches, they’ve murdered doctors working in abortion clinics and they are no less dangerous than the lunatics that carried out the Charlie Hebdo shooting. 

633

Collin Street 01.13.15 at 10:13 pm

> Seems to me that very little of what Mitch Guthman has said makes much sense

It’s pretty simple: society has people who think different things in it, and the best way to solve this problem — because apparently it’s a problem — is to force everyone to act in public as if they thought one particular thing, and confine their expressions of what they actually think to the private sphere.

It’s fairly likely that the “one particular thing” is also what he personally things, and it’s also fairly likely that he regards the “one particular thing” as in some way “normal” or a default, with other choices needing justification. [the two above are strictly-speaking orthogonal, but…]

634

primedprimate 01.13.15 at 10:18 pm

Mitch, shouldn’t the freedom of speech and expression include wearing religious garb? Or should it extend only to blasphemers?

P.S. This is a particularly weak thread – I read but typically don’t comment on CT threads because I feel like I would diminish rather than improve the quality of discussion due to my various shortcomings. But this thread is so weak, I doubt I can make it any worse and so have no qualms about jumping in.

635

Ronan(rf) 01.13.15 at 10:34 pm

636

David 01.13.15 at 10:36 pm

@bianca steele. Yes, I think religions do evolve, usually under social pressure, and the major religions of the world are more likely to tolerate each other today than they were.
As far as France goes, whilst the French do have a special set of problems with the Catholic Church, for historical reasons, they are not intolerant of religion (or religions) as such. What they are attached to is a rigid distinction between the state and religion, and between public and private life. For example, marriages in France are exclusively civil. You can have a religious ceremony afterwards, but that’s not the marriage. The French problem with Islam is precisely that it recognises no distinction between religion and public life – Houellebecq’s new novel is not titled “soumission” for nothing – it’s effectively the French translation of “Islam”.
As regards state religion, there are various examples. One is the UK, where the Queen is also head of the Anglican Church, and where that church (the “established church”) has powers, like the ability to marry couples, which normally belong to the state. In the past, other countries have included references to religion in their constitution, but that’s much less common these days. A number of Arab countries, however, have a statement in their constitutions suggesting that Islam is the official religion, though they seldom have a bureaucracy to actually support it.

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Mitch Guthman 01.13.15 at 10:38 pm

primedprimate at 627,

Yes, the Pope would be able to wear his clerical garb and carry the symbol of his authority. The 1905 law allowed for clerics to wear religious costumes (if they wish) and for certain religious symbols to adorn the exterior of religious buildings.

638

JanieM 01.13.15 at 10:42 pm

de facto state religion

Most people here (I hope) can tell the difference between a “de facto state religion” and a “state religion.”

Oh well, as the “don’t bother” list gets longer and the payoff gets ever smaller, there’s work to be done elsewhere.

Wow.

639

Collin Street 01.13.15 at 10:47 pm

Yes, the Pope would be able to wear his clerical garb and carry the symbol of his authority.

So mormon men — and boys! — can wear distinctive mormon garments in public but mormon women cannot.

Good to know!

640

bianca steele 01.13.15 at 10:55 pm

@628

I’m not going to just hand people more power over me than they actually have, and that’s all I see you doing. Or agree — whatever you believe — that because they (or you) believe there’s a national religion, I should believe there is and that it’s your neighbors’.

Prayers at football games in Texas say absolutely nothing about the rest of the country. Not even what the majority religion is in other parts of the country. People mumble the pledge of allegiance without intending to pledge to any faith. Mention of a religion doesn’t amount to enforcing religion on others. (I, personally, was tempted to say, “Sweet Jesus!” in response to one or more comments on this thread. This would not be a religious statement. Nor would I fear being doxxed and harassed for taking the lord’s name in vain.)

The people who are offering prayers at Texas football games know perfectly well the US government and US institutions aren’t what their religion would prefer, and that’s why they keep trying to change things.

641

bianca steele 01.13.15 at 10:56 pm

Or what Janie said. If I saw significant of people numbers apparently believing what Mitch does, it would be a different story altogether.

642

MPAVictoria 01.13.15 at 11:10 pm

Umm I actually have to agree with Mitch that the US pretty obviously has a state religion even if it is not actually in the written law.

I am surprised at the amount of push back this is getting here.

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William Berry 01.13.15 at 11:19 pm

@geo: I have read your above-linked reviews; IMHO they are awesome.

I’ve found I agree with you on pretty much everything . . . except on the relative merits of W. Shakespeares and G.B. Shaw!

644

JanieM 01.13.15 at 11:20 pm

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

The first link that came up when I searched for this quote was this one. Somehow that seems appropriate.

645

js. 01.13.15 at 11:22 pm

Well, if it’s not actually in the written law, then it’s not a state religion. By definition. It’s true that the US by various measures is a more religious country than most (maybe all) European countries, but that’s an entirely different thing. And I think bianca steele’s last paragraph @636 is exactly right re why the US shouldn’t be thought of as having a state religion (beyond the obvious point that it doesn’t).

646

JanieM 01.13.15 at 11:24 pm

And I’m glad I stuck around just enough longer to have William Berry remind me to go after geo’s essays again. I can get them now without fooling around with DNS service etc. Thanks for making that fix. :-)

647

Collin Street 01.13.15 at 11:31 pm

> I am surprised at the amount of push back this is getting here.

If you don’t understand something it’s probably because there’s something you don’t know.

In this context “state” means part of the state apparatus, which is to say the legal framework of the polity. Formal laws, either enactments or usage/common-law. Things that aren’t part of the state apparatus can’t be state things: they can be national things, because the “nation” is the population-of-the-polity, but they can’t be state things. Since the US state apparatus explicitly rejects the incorporation of christianity, it plainly can’t be a state religion properly so called.

Cricket is india’s national sport, dominates others in the public space, but it’s not treated any differently under law to any other sport played in india so it’s not india’s state sport.

This distinction between nation, state, and government is pretty important. Calling something a “state religion” when it’s not actually supported-and-encouraged by the state means that we lose the ability to distinguish the situation in the US from the situation in Malaysia or England.

648

MPAVictoria 01.13.15 at 11:47 pm

Good response Collin.

Though I wonder how a teenage girl living in one of the states that have been gradually re-criminalizing would feel about it…

649

MPAVictoria 01.13.15 at 11:51 pm

650

engels 01.13.15 at 11:54 pm

This is interesting:

Considering the separation of church and state, how is a president justified in using the word “God” at all? The answer is that the separation of church and state has not denied the political realm a religious dimension.

Civil Religion in America by Robert N. Bellah

651

Blargle321 01.14.15 at 12:33 am

I get the impression that some people on this thread are under the impression that laicite is mostly a mask for anti-arab racism. This is not right and flies in the face of my own experience. When I moved to the UK from France (15 years old) I was horrifed by the public displays of religion. I was also extremely embarassed that public figures would give expression to religious views when discussing issues that were obviously of general importance. That attitude is absolutely standard for many many people raised in a laic country.

I’ve somewhat molified my view about how egregious this sort of thing is on the grounds that the UK simply does not have this sort of civic tradition, and fighting for it here is probably a non-starter. However I still find french political culture superior because in the end, as I imagine most people on this thread would agree, the actual beliefs involved in all existing systematic religious systems are obviously wrong, and by and large invovle fairly backward ethical standards.

Anyway, to be clear, deep unease, even dismay at overt displays of religiosity (which the veil is) is an entirely predictable reaction that many brought up in french society would have. And I am not myself french, nor am i nor any of my family catholic, and I experienced genuine and deep contempt for the role christianity was allowed in public life/schools/politics when I first moved to the UK. Say what you like about whether this view was fair (maybe it was a tad excessive), it is just wrong to think that it had anything whatsoever to do with race. Now it is possible that some French sometime use this way of viewing the world so as to furhter anti-arab intentions, however this can obvioulsy not be the last word on the value or purpose of the principles of laicite more generally. There is simply no reason that a minority of racists should be taken as representative of laicite as historical and political project overall.

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geo 01.14.15 at 2:50 am

@639: Thank you, William. Actually, I only believe that stuff about Shakespeare and Shaw on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I believe what everybody else believes. (On Sundays I rest, and don’t believe anything.)

653

J. Parnell Thomas 01.14.15 at 2:55 am

And Merv Griffin said that in the heart of Italy the people there are probably the least religious in the world.

654

MPAVictoria 01.14.15 at 3:07 am

Jesus Christ I need to stop posting from my iPad. That or get a copy editor.

655

William Berry 01.14.15 at 3:32 am

geo @639: “On Sundays I rest, and don’t believe anything.”

Reminds me of the marriage counseling I had to undergo with my first wife. My wife insisted that I had a God complex. The counselor suggested that I start at the beginning.

“Well”, I said, “In the Beginning the Earth was without form, and void, and darkness covered the face of the deep . . . “

Yeah, I know, this is a very serious thread. Forgive me.

656

bianca steele 01.14.15 at 2:46 pm

Merv Griffin: More or less reliable than Flashman?

Do I hear 700?

657

J. Parnell Thomas 01.14.15 at 2:48 pm

And Sophia Loren said, “I don’t know about that.”

658

Rich Puchalsky 01.14.15 at 3:20 pm

“I get the impression that some people on this thread are under the impression that laicite is mostly a mask for anti-arab racism.”

It’s an anti-arab racism system whether it was intended to be one or not. As I went over above, the law banning “religious” clothing in public does no such thing. The different law for clothing within state schools does try to cover all religious clothing no matter what religion it’s from, but the law for what can be worn in public prohibits face coverings, not religious clothing. As such that law is specifically anti-Muslim because some Muslims are the only major religious grouping within France to wear religious clothing that requires covering one’s face. Just like the poll tax in the U.S., a law can be directed specifically against a particular group of people even though it is worded “neutrally” without mentioning them.

All of this should have been obvious to people a long time back in the thread.

659

David 01.14.15 at 4:49 pm

I think Blargle321 does a very good job of describing the traditional French approach to laicité – “secularism” isn’t really the same thing. When French political figures do overtly religious things, for example, they are roundly criticized. But two caveats.
These laws arose from a completely different context, where the enemy was the (white) Church hierarchy, who shared most of the same cultural references as their secular opponents. They were never intended to cope with a situation where a minority of the population have a different religion, a different perception of the role of religion in society, and a substantially different culture of origin.
Second, there are signs of an emerging Left/Liberal anti-Muslim trend in certain parts of French society. This comes out primarily in private conversations, but it’s not really fair to call it racialism – it’s an ideological issue, and is based on resentment about the alleged slowness of Muslim immigrants to assimilate into French culture, and to adopt secular, republican ideas. Ironically, this kind of attitude (whatever you think of its justification) is much easier to adopt and defend publicly than the traditional racialism of the Right. After all, who could be against more freedom for Muslim women? The fact that Valls’s speech yesterday declaring war on “radical Islam” was widely praised doesn’t help things either, but it is presumably intended to recapture some of the white working-class vote lost to the Front National, with a nod and a wink that of course a republican , not a racialist discourse will have to be used from now on..

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Watson Ladd 01.14.15 at 5:07 pm

David, most Algerians in France do not want to be ruled by the Islamists. The sort of millet system you seem to desire, with freedom of thought for nominal Christians but not those thought by birth muslims, is the very definition of racism: laws apportioned by birth.

Seriously why is it so hard to believe that there are Arab communists, atheists in Iran, and feminists in Afghanistan who deserve our support against the barbarians of ISIS, murderers of al-Qaeda, and a resurgent Taliban?

661

MPAVictoria 01.14.15 at 5:11 pm

“Seriously why is it so hard to believe that there are Arab communists, atheists in Iran, and feminists in Afghanistan who deserve our support against the barbarians of ISIS, murderers of al-Qaeda, and a resurgent Taliban?”

Yeah! Lets just train and arm the “good guys”! That’ll work for sure…..

662

Ronan(rf) 01.14.15 at 5:11 pm

just to re-up the linkk from 634.
Reeing it up

http://www.the-american-interest.com/2007/01/01/liberte-egalite-laicite/

663

Ze Kraggash 01.14.15 at 5:19 pm

Watson, you’re free to provide all the support you can afford to any foreign organization you sympathize with (except those you’re forbidden to support). What’s the issue?

664

David 01.14.15 at 5:32 pm

@Watson Ladd – of course most French Muslims don’t want to be ruled by Islamists, and I haven’t consciously said anything which could be read as implying that. Likewise, I’m not suggesting a “millet” style system, which would be unthinkable in France anyway. But even if I were, I would remember that the “millet” system was based entirely on belief, and not on birth. The Ottomans didn’t care in the least what racial origin you had, only whether you had adopted Islam or not. If you did (and various practical and even financial incentives were offered to do so) you were treated exactly the same as someone whose family had been Muslims for hundreds of years.

665

Blargle321 01.14.15 at 5:54 pm

Rich-“It’s an anti-arab racism system whether it was intended to be one or not. ” But that statement is totally imprecise if you compare it to the example you give! I have only a very vague idea what it is you are talking about when you indict the “system” as being anti-arab (despite the fact there are tons of racists in france, but I’m not denying this). You don’t mean all french laws and the whole of society are operationalised towards racist goals (this is demonstrably false), or all laws and social practices relating to secularism (again demonstrably false), you mean in this case just one specific law, namely the one relating to the veil in public. But even if this one law were as racist as you think it is, you have not made the case that this law is representative of an inherently corrupt ‘structure’. If you do want to worry about sucha strcture though the issue of the veil is a largely irelevant sideshow to things which actually matter such as: employment law, education, maintaing or improving welfare allocations and attempting to enhance the banlieus such that the discourse isnt all ‘knock em down’ or ‘escape from them at all costs’.

And I agree that the law targets some muslims, but I’m not convinced its becasue of a muslim problem, rather than because the veil make demands on believers which are at odds with an open society (as french tradition coneives it). A law banning any garment which by its nature aims at excluding some minority form the public sphere for religious reasons is a law which again, is sits very well with french tradition, it need not be inherently racist. Under French law you could still wear a cool ostentatious I’m religious outfit, and the law doesnt prevent you from doing so. But many french (including french muslims) don’t think the veil is a cool, I’m a muslim outift, they think it’s both a symbol and an instance of patriarchal oppression falsely pedaled in the name of a religion. This. is. anathema. to. french. republican. traditions.

David-lots of interesting things. I think you are obviously right about laicite arising in a very different context. I’d still be inclined to say that what needs to change in this new context is not a commitment to laicite per se, rather other concerns should be always forgrounded when we worry about issues of laicite wrt to marginalised populations. Now that citizens do not have a shared ethnicity as fall back once we chuck religion out the window, we have to make it the case that french arabs really do have some stake in society. I think this is super hard, but social progrmas, better transport links to the banlieus, quotas for young people from the banlieus in grandes ecoles, all these might help.

666

Rich Puchalsky 01.14.15 at 6:35 pm

“But even if this one law were as racist as you think it is, you have not made the case that this law is representative of an inherently corrupt ‘structure’. If you do want to worry about sucha strcture though the issue of the veil is a largely irelevant sideshow “

Who gets to decide whether it’s a sideshow or not? You, on behalf of those Muslims who want to wear the veil? You’re just restating the idea that what matters is the ethnically French conception of society, and that other people need not be considered.

667

yabonn 01.14.15 at 7:13 pm

Ruch Puchalsky @665
You, on behalf of those Muslims who want to wear the veil?

Maybe not Blargle321, but me, yes, and indeed on behalf of those Muslim who want to wear the veil. Because there’s about 1500 of these (that law is about the full veil), making it about 0.0whatevs percent of the French Muslim population.

So, yes, you could say sideshow. Also “ridiculous Saudi invention not part of the maghreb traditions”. Also “recent dumb convert signature”. Also “saw it on TV”. But sideshow will do.

668

Blargle321 01.14.15 at 7:19 pm

Rich: Fair point (non-facetiously). But I’m asserting that what really matters is well-being, where I exclude internalised misogeny based on obviousy false cosmological beliefs as a real part of anyone’s well being. I deny that this means I don’t think other people need to be considered.

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Blargle321 01.14.15 at 7:22 pm

when I say ” internalised misogeny based on obviousy false cosmological beliefs “, I don’t meant to assert correctly so. I side with those who think it is not required by their religion.

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Ze Kraggash 01.14.15 at 7:51 pm

“making it about 0.0whatevs percent of the French Muslim population.” “Also “recent dumb convert signature””

But if it’s so incredibly rare, so insignificant, I think perhaps it makes this even more suspect: a meaningless gesture, sending an unpleasant signal and generating all this unnecessary controversy. What gives?

671

engels 01.14.15 at 8:31 pm

Yabonn, just for the record I didn’t say CH’s writers were racist (or right-wing). From what I can tell (not having read it before, not being very clued up on French cultural life or reading French very well, etc) it seems to me they were at best somewhat reckless to the ways in which their style of humour could reinforce racist cultural themes. I think joining in the mainstream sacralisation of it now serves a right-wing agenda.

672

yabonn 01.14.15 at 8:35 pm

Ze Kraggash @ 669
I can see several reasons. The signal was pleasant to the right, because fuck arabs, to the left because free women, and to Sarkozy because it was useful spectacle to him. Also, women as walking tents is weird, and goes against the local tradition of laïcité.

I opposed the law, but I think it is not the sign of anything else than “Sarkozy is a jerk”. It’s not like there are/were no laws and debates about veil in traditionaly Muslim countries too, no need to go look for deep, hidden -isms.

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Ronan(rf) 01.14.15 at 8:44 pm

“The Prime Minister Manuel Valls made an impassioned attack on the comedian in the National Assembly on Tuesday. He called him a “peddler of hate and said there should be no confusion between the ‘impertinent’ satire of Charlie Hebdo and ‘anti-semitism, racism and negationism’.””

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/quenelle-comedian-dieudonne-arrested-for-apology-for-terrorism-9976667.html

674

Collin Street 01.14.15 at 8:45 pm

Rich: Fair point (non-facetiously). But I’m asserting that what really matters is well-being, where I exclude internalised misogeny based on obviousy false cosmological beliefs as a real part of anyone’s well being. I deny that this means I don’t think other people need to be considered.

See, the problem you present is that by allowing yourself to pick and chose which of a person’t beliefs “really” counts for their well-being you’re opening yourself to question-begging.

Your use of “obviously” is particularly concerning, because it suggests that you’re not going to think too deeply here, just going with your gut instinct… but your gut instinct has a very high likelyhood of being influenced by your prejudices.

If you’re going to reject what a person says their desires are, you need to do so as part of some sort of rigorous/testable theoretical framework or you’re laying yourself wide open to ignoring as “unimportant” all the parts of the problem that show where you’re wrong.

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Rich Puchalsky 01.14.15 at 8:48 pm

yabonn: “Because there’s about 1500 of these (that law is about the full veil), making it about 0.0whatevs percent of the French Muslim population.”

But the principles of laicité make it very important that no one has to see one of these 1,500, right? It’s symbolically important. To the people who matter. Muslims may find it symbolically important that a Muslim woman can’t wear the veil if she wants to, but who cares. It’s weird that the more that people explain these strange, exotic, mysterious folkways of French laicité to me, the more it sounds like a bog-standard excuse for racism and nativism.

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Ze Kraggash 01.14.15 at 8:56 pm

“I opposed the law, but I think it is not the sign of anything else than “Sarkozy is a jerk”. “

Agreed, with a qualification: it confirms that this segment is the most vulnerable, can be used for this sort of populist games without much concern about push back. So, it is the sign of that. But that’s common knowledge anyway, I’m sure.

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engels 01.14.15 at 8:59 pm

It’s weird that the more that people explain these strange, exotic, mysterious folkways of French laicité to me, the more it sounds like a bog-standard excuse for racism and nativism.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Backfire_effect

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David 01.14.15 at 9:01 pm

You can criticise laicité for various things, but it isn’t racialist and never has been, because it evolved, as I said earlier, in a much more homogeneous country, where the divisions were ideological rather than ethnic/racial. The argument was, and essentially still is, about the relationship between public and private spaces, and what is acceptable where. Laicité means, for example, no religious objects in schools or government buildings, and no blurring of the boundaries between what is personal and what is public.
Obviously the burqa is an extreme case, and was acknowledged to be even at the time. It wasn’t remotely imagined when the rules of the secular society were being drawn up. But the way it came out reflects the public/private space question, and also the fact that republicanism (of which laicité is part) is not the same as Anglo-Saxon liberalism, with its fetishization of individual choice. You don’t have the “right” to disobey the tenets of a republican society if you want to live there. You can of course move. The issue was recognised to be a very difficult and controversial one, but in fact there has been very little fuss since the law was passed.

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engels 01.14.15 at 9:09 pm

The pen is mightier than the sword – Wednesday edition Hollande sends air-craft carrier to Iraq

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js. 01.14.15 at 9:10 pm

The ‘burqa ban’ law is all sorts of problematic, but in the current context, it also seems like an irrelevant sideshow. It seems to me that we’re talking about it here because someone upthread (not naming names, but not Blarge321) decided to give us all a lesson in Laïcité: ideal theory 101. But as far as CH is concerned, whether the cartoons or the attacks, it does actually seem totally irrelevant.

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tub 01.14.15 at 9:14 pm

Maybe let a French woman of Algerian descent speak to the isssue:

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yabonn 01.14.15 at 9:19 pm

Rich Puchalsky @ 675
It would have been shorter had you begun by this. Indeed, the natives’ customs are weird and unfathomable, they’ll try to find excuses for it , but it won’t fool our eagle eyed observer. So be it, expert.

engels@671
Point taken. For the sacralisation and recuperation, I agree. If CH doesn’t draw dicks all over Valls next week, I’ll stop buying it. Again.

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Rich Puchalsky 01.14.15 at 9:34 pm

yabonn: “It would have been shorter had you begun by this. Indeed, the natives’ customs are weird and unfathomable, they’ll try to find excuses for it , but it won’t fool our eagle eyed observer. So be it, expert.”

Americans have mysterious and unlike-anywhere-else customs of our own. One of them is called “sarcasm”. But I guess that people can’t handle this unusual American folkway, so I’ll state clearly that all of the explanations for why French secularism is so important perfectly illustrate the point of view that ethnic French beliefs about symbolic matters are important and others aren’t in France.

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yabonn 01.14.15 at 10:11 pm

Rich Puchalsky@683
Thanks for the explanation on this “American sarcasm” thing. Though it is hard for me to grasp, I will sincerely try to understand what it is and take your word on it. It’s not easy, mind, because it implies I will have to change my pre-existing views on this notion. Yet, I know, that, if I really want to have a productive conversation, I must resist the temptation to disbelieve you – out of laziness! out of pride! feh! – on this outlandish “American sarcasm” notion. You have stated your case : not having much of a retort, I believe you.

Actually, at this point I feel I may even try some of may own. Do you think this poll may, in the context of this conversation, qualify as “sarcastic” in itself ?
http://www.statista.com/chart/3112/french-views-of-muslims-are-overwhelmingly-positive/

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Ronan(rf) 01.14.15 at 10:22 pm

Yeah, France has often been held up as one of the success stories of ‘integration’ in Europe (with obvious unresolved problems and caveats)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/07/29/are-french-muslims-integrated-depends-on-what-you-mean-by-integration/

of course the reality is complex, as always.
It’s always a pity when the left adopts the manichean perspectives and simple stories of the far right.(well, not really that much of a pity tbh)

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tub 01.14.15 at 10:22 pm

“ethnic French beliefs about symbolic matters are important and others aren’t in France”

Okay. Let’s make the Kouachi brothers’ beliefs about symbolic matters important in France.

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Rich Puchalsky 01.14.15 at 10:52 pm

tub: “Let’s make the Kouachi brothers’ beliefs about symbolic matters important in France.”

Yeah, no racism there. Oh no there I go with the sarcasm again.

The article that Ronan(rf) links to says exactly what I’ve been saying:

This apparent paradox is caused by the word “integration,” which has taken on a very particular connotation in French political discourse. The social scientific definition of “integration” refers to a dual process whereby immigrants embrace and become invested in their new home and are, in turn, accepted as equals by those who were there before them. In French political discourse, however, the term “integration”generally loses the reciprocal connotation. Here, a “failure of integration”refers lopsidedly to the inability of immigrants to assimilate into local customs and attitudes, consequently retaining markers of social difference that set them apart.

They can be French if they are exactly like anyone else. But that’s not nativist at all!

As for the poll, what I see is a typical former colonialist country that is unwilling to treat the former colonized as equals, but has a soft spot for them as inferiors to be civilized.

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Ronan(rf) 01.14.15 at 11:00 pm

IIRC yabonn and David have said they didnt support the veil ban, and have accepted the issues that article highlights .. they are just pointing out that traditions of french secularism and contemporary French politics are more complicated than soundbites would suggest.
I mean, if you heard about some act of mass madness happening in Lebanon, would you really just fall back on ‘theyre all nuts driven by primordial sectarianism’. Or would you actually try and understand and contextualise it?
I know this can be the fall back at time (all Southern whites are racist !! ) but it seems kind of stoopid.

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Rich Puchalsky 01.14.15 at 11:34 pm

“IIRC yabonn and David have said they didnt support the veil ban”

YDRC. But for the last time, it’s not a “veil ban.” It’s a ban on facial coverings. I’ll go through it one more time because the people here evidently have difficulties: there’s one law that covers state schools that does ban all articles of clothing that have specifically religious connotations, including veils. That law, whether you agree with laicité or not, is perfectly compatible with laicité as an abstract, universalizing principle for France.

There’s a second law, though, that happened because people wanted to ban Muslim religious dress specifically, not just in state schools (where the state has a greater say in what goes on) but everywhere in public. They quickly realized that there was no way they could do this universally, not unless e.g. they wanted to never see a Sikh tourist in France ever again and get international condemnation that would force them to reverse the policy. So instead of banning religious garb, they banned face coverings, which affects some Muslims and, ummmmmmm…… practitioners of some African or Native Americans religions? Which are really common in France? It’s not “laicité”, it’s a straightforward, symbolic anti-Muslim law, that tells Muslims that they can be French insofar as they are not publicly Muslims — that they can integrate on nativist terms or not at all.

Because of course, as everyone here who presents themselves as an expert on laicité and how it’s “more complicated than soundbites would suggest” is eager to tell me, French secularism is very different from how Americans do secularism. Americans do secularism by insisting that the government not favor any religion, not by prohibiting private displays of religion. But that means that be defending laicité you’re not really defending some universal principle of secularism. You’re insisting, once again, that the ethnic French have the right to define what citizenship means against people who’ve spent their whole lives in France but have different customs — or even against those who feel rejected and take on something like the veil even as a new custom in reaction. There’s a word for that: I wonder what that word is?

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yabonn 01.14.15 at 11:35 pm

Rich Puchalsky@687
what I see is a typical former colonialist country that is unwilling to treat the former colonized as equals, but has a soft spot for them as inferiors to be civilized.

And what I see is the reptilians from planet Zlotoxx in the shape of Frenchmen controling Pew, rigging the poll to ensure the world everything is hunky dory in France, thus securing their critical nougat supply lines.

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Blargle321 01.14.15 at 11:49 pm

“As for the poll, what I see is a typical former colonialist country that is unwilling to treat the former colonized as equals, but has a soft spot for them as inferiors to be civilized.” that is a possible explanation, but without evidence in favour of it, it does not have a status other than being “the way you see it”. this is not a reason anyone else should feel convinced by.

And the whole of human diversity is not captured by relgious diversity, asking people to leave their sacred obects at the door in matters of public concern is not the same as demanding that everyone be exactly the same. its saying that no one gets to have god on their side when it come to making the law which affects everyone, and no one gets to have their god recognised by the law wchih affects everyone. and cathlics, muslims, jews, protestants and anyone else are completely free to invoke/celebrate/pray about/sing about/autoflagelate over their respective non existing deities whenver they want, outside the shared political space.

js-tbh i wouldnt go to the wall over the veil issue. im not a hundred percent on whehter the ban actualyl discourages veil use and whether, even if it did do this succesfully, it doesnt have other more significant negative effects. but id happily be convinved i was wrong about it. either way, not all those who favour that law do so because of anti-arab racism. (sorry, sideshow…)

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Blargle321 01.14.15 at 11:53 pm

ha, you beat me to it yabonn. you seem to be getting the hang of this strange american custom.

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tub 01.15.15 at 12:00 am

“Yeah, no racism there. Oh no there I go with the sarcasm again.”

???

There is no racism there.

The Kouachi brothers and the staff of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo recently had a debate on the question of whether blasphemy against Islam should have the death penalty in France–a symbolic matter, as you say, and a debate that was inclusive of the viewpoints of French persons of non-white background, which,as you have said, is important.

The debate became quite heated, by all accounts.

Indeed, the debate seems not to have been settled, though a fair number of people have now joined in. Perhaps a considerable or even a remarkable number of people.

Now, surely, the several million French people who have made this thing such a hot topic would benefit from your insights: how might they be more equitable and inclusive in their discussions of whether blasphemy against Islam should have the death penalty in France?

Me, I’m a ‘both sides do it’ kind of guy, a moderate, I guess you could say. Compromise, people! It’s not that hard: those cartoonists should not have been killed; they should have just had their hands chopped off.

Or, at least, their drawing hands.

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Rich Puchalsky 01.15.15 at 12:16 am

“that is a possible explanation, but without evidence in favour of it, it does not have a status other than being “the way you see it”. this is not a reason anyone else should feel convinced by.”

So when yabonn presents a poll, it self-evidently means what he says it means? Or is that not a reason that anyone else should feel convinced by as well?

“outside the shared political space”

Note that the “shared political space” here means *all public space*.

tub: “There is no racism there.”

We were talking about a law that affects the Muslim community in France, and you elected the Kouachi brothers as the representatives of the Muslim point of view.

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tub 01.15.15 at 12:22 am

“We were talking about a law that affects the Muslim community in France, and you elected the Kouachi brothers as the representatives of the Muslim point of view.”

On the contrary, they elected themselves as the representatives of the Muslim point of view.

And, actually, they are the second French Muslim viewpoint I have mentioned here. You’ll note the first in the youtube video above: Fadela Amara, whose viewpoint you must ignore, because she does not cleave to your stereotypes about French Muslims.

Actually, that’s unfair: you don’t know enough about France to have stereotypes about French Muslims.

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Ronan(rf) 01.15.15 at 12:24 am

Rich – well look, I dont disagree with your 689. A lot of people (the majority) here have accepted the law is problematic, stupid, nativist and racist. That it’s pushing dominant cultural norms on a relatively isolated minority for very specific contemporary political reasons (Islamaphobia and the rise of the far right) Not *solely*perhaps, but I agree primarily. And there’s also a mythologising of laicité going on (which I assume is not always this strident or uncompromising)to ‘excuse’ it.
But I do think that laicité DOES also partly explain it. A lot of western european countries are unfortunately developing anti immigration movements at this moment (primarily targetted at Muslims) , why has this reaction taken this specific form in France, another in Germany, another in the UK etc. Among the diverse set of of groups in france who support this, are there people who support it as a meaningful principle?(rather than the usual suspects, racists, nativists etc) Is there a legit principled objection ?
Again , I think this specific law is stupid and driven overwhelmingly by Islamophobia, and I think most agree. I just thought the general fleshing out of the principle by others above, and their attempt to justify the law, was relatively interesting.

” You’re insisting, once again, that the ethnic French have the right to define what citizenship means against people who’ve spent their whole lives in France but have different customs — or even against those who feel rejected and take on something like the veil even as a new custom in reaction”

well if the link @662 is correct, similar issues have played out historically in France – “in France separation evolved to exclude religion from public space and to promote the supremacy of the state over religious organizations….Laïcité is clearly anti-religious in practice, but it is not only or mainly anti-Islamic. Veiled women were long ago expelled from schools in France (by the army, no less): They were Catholic nuns, and it happened in 1904, exactly one hundred years before the law banning the scarf. Indeed, as Bowen explains, in both historical and philosophical terms the present debate on laïcité reflects the two-centuries long struggle between the French Republic and the Catholic Church. It started with the ambition of the French Revolution to control the Church (and to some extent religious beliefs, too), and eventually moved to a separation (the 1905 law) that sometimes amounted to expulsion—of clerics from schools, and of congregations from “metropolitan territory” (the soil of France, but not, interestingly enough, from French colonies, where missionary orders were supported by the secular state as a tool to control and integrate the indigenous population). Over time, laïcité itself became a philosophical, political and even an ideological concept that filled the vacuum left by the expulsion of religion from the public sphere. As such, it helped to unite a very divided Republican Left throughout the 20th century: Laïcité was the only common identity between center-left radicaux, social democrats and communists….”

So again, understanding the concept is important to understanding the context.
My impression would be that this tradition has outlived its usefulness, and doesnt seem overly relevant any longer.. and that people should be wary about mythologising their traditions and utilising them to exclude outsiders. So I agree with the opposition to the law and find the general concept of Laïcité a little bizarre. But also, I did learn a good bit from this thread, so thanks all.

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Ronan(rf) 01.15.15 at 12:37 am

..although tbf the bit I cut in the comment above from the linked article was specifically talking about the 2004 law. So I do agree with your point re the 2010 ban on face covering, Rich. Apologees for the long, overwrought eplanation above. You are right. More or less completly. IMO

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engels 01.15.15 at 12:59 am

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Rich Puchalsky 01.15.15 at 1:13 am

The 2004 and the 2010 law are really very different. It’s an error similar to the “Americans stereotypically like public displays of Christianity, so America has a state religion” one to class them in the same way. With the 2004 one, you’re really arguing about laicité good or bad as a principle that could, in theory, be seperated from ethnocentricity. With the 2010 one, it’s diagnostic of something different in French society.

I’ve brought up the poll tax repeatedly, but I guess that I’ll spell that out as well: there’s a long history of laws that are facially neutral but that everyone understands are there to exclude a particular group from society. You could defend a poll tax as simply a way to offset state expenses associated with voting, say that it affects everyone equally, that it is perfectly fair, etc., but everyone would know that black people at the time were disproportionately poor and could be excluded en masse by this tactic even though the law said nothing specifically about them.

The 2010 law is the same way: its framers knew that they had to find a neutral-sounding, universal way to do the ban, so they settled on face coverings. As the wiki page says, so much for “face-covering headgear, including masks, helmets, balaclavas, niqābs and other veils covering the face in public places”. When everyone calls a law a “veil ban” but officially it equally applies to a Sith enthusiast wearing a Darth Vader helmet, then the official reality is a euphemistic one, made in bad conscience.

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tub 01.15.15 at 1:39 am

“facially neutral”

Great pun!

“As the wiki page says”

Way to ‘do ur research’, as the kids say.

“…the official reality is a euphemistic one, made in bad conscience.”

Sure, which is how we know that you’re arguing in bad faith when you say “ethnic French beliefs about symbolic matters are important and others aren’t in France”. You’re pretending to argue that non-ethnically French beliefs should matter as much as ethnically French beliefs, by which you would mean that five million voices should outweigh sixty million and by which you also mean that you know what those five million voices would want and what they would want must be in conflict with those sixty million voices.

Pretending, I say, because, in truth, you don’t believe that anyone, under any circumstances should be able to pass this kind of law. You don’t care what the ethnically French want, and you don’t care what the non-ethnically French want. You care what you want, which is all that you’re arguing for.

You just don’t have guts to admit that you want to impose your values just as much as, well, the staff at Charlie Hebdo. Thus, you are using French Muslims (or, rather, your caricature of them) as a disguise for your own views, which is despicable.

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Rich Puchalsky 01.15.15 at 2:12 am

tub: “You’re pretending to argue that non-ethnically French beliefs should matter as much as ethnically French beliefs, by which you would mean that five million voices should outweigh sixty million and by which you also mean that you know what those five million voices would want and what they would want must be in conflict with those sixty million voices.”

Amusingly enough, none of the experts on laicité here have suggested putting it up for a vote as a general policy, or even written something like “the majority rules”. That’s because they’re really not arguing for it in a majoritarian sense. Whenever it’s mentioned you get the same piece about the centuries of French history etc. It’s supposed to be one of things that *defines* being French, and therefore can not be allowed to be decided by majority rule even if they’re sure that they have a majority. That would make it contingent rather than definitive, and implicitly allow those who it defines as not part of the society full participation.

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tub 01.15.15 at 2:26 am

“…Amusingly enough, none of the experts on laicité here have suggested putting it up for a vote as a general policy”

What do you care? You don’t want it voted on.

And, as the people familiar with laicite here have expressed reservations about the law, it may be the case that they would like the law voted on.

If only there were some way to find out…

But, while we’re finding out, let’s also not pretend that you’d be in favor of the reverse: a vote that resulted in any kind of dress code is against your principles. You’re in the same boat, son. You’d never hesitate to condemn a democratically established law in, say, a majority Muslim country, that forced, say, religious minorities to wear yellow stars or purple moons or what have you. You believe that no state should be empowered to impose dress codes of any kind.

You have your own things that are definitive.

The only thing we have here is a disagreement over which white guy gets to impose which value, no matter what anybody wants.

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Rich Puchalsky 01.15.15 at 3:27 am

Oh dear. Having consistent opinions about certain types of laws in various circumstances is wrong, I see that now. I now also understand that when I write my opinions, I *impose* them on people, in just the same sense that the French state does when it directs its police to detain people and charge them fines.

I should recite Je Suis Charlie and take these lessons to heart: no more writing mean things. No more making fun of people who claim that they have to never see a veil because of centuries of history. And no more vomiting all over these new “friends” of freedom.

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The Temporary Name 01.15.15 at 3:35 am

The only thing we have here is a disagreement over which white guy gets to impose which value, no matter what anybody wants.

Am I really supposed to believe that nobody giving a shit about what I’m wearing – and I suppose maybe somebody SHOULD force me to wear better clothing or a burqa to be safe – is an imposition of some sort? How does that work?

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Blargle321 01.15.15 at 4:20 am

Ronan- Fair enough. And I quite like the idea that I support a bizarre political principle, a good one nontheless. I guess the feeling from the US is yes these belief systems are idiotic and false, but people do actually believe in them, so excluding them from the political sphere means we make policy in bad faith. But what looks like self-deception to you guys looks like self-improvement to us.

You maybe right that french laicite has had its day. a couple of years ago when Sarkozy started going on about the essentialy christian character of French Republic people were pretty scandalised, I’m not confident it would provoke as much anger today. But if everyone starts taking seriously talk about religious belief x,y or z this will result in a net drop in the quality of public discourse in France. And I think its likely France will become more catholic, or more openly so and to be honest I don’t see how this is going to be anything other than a bad thing. in so far as allowing religion into politics is going to change anything, it will probably not be towards more inclusion of historically marginalised minority groups and their cultes, but towards reassertion of the ethinically dominant religion.

Rich- if you want to have a discussion about how to reconcile majoriatrianism with in principle positions, that’s a farily invovled topic. But avoiding that minefield (or trying to) you might think of laicite as a guiding general principle the way the puruist of happiness or liberty is. Yes its specifically codified in some cases but also generally recognised as something valuable and a goal worth pursuing over and above its particular legal instances, so its a regulative ideal as concerns the way politics ought to be conducted.

We’ll see if it lasts, but it makes perfect sense in the french context to refer to it as an important principle. again, i hate to repeat whats already been said, but french muslims also defend laicite. many disagree that the veil law is really a proper instance of this regulative ideal, but that doesnt mean they reject it as a principle of their republic. the data i have found suggests 75% of french muslims have positive associations whith laicite in France, the figure I can find for non muslim french right now is 80, but ill be back when I find more reliable looking data.

Here is some other reliable looking data which suggests that practicing catholics support lacitie to a lesser extent than believers belonging to minority where that includes muslims (2nd largest religious group after catholics), jews, hindus, protestants ect. Its hard to collect good data on these issues as its mostly illegal for any public body to ask about religious beliefs, even publicly funded universities http://www.ifop.com/?option=com_publication&type=poll&id=378

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Ronan(rf) 01.15.15 at 9:25 am

” And I quite like the idea that I support a bizarre political principle, a good one nontheless. I guess the feeling from the US is yes these belief systems are idiotic and false, but people do actually believe in them, so excluding them from the political sphere means we make policy in bad faith. But what looks like self-deception to you guys looks like self-improvement to us. “

Well, a little bizzzare to me. I’m not saying good or bad, just the more I read about it..different. Though interesting. And isnt that good? Is it not the bizzzare little things that make us unique? To coin a cliche.
Anyway I’m from Ireland not the US, so in that context, historically, laicite would have been an improvement. Obviously. I also kind of like the British system, normatively, which – afaict – seems to be something along the lines of – ‘off you go now, come back to us in a decade or two and we’ll see how you’re getting on.’
I do think Rich’s point that laicite doesnt really explain the 2010 law is convincing though, what do you think off that ?

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Ronan(rf) 01.15.15 at 9:25 am

I dont know why I cant spell bizarre

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David 01.15.15 at 9:52 am

Just to make the obvious point that you can’t have “ethnic French” views on issues like this, because the French are a nation, not an ethnicity. It would be like talking about “ethnic Canadians”. In the republican ideal, citizenship and ethnic origin are entirely unconnected (this was another long, bitter battle, effectively won in 1945) and you can be French if you want to be and meet the criteria. Children of even illegal immigrants automatically acquire French citizenship by being born here. Thus, a third-generation French person of Algerian origins is likely to feel just as “French” as, say Manuel Valls (whose father was Spanish, whose mother was Swiss and was born in Spain) or Sarkozy (whose father was Hungarian). They may well also have attitudes (e.g. to laicité) indistinguishable from those of French people of European origin.
This is why it makes no sense to see last week’s killings as a push-back by an oppressed minority. This is not the Black Panthers, or even the IRA, partly because there really is no minority called “Muslims”. The issues are ideological and economic rather than ethnic, but I’ll say more about that later today if I have a moment.
Not to go further down the rabbit-hole of the burqa, but I think a fair judgement of the 2010 law would be that (1) it was proposed by Sarkozy for nakedly political reasons (trying to appeal to voters who might be tempted by the Front national) and supported relatively cynically by socialists (in deference to the strong feminist influence in the PS) but that (2) it was actually reasonably coherent with republican (not just laic) thinking, and was supported by the majority of French people, including many Muslims.

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J Thomas 01.15.15 at 12:33 pm

#708 David

I think a fair judgement of the 2010 law would be that (1) it was proposed by Sarkozy for nakedly political reasons (trying to appeal to voters who might be tempted by the Front national) and supported relatively cynically by socialists (in deference to the strong feminist influence in the PS) but that (2) it was actually reasonably coherent with republican (not just laic) thinking, and was supported by the majority of French people, including many Muslims.

That kind of thing happens in the USA too. Like, for example, Reagan had an idea for Star Wars, he said why should we accept Mutually Assured Destruction, we can build missiles to shoot down the Russian missiles and then we’ll be safer. The scientists said it wouldn’t work, but many of them supported it because it would fund their retirements. Lots of people supported it. So over the years we spent probably a couple trillion dollars on it, and it didn’t work. But on the assumption that it would start working someday, we went ahead and built it. We told the Russians “Don’t worry, this doesn’t stop MAD because it doesn’t really work. But some of us think it will work, so be careful not to get too much in our way or we might all find out whether it works or not.”

Now it’s reached the point that we built Star Wars bases in eastern europe. We told the Russians “Don’t worry, these aren’t there to stop your missiles, they’re there in case Iran gets nukes and decides to send missiles this way, then we’ll shoot them down.”

People either support it or don’t oppose it all that much because there are so many more important issues. It fits in with our principles, the government is supposed to provide for the general welfare and what’s better for that than a program to keep us from all getting blown up? It provides jobs for many of our best engineers, who otherwise would probably be left unemployed. And it’s good for the US economy because the work will be done in the USA, we found out that we can’t contract hi-tech military work to asia because they are likely to sell our military industrial secrets to our enemies.

So Americans are in no position to look down on French political foibles. Our own are at least as bad.

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tub 01.15.15 at 2:42 pm

” I now also understand that when I write my opinions”

You don’t write your opinions. You’re not even copping to them. What you’re doing is accusing other people on this message board, other people who also happen not to be the French state, who are in fact just offering their opinions, of having the exact same position you do, that is: you are accusing other people of advocating for moral absolutes and foundational principles, which are both things that you yourself believe in.

Accusing other people of having faults you yourself have and do not view, in yourself, as faults is…oh, what is that word?

And just to wrap things up: when you argue and argue and argue for your case, find yourself beaten, and then retreat to the claim, “Oh yeah?…well…that’s just, like…my opinion, man”–let’s just say it doesn’t exactly smack of moral courage.

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tub 01.15.15 at 2:53 pm

“nobody giving a shit about what I’m wearing” ” How does that work?”

There are places in which the majority of people do give a shit about what people are wearing, and, therefore, impose dress codes on the public. The United States, for example.

If you feel that you are in a position to condemn a society that imposes dress codes on itself, then you are claiming that you know better than that society how it ought to govern itself.

That is to say: you believe in principles that are not up for determination by majority rule, by democracy.

Puchalsky is criticizing France for holding to principles that are beyond determination by democracy, and the moral axiom on which he stands to level this criticism is…


Can you guess?

712

Ze Kraggash 01.15.15 at 3:20 pm

“If you feel that you are in a position to condemn a society that imposes dress codes on itself, then you are claiming that you know better than that society how it ought to govern itself.”

I completely agree that lecturing a society on how it should/shouldn’t behave itself is useless and arrogant, however: it seems perfectly acceptable to point out that this society is (or seem to be) behaving contrary to its professed principles (if that’s indeed the case). I thought that was definitely the case with the veil ban, but now, after all that talk about “laicité”, I’m not sure anymore. Is the French republic more committed to laicité than to individualism, personal freedom, human rights – the standard European deities? It’s fine with me if it is, it’s just that I didn’t realize.

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.15.15 at 3:27 pm

David: nobody here and few elsewhere are justifying the attacks. The reason they’re significant, aside from the fact that some people died, is that they’re causing people to talk about things they normally don’t even think about much. Anyway, ethnic divisions can have a lot of different causes. It doesn’t make any sense to me to speak as if religion were a fundamentally different kind of division.

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J Thomas 01.15.15 at 3:31 pm

#710 tub

What you’re doing is accusing other people on this message board, other people who also happen not to be the French state, who are in fact just offering their opinions, of having the exact same position you do, that is: you are accusing other people of advocating for moral absolutes and foundational principles, which are both things that you yourself believe in.

I don’t see that he’s doing that. Or rather he might be doing that, but what’s the alternative? He could be like me, a moral relativist, who says it’s all just personal preference and then talk about his own personal preferences.

But in either case, it looks to me more like he thinks this particular french ethnic moral absolute or personal preference (whatever you call it) doesn’t make sense to him.

Certainly parts of it don’t make sense to me, not as I understand them. Like, one of the arguments I think I’ve heard is that some arab women are dominated by men into wearing the veil, and it’s wrong for them to be dominated that way. They should be free not to. So the french government will free them by forbidding them to wear veils.

That just does not make sense to me. Maybe more women want to be free to not wear veils than free to wear veils, I don’t know. Can we even ask the women? If they are a minority ethnicity, dominated by their men, dominated by everybody, will they tell the truth or what they think somebody wants to hear? “No slave was ever freed, unless he free himself.”

Similarly the argument that it is not an ethnic matter but only a strictly religious one. But isn’t it ethnic too? If every french extended family was10% muslim, things would be different. The argument seems to be that there is no name for the traditional french ethnicity so there is no such thing. People can convert to it, just like people can join the American mass culture — most of our english, scottish, irish, welsh, scandinavian, etc descendants of immigrants have now intermarried to the point that they are mostly americans and not much else. Since we have so many other ethnicities that haven’t merged with them, we call them WASPs which doesn’t quite really fit. But it’s still an ethnicity. Arguing that arab frenchmen are not a minority ethnicity that can be discriminated against, because France is only a nation and not an ethnicity — how can that even make sense? Maybe it’s a floor wax AND a dessert topping.

Of course nobody has a moral obligation to explain their moral obligations or personal preferences to other people. De gustibus. If you start to explain and you get a hostile reception, like as not they didn’t really want to hear it. You can’t make people understand. So explain if you feel like it, and if you’d rather tell people to go to hell that’s OK too. Unless for some reason their failure to understand is your problem after all.

715

Blargle321 01.15.15 at 3:46 pm

ze- I think in short the answer might be yes. A popular poll which asked the french which values define the republic put laicite in second after universal suffrage. I had a law professor (fench university) who once told me that republic defednds liberte and egalite for all its citizens, but that if puch comes to shove, it would pick egalite over liberte.

Ronan- you seem eminently reasonable and its pretty vexing not being able to come to agreement with you. On that note, my feeling about the veil law are still pretty mixed (if i had to vote, following this conversation id abstain). If you think that it is plausible that

a) the veil is genuine afront to gender equality (and this is plausible, I think) and that

b) banning it is not a terrible afront to human liberty and bear in mind what I said before about order of values wrt to equality and liberty. (On a related note point, the way the law is supposed to work is not so I don’t have to see veils. Its supposed to work becuase if the veil is illegal its much harder for young muslim womne to be pressured into wearing a veil as a matter of their “free choice” by their friends and family. And I think many french people would feel that even if only 5 percent of cases are like the ones i just described, the law would be worth it in the name of protecting equality, th eliberty of the 95 to wear a veil be damned)

c) the general mefiance the french feel towards religion in the public sphere (a creche was banned from a public space over the holidays on the grounds it was christian).

all of these, which are not totally crazy in themselves, provide ample reason french people might want to take action on the veil. Non of them require invoking anti-arab sentiment, althgouh no doubt, anti-arab sentiment may well have been involved. And again, id be happy to see evidence that it is predominantly motivated by and/or promtes anti-arab racism, and id immeadiately change my mind, but neither your nor Rich’s account do a lot to convince me.

716

J Thomas 01.15.15 at 3:48 pm

#711 tub

There are places in which the majority of people do give a shit about what people are wearing, and, therefore, impose dress codes on the public. The United States, for example.

Sadly, yes. A lot of it seems to be the Christian influence. I can see restaurants demanding that customers must wear shoes, but most of the rules are not from practicality at all.

If you feel that you are in a position to condemn a society that imposes dress codes on itself, then you are claiming that you know better than that society how it ought to govern itself.

Yes, of course. Why wouldn’t I? If I thought the USA must be right in all its laws because those were the laws that our republican government created, what kind of citizen would that make me?

If I didn’t think I knew better than governments about how to do things, I wouldn’t have opinions, right?

So here’s the deal. Whenever christian missionaries go places to preach, they tell the women they have to cover their breasts for modesty, so men won’t stare at them and objectify them etc. And after the women have enough experience with men from christian nations, they do it. They get intimidated into it because of the way Christian men treat them when they don’t.

We should end this oppression! In some parts of the USA the laws are specifically written so that women are allowed to go “topless” whenever they want to. But still the vast majority of women are intimidated into this “personal modesty” thing. So we need to pass laws that women are never permitted to hide their breasts indoors. Or outdoors (weather permitting). That will help women to overcome the long centuries of intimidation. They can do it when they see they have no choice, and the men who require them to cover up will be powerless compared to the central government. We should do this in the USA and in France too.

Feminism! Freedom! A blow against control by Christianity and Islam both!

717

Rich Puchalsky 01.15.15 at 4:27 pm

David: “Just to make the obvious point that you can’t have “ethnic French” views on issues like this, because the French are a nation, not an ethnicity. It would be like talking about “ethnic Canadians”

No one would ever do that.

“Children of even illegal immigrants automatically acquire French citizenship by being born here. “

Well, no. Children born in France only automatically get citizenship at birth if one of their parents was also born in France, or if they are stateless. Otherwise they have to wait until they’re 13-18, depending on residency and other factors.

“Thus, a third-generation French person of Algerian origins is likely to feel just as “French” “

Likely to? Some do, of course, but some don’t.

It’s kind of interesting that you seem to think that France can erase the colonial past by fiat. I don’t think that France in general is “anti-Muslim” in the way that U.S. fools are. But come on — you conquered a nearby colony, you tortured and massacred to hold it, you accepted large groups of refugees when it went independent and settled them in what became slums, you used immigrants as cheap labor without giving them citizenship or social equality. Now you talk about how this group of people who you’ve socially set apart can be equal on your terms, being careful to deny them any kind of group identity to replace what you’ve taken away. So yes, they’re “Muslim”, in a meaning of that word that you’ve created.

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Ronan(rf) 01.15.15 at 4:32 pm

“all of these, which are not totally crazy in themselves, provide ample reason french people might want to take action on the veil. Non of them require invoking anti-arab sentiment, althgouh no doubt, anti-arab sentiment may well have been involved. And again, id be happy to see evidence that it is predominantly motivated by and/or promtes anti-arab racism, and id immeadiately change my mind, but neither your nor Rich’s account do a lot to convince me.”

I find the idea convincing (mentioned above) of Islamophobia (*) not mainly as racism, or even nativism, but as a reaction to a perceived ideological threat. More akin to the fears of communism than of foreign hordes. See here:

http://tompepinsky.com/2015/01/10/on-the-racism-of-charlie-hebdo/

(*) I’m just using Islamophobia as shorthand here, not trying to reduce all opposition to the veil etc as purely driven by prejudice.

in that context the veil issue and Burqa ban makes more sense (imo). A response to a perceived ideological threat to secularism and gender equality*, rather than purely a racist or nativist reaction (although that as well).
Just to correct something I said above, that a lot of anti immigrant sentiment has been directed at Muslims primarily. I don’t necessarily think that’s true. In the UK and Ireland anyway (afaict) it seems to be primarily Eastern Europeans. In Spain (the only other country I know a little about), it seems to be Africans specifically, rather than any religion.
But the protests in Germany (for example) are speaking specifically about ‘the Islamification of Germany’, which seems to me to be a different beast than just xenophobia/racism. So I agree with you that we should be looking at this with a wider lense, perhaps.
I also agree that peoples reasons for supporting these measures can be complicated and shouldnt be reduced to a single cause (ie racism).

*on gender equality, I dont really buy the argument. Wearing the Burqa or veil is a personal choice. France isnt Saudi Arabia where it’s demanded by law. Of course *some* women might be pressured into it socially or culturally and welcome the ban, but most of the evidence I’ve seen that has asked the women themselves has shown that they wear it explicitly for personal reasons. So again I think we’re back to an ideological explanation. The Burqa ban isn’t an example of protecting the women who actually wear it from oppression, but a larger symbolic and ideological struggle over what people believe it represents.

719

Blargle321 01.15.15 at 4:48 pm

I’d actually really like to see the evidence on veil wearers in France and their motivations for doing so. And it would be interesting to compare it to the UK situation. Namely, if there is no law against it or tabook around it, is there an increase in the number of muslim women who feel pressured to wear the burqa despite what they might prefer.

And as for the ideological threat point two thoughts on it, reacting against the symbolic content of an ideology which you find threatening might well be justified in a way which reacting against a race never is. And secondly, I think your take undeplays straightforward racism agaisnt arabs in france, which is really common. I’ve heard cops talk about arabs, as well as friends in high school talk about arabs which are just straighfowradly racist. No doubt theyd be happy to use the cover of ideologiekritik, but to be frank its not very different from the sort of racism you see in the us. And those racists are not the ones reading CH.

720

Ronan(rf) 01.15.15 at 4:55 pm

I agree with you that reacting to a perceived ideological threat can be justified in a way racism can’t be. Also point taken about underplaying racism towards Arabs in France (which wasnt my intent)

On the first paragraph. I linked to this above

http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/reports/unveiling-truth-why-32-muslim-women-wear-full-face-veil-france

which came out about the time of the ban. Will try dig some other stuff up later.

721

Blargle321 01.15.15 at 4:55 pm

Just read your aticle, its really good, and he makes the same point about eliding actual racism by equating it with islamophobia.

Al;so “The analogue for this kind of panic about Islam is not race. It’s communism. And the mockery of Islam by Charlie Hebdo is biting precisely because it targets a belief held sacred, not because it portrays all Muslims as having inherent, immutable attributes.” This is insightful, I think. Islamnophobia is bad the way Macarthyism is bad, not the way jim crow is bad.

722

David 01.15.15 at 5:23 pm

Ze and others – laicité is very important, as Blargle says, but it’s not primarily about how you dress. It’s about who has political power.
The French Catholic Church was extremely powerful politically until after 1945, and used that power to pursue an very reactionary agenda: anti-modern, anti-democratic, anti-republican, anti just about everything. Priests could go into schools and brainwash children, and many used their sermons to incite the faithful to overthrow the Republic, instituted in 1870, and introduce an authoritarian conservative state. Memoirs of the time recount how priests in the countryside would lecture their congregations on the evils of democracy, and claim that you would go to hell if you voted in an election. The country should be run according to the law of God, as interpreted by the Church, they said, and not by some Republic. This may sound familiar in other contexts. Only in 1905 was the situation settled, at least legally, and even then the Church supported all of the hardest line conservative movements, including some that sponsored militias and death squads. It’s unsurprising that, when the Republic was overthrown in 1940, the Church eagerly joined the collaborationist Vichy regime, and indeed sent chaplains into Russia with the French volunteers who fought there with the Wehrmacht and the SS, against the communism that was the incarnation of everything they detested.
So ultimately laicité is about not giving an unelected, ideological force political power. And before you say that was all a long time ago, it’s not just Islam which is distrusted: traditional reactionary Catholicism is undergoing a bit of a revival at the moment, after Hollande’s gay marriage initiative and other things.
France, as I’ve said before, is not an Anglo-Saxon liberal country (at least not yet) and individualism, though a French trait, is not an official virtue. You don’t have the right to be anti-republican in a republic, whilst laicité, on the other hand, is written into the Constitution.

723

primedprimate 01.15.15 at 5:51 pm

Why is a face covering different from a head covering (or even just a Pastafarian T-shirt that says “I believe in The Flying Spaghetti Monster”) for the purpose of Laïcité?

What about a facial tattoo? Could I tattoo the symbol for “Om” on my face and remain compliant with the concept of Laïcité? How about the ‘sindoor’ that some married Hindu women wear on their foreheads (this marks them as ‘taken’ and hence often opposed by feminists) – does that, like the veil, violate Laïcité?

Also, why are clergy afforded special rights when appearing in public in a society that has adopted the policy of Laïcité? Who decides whether a certain person belongs to the clergy? Couldn’t each and every person wearing religious garb simply claim to be a member of the clergy for an individual-specific sect of the religion?

In each case, note my questions are about whether or not certain actions conform to the principle of Laïcité rather than about whether or not they conform to existing French law.

Restatements of French laws and repeated references to Laïcité are not justifications for why those laws make sense, even in the context of Laïcité.

724

primedprimate 01.15.15 at 5:57 pm

My questions above were for Mitch Guthman @637 but I’d be happy with answers from anyone who supports the ban on face veils under the principle of Laïcité.

725

js. 01.15.15 at 7:51 pm

primedprimate has more or less just covered what I was going to say, but still, in somewhat different words:

People in this thread seem to keep running together the ideal theory of laïcité (which granted is a wonderful and lovely thing) with the range of things that laïcité has in practice been used to justify over the last couple of decades. David notes that laïcité is “not primarily about how you dress. It’s about who has political power.” This seems right. But then, invoking laïcité to defend a face covering ban that almost exclusively targets a subset of the French Muslim community seems prima facie illegitimate. For one thing, this minority of a minority is not about to take political power in France (fervid Islamophobic fantasies notwithstanding). So at best, it’s a misapplication of the principle.

Then there’s this idea, articulated by Blargle321 et al., that as a “public display of faith”, the burqa or veil is an imposition on public space, or is anti-republican, etc. (Something like this seems to have been said by several commentators.) Taken seriously, this is completely ridiculous. I won’t belabor the point because primedprimate has done a more than adequate job, but if you really thought that public displays of faith as manifested in dress and appearance are an affront to laïcité, you’d be banning a whole fucking lot more than just the burqa.

So what we’re left with is a law that arbitrarily targets an already marginalized minority and that cannot be straightforwardly defended on principled grounds. It seems a prime candidate for an unfairly discriminatory law.

726

Rich Puchalsky 01.15.15 at 8:10 pm

js.: “if you really thought that public displays of faith as manifested in dress and appearance are an affront to laïcité, you’d be banning a whole fucking lot more than just the burqa.”

Compare and contrast.

(For the clueless, this is about how halal meat bans are called for under laïcité, but that French schools still “naturally” serve fish on Friday. If people really were worried about resurgent Catholicism rather than about Muslims, I think that Muslims wouldn’t be the one pointing this out.)

727

js. 01.15.15 at 8:21 pm

RP,

Thanks for that reference—fits well with the point I was trying to make. (You were saying similar above too, of course.)

728

Blargle321 01.15.15 at 8:34 pm

js-you are right about me running together laicite and religion in the public space in a totally cackhanded manner.laic comitments per se in no way rule out religious clothing in public or even religious expression in public. any muslim is perfectly free to wear ostensibly muslim garb, that is recongnised as such by everyone, but not unconditionally so. but you can walk about with a shirt/matching hat and placard celebrating your religion and its worship

But, the way that freedom of religion is valued in the anglo-saxon world, well laicite is valued in the french republic. appeals to the principle of freedom of religion are mostly, in the french context, going to be seen as of secondary importance when compared with resisting exrecises of religious authority outside of peoples private lives. especially if these exercises of religious authority are seen to attack some constitutionally protected equality, such as that between the genders. If ronan is right that the burqa is not really a religious degradation of the equality of women, then non of what ive said applies. the law should be struck down by the constitutional court. if he isnt, then the french are being entirely consistent. for what its worth i think the link ronan gives is strong evidence in favour of his view.

As for the fish thing, im genuinely suprised. Im sure its true that fish is offered on the menu, not being a catholic i never knew growing up that this had anything to do with god, they certainly would never have said as much in school. Id be totally fine with fish on a thirsday, wedenesday or whenver.

and hallal is perfect example of a failure of laicite, its a cruel excpetion to a law protecting animals for the sake of fantastical religious beliefs. If its cruel for an animal to be slaughtered without being stunned, thats true whether your god wants you to or not, and in france we dont legislate on gods behalf. (if its not actually cruel, lets not have a law about it at all. but thats a different matter)

729

tub 01.15.15 at 8:40 pm

If only there were some way to find out what a French, Muslim feminist might think of the veil ban–or of laicite.

Oh well!

730

J. Parnell Thomas 01.15.15 at 8:43 pm

1st result when I googled halal slaughter.
“Contrary to what many assume, an estimated 88% of animals killed by halal methods in Britain are stunned before slaughter”

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/may/08/what-does-halal-method-animal-slaughter-involve

731

js. 01.15.15 at 8:52 pm

Asking whether the burqa per se is a “religious degradation of the equality of women” is like asking whether the white dress worn by even nominally Christian brides is a “religious degradation of the equality of women.” Seriously, if the French think they’re going to solve problems of gender equality by legislating dress codes they’ve got problems bigger than misinterpretations of laïcité.

732

Collin Street 01.15.15 at 9:00 pm

But, the way that freedom of religion is valued in the anglo-saxon world, well laicite is valued in the french republic.

See, “value” here is a property of culture, not nationality. Nationality — citizenship — can only have the properties that are directly related to where-your-passport-comes-from, which is to say it’s limited to legal issues; anything that is part of the relationship between person to person rather than person to government is part of culture.

And society, what you expect in the public sphere, is person-to-person relations, not person-to-government.

French culture — french ethnicity — exists. To equate french culture with french nationality, that french nationality requires holding to “french values”, is to state that people who aren’t ethnically french cannot be proper first-class french citizens.

733

Blargle321 01.15.15 at 9:07 pm

jpt-great, i did not raise the halal issue. But im glad only 12 percent of halal meat is actually an afront to the fair treatment of animal and principles of secular law. in that case we can do away with special legal derogations without undermining the ability of believes to do follow their creed, and there is still shechita which im told cannot involve stunning at all.

js-“asking whether the white dress worn by even nominally Christian brides is a “religious degradation of the equality of women” is a perfectly fine question to ask. to which the answer might well be, yes, albeit very limtied but worth acting on. do you really not see the difference between a belief that women are commiting a sin in the eyes of the (male) creator of the universe by merely showing their faces in public and the practice of wearing a white dress on a single day? do you think the former and the latter are really the same sort of thing?

734

J. Parnell Thomas 01.15.15 at 10:05 pm

Which makes me a little curious about French law on pâté de foie gras. But life’s too short.

735

David 01.15.15 at 10:50 pm

@Collin Street. laicité is provided for in the French Constitution, whose Article I (in the official translation) reads in part:

“France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. It shall be organised on a decentralised basis.”

Obviously there is debate about what secular (“laique”) means exactly, and its significance has changed even since 1958. But it’s not an “ethnic” value (there being, as I pointed out earlier no “French” ethnicity) so much as a value of the community of people who live in France (with exceptions because there are always exceptions). Newcomers have, in general, accepted this value as they have accepted others in the Constitution.

But maybe it’s time to climb out of this rabbit-hole, because I’m not convinced that any of this has much to do with last week’s events. There are similar arguments in the Christian tradition, and no doubt others as well.

Nobody doubts that Muslims, whether conceived of as a religion or an ethnic group, have suffered discrimination and still do. They are the poorest of the major communities in France. But that doesn’t explain last weeks events.
Nobody doubts either that different groups have been playing politics with the Muslim community, and some have been making, shall we say, creative use of the “laicité” concept. Likewise, identity politics is on the rise on the Left, and some concessions have been made in an attempt to buy votes which have produced some of the odd results others have mentioned.
But finally it is surely clear that last week’s events were the product of a very special combination of circumstances, including (but not limited to), poverty, unemployment and desperation in areas where there is a large Muslim population, a sense of discrimination and persecution, a wider sense that Muslims around the world are being attacked (including by France) the war in Syria and its radicalizing effects at home, the search for some kind of values in an increasingly value-free consumer society, individual psychologies …. and lots of other things.

736

The Temporary Name 01.15.15 at 11:51 pm

There are places in which the majority of people do give a shit about what people are wearing, and, therefore, impose dress codes on the public. The United States, for example.

I am unaware of the US dress code. Where might I find it? When I go there I will be sure to adhere to it.

737

tub 01.15.15 at 11:58 pm

“Where might I find it?”

Try walking around naked.

738

Blargle321 01.16.15 at 12:02 am

739

The Temporary Name 01.16.15 at 12:14 am

Try walking around naked.

I have!

So you’re saying there’s no US dress code?

740

The Temporary Name 01.16.15 at 12:22 am

Good to know that wearing the wrong kind of clothing = walking around naked though. Wrong religion in France = perversion in…France.

741

Blargle321 01.16.15 at 12:32 am

you think that the french think that walking around naked=pervert!
At least we can be sure you really don’t know much about french culture and mores.

742

J Thomas 01.16.15 at 12:52 am

#733 Blargle

do you really not see the difference between a belief that women are commiting a sin in the eyes of the (male) creator of the universe by merely showing their faces in public and the practice of wearing a white dress on a single day? do you think the former and the latter are really the same sort of thing?

I can see some differences between those.

But I can see hardly any difference between that and the belief that women are commiting a sin in the eyes of the (male) creator of the universe by merely showing their breasts in public.

To me it looks like almost exactly the same thing.

743

The Temporary Name 01.16.15 at 1:02 am

you think that the french think that walking around naked=pervert!

Yes, obviously I think all French people think one thing, therefore a minority that thinks another thing doesn’t exist and the thread is over. Jesus.

Naked people still get hustled away by the cops in France for some reason or another, although French authorities are admirably restrained about that and about prosecution, and in that realm I of course salute France for its tolerance.

744

js. 01.16.15 at 1:09 am

@Blargle321: I’m not defending the practice of wearing a burqa or the ideology behind it. (There’s nothing to defend there, as far as I’m concerned. Tho the same may be said of the white bridal dress.) What I am saying is that no one has presented a convincing case, or anything close to it, that the practice of wearing the burqa constitutes a unique affront to laïcité such that it needs to be banned whereas all sorts of other religiously significant practices are allowed to exist (in public spaces, even). Let alone that, no one on this thread has even managed to present a consistent case for the ban—the defenses seem to jump around all over the place (it’s a public display of faith! it’s degrading to women! it’s anti-republican!).

745

Ronan(rf) 01.16.15 at 1:20 am

” Try walking around naked.”

So it’s true that once you remove religion from politics and public spaces , society falls apart.

746

Rich Puchalsky 01.16.15 at 3:33 am

I saw that this had to be it as soon as I looked at the 2004 and 2010 laws, but some people said the usual bit about how I couldn’t know.

At any rate, there’s one more event (which was a scandal at the time, admittedly) that I also find highly amusing in the context of these defenses of laïcité. It turns out that the French government wasn’t happy that Muslims had no natural religious hierarchy. It was so disorganized! So, in a perfect example of avoidance of religion in the public sphere, the French government created a religious organization specifically to represent Muslims in their relationship with the state.

Some people on both the left and right criticized this organization for supposedly including some more extreme Muslims — as if bringing them into the system through connections to the state and therefore de-radicalizing them wasn’t a large part of the whole enterprise. What’s more important is that it serves as a perfect example of how supposed believers in secularism and in a French identity that owes nothing to ethnicity are in fact creating by their own efforts an official ethnic group defined by religion. How religious were the Algerian and Moroccan immigrants into France? Not very much before, but wait.

747

Mitch Guthman 01.16.15 at 4:44 am

primedprimate at 723,

I’m not sure that one can answer your questions which, I gather are designed to demonstrate that inconsistencies in the application of legal principles are revelatory of French bigotry towards Muslims, without making reference to the legal principles or the decisions that interpret them but I will try.

Because I’m neither French nor an expert in their history, I’m in no position to speak with authority—although that’s never stopped me before. I do think that David, Blargle and a few others have explained things much better than I can but since nobody else is making much headway, I will throw in my two cents worth anyway.

Borrowing from L.P. Hartley, the short answer is that France is a foreign country and they do things differently there. It’s their country, not yours. It has been reasonably homogeneous and Catholic since around the 1700’s but with an extremely strong strain of anticlericalism that is regrettably absent in the United States. That means, for example, that the conflicts that shaped modern France were very different from the one that shaped other countries.

I assume that most readers already know quite a bit of France’s bloody history of political and religious warfare prior to 1789, when the Church (having obliterated its protestant rivals) was one of the two dominant Estates, if not the dominant one. Suffice it to say that after the Revolution there were some changes and clerics fared little better than did the Ancien Régime. This struggle has continued in a country composed almost entirely of Catholics who are nonetheless very wary of the Church as an institution.

The inconsistencies that seem to vex many commenters here were developed as compromises between those who want an established (or at least more involved and powerful) Catholic Church and those who deeply regretted not having drowned more priests—with the vast majority of people who are Catholics but don’t want the Church to run their lives distributed along that curve. The inconsistent development and implementation of secularism reflects compromises designed to preserve the gains of the Revolution while respect freedom to worship. Essentially, brokering a peace that would temper the revolution’s virulent anticlericalism but also keep the power of the Church constrained so that France wouldn’t be in constant turmoil.

Many of the inconsistencies that certain people here are find so disturbing began as unspoken understandings that allowed a certain amount of play in the joints of the law. Priests could wear them religious garb in public. Catholics could have their own schools but needed to conform to the state’s limitations. Ash Wednesday could be observed observed. The calendar of official holidays largely matched that of the Church but there was no official Church role important state events.

Eventually the French found an equilibrium and there things more or less rested until until the wave of Muslim immigration began in the 1970’s. This is a long winded way of again pointing that that France was a far more homogenous place than some people understand, easier to for immigrant because the focus was on acceptance of French principles of the republic rather than a racial identify and the battle was between the forces of secularism and the Catholic Church. Basically, there were some Jews and some Protestants and they got some leeway because they were really a trivial factor. The Orthodox needed an exception for casher and they got it but mainly, Jews just wanted to keep a low profile and were generally in favor of a system that wanted to prevent religious persecution and discrimination. The rules and all of the basic principles were in place long ago. Some were written, some informal and the peace was kept by tolerance and restraint on both sides, although during Vichy the Church did make a move and made some gains.

Clearly, some of the impetus behind the revisions and strengthening of the rules was the result of the huge and rapid growth of the Muslim population. As I said, rapid growth among the Muslims who came in the aftermath of the withdrawal from Algeria and the huge wave of economic refugees from Muslim countries was very disconcerting. There has been considerable hostility and discrimination, which has fostered a Beur population that is terribly disconnected from French history and culture.

The 2010 law banning the burka was obviously directed at Muslims. But not only did the overwhelming majority of French people want the burka banned, it was also clear that there was an irreconcilable conflict between these women and a people who that thought the burka was disrespectful of their culture and traditions. It’s their country and their culture. Why can you respect the culture of a small minority of zealous Muslims but not that of France? Shouldn’t immigrants in particular refrain from outwards displays of religiosity in a culture where such display are taboo in their new country?

One can argue, as some here have done, that observant Muslims are a tiny and marginalized minority but it seems to me that this would suggest that it is the newly arrived who should respect the culture and traditions of their new country rather than seeking to stick fingers in the eyes of their new fellow countrymen. Those who want respect and tolerance need to be respectful and tolerant, too.

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Blargle321 01.16.15 at 6:07 am

Observe Delacroix,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Leading_the_People#mediaviewer/File:Eug%C3%A8ne_Delacroix_-_La_libert%C3%A9_guidant_le_peuple.jpg

the french republic is symbolised by a half dressed woman leading the third estate against the clergy and the monarchy. And we drink this stuff up from primary school onwards. No wonder the religiously mandated concealment of women appears to some as an affront to the republic.

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gianni 01.16.15 at 6:33 am

I don’t see the French national identity as some fragile thing in need of protection, nor do I see how some naked lady in a painting outweighs the values of ‘Liberté, égalité, and fraternité’. What people should really be worried about is French society following the turn taken by American society a decade and a half ago.

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The Temporary Name 01.16.15 at 6:38 am

The naked lady in the painting outweighs everything because no other culture has naked ladies because the French are sophistimucated.

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The Temporary Name 01.16.15 at 7:03 am

What people should really be worried about is French society following the turn taken by American society a decade and a half ago.

It’d be nice to keep thinking of it as a haven.

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js. 01.16.15 at 7:10 am

Those who want respect and tolerance need to be respectful and tolerant, too.

Pity you weren’t around to tell the French when they were in Algeria.

(As for Delacroix, about all I can is: first as tragedy, second as farce.)

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J Thomas 01.16.15 at 2:03 pm

#748 Blargle321

the french republic is symbolised by a half dressed woman leading the third estate against the clergy and the monarchy. And we drink this stuff up from primary school onwards. No wonder the religiously mandated concealment of women appears to some as an affront to the republic.

This is precisely why I say you ought to follow up on that logic. (Though it’s understandable that it would not actually be workable.)

The christian-mandated concealment of women’s breasts ought to be an affront to the republic. Just as you prevent the problem of muslim women who feel they are forced to cover their faces by forcing them not to cover their faces, you could and should prevent the problem of christian women who are forced by christian convention to cover their breasts by forcing them not to.

But of course, in the one hand you intimidate a small mostly-disenfranchised segment of the population, and in the other you might offend perhaps more than half. So even though the reasoning is the same, it just is not workable in the second case.

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basil 01.16.15 at 3:00 pm

Did we see the brutal savaging Rania Khalek and Max Blumenthal got for speaking out against the celebration of joyous murderer Chris Kyle, as depicted in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper? Did we read about ‘blood on your hands’-Bethan Tichbourne’s conviction for screaming out in protest at the Prime Minister? What of the case of the Girbauds’, the Catholic Church and the depiction of The Last Supper? Maybe the LRB article about the show trial of the Holy Land Foundation? Or the case of Christopher Lee Cornell? Others above have spoken about the NAACP bomb.

The Guardian announces that the US military is training the Syrian rebels.

Crossbow-Boumedienne, a.k.a the most dangerous woman in the world, condemned without a trial.

For me, reading this in the news disturbs the certainty I would’ve had about the world of terror we live in. It complicates the reflexive assumptions I’m inclined to make and how I calculate what side to take. It makes me question this conviction to rally in defense of freedom of speech all else be damned. It is interesting that it doesn’t have the same effect on us all.

Not a single person I know did the #JeSuisCharlieHebdo.

Reading this thread, and thinking about recent CT exchanges, the deontology/consequentialism one, the ones covering US police shootings, etc one is struck by the incredible stunts by which our biases escape us. I don’t think calling people hypocrites is fair or analytically useful but the episode above denouncing those considering false flag probabilities, this one promoting state worship and the ready acceptance of an order founded on a fusion of ancient law, violent authority and identity stand out as depicting minds that aren’t too differently made up than those in the agreed upon descriptions of terrorists. See Chris Kyle.

It was the Charlie Hebdo cover with Boko Haram’s victims as welfare queens that suggested to me they’d even forgotten the shibboleths with which this order’s defensors present themselves as distinct from the frothers.

P.S. Sorry, I don’t know that more than one link would make it through, so I thought it wise to allow those interested to look these up for themselves. As a persistent lurker, I’m afraid I haven’t earned long comment rights.

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novakant 01.16.15 at 3:00 pm

The 2010 law banning the burka was obviously directed at Muslims. But not only did the overwhelming majority of French people want the burka banned, it was also clear that there was an irreconcilable conflict between these women and a people who that thought the burka was disrespectful of their culture and traditions. It’s their country and their culture. Why can you respect the culture of a small minority of zealous Muslims but not that of France? Shouldn’t immigrants in particular refrain from outwards displays of religiosity in a culture where such display are taboo in their new country?

So “French culture” is threatened by 2000 women? (and even that number is considered a very high estimate – the government basically just pulled it out of its @ss) And the law is impossible to enforce, but burqa clad women get attacked by thugs on the street now. It is not a serious law, it’s just posturing and provocation. This is not French culture and you’re not a serious commentator on French culture.

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novakant 01.16.15 at 3:28 pm

This might explain why I’m rather angry at those who fan the flames of hatred:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/firebombs-and-pigs-heads-thrown-into-mosques-as-antimuslim-attacks-increase-after-paris-shootings-9977423.html

This is not French culture:

France is not at war with religion. France is not at war with Islam or Muslims. France will protect, as it always has done, all of its citizens. Those who are believers and those who are not,” Valls told lawmakers.

http://www.france24.com/en/20150113-france-anti-muslim-acts-spread-charlie-hebdo-terrorist-attacks-islam-mosques/

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stevenjohnson 01.16.15 at 3:34 pm

Does anyone know how much planning it takes to send out 10 000 soldiers to guard places?

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bianca steele 01.16.15 at 3:42 pm

It’s their country and their culture.

This attitude is medieval. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that this ethnic minority is not “French.” It is insane to suggest that they shouldn’t participate equally in the public sphere, because it’s “not their culture.” It would be nuts if they were recent immigrants. It’s horrifying when they’re third-generation residents. It’s appalling when–as I’ve heard many times–the standard French establishment line is that all these people are, most definitely, French.

Moreover, to suggest that laicite requires a level of conformity not equaled even by the worst abuses of established religion, at their worst, is to insist that laicite has itself become a religion. And, in that case, all the arguments in favor of laicite should be turned against it.

And if expressions of ethnic differences are forbidden, because they’re equated with expressions of religion, that’s much worse than any religion has ever been.

I do prefer the American system, which is–amusingly–more naturally multicultural than the French one is.

But by this point in the thread I’m pretty much convinced that laicite (even with its exceptions) is a sheer reflection of who has power in France, that the reasons behind it have been forgotten, and that (not unlikely) it hasn’t long for this world.

It would be nice if it were otherwise.

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bianca steele 01.16.15 at 4:17 pm

Reading backwards, Rich– So, in a perfect example of avoidance of religion in the public sphere, the French government created a religious organization specifically to represent Muslims in their relationship with the state. This kind of thing is quite common in many states, as I understand it, and a pessimistic reading of it (I suppose, sarcastically) would suggest that it no more necessarily permits Muslims’ participation in the public sphere than the US Department of the Interior permits trees’.

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Rich Puchalsky 01.16.15 at 4:29 pm

basil: “I don’t think calling people hypocrites is fair or analytically useful”

For me, at least, this isn’t about calling people hypocrites. It’s about showing how social policy created the separate ethnicity that the French state was ostensibly supposed to be repressing. If I can get through an analogy to the U.S. once again without people flying off the handle, it’s like how whites in the U.S. dragged slaves to the New World, set them apart and socially oppressed them after slavery was ended, and now sniff about black culture and ask why everyone isn’t just like white people. Of course, there are differences — both slavery and Jim Crow were official parts of U.S. law, while French law is officially universalizing — but the French history played out through colonialism rather than chattel slavery, so they can literally externalize it.

And of course none of this analysis is intended to excuse violence. Criminals are not representatives of the Muslim community in France.

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bianca steele 01.16.15 at 4:39 pm

@760

Well, sure, they wouldn’t have known they weren’t part of the mainstream of the culture unless that mainstream made it a point to more and more definitely remind them. (They might have thought they had the same authority to speak about, say, fish on Fridays, as good atheistic French people.) It’s all part of the plot to assimilate them, thesis-antithesis-synthesis kind of thing. And when they’re nice secular universalists, no one will notice their skin color or that their names are different. (That’s sarcasm again, as everybody except Steve Martin knows by now.)

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MPAVictoria 01.16.15 at 4:43 pm

“Criminals are not representatives of the Muslim community in France.”

Important to remember.

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Ronan(rf) 01.16.15 at 5:51 pm

Rich, that’s an interesting comparison. But just on:

“It’s about showing how social policy created the separate ethnicity that the French state was ostensibly supposed to be repressing. “

and

” How religious were the Algerian and Moroccan immigrants into France? Not very much before, but wait.”

If you’re talking about the increase in religiousity (such as an increase in piety and adoption of Islamic cultural norms) couldnt this also be explained by larger trends , ie the Islamic revivalism of the past three + decades ? I agree that French policy (such as , perhaps, the French council of Muslims, the ban on the Burqa etc ) is counterproductive , that it exacerbates the issue it claims to resolve (which I dont think is much of an issue to begin with), but it also seems to me to be reactive to larger (global) trends within Islamic practice and belief.
I couldn’t speak to the position of ‘people of North African descent’ in France, though the comparison to that of African Americans in the US seems apt. But explaining the changes in religous practice/observance as primarily (?) a reaction to French policy seems less convincing. (if that’s what you’re doing, which I might have misunderstood)

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Rich Puchalsky 01.16.15 at 6:24 pm

“If you’re talking about the increase in religiousity (such as an increase in piety and adoption of Islamic cultural norms) couldnt this also be explained by larger trends , ie the Islamic revivalism of the past three + decades ?”

But this is the same kind of thing. I’m not trying to deny Islamic agency: religious revivals have been common through Islamic history. But for the most recent revival starting roughly in the 1970s, why has it taken the particular form that it has? To quote wiki for convenience:

Two of the most important events that inspired and/or strengthened the resurgence were the Arab oil embargo and subsequent quadrupling of the price of oil in the mid-1970s, and the 1979 Iranian Revolution that established an Islamic republic in Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini. The first created a flow of many billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia to fund Islamic books, scholarships, fellowships, and mosques around the world; the second undermined the assumption that Westernization strengthened Muslim countries and was the irreversible trend of the future.

Both of these were due, in turn, to American foreign policy. The Arab oil embargo happened because of American war aid to Israel. The Iranian revolution took the form that it did because the U.S. propped up the Pahlavi regime.

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Blargle321 01.16.15 at 6:27 pm

So I think the perception is, legislation like 2010 law and carricatures of Mohamed are adding insult to injury. We have a marginalised and impoverished population who are also symbolically excluded, and to some degree, their symbolic exclusion contributes to their unfortunate social situation. Lets assume that symbolic exclusion plays a role in damaging the real well-being of people (im not really doubtful about this, but I think it unlikely that it is the principal or even an important factor in explaining persistent arab poverty and unemplyement in france).

2 things: symbolically attacking (cartoons, banning garments) fanatics and religious extremists is not an attack on arabs generally. It is only that if we think that the assumption arab=religioous extremist is one which is either believed by those leading the attack or shared by most of their audience. I think that both of these are probably false generally in France, i tihnk they are definitely false wrt to charlie hebdo.

Secondly, as I said before, it seems to me that straightfoward anti-arab racism, largely disconencted to perceived religious belief is way more problmatic than islamophobia. namely the belief that arabs are a problem because they are ‘thugs’ (in the euphamistic american sense) seems to me to do more damdage and be more prevalent than the supposition that they want to install the next caliphate.

Now it looks like it is going to be perfectly possible to a) agrresively advocate for policiew which are going to seek to lift arabs from their marginalised positions, quotas for grande ecoles, urban renewal, rassemblement de famille ect. whilst simultaneously b) aggressively mock the excesses of islam and even legislate in cases where there is a perceived tension between what some (tiny subset) of french muslims think their faith requires of them and some republican thingajigg.

Also rich- so i agree the conseil musulman francais is pretty weird. there was a lot of controversy at the time over whether it was legitimate and whether it clashed with laicite. One of the reasons it was set up, i think, was because protestants, catholics and jews all had some equivalent body which could be used to represent their iterests and via wich the state could have some degree of control over those religious organisations. and it was felt that islam as frances second religion could not be an anomaly in this respect, in other words it could not be allowed to operate outside the states sphere of influence wihtout surveillance. as far as i can tell, islam’s dissagregated nature has meant that this has not worked very well.

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Rich Puchalsky 01.16.15 at 6:47 pm

“it was felt that islam as frances second religion could not be an anomaly in this respect, in other words it could not be allowed to operate outside the states sphere of influence without surveillance”

Well, that part is exactly why it’s kind of comical that the French left and right opposed the inclusion of more radical Muslim groups within it. Because… they didn’t want them to be surveilled?

“Lets assume that symbolic exclusion plays a role in damaging the real well-being of people”

It does, but it’s not the major factor that I’m talking about. I’m talking about the very common phenomenon of subcultural pride. If people exclude you from society and say that they”re passing a special law to make it illegal to wear a veil, because that’s so against everything they stand for, then what do you want to do? Well, some people want to assimilate, but of course some others want to go out and wear a veil. The more that you tell a group of people who have been denied social status that it’s because of X, then of course the more they will want to do X, because it’s a way of getting their pride back. So many people who suffer from common anti-arab racism then say “if we are proud Muslims we can have an identity that is larger than the one given to us by our oppressors”. Laws like this convert the effects of anti-arab racism into Muslim identity, because they make it about Muslim identity.

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tub 01.16.15 at 6:52 pm

“I’m not trying to deny Islamic agency”

“Both of these were due, in turn, to American foreign policy.”

Ok.

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J Thomas 01.16.15 at 7:03 pm

#767 tub

“I’m not trying to deny Islamic agency”

“Both of these were due, in turn, to American foreign policy.”

Ok.

OPEC had a bunch of arab nations that were each trying to take care of themselves and so unwilling to accept quotas and unable to coordinate higher oil prices.

The USA gave them a reason to stand together and sacrifice their own interests for the common good. Then they saw reasons to work together, and sometimes they cut their cheating against each other enough to bring prices up.

It was both them doing it, and US action that got them cooperating.

It doesn’t deny US agency to say that 9/11 caused a collection of things in the USA.

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tub 01.16.15 at 7:14 pm

“It doesn’t deny US agency to say that 9/11 caused a collection of things in the USA.”

Sure, it does.

‘9/11 caused the U.S. to invade Iraq’ is no different from:

“The Arab oil embargo happened because of American war aid to Israel.”

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tub 01.16.15 at 7:32 pm

Look, I get that everyone is having a grand old time making up just so stories about how violent, radical Islam developed both globally and in France, and I know it’s a blast to do the ol’ analytic, ahistorical, armchair routine on this laicite business, but, I swear to you, there really do exist people in this life who can just explain to you how it all works and why it might be the right thing to do.

Among these people, certain voices might provide some much-needed background and nuance. One of them belongs to Fadela Amara. I’ve provided a link to a talk she gave, with English translation, above. She covers the contemporary debate over the headscarf in France over the past couple of decades.

The kinds of facts that dudes like Puchalsky are trying to distill from their watery knowledge of current affairs in France and, let’s face it, world-wide, she can just present to her audience, because she knows what she is talking about.

You really can get on education on the topic by just listening to a French Muslim woman talk about it.

But boys will be boys, I guess.

Well, if the gesture’s futile, I might as well make it twice. How about we hear from a Moroccan-born, French, Muslim feminist woman of color who writes for Charlie Hebdo address the question of CH’s racism?

http://www.cercledesvolontaires.fr/2013/12/22/si-charlie-hebdo-est-raciste-alors-je-le-suis-reponse-de-zineb-el-rhazoui-a-olivier-cyran/

I know: here’s a woman explaining what the situation is, rather than letting you guys invent narratives from the wiki-scraps you’ve picked up off of the floor of the internet, but, eff it, can’t hurt to try.

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Ze Kraggash 01.16.15 at 7:35 pm

It’s the West in general, acting like they are better than everybody else, knowing what’s good for everybody, forcing their silly worldview on everybody, using, very aggressively and arrogantly, their military and economic power. Globalization. Unsurprisingly, there is a backlash. It’s failing.

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yabonn 01.16.15 at 8:02 pm

If I can get through an analogy to the U.S. once again without people flying off the handle,

There was a handle?

Seriously, what if it was your problem?

To back my point about laïcité bot being racist, and about the burqa law being about sarkozyan tactics, left feminism and rightist anti-arab sentiment, there are facts. You can look up the polls. You can find the debates in the papers of the time. You can look a the recent demos.

Your point is that you see beyond all this – as in the hidden meanings of the polls. To back it you
– say it’s like that time for black people in the US
– add a little bits of approximate French history or sociology
– explain that something is “interesting” to you (not a very interesting thing to say, if I may say) : your expert eyes can decrypt the symptoms.
… and not much else.

But what if it’s just you ignoring evidence and projecting your local experience? Or finding like Bianca Steele, that France would certainly be less racist, if it was more like the US?

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J Thomas 01.16.15 at 8:03 pm

#769 tub

“It doesn’t deny US agency to say that 9/11 caused a collection of things in the USA.”

Sure, it does.

So you wouldn’t say that the attack on Pearl Harbor caused the USA to enter WWII?

This is kind of deep philosophically. You can deny causation. After all, everybody has free will so nobody can ever cause them to do anything. If you yell “Fire” in a crowded theater the people can all by free will ignore you so you aren’t really responsible for any bad consequences. You are never morally responsible for anything that anybody else does. If you are a military officer and you command your soldiers to do war crimes you are not actually responsible because they could refuse to obey your orders. If you defraud people of money by convincing them of things that are not true, it’s that they chose to believe you, when they could have chosen to disbelieve you. If you rewire a stoplight to make all the lights turn green at the same time, you aren’t responsible for any accidents because people don’t have to trust stoplights.

But something about this reasoning leaves me with a nameless doubt. I’m not sure why, but somehow I just don’t believe you.

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tub 01.16.15 at 8:13 pm

“So you wouldn’t say that the attack on Pearl Harbor caused the USA to enter WWII?”

Correct.

“But something about this reasoning leaves me with a nameless doubt”

More your problem than mine.

“You can deny causation.”

No, I cannot.

I can, however, deny this or that event as a cause of this or that other event, which is what I am doing here. U.S. aid to Israel did not cause anybody to do anything, except maybe weapons manufacturers.

OR WERE THEY THE CAUSE???

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tub 01.16.15 at 8:14 pm

“the burqa law being about sarkozyan tactics, left feminism and rightist anti-arab sentiment”

Left feminism?!?!?! What could it mean?! If only there were some way to find out!

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bianca steele 01.16.15 at 8:18 pm

Or finding like Bianca Steele, that France would certainly be less racist, if it was more like the US?

So if I say I prefer the US, where I live, I must be racist?

Look, I’ve heard for decades that France is less racist than the US and UK–and on my limited observation it seemed plausible–because everyone, European, Algerian, Ghanaian, whoever, is considered “French.” Now all these French people on a CT thread are telling me this isn’t the case, these people aren’t French at all, if they can’t change their ways quick enough (ways that in many ways seem more rural then especially foreign), French law says they have to shut up. Not just other people’s prejudices, but French law! They can’t have opinions different from other people’s, because if they voted for their preferences, that would somehow be God legislating?

Yes, I prefer the US, where it’s expected that people will be different.

And I’ve yet to hear a principled defense of why there are no Muslim schools and no special protections for people of Islamic faiths, the way there are for Catholics and Jews (though to be honest I have no idea how many varieties of Christianity or Judaism get those privileges, either), or why the kind of headcovering most of Europe wore, not more than a hundred years ago, has to be forbidden.

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The Temporary Name 01.16.15 at 8:23 pm

Tub, as a kindness to you, J Thomas will argue anything from any position at all. It’s not worth it.

But I’m interested in the idea you have of one person speaking for all on a given idea and settling things. The world would be such a simple place then.

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js. 01.16.15 at 8:26 pm

@tub,

As I remember, feminists—including Muslim feminists—were pretty divided about the “burqa ban”. I’m not sure why you think one video is dispositive.

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js. 01.16.15 at 8:27 pm

Oh wait. The Temporary Name *just* made the same point.

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Blargle321 01.16.15 at 8:43 pm

“Now all these French people on a CT thread are telling me this isn’t the case, these people aren’t French at all, if they can’t change their ways quick enough (ways that in many ways seem more rural then especially foreign), French law says they have to shut up. ” Whoever said that is being a parochial racist nationalist, that would be bad.

To be clear, when “sarkozy” does something which clashes with republican principles (such as talk about the christian character of the nation in his public persona as president), he remains french and retains all the citizenship rights that everyone else has, he’s also acting in a way which ought to be condemned. replace “sarkozy” in my previous sentence with whichever group you’d like, and then repeat. the result you get is the correct one. Also, not french, just grew up there (french is my mother tongue) and got pretty iritated at various commentators explaining CH in terms of France’s basically racist character.

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novakant 01.16.15 at 8:46 pm

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David 01.16.15 at 8:58 pm

Perhaps a reality check would help here. Last week’s killers were not representing an downtrodden minority, objecting to the burqa ban or agitating for an end to laicité. Likewise, there are plenty of examples of successful men and women of “North African” origin in politics, the media, the public service, sport and so on. But that’s actually part of the problem, in a curious way. Discrimination and marginalisation most certainly exist, but it’s economic factors that push people in the direction of radicalisation.
This was well expressed by the geographer Christophe Guilluy, in his book “La France péripherique”, subtitled “how ordinary people have been sacrificed,” and which caused quite a stir when it came out last year. It makes an impressive case, well supported with maps and statistics
His argument, in brief, is that a generation of neoliberalism has divided France into one population, consisting of a small number of wealthy metropolitan areas, and a much larger (geographically) area which is being forgotten about. The metropolitan areas have wealthy, central, middle-class zones, surrounded by a huge sea of poverty and precarity, where the victims of globalisation live, to service the fortunate with a disposable workforce. Far from being a bug, in other words, the deprivation we have been discussing is a feature. The suburbs are simply being abandoned, the state is withdrawing and schools and public services barely function.
If France were as homogeneous as it was in the 1960s, this would still be a massive problem. In the areas outside the metropoles, which are being left to rot, the population is predominantly white, and has effectively completely lost faith in the political system. (The two major parties and their allies would struggle to get more than 50% of the vote between them in an election held now). So the population in these areas is turning to the National Front, more or less in desperation. (There are some startling maps showing correlations between unemployment, poverty and FN voting).
But the disposable population in the inner suburbs, on the other hand, is mostly (though not entirely) non-white, and has a large percentage of people of “North African” origin. Those who can do so have generally left: those who remain are too poor to get out. Hollande’s PS has managed the awesome feat of getting some of the older voters to vote for the traditional Right, in protest at his social policies, but what are the young to do? The old mass parties of the Left that used to structure and provide leadership in dispossessed areas don’t exist any more, so where else do you look for a meaning for life, but back into your own culture. And then you start to see yourself as a warrior for virtue and justice, punishing the guilty …..If this ghastly episode should recall our anything from own, western christian, past, it’s probably the vigilante and the lynch mob.

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engels 01.16.15 at 9:00 pm

I suppose I should have predicted that this thread would have degenerated into ‘fuck those racist Frenchies’. Really, I’m surprised it took so long.

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.16.15 at 9:04 pm

So I’ve been reading a little about kosher slaughter. Of course the context is that modern factory farming and slaughter are so completely horrific that any talk of “humane” slaughter is a bit of a sick joke. That said, from what I understand, if done correctly, kosher slaughter techniques without stunning are at least as painless as normal slaughter techniques plus stunning; also that the latter frequently fails. However, apparently the halakhah has a loophole that makes it possible for slaughter to be very painful , which apparently is common in mechanized kosher slaughter. So it seems to me that it ought to be possible to preserve the pretense of humaneness without forcing Orthodox Jews to go against their beliefs, if one happens to think that this is something worth avoiding. Now I’m going to have some veggies.

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J Thomas 01.16.15 at 9:26 pm

#777 TTN

Tub, as a kindness to you, J Thomas will argue anything from any position at all.

This is in fact not at all true.

However, my coherent view of the world is different enough from the US mass culture that people who are firmly embedded in that seem unable to understand. So to them it looks like a random assortment of inexplicable incompatible points of view. I haven’t found any good way to deal with that yet, but I’m using that most scientific of methods to find solutions, namely trial and error.

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.16.15 at 9:32 pm

Science!!!

787

js. 01.16.15 at 9:47 pm

I suppose I should have predicted that this thread would have degenerated into ‘fuck those racist Frenchies’.

Has anyone actually said this? (I mean, this thread has degenerated into a lot of weird and awful things, but that’s not one that’s jumping out at me.)

Unrelatedly, thanks to David for his 782. It’s helpful, and not a lot of comments have been.

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Abbe Faria 01.16.15 at 10:00 pm

“If I can get through an analogy to the U.S. once again without people flying off the handle, it’s like how whites in the U.S. dragged slaves to the New World, set them apart and socially oppressed them … Of course, there are differences … French history played out through colonialism rather than chattel slavery, so they can literally externalize it.”

No, it’s the exact opposite. The big difference is in the case of France/Algeria the people doing the slaving were the Algerians; and way they were running things (odalisques, eunuchs, jannisaries – serious Game of Thrones level shit) makes the Confederacy look like a gay liberal studies professor. Burning that society to the ground and colonising it was an act of enormous human progress.

789

J. Parnell Thomas 01.16.15 at 10:00 pm

And, once again, I’ve had it, I’m gone.

790

Ronan(rf) 01.16.15 at 10:02 pm

Just to say one or two things to david 782. (1)Poverty and ‘isolation’ really arent a good predictor of, or explanation for, terrorism/radicalism

just the latest example – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/isis-has-fighters-just-waiting-for-order-to-attack-the-west-says-british-grammar-schoolboy-turned-teen-militant-shabazz-suleman-9980123.html

(see also Alan Krueger, Marc Sagemean and a whole lot of other research.
Although these specific types of radicalised group do seem to buck that trend, a little, theyre a lot closer to the ‘objection to the Burqa ban’ side than ‘responding to economic and social marginalisation’)
(2) France has hardly been run on ‘neoliberal’ economics.

“Has anyone actually said this? (I mean, this thread has degenerated into a lot of weird and awful things, but that’s not one that’s jumping out at me.)”

It’s all in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.16.15 at 10:06 pm

Note that 788 & 789 posted simultaneously. NOW I’ve had it, I’m gone.

792

engels 01.16.15 at 10:11 pm

My last comment was inflammatory and unhelpful and I would like to withdraw it. It seems to me that at least of the comments I skimmed have the appearance of Americans enlighteningt he French about the racist nature of their consitution v. America’s, and a thread on the Paris shooting seems to me to be a remarkably poor choice of venue for this.

793

David 01.16.15 at 10:16 pm

France has indeed been run on neoliberal (read Anglo-Saxon post-1980 economic liberal) lines since the 1990s. Few people here would deny it, and the French elites are proud of the fact. Just about everything that can be sold has been sold. The French political class (even the Socialists) have embraced the US and Britain as examples to follow. The French media treated Thatcher as a second Churchill on her death, and Blair’s Labour Party was long ago agreed to be the example for the PS to follow. (That’s worked out really well.) Hollande went so far as to explicitly reference Say’s Law in defending his endless budget cuts, and almost the last thing Valls said before the Charlie Hebdo shootings was how much he loved the private sector.
Of course, these kinds of policies don’t mathematically cause religious radicalism or violence, but they do create an environment which is more conducive to them, and, perhaps most importantly, their wholesale adoption by elites and medias, and the absence of an articulated left-wing alternative, doesn’t leave a very long list of alternative ways of understanding the world.

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Ronan(rf) 01.16.15 at 10:26 pm

” Of course, these kinds of policies don’t mathematically cause religious radicalism or violence, but they do create an environment which is more conducive to them”

But they really dont. Pretty much all the evidence to date has shown terrorists skew wealthier and better educated than the norm. That doesnt mean they arent concerned with social/economic injustice, but that in general poverty and exclusion does not explain violent radicalism.

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engels 01.16.15 at 10:38 pm

That ‘terrorists skew wealther and better educated than the norm’ doesn’t contradict the claim that neoliberalism / pauperisation ‘create[s] an environment which is more conducive’ to terrorism.

Imo it creates an environment which is more conducive to violence and hatred of all kinds, mostly on the part of the oppressors but also on the part of the oppressed.

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MPAVictoria 01.16.15 at 10:48 pm

“Of course, these kinds of policies don’t mathematically cause religious radicalism or violence, but they do create an environment which is more conducive to them, and, perhaps most importantly, their wholesale adoption by elites and medias, and the absence of an articulated left-wing alternative, doesn’t leave a very long list of alternative ways of understanding the world.”
Yes! Great comment.

And J Thomas will forever be the guy who in a thread on gun rights responded to a comment of mine where I discussed my feeling that we all have times in our lives where maybe it is a good thing that we don’t have access to firearms with a comment about how great it was to have a gun pointed at you.

And also the guy who used the phrase “women feel entitled not to be raped” in a thread on the importance of consent.

So yeah.

797

tub 01.16.15 at 11:08 pm

“I’m not sure why you think one video is dispositive.”

I’m not, either–I suppose, because I don’t think any such thing.

I do, however, believe that including the voices of French Muslim feminists may contribute to the discussion of how a law that has a considerable effect on French Muslim women came to be.

But, sure, you guys can keep trying to solve the mysterious mystery entirely through your own sleuthing at a great–really, very great–distance!

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gianni 01.16.15 at 11:14 pm

Does Poverty Cause Terrorism?
“the stereotype of suicide bombers being drawn from the ranks of those who are so impoverished that they have nothing to live for may be wildly incorrect. This interpretation is also consistent with another of Hassan’s observations… ‘ None of them were uneducated, desperately poor, simple-minded, or depressed. Many were middle class’ …
Enough evidence is accumulating that it is fruitful to begin to conjecture why participation in terrorism and political violence is apparently unrelated – or positively related – to individuals’ income and education. (Against) the standard economic model of crime… we would hypothesize that in most cases terrorism is less like property crime and more like a violent form of political engagement. More-educated people from privileged backgrounds are more likely to participate in politics…”

The finding that terrorists are drawn from the educated affluent makes sense to me, but I worry that the categories that we are working with here are not that well defined (lines between ‘terrorist’ and ‘mentally unstable individual’, as well as between ‘domestic’ and ‘international’, are very fuzzy). I am not aware of any research that explores this sort of phenomena from the neoliberalism angle specifically.

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The Temporary Name 01.16.15 at 11:15 pm

Well then tub, thank you for the link.

800

tub 01.16.15 at 11:15 pm

“yeah, e.g.

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collectif_des_f%C3%A9ministes_pour_l%27%C3%A9galit%C3%A9

My god! That’s not a link to American feminism! Or American thinking on race!

What is it doing in a Charlie Hebdo thread?!?!

801

Blargle321 01.17.15 at 12:25 am

802

J Thomas 01.17.15 at 12:42 am

#796 MPAV

And J Thomas will forever be the guy who in a thread on gun rights responded to a comment of mine where I discussed my feeling that we all have times in our lives where maybe it is a good thing that we don’t have access to firearms with a comment about how great it was to have a gun pointed at you.

You keep bringing up your misunderstanding of that. I’m tired of trying to re-explain it, when you have refused to understand before. I’ll sit this one out.

<i.And also the guy who used the phrase “women feel entitled not to be raped” in a thread on the importance of consent.

What is your complaint? A whole lot of women do feel entitled not to be raped. It’s true! And I think it ought to be that way.

You pick very strange things to complain about.

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MPAVictoria 01.17.15 at 12:56 am

“You keep bringing up your misunderstanding of that. I’m tired of trying to re-explain it, when you have refused to understand before. I’ll sit this one out.”
That is fine as you literally could not justify it well enough to make sense.

“A whole lot of women do feel entitled not to be raped. “
Oh Jesus Christ.

804

ZM 01.17.15 at 1:04 am

Mitch Guthman
“Eventually the French found an equilibrium and there things more or less rested until until the wave of Muslim immigration began in the 1970’s”

Ronan(rf),
“So it’s true that once you remove religion from politics and public spaces , society falls apart.”

I have to admit that for an essay on the Nouveau Roman (The Golden Fruits by Natalie Sarraute) I took an epigraph from Yeats’ The Second Coming : “Things fall apart” rather than “equilibrium” was largely the takeaway from the 20thC French history and the Avant-Garde subject.

If even Iranian directors (Certified Copy) are now critically engaging with the Noveau Roman/New Wave (Last Year in Marienbad [which I confess I didn’t watch the week I was supposed to]) these days – what is the French Avant-Garde saying about contemporary France now?

It is rare I have the opportunity to discuss Iranian films living in the countryside, so I may as well take the liberty as it presents itself. Headscarfs are actually quite a feature of interest in Iranian films since they serve as a marker of the artifice of the film – the government requires that headscarves be worn even in intimate scenes where in real life women wouldn’t have to wear them. So they mark the content of films as necessarily being of the public realm regardless of the script’s narrative featuring private scenes.

Certified Copy was an interesting film in Kiarostami’s oeuvre as it seemingly marked a return to a “Cinema” sort of filmmaking after the post-The Wind Will Carry Us films. (At the end of the The Wind Will Carry Us the main character throws away his camera – it’s about people going to a village under a false guise while their real aim is to make a documentary. This would seem to indicate self-reflexivity on Kiarostami’s part given his earlier films – I thought about asking him about this in his Q&A here but I didn’t since I used to be more concerned with being polite).

His films after this were marked by the use of digital video. The choice of video would seem significant given the role it plays in The Taste of Cherry – where it marks an end to the film’s narrative proper (a man asking people if they’ll bury him after he commits suicide which is against Islamic law) to the real world of the film-being-made – which is yet part of the film itself for the audiences who watch a copy of the final edited film.

The film Lee A Arnold embedded was a shorter and preliminary version of the film Shirin . These seem to mark a transition from the video films to a return to “Cinema” films with Certified Copy and Like Someone In Love (the latter I haven’t seen) both concerned with artifice. Shirin is a film about actresses acting as if they are themselves watching a film when in fact they are being filmed to be in a film and not watching anything except dots – Kiarostami later edited in the sounds that form the narrative afterwards.

So Certified Copy is an interesting return to “Cinema” – in that on the narrative level it seems to engage with the fragmented/absurd Nouveau Roman tradition, but if we are familiar with Kiarostami’s oeuvre we probably remain drawn away from the absurd narrative to seeking what is “real” in the film – which is Juliette Binoche and the opera singer who plays the male lead reciting the absurd dialogue with a rather complete commitment to opacity.

The opacity of the acting in this European film is in some contrast to the performances of the non-professional actors in the earlier Iranian films. I read an article where Kiarostami said this opacity wasn’t necessarily his original intention since he cast the opera singer thinking he would be a poorer actor than Juliette Binoche – except the actors were too good for him after all, but since he ruefully shies away from working with non-professional actors these days I guess he has to make do with opera singers who are better actors than one might suppose.

Read in this dual fashion (narrative/performance) Certified Copy becomes an interesting engagement with the French Nouveau Roman genre since it provides you with an underlying foundation to the disorientations of the narrative and thus is somewhat like the end to The Taste of Cherry in how it draws you to consider what it is that is “real” – or the thing in itself – in the film – which is the original film-being-made which we have some limited access to via the edited and mass reproduced Certified Copies.

So the film identifies itself as a copy while it simultaneously invokes such copies as actually being destabilizing agents that have a causative relationship to the fragmentation and absurdities that are presented to us by the narrative proper.

I think this generally concurs with at least a strong element of 20thC French thought that does not see a steady cultural equilibrium being achieved until “too many 1970s Muslim immigrants” :/ but rather that the “the centre doesn’t hold”. Bianca Steele’s point that some elements that are disdained are provincial brings me to mind another famous French painting The Gleaners where the women are clothed and all wear head coverings.

805

js. 01.17.15 at 1:12 am

Totally unpredictable:

Since France’s introduction of the ban in 2011, Muslim groups have reported a distressing rise in discrimination, reflected by a legal system which has seen an explosion on physical attacks on women wearing Muslim dress. The law has given self-styled vigilantes the opportunity to use Muslim communities as a scapegoat (if the state discriminates against a minority, it stands to reason that certain individuals will follow suit). Confronted with the choice of defying the law and facing verbal and physical assaults, women are opting to stay at home, hidden away from the world.

(To be quite clear, I don’t actually agree that it’s “just an individual choice”. Nevertheless, the wisdom of a ban continues to unfortunately escape me. Tho again, if you want a Muslim feminist supporter of such bans, I’d suggest someone like Mona Eltahawy is a better choice than Fadela Amara, some of whose actions seem pretty indefensible.)

806

David 01.17.15 at 11:52 am

OK, this discussion looks as if it might be getting quite interesting again.
I don’t think there’s a stereotype about suicide bombers was ever that simple (you can be quite well off and well educated and still have nothing to live for) but that’s not the point. The issue here is substantially different.
There have always been two forms of political engagement leading to violence. Our dominant understanding of these groups comes from the elite vanguard movements of the 1970s – the Red Brigades and their like – who indeed were better educated than most of their contemporaries. This is a historical trend also found among violent nationalist movements, which were often founded by intellectuals. But there’s also a tradition of mass violent political engagement. Many of those who fought in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side were ordinary people, who travelled with the assistance of trade union and communist party networks, just as most of the foot soldiers of the French and Italian resistance came from the working class, often via the communist parties.
But there’s a variant of this which I think is quite an exact analogy – the millenarian religious movements which flourished in Europe in the middle ages (there are analogies in other cultures I think). These usually arose at times of political and social upheaval, and were led and supported by ordinary, often illiterate people. They believed the last days were upon them, and that violence would bring about a new world. (Norman Cohn wrote a good book on this, but I can’t immediately find the reference).
That’s pretty clearly close to what we are dealing with here. Some work has been done in France on those who have fought in Syria, and also those who have contacted helplines set up by the government. The evidence is obviously ambiguous, but it’s clear that there’s a surprising percentage of converts (a subject we’ve not touched on) and large percentage of girls, and a very large number of former petty criminals (unsurprising since in these areas crime is pretty much the only industry).
The killers who struck last week are therefore an identifiable type. Had they been living in Naples, they would have become the kind of disposable criminal foot soldiers described in Roberto Saviano’s “Gomorrah,” but the particular circumstances of the French cities today it came out rather differently.

807

Ronan(rf) 01.17.15 at 1:20 pm

“That ‘terrorists skew wealther and better educated than the norm’ doesn’t contradict the claim that neoliberalism / pauperisation ‘create[s] an environment which is more conducive’ to terrorism. “

I take the point on the distinction. Not sure I agree fully, but it’s a fair one.

David

I think that makes a lot of sense. I guess what I was taking issue with with the initial comment was that I don’t think discrimination or exclusion *within* France is convincing as a significant cause of radicalisation (a factor of course, but not primary)
Blargle321 linked to Atran @801 and I did above here:

http://crookedtimber.org/2015/01/07/charlie-hebdo/comment-page-17/#comment-598905

The thing is though that Atran doesnt make as strong a case for poverty/exclusion as a cause of radicalism in his general writing(although he notes that these types of jihadis do buck the ‘better educated/wealthier’ trend a little). Instead, the interesting things he has to say are on the specific mechanisms people radicalise through (their social networks – ie groups of friends – and the larger Jihadi propaganda machine that offers them a meaningful ideology)
So I think when it boils down to which is the more important factor , the reasons for radicalisation (the grievances) or the mechanisms, that I think the second factor is considerably more important (though I shouldnt have been dismissive of the first) The problem, imo, with looking primarily at grievances is they vary so much person to person, and the demographics of who becomes radicalised is often so contingent on context (and so varies place to place) that it’s difficult to make any specific, generalisable claims (so working class kids with very tough backgrouds like the Kourachis might radicalise in one context, normal middle class kids in another, public schoolboy in another etc) All of them might have legitimate grievances and reasons for radicalising (although explictly it’s rarely discrimination/poverty in their own lifes), but the mechanisms that enable them to radicalise is the commonality, afaict.(although of course the process varies considerably person to person)
I think the important thing is, as Atran notes, that there’s a larger ideology out there to give their lifes meaning that they can mobilise around. And, IMO, something you touch upon as awell, that there’s a breakdown in order in the Middle East and the radicalisation of politics in the region. That, to me, is the important factor. This is much more a spillover, I think, from politics in and rhetoric coming from that region than any specific circumstances in the Banlieues. And it explains why Muslims, at this moment in time, disprortionatly radicalise, and not other discriminated/impoverished demographics.
None of that isnt to say that Muslims in Europe as a whole (and in each country specifically) dont face very specific types of exclusions and discrimination (I think they do, that’s clear)I just dont find that exclusion as particularly convincing as a main factor in explaining this phenomenon.
None of that is to go against your 806, just to expand on my earlier comment.

808

basil 01.17.15 at 1:23 pm

Odd that there’s a discussion of suicide bombers’ profiles when the men who attacked Hebdo were masked, had a getaway vehicle and were very precise in choosing their targets. These weren’t traditional terrorist attacks, they had many more people under their guns who they could’ve killed but didn’t.

The savagery of their violent expedition survives accurate description.

This is why I brought up Chris Kyle, American Sniper. It seems to me that there’s much that is familiar in the logic that impels these men here and those who go off under orders to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya – whether fighting under a black or more colourful banner.

809

David 01.17.15 at 1:34 pm

Ronan,
yes, I essentially agree. It’s worth stressing (as I should have done) that the current disorder in the Middle East has produced new models of organisation and behaviour (at least new in modern times) which have spread back to Europe. the idea of a community of the just, not dependent on traditional hierarchies or imperial boundaries, is a powerful one (see ISIS) and clearly has a resonance here. It does also correspond to some traditional models in Europe. Your post deserves a longer response than this – more later.

810

basil 01.17.15 at 1:38 pm

Thank you everyone, especially ZM for the wonderful film excursion. Much to catch up on. One of my ambitions is to make films from a bunch of cities in the style of Kiarostami’s Ten.

811

J Thomas 01.17.15 at 2:03 pm

#807 Ronan

The thing is though that Atran doesnt make as strong a case for poverty/exclusion as a cause of radicalism in his general writing(although he notes that these types of jihadis do buck the ‘better educated/wealthier’ trend a little). Instead, the interesting things he has to say are on the specific mechanisms people radicalise through (their social networks – ie groups of friends – and the larger Jihadi propaganda machine that offers them a meaningful ideology)

Consider this possibility — maybe poorer people are more easily radicalized, but being poor it’s harder for them to get weapons, training, transportation, etc. So the actual terrorists tend to be people who have more resources.

And the reason the poorer radicals lack resources is that the richer radicals do not contact them, because of class barriers etc. So richer kids who get into groups and agree to do suicide bombing etc tend to do it with each other and not with the (maybe much larger) group of poorer kids.

If that changed, if the random emergent terrorists who can afford explosives etc were to link up with the poorer random emergent terrorists who can’t, the problem might get much bigger.

I don’t have any evidence for this idea, but it seems plausible. And that indicates in the short run there might be fewer terrorist attacks in France if the muslim minority was ground deeper into poverty. The fewer of them that have access to the physical resources they need to commit terrorist attacks, the fewer terrorist attacks completely apart from how many of them want to. Of course in the long run that would lead to other intractable problems.

812

Ze Kraggash 01.17.15 at 2:36 pm

So, what about Huntington and his thesis? I know, from the left side it’s been denounced as stupid, and ugly, and racist. Obviously, cultures are fluid, constantly changing. Still, I feel there is something there, definitely. It explains the current civil war in Ukraine, for example.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/Clash_of_Civilizations_map.png

813

Igor Belanov 01.17.15 at 5:23 pm

814

Ze Kraggash 01.17.15 at 6:10 pm

I realize that Huntington’s ideas may sound unpleasant. Nevertheless, I believe the idea that in different parts of the world different basic worldviews prevail – it seems so obvious that I don’t see how it could be wrong. So, not Huntington, but probably something like John N. Gray.

Main tenets of western liberalism are not universally accepted. That is not a problem, not a reason to attack and ‘civilize’ the others, to discriminate against immigrants. Actually, it could be understood as a call for real multiculturalism, coexistence. Some measure of respect for other cultures.

815

Ronan(rf) 01.17.15 at 6:26 pm

How is what is happening in Ukraine anything but another bit of evidence against the clash of civilisations trope ..ie, an internal (intra ‘civilisational’)conflict that has pulled in two rival powers ? The concerns are geopolitical not cultural. (and primarily about Ukranian domestic politics) No ?

816

Ze Kraggash 01.17.15 at 6:45 pm

As it stated in Igor’s link, “Huntington saw the border between the West and the Orthodox East running down the middle of Ukraine”, and that’s an undeniable fact, obvious to those who know the place, and confirmed by opinion polls (http://www.uceps.org/eng/poll.php?poll_id=666). That’s the source of instability, and exciting opportunity for geopolitical games, Brzezinski’s chessboard.

817

Ronan(rf) 01.17.15 at 6:53 pm

Yes, but that bit you clipped from Igor’s link is taken SLIGHTLY out of context ie

“Though Huntington saw the border between the West and the Orthodox East running down the middle of Ukraine, he also saw that country as firmly within the Russian civilisational zone, much as it had been under the Soviet Union: “In 1991 and 1992 many people were alarmed by the possibility of violent conflict between Russia and Ukraine over territory, particularly Crimea, the Black Sea fleet, nuclear weapons and economic issues. If civilization is what counts, however, the likelihood of violence between Ukrainians and Russians should be low.” Huntington died in 2008, so he didn’t live to see the Russian annexation of Crimea. He might have claimed that the fissure in Ukraine is civilisational – between the Catholic West and Orthodox East – but this doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Kiev is historically Orthodox and the Catholic population, at about 6% of the total, is both physically and demographically marginal.”

818

J Thomas 01.17.15 at 7:39 pm

#814 Ze Kraggash

Main tenets of western liberalism are not universally accepted. That is not a problem, not a reason to attack and ‘civilize’ the others, to discriminate against immigrants. Actually, it could be understood as a call for real multiculturalism, coexistence. Some measure of respect for other cultures.

But then, your second sentence is one of the main tenets of western liberalism that is not universally accepted. There are very few western nations where that is mostly accepted.

That is indeed a reason to attack the others and discriminate against immigrants. Because they don’t agree with western liberal ideas that they shouldn’t.

This liberal idea works best when no one group is big enough to threaten the others, where every group is outnumbered by the others and must tolerate them to survive. Anybody who is a large majority will be tempted to stomp on minorities.

One of the best exceptions I’ve heard of is the Mormons. They are good at accepting nonMormons into Utah. As far as I know they have never hunted down anybody and killed them for not being Mormon for at least 150 years. How many other religions can make that claim? They are no more likely to cheat or steal from nonMormons than from fellow Mormons. Of course there are little ways that minorities feel excluded. It doesn’t feel good to be the only 5-year-old in the class not to get invited to a birthday party, or to invite kids to a birthday party and none of them come. It can be kind of disconcerting to find that everything but temple shuts down on Sunday. Some people find it an issue to be continually invited to convert. It’s strange to see people act like drinking coffee is a public indecency or worse a fetish activity. But all in all, they are very good at simply ignoring minorities and pretending they aren’t there, instead of persecuting them. Far better than being Mexican in west Texas.

Disclaimer: my lit search about Mormon treatment of minorities turned up only Mormon sources, so there could possibly be a little bias there.

819

tub 01.17.15 at 7:53 pm

” Mormon treatment of minorities”–?

This is gonna be good.

820

js. 01.17.15 at 7:55 pm

ZM @804:

That’s a nice take—I’m not sure I have much to add (partly because I don’t know much about the Nouveau Roman), but some of that reminded me of _A Separation_, which when compared to Kiarostami is perhaps a fairly conventional film, but does also deal heavily with themes of concealment/disclosure/revision of what seemed narratively given, etc. And with the difficulty or possibly impossibility of documenting/creating a definitive narrative truth (I think, anyway). And then of course Farhadi played with the same themes (more or less) in a French setting in _The Past_.

On a somewhat unrelated note, a couple of nights back I saw A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, which isn’t really an Iranian film, but it is in Farsi and does bear some sort of complicated relation to recent Iranian cinema. (It’s billed as a “feminist vampire western”, which is more or less accurate, or about as accurate as such outrageous billing can manage to be.) Well worth checking out in any case.

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Ze Kraggash 01.17.15 at 8:19 pm

817, I don’t understand what the author of Igor’s piece is saying. “Violence between Ukrainians and Russians” – what does it even mean? Who are Ukrainians, who are Russians? Are people living in eastern Ukraine Ukrainians or Russians?

Anyway, yes, it is out of context of this piece, but that’s irrelevant: all I’m saying is that Huntington’s model explains the current events in Ukraine.

J Thomas: obviously immigrants who are unable or refuse to assimilate will face problems, that’s a given. Whatever the culture. When in Rome. So, things like the veil law are probably inevitable. And I’m thinking, maybe it ain’t that bad: it makes people realize, before they make their decision, that immigration means assimilation. And those who do assimilate, they are not minorities, they are a part of the majority culture.

822

J. Parnell Thomas 01.17.15 at 8:47 pm

JT is once again obviously straining not to say a certain word, but I know it’s really really really really really hard for him.

823

J. Parnell Thomas 01.17.15 at 8:52 pm

Oh gosh, did I just victimize him? Sorry.

824

J Thomas 01.17.15 at 9:11 pm

#821

obviously immigrants who are unable or refuse to assimilate will face problems, that’s a given. Whatever the culture.

I have lived most of my adult life in communities where I didn’t have to assimilate much. Mixed communities where no one was particularly on top. Where at worst the two dominant groups were so busy dealing with each other that they had no time to harass harmless individuals who didn’t fit into either side. I recommend it to anyone who is concerned with civil liberties and who can tolerate cities. Very occasionally I have had to deal with shootouts by rival drug gangs or gangs versus police, and sometimes the government services were not ideal, but the advantages in freedom are considerable.

When in Rome. So, things like the veil law are probably inevitable. And I’m thinking, maybe it ain’t that bad: it makes people realize, before they make their decision, that immigration means assimilation. And those who do assimilate, they are not minorities, they are a part of the majority culture.

Yes. So for example, if you go to New York City and choose to live in a Hasidim community, you need to become Hasidim if they will let you, or leave. Similarly if you are black and want to live in a neighborhood with white racists, you must assimilate. It might not be that difficult to explain that you are getting away from the wrong *kind* of blacks, and show up at gun shows to tell the media about the 2nd amendment and so on and be accepted, if you try.

One time in LA my iranian roommate took me to an iranian grocery store. They had a lot of interesting exotic foods and everybody was friendly. He introduced me to the checkout girl who flirted with him a little and flirted with me a little. Later I went back by myself. Everybody looked at me. One of the employees kept coming back to me in case I needed help, but when I asked about the different kinds of yogurt he mostly couldn’t talk about it in english. The same checkout girl as before talked for a few minutes on her cell phone while I waited and then first glared at me and then ignored me while she packed my food roughly. But then, I didn’t know the first word of Farsi to let them know I honored them.

Obviously muslims in France or the USA should do nothing to give any hint that they are Muslim, and should give up their religion as quickly as possible. Unless they live in Muslim-majority communities. Similarly with high-functioning autism people in neurotypical communities, or nerds in fashion-oriented communities, or — well — anybody who doesn’t fit in.

And yet, if that seems like too much hard work for too little gain, they might try to live in communities that are disrupted to the point they don’t enforce norms so strictly.

825

J Thomas 01.17.15 at 9:15 pm

#822 J Parnell Thomas

JT is once again obviously straining not to say a certain word, but I know it’s really really really really really hard for him.

What word would that be? I’m trying to guess, and I keep coming up blank.

Something critical of libertarians? That they refuse to recognize that social stigma can hurt people at least as much as direct government action, so that they are only really free in a society full of libertarians who agree with them, or a society that is too fragmented to care? I didn’t think I needed to spell that out, and there aren’t that many simple-minded libertarians here anyway.

826

J. Parnell Thomas 01.17.15 at 9:25 pm

You know exactly what I fucking mean. Obviously it won’t do any good to try to persuade you that you’re deranged, but at least I can give you some shit about it.

827

Ze Kraggash 01.17.15 at 9:29 pm

“Obviously muslims in France or the USA should do nothing to give any hint that they are Muslim, and should give up their religion as quickly as possible.”

I don’t think in France and especially the US you need to denounce your religion. These are liberal countries: you need to accept the doctrine of liberalism as your second religion, and then they don’t mind. If you want to immigrate to Saudi Arabia (or some other countries), then yes, you’ll need to convert to their religion.

828

David 01.17.15 at 9:39 pm

We are dealing with some slippery concepts here. Not just “terrorism” (silly word) but even “radical”, which really means “going back to the roots” and has no necessarily violent or extreme connotation. If “radicalisation” means anything, it means, in practice, a sense of despair that the political process does anything for us, and a willingness to contemplate alternatives, potentially violent.
I would argue that such trends are found all around the world, and are, indeed, inevitable in world that only has the ideology of consumerism to offer (I spend, therefore I am). For those that reject this ideology (nearly everybody) there are a series of options available. In some western countries, the response is disengagement and apathy. In others, it is crime, to acquire the outward signs of existence and status by any means possible. Some turn to fundamentalist Christian sects, others to essentialist forms of nationalism. These tendencies are not confined to Europe, either: for example, nationalism and racialist practices (against “blacks” from the South) are common in Algeria. Countries that have the least difficulty are countries where liberal consumerist ideology has had the least influence (Japan and Korea are good examples).
Obviously finding an alternative to consumerist ideology poses a problem for immigrant communities who feel disadvantaged, and are generally poorer than average. Whereas plenty of people from immigrant families from the Maghreb have made successful lives in France (and are often among the fiercest defenders of French norms), a larger number have not, and this, perhaps, is the connection with poverty and despair. Successful Maghrebians (let’s call them that) can participation French life, whereas those they leave behind in the slums can’t.
So where do the latter turn for an ideology that might make sense of their lives? Their own traditions provide one. Moreover, because Islam is by definition transnational (as is Christianity) it opens the possibility of a community of virtuous believers, without the need to accept nationalism or other competing ideologies.
This is why, as ronan suggests, events in the Middle East are of such importance. What you hear there is that people are interested and very worried by the challenge that ISIS poses to traditional frontiers and colonial borders, which is how the vast majority of te “Islamic” world is carved up. The substitution of the community of justified believers, defended by holy warriors, makes perfect sense there, as in all monotheistic traditions, and has a lot of resonance in Europe as well.

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J Thomas 01.17.15 at 9:45 pm

#826 J Parnell Thomas

You know exactly what I fucking mean. Obviously it won’t do any good to try to persuade you that you’re deranged, but at least I can give you some shit about it.

I’m mystified. I *did* say autism spectrum, which I deny is a particularly useful concept, but you want to give me shit about it? Hey, I did say the word.

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.17.15 at 10:02 pm

This puts me in a position that’s analogous to the one I was in here.
http://crookedtimber.org/2015/01/07/charlie-hebdo/comment-page-17/#comment-599837

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ZM 01.17.15 at 11:05 pm

Returning to the subject of why and how people become radicalized, in yesterday’s paper there was a profile and interview of an Australian that a UK study says is one of the most influential Jihadists (the jihadist complains the study was undertaken by just three men).

“Terrorism experts say he’s a jihadist poster boy and Julie Bishop has called him a fraud, but his Anglo mum reckons he’s funny and clever. John Safran meets Catholic-raised Muslim convert Musa Cerantonio.”

http://m.smh.com.au/good-weekend/musa-cerantonio-muslim-convert-and-radical-supporter-of-islamic-state-20150116-121c8s.html

John Safran is a funny and acute Australian media personality of a Jewish background – this title in no way does him justice but I can’t think of how to explain him. J Parnell Thomas you would probably like his work is my guess.

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J Thomas 01.18.15 at 12:03 am

#830 J Parnell Thomas

This puts me in a position that’s analogous to the one I was in here.

OK, if you’re not interested in continuing vague and elusive allusive insults against other posters, let’s just quit and go back to talking about terrorists.

One reason to ignore lower-class terrorists is that they can be assumed to not be intellectuals and maybe a bit stupid, they will follow orders and not give them and so they aren’t very interesting.

I’m not sure how much that happens, but it could be one of the things that biases reports toward thinking about the ones who are better off.

On the other hand if somebody has compiled a list of all known muslim terrorists, and found that they tend to be from richer backgrounds than average muslims, that would say something. It isn’t that likely that the richer ones would get caught more unless we preferentially find the ones who move money. (Which I guess does happen some.)

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Ronan(rf) 01.18.15 at 1:55 am

“I don’t have any evidence for this idea, but it seems plausible. And that indicates in the short run there might be fewer terrorist attacks in France if the muslim minority was ground deeper into poverty. The fewer of them that have access to the physical resources they need to commit terrorist attacks, the fewer terrorist attacks completely apart from how many of them want to. Of course in the long run that would lead to other intractable problems.”

Come on man. Don’t treat me like a fool. I like you and your contrarian take on things (and you do hit upon something every now and again that I, personally, find insightful. And you’re always openminded and original and rarely take offense, even when abused mercilessly.) But you also have a tendency to take the piss aswell.
Obviously grinding them into the ground is neither practical nor moral. I think your larger argument has a point though, but cant properly reply at the min.

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Ronan(rf) 01.18.15 at 5:31 am

(This is not in reply to David @828,who I dont agree with on the consumerist angle but cant say anything specific to it at the minute. So I’m really just speaking more generally.)
As it stands, the place I know best (Ireland) has the most siginficant Syrian foreign fighter demographic in Europe (per head of pop), yet doesnt have a meaningful Muslim minority(though it does have one, though tiny) or a well known Imperial past(though it does have one, though unknown). How can this possibly be ?! Poverty and colonialism explain everything, surely ? Well, no..
..probably not. The question is what you do about it ?
My perfect policy would be welcoming our brothers home after their stint away. Asking them to check in now and again with their parole officer. Let them know we love them and understand the urge. (And, yes, it is a deeply moral, and understandable urge. To fight the people who are killing those you identify with) For the more recalcitrant members you lock them up. Simple enough.
Threats to the legitimacy of the state can’t be tolerated. So why not allow them settle into an easy post conflict life? The only expectation I would have is they dont use violence to try and influence the political process. It’s easy enough. Threats to the legitimacy of the state can’t be tolerated. Our solution is love, except when political violence is used.
Political Islam is good ! Politicise away ! Stand for election!
Violent overthrow of the state. Not so much.
So colonialism and poverty has little to do with it. Afaict.

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J Thomas 01.18.15 at 8:28 am

“And that indicates in the short run there might be fewer terrorist attacks in France if the muslim minority was ground deeper into poverty.”

Obviously grinding them into the ground is neither practical nor moral.

Agreed, but it might “work” in the short run. If the time comes that there are enough attacks to do statistics on, increased repression might reduce the number of attacks. The people who think that way could be right in the short run.

And a lot of people do believe in clash of cultures. The liberal view would have it that if you let people choose their own cultures they have a chance to get what they want. If lots of individuals choose to change (like lots of scandinavians decided the norse gods were just too gloomy and switched to christianity) that’s fine for them.

But partisans for a particular way of life want their way to win out. And so they point out that muslims tend to be intolerant of nonmuslims in places where almost everybody is muslim, so it’s important to make sure Islam does not win — which makes it vitally important to repress them in places where they are still a minority. If they get angry and do any violence while they are being oppressed that just proves how important it is to repress them.

From my own point of view that would be a good thing to repress, except it doesn’t fit the liberal ideal to repress people just because they disagree with the liberal ideal. I can’t depend on people to follow the ideal voluntarily, and I can’t force them to. But if I’m willing to move around some then I can live in places where they mostly have no choice because no one group is strong enough to take over.

I apologize for taking the piss.

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Ze Kraggash 01.18.15 at 9:24 am

Here, if you want to understand better how this idea about multiple ‘civilizations’ is viewed, by some, in the ‘orthodox’ part of the world, watch this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFI6fg8NITg

I have to say though, that (imo) the interviewer is wildly exaggerating the influence of this (or any other) philosophy on the most famous politician of that part of the world. Politicians do what they do for pragmatic reasons; what they say may give some clues to their mindset but not necessarily.

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David 01.18.15 at 11:29 am

Ronan has moved the debate towards why people do things in other countries as opposed to why they do them in their own, and I agree that very different sets of factors are involved. I’d be interested in more details about this, because frankly I hadn’t realised that the Irish contingent was so relatively important. (But there were quite a few Irishmen who fought with the International Brigades in Spain IIRC. Is this because of the current unattractiveness of the Catholic Church in Ireland, or is that a different issue?
We find it hard to acknowledge idealism in those whose ideals we don’t share, but the idea of defending your co-religionists under attack makes perfect sense. Governments are freaking out about what happens when these people come home again, although;, once more, nothing is new: many of those who fought in Spain were put under police surveillance in different countries when they returned.
And as for poverty as a weapon, sorry, won’t work. There’s no such thing as absolute poverty, and the investment in weapons required for the two operations probably amounted only to hundreds, rather than thousands, of Euros. Other costs would have been minimal. I don’t know what the current price of an AK-47 is in the French suburbs, but there are plenty out there, and organised crime (which which all of the killers were associated) can usually get hold of anything it wants.

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Ronan(rf) 01.18.15 at 2:42 pm

david – you’re right it is a different (though can be related) question. In my defence, I was a few drinks in when Id posted it (which doesnt excuse the irrelevance/incoherence, just explains !)
You’re right a number from Ireland went to fight in Spain,on both sides.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Brigade_%28Spanish_Civil_War%29

The numbers of people gone to Syria is small(estimates vary between 25-40.), just largest per head of pop in Europe as the Muslim community is small. (Afaik the demographics are also different than on the continent/UK. It’s more diverse as not related to specific post colonial migrations, and disprortionatly wealthier/better educated – although Im not 100% sure on that.)
I’m not sure if it’s related to the unattractiveness of the Catholic Church. I do take your point at 828 about the lack of meaningful alternative political ideologies as being a factor driving it, I just dont know what I think about that. It’s a complicated question.
Also what do you mean by:

“And as for poverty as a weapon, sorry, won’t work”

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J Thomas 01.18.15 at 2:43 pm

#837 David

And as for poverty as a weapon, sorry, won’t work. There’s no such thing as absolute poverty, and the investment in weapons required for the two operations probably amounted only to hundreds, rather than thousands, of Euros. Other costs would have been minimal.

Poverty would not be a absolute barrier, but a relative one. It’s harder to pay your way to Iraq to fight there when you’re poor, so less hands-on training. If you’re absolutely motivated and willing to take risks, you can just go, hitch-hike your way and take odd jobs. But it’s a barrier. You’re more likely to have relatives who depend on you to the point you can’t go. More likely to have been raised to believe that you can’t hope to achieve much. Etc. I don’t find it surprising that the numbers would be down, even apart from possible bias of various sorts in the reporting.

840

MPAVictoria 01.18.15 at 3:34 pm

The Christian Ethics writer Elizabeth Bruenig (https://twitter.com/ebruenig) made an excellent point on twitter yesterday. She believes that by calling the terrorists “extreme” Muslims and the vast majority of Muslims who want nothing to do with violence “moderate” we may be buying into the framing of the terrorists. People who actually believe in religion don’t “moderately” believe after all. The whole thing is worth a read.

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Rich Puchalsky 01.18.15 at 3:41 pm

“So colonialism and poverty has little to do with it.”

Little to do with it as an economic issue, or as a symbolic issue? People who claim to be speaking with knowledge of French politics have had no hesitation about dismissing things like the burqa ban as a “sideshow”, as merely symbolic, and claimed that rather than being a reflection of France’s nativism because of its colonialist past that political events like this are due to internal politics and don’t reflect anything deeper. Perhaps you’d better explain to the educated, ideologically motivated Islamicists that you’re concerned about that your reading of these events is the important one and that they shouldn’t be concerned about it either.

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Ronan(rf) 01.18.15 at 3:59 pm

I dont understand why youre putting what other people said on me ? I didnt dismiss it as a sideshow said it IS a reflection of nativist sentiment. Take it up with those people who said what youre objecting to. This is a common line of yours, use the very vague ‘other people said’ to respond to a specific person, implying that the ‘other people’ include the person youre responding to

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J. Parnell Thomas 01.18.15 at 4:46 pm

J Thomas, sorry for being vague. You’re a sick evil obsessive Jew-hating Nazi. Saying that does not make me a Zionist.

844

J. Parnell Thomas 01.18.15 at 4:58 pm

Sorry, sorry, I know you’re not persuading anybody of anything, but you just make my fucking skin crawl. It’s like having a huge pile of turds in the room.

845

David 01.18.15 at 5:14 pm

Ronan – poverty as a weapon: badly expressed, I was just rushing out. I was referring to J Thomas’s suggestion, which he has since expanded, that poverty could discourage militantly (to put it simply).
Again, it depends if we are talking about home or away engagements. It’s true that the poorer you are, the less easy it is to travel abroad, but there are clearly networks, funded from outside, which provide resources, as well as organisation and transport. As far as I know, there is very little open source information about such networks (though there’s lots of rumours and assertions) but history suggests that they are actually quite cheap to run, especially overland.
As regards colonialism and poverty, these are two very different things, and, since I don’t think we have a consensus here about what the “problem” is – or even if there is a single problem – it’s impossible to say how far either of these very complex factors have anything “to do with it.” I don’t think anyone would deny they are relevant (I certainly wouldn’t), but it depends what you are trying to explain.
The colonial issue, for example, is incredibly complicated, and involves all sorts of historical and cultural factors which pull in different directions. For example, to take the case only of Algeria, there are the “harkis” (a generic term for Algerians serving in the French Army, and various local militais and support units, perhaps 250,000 in all plus their families). Tens of thousands were massacred in 1962 by the FLN, many more fled to France, and they and their descendants have been very bitter at what they regard as their betrayal by the colonial power. It was only a decade ago that their suffering (and their service to France) was recognised. Likewise, many Algerians in France are Berbers, much less Islamic and often dismissive of the “Arabs” who conquered them. Thus, it is almost impossible to talk about the “colonial” influence on any of this, as if it was one thing.
@MPA Victoria. A good point, and this often happens in conflicts. But it’s particularly dangerous in a religious context, since it implies that only “extremists” take their faith seriously, whilst “moderates” don’t really care. The trouble is that this vocabulary has been used for so long now it’s almost impossible to get rid of it. (A “fundamentalist” by the way is someone who believes in the literal truth of their religion, just as an “extremist”is someone who holds strong opinions that we disagree with. I have never heard anyone describe themselves as an “extremist”, no matter how extreme their views are).

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tub 01.18.15 at 5:22 pm

“Perhaps you’d better explain to the educated, ideologically motivated Islamicists”

Yeah, we should go down to the riots over the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo in Algeria and Pakistan and yell,

“Hay idiots! You only care about blasphemy because of…the RAND corporation! No wait…Israel!…American aid to Israel in the late 1960s!…That’s why you’re angry and fundamentalist!…which means!…you should…stop?…”

847

Rich Puchalsky 01.18.15 at 5:37 pm

Ronan (rf): “I dont understand why youre putting what other people said on me ?”

I wasn’t, but you were using the nonexistence of a Muslim response due to Irish colonialism and poverty as a way of saying “So colonialism and poverty has little to do with it” — as if that applied to the French case.

I’ll write more clearly since I don’t see any real value in interacting with you about this. Some people want to blame transnational Muslim terrorism on Muslims in general, based on some supposed characteristic of their religion. Those people are usually though not exclusively on the right, and the effect is to say that the history of interaction between people who took up a transnational Muslim identity and the West isn’t important. But there’s another way of ignoring history, favored by those on the left: that’s to say that it’s all about economics. Basically it says that if only we could do a laundry list of economic development actions (see some of David’s comments upthread) there would be no cause for grievance. All symbolic issues that are not directly economic are then sideshows, products of contemporary and largely meaningless French internal politics, etc.

I think that both of these are wrong. There is no intrinsic cultural clash of civilizations; there is no bland culture-free inequity in economic development. France is having difficulty with its ethnic North African subculture (or whatever you want to call it) because of specific actions that France took, going up to only about 50 years ago.

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J Thomas 01.18.15 at 5:56 pm

#843 J Parnell Thomas

J Thomas, sorry for being vague. You’re a sick evil obsessive Jew-hating Nazi. Saying that does not make me a Zionist.

Oh my. This is slander. And it appears you are not the only one who thinks it. Your slander program over time has been somewhat effective. So it is not sufficient to point out that you are a liar, a slanderer who makes personal attacks opposed to the CT rules and traditions. I must attempt to set the record straight.

I am a proponent of the multicultural ideal, the idea that we should try to get along, that the different cultures should try to co-exist. We don’t have to be alike or think alike, if we can find ways to get along while different. I am convinced that this is a good thing, to the extent we can actually do it.

So I want a government with no second-class citizens. That government might do things I don’t like, but if it’s what the majority wants then I might complain bitterly but I will accept it.

I in principle disapprove of nations that keep permanent second-class citizens, that discriminate against minority cultures. Maybe those minority cultures would treat everybody else even worse if they got in control, maybe they will turn into single-issue voters who get to be the little swing votes that cause a lot of trouble, that’s bad but the alternatives are worse.

By my ideals, Israel is the poster-boy of bad behavior. I have to accept that they will do what they want in their own country. I might complain bitterly but it’s their own decisions. They have set up a permanent set of second-class citizens. It would be very difficult for their underclass to get first-class status because the Israeli version of a state religion makes conversion difficult. They believe that outright force will meet their needs better than treaties which are after all only pieces of paper. Etc. Well OK, they have the force and they get to choose how to use it. I’ll complain like I complain about the Russians and the Chinese in Tibet and so on.

But then, they manipulate opinion in the USA, to the point that the USA gives them lots of power they wouldn’t otherwise have. They do a lot to help get the USA into wars we likely wouldn’t otherwise fight. Zionist supporters arrange a lot of de facto censorship to help them keep the mass of US voters uninformed. This is bad. It directly opposes my ideals for my own nation. I hate that. So I speak out against it, and Zionists call me a Jew-hating Nazi in line with their program of de facto censorship.

Disclaimer: It could be said that I have a vested interest in co-existence because I am part of a very small minority that needs all the tolerance we can get. I do not myself know how much that influences my beliefs.

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Ronan(rf) 01.18.15 at 5:57 pm

” France is having difficulty with its ethnic North African subculture (or whatever you want to call it) because of specific actions that France took, going up to only about 50 years ago.”

I dont deny this, im just saying the specific phenomenon of transnational Jihadism isnt as easily explained by this.

850

Rich Puchalsky 01.18.15 at 6:07 pm

“I dont deny this, im just saying the specific phenomenon of transnational Jihadism isnt as easily explained by this.”

And as I wrote upthread, I think you’re wrong. We went through a period of bipolar superpower conflict, during which historically Muslim areas were used as pawns. The contemporary Muslim revival is supposed to have started in the 1970s. For half of the period since then there’s been a sole superpower which has increasingly seen Muslims as savages to be civilized, and has always been allied to older colonialist countries. That’s not a totally sufficient explanation for anything — nothing is — but it’s certainly good enough for a majority of the explanation, no matter what racists like tub may think.

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Ronan(rf) 01.18.15 at 6:10 pm

For example,Thomas Hegghammer: The Rise of Muslim Foreign Fighters liked at the bottom of this page: (pages 6-7)

“I also stress that the article is not about Islamism, in general, but about a particular
type of Islamist activism. Islamism is politically heterogeneous, in the
sense that different Islamist actors specialize in qualitatively different political
activities. Some oppose local regimes with nonviolent means; others try to topple
regimes with terrorist tactics; and still others wage armed resistance to occupation
by non-Muslim powers.10 Different varieties of Islamist activism
have appeared at different times in history, which suggests that they likely
have somewhat different causes. This is why my analysis downplays several
factors commonly emphasized in accounts of the “Islamic resurgence,” such
as the Arab defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War, the decline of Arab nationalism,
or the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Many of the factors that fueled the broader
Islamist movement are insufªcient for explaining the speciªc phenomenon of
transnational war volunteering.11
My argument is that the foreign ªghter phenomenon represents a violent
offshoot of a qualitatively new subcurrent of Islamism—populist pan-
Islamism—which emerged in the 1970s as a result of strategic action by
marginalized elites employed in nonviolent international Islamic organizations.
Seeking political relevance and increased budgets, these activists—who
were mostly based in the Hijaz region of Saudi Arabia—propagated an alarmist
discourse emphasizing external threats to the Muslim nation. They also established
a global network of charities for the provision of inter-Muslim aid.
The norms and networks established by the Hijazi pan-Islamists then enabled
Arab activists in 1980s Afghanistan to recruit foreign ªghters in the name of inter-Muslim solidarity. The “Arab Afghan” mobilization, in turn, produced a
foreign ªghter movement that still exists today, as a phenomenon partly distinct
from al-Qaida.
The Hijazi pan-Islamist community itself owed its existence to two exogenous
developments in the 1960s, namely, the repression and exile of Muslim
Brotherhood activists in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria, and the establishment of international
Islamic organizations and several new universities in Saudi Arabia.
The supply of exiles met a demand for educated manpower, resulting in the
emergence of a large community of transnational activists in the Hijaz region
in western Saudi Arabia. With limited prospects for domestic political in-
ºuence and an opportunity to work internationally, these activists devoted
themselves to transnational activism and vigorous promotion of populist pan-
Islamism. In the 1970s, oil money, new technologies, and lack of government
oversight made them ideologically very inºuential. Incumbent elites allowed,
and periodically competed with, pan-Islamist propaganda for fear of being
perceived as lacking sympathy with suffering Muslims abroad. At the heart of
the story of the transnationalization of jihad is thus a process of elite
competition.”

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Ronan(rf) 01.18.15 at 6:14 pm

my above was crossposted Rich

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Rich Puchalsky 01.18.15 at 6:29 pm

I don’t see how a response about Saudi oil money and 1980s Afghanistan says anything against what I wrote.

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Ronan(rf) 01.18.15 at 6:38 pm

“We went through a period of bipolar superpower conflict, during which historically Muslim areas were used as pawns. The contemporary Muslim revival is supposed to have started in the 1970s. “

I am no expert on it (obviously) which is why i didnt reply to that above. But the roots of the current resurgence are deeper than the 70s, not just ideologically but practically. It could be seen more plausibly (afaik) as a response the ‘modernisation’ of the Middle East. As old communities were uprooted and urbanised and norms began to change, the elite became less culturally representative, and so Islamist organisations filled the gap the state left (providing relief to the poor, idenitites people could mobilise around etc) Of course colonialism, and the relationship between the west and middle east, is deeply tied into this, but it’s also not reducible to it.
I have no inclination to stick up for US foreign policy in the region, but regional elites were not ‘pawns.’ They manipulated the great powers as often as the great powers did them. The resurgence since the 70s is more easily explainable by the failure of secular Arabism (and as Hegghammer notes the defeat in 67) added to the increase in oil money to the Gulf states, and ideological changes brought by the Islamic revolution (both as a positive force, but also the reaction it led to from Sunni states, particularly Saudi) The United States can be blamed for some of this, but I think there’s a tendency to overstate it. Again, Im happy for people to correct me on any of this as, as mentioned above, I am no expert.

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Ronan(rf) 01.18.15 at 6:56 pm

“I don’t see how a response about Saudi oil money and 1980s Afghanistan says anything against what I wrote.”

As I said, it was crossposted.
My objection initially was to the idea of a discriminated against post colonial minority in the west as an explanation for these types of attacks. As I said, we’re conflating two things. Genuine concerns about discrimination against Muslims in the West, and a broader phenomenon of transnational Jihadism. Yes there are clearly genuine grievances people have, which is the first step to mobilising. And of course the context (domestically and internationally) is important. But, as I stated above, I think the mechanisms are more important (the ideology and the practical avenues to radicalisation) because the grievances are so varied and context dependant that it is very difficult to say anything generalisable.* The point of the comparison with Ireland was just to stress that this same phenomenon exists even though the context was entirely different to in France.
*something generalisable is they respond to attacks on their ‘in group’ . Whether from the United States or regional regimes (such as As’ad) It is a deeply moral reaction, Ive said that consistently. But predictors of who radicalises are not easily explainable by *personal* socio economic position or a deeply felt post colonial grievance. That’s all I was saying, which doesnt preclude militants also being concerned about economic justice, human rights abuses, US foreign policy etc.

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MPAVictoria 01.18.15 at 7:41 pm

To be fair J, while you may not be an “anti Semite” per se you definitely have said things in the past that imply that you believe in some sort of “international Jewish banking conspiracy”. Plus your response regarding holocaust denial was at the very least ill advised.

Personally, I think it is more likely that you simply have zero empathy for others and are therefore unable to understand how they might take your comments.

/however I am honest enough to admit that our past interactions here have left me unable to fairly judge your contributions. So I am going to exit this conversation now.

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Ronan(rf) 01.18.15 at 8:24 pm

858

J Thomas 01.18.15 at 9:01 pm

#856 MPAV

To be fair J, while you may not be an “anti Semite” per se you definitely have said things in the past that imply that you believe in some sort of “international Jewish banking conspiracy”.

You as usual misinterpreted that. I’ll go over it briefly:

Is there a banking conspiracy? Yes, obviously, multiple conspiracies.

Is there a Jewish banking conspiracy? I don’t know. I don’t know how to find out. If you want to talk about one, I’d suggest starting with what methods you would use to find out what’s going on. If you think you know the truth, tell us how you found out. I’ve never seen anybody say any details of what they thought a specifically Jewish banking conspiracy was like. One time the US Secretary of Defense said something vague like that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_S._Brown#Chairman_of_the_Joint_Chiefs_of_Staff_and_later_life

During his term as Chairman, Brown commented on two occasions – firstly to a Duke University audience in October 1974, and then to a French reporter in 1976 – that Israel was becoming a burden to The Pentagon and that he believed the reason for continual military aid was due to Jews having control over America’s banks, newspapers and elected officials. His exact words were:

It’s so strong you wouldn’t believe now. We have the Israelis coming to us for equipment. We say we can’t possibly get the Congress to support that. They say, ‘Don’t worry about the Congress. We will take care of the Congress.’ Now this is somebody from another country, but they can do it. They own, you know, the banks in this country, the newspapers. Just look at where the Jewish money is.

Brown was a supreme expert on the US military but there was no reason to expect him to understand the details of the banking system. He said we were giving away more military equipment than was safe for the USA, and Congress told him not to worry about it. There was considerable public talk about whether he should be fired for saying this but they decided not to, they said it wouldn’t look right. He died a few years later of prostate cancer.

I’ve never seen any evidence for a Jewish banking conspiracy. Some people claim there is no Jewish banking conspiracy, and the evidence I’ve heard for that amounts to “Nobody would say there was unless they were hateful lying anti-semites who deserve to lose their jobs and any shred of public respect.” And people who say that do tend to get censored at least. Which to me looks like evidence of *some* kind of conspiracy.

Plus your response regarding holocaust denial was at the very least ill advised.

Oh, definitely. I researched some people who were jailed as holocaust deniers and found that they had not in fact denied the holocaust, and I got moderated for it.

Double bind.

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tub 01.18.15 at 9:03 pm

“no matter what racists like tub may think”

Fighting words, eh? Well, tough guy! You just let me know where and when!

‘Til you muster the courage, tho, please proceed to make Islamic fundamentalism a matter of what concerns you most: the mirror.

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MPAVictoria 01.18.15 at 9:37 pm

Wow J….

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bob mcmanus 01.18.15 at 10:22 pm

Richard Seymour has been writing a lot recently. His other posts on CH-related themes might be worth reading. He has gotten a lot of pushback.

This one: “How France Makes Jihadis”

Quite long with very many specific details about the particular shooters in the CH and hostages situations and politics in France.

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tub 01.18.15 at 11:29 pm

“Quite long with very many specific details about the particular shooters in the CH and hostages situations and politics in France.”

And yet no Muslim voices. Weird!

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ZM 01.18.15 at 11:46 pm

The radical Islamist in the profile piece I mentioned above was brought up in an Italian Catholic home. He says he found Catholics too contradictory so then he was happy to find Islam which didn’t have all these contradictions.

I do recommend the profile, in some ways he is quite a funny radical Islamist who recites Monty Python with his brothers, and got his Mum to put her picture of The Lord’s Supper away but tolerates her graven images of owls . The unfunny parts are where he thinks the death penalty is reasonable.

The real problem seems to be that the Saudis gave funds to him and he got into radical Islamist networks so then our spying agency ASIO kept trying to recruit him, then he ran off to the Philippines but their government doesn’t like radical Islamists so to avoid the police he got a friend to write on Facebook he was in Syria when he wasn’t , then he was seen as a fighter and got deported from the Philippines which separated him from his wife there , and then the media coverage upset his mum quite a bit when her friend found out about it.

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tub 01.19.15 at 12:13 am

ZM, you are working to prevent this thread from achieving the purpose 90% of its contributors have for it, which is to make the following question:

“What should the White Man do about the Muslim problem?”

seem like a reasonable question, rather than a horrifying one.

865

Ronan(rf) 01.19.15 at 12:43 am

That is actually a great article, ZM.
However, rather than working against the problem of “What should the White Man do about the Muslim problem?” Musa appears to embody the phenomenon.

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js. 01.19.15 at 1:11 am

I’ve always thought the White Man is the problem.

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tub 01.19.15 at 1:27 am

“However, rather than working against the problem of “What should the White Man do about the Muslim problem?” Musa appears to embody the phenomenon.”

Puchalsky looks from sewing a big “WM” on his spandex…”Did someone call me?”

868

Ze Kraggash 01.19.15 at 9:39 am

“Puchalsky looks from sewing a big “WM” on his spandex…”

What of it? Whatever ethnic background, is one not entitled to have an opinion and express it?

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J Thomas 01.19.15 at 10:30 am

#864 tub

… to make the following question:

“What should the White Man do about the Muslim problem?”

seem like a reasonable question, rather than a horrifying one.

To the extent that white people are a coherent ethnic group that makes collective choices, what’s wrong with this question? How is it worse than muslims arguing about what muslims should do about white people?

Any time you make a political argument, isn’t it about what the people you persuade ought to do?

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William Timberman 01.19.15 at 4:49 pm

bob mcmanus @ 861

Thanks for the Seymour link. Very useful in occasional fisticuffs with my blithe contemporaries (who were once, if memory serves, much more alive than they are today.)

It can be hard to find this stuff without help, and help is always welcome to an old New Leftist who too often has occasion to wonder where all the flowers have gone. Jacobin can’t do it all, no matter how earnest their engagement with the miasma of contemporary liberalism.

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Ronan(rf) 01.19.15 at 5:11 pm

” To be fair, Hussey’s overall argument is that “France’s Arabs”, as he calls them, collectively suffer from a psychological trauma. Invoking Frantz Fanon, he speaks of “the devastating psychological effects of colonialism”, and traces the hatred that seethes in both the French cités and the North African countries to this same cause. The disaffected young Muslims who hate France do so in large part, he explains, because the legacy of colonialism has destroyed in them “all sense of authentic identity, all sense of self, to the extent that they don’t feel that they properly exist”. Whether in Algiers or France, they have the impression of living in a giant prison, and strike out viciously against the “colonisers” whom they hold responsible.

This approach, however, has the unintended effect of reducing the complex histories of these different societies to a single French-Muslim dialectic. Even Islam enters the story mostly as a vehicle for subaltern rage, as in the story of a Tunisian man who, frustrated in his request for a French work visa, moves towards fundamentalism. Hussey quotes him: “I can’t get to France. There’s nothing else here now. Why not fight for God?” The book gives little sense that some currents of Islam might appeal to contemporary Muslims for reasons that have little to do with France, or the colonial past – for reasons that are shared across the breadth of the Islamic world, including parts of it that experienced very different forms of European rule, or no European rule at all. Hussey also largely ignores the fact that millions of North African Muslims have forged satisfying and successful lives for themselves in France. The angry rioters of the cités do not represent the whole of the French population of North African descent.

So focused is Hussey on the legacy of colonialism that he pays little systematic attention to what is, in fact, one of the book’s most striking and disturbing themes: Muslim antisemitism. As he notes, hatred of Jews now runs deep in Muslim populations, including in France and North Africa. In France, the worst examples of individual violence committed by alienated Muslim youth have been against Jews, notably the torture and killing of the mobile phone salesman Ilan Halimi outside Paris in 2006, and the shooting of four Jews, including three children, in front of a Hebrew school in Toulouse in 2012. In this sense, present-day Muslim violence against France can indeed be called an “intifada”. But why the hatred of Jews, especially since – as Hussey also notes – French imperialists in North Africa were not exactly philosemitic? (The only actual killings of Jews during the Dreyfus affair took place in Algeria, at the hands of white settlers.) The role of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the formation of contemporary Muslim identities, and the way that Jews have come to stand, in much of the Muslim world, for the worst tendencies of the “west”, and even of modernity, deserve more analysis than Hussey provides.

He knows the story amounts to more than just trauma and “psychotic” reaction. In one of the book’s most eloquent passages, he writes: “There has been a long history of complicity and intimacy between France and Algeria. This is not the straightforward binary relationship between coloniser and colonised; the question of Algerian identity, for Muslim and non-Muslim, has always been fraught with double binds and contradictions.” In other words, the relationship between France and “its Arabs” is not just a “long war”, and at moments The French Intifada does provide the sensitivity and subtlety the subject deserves. Hussey includes, for instance, a fascinating short chapter on European homosexuals and their exploitation of Arab youths in “Queer Tangier”, being careful to provide the youths’ own perspective. His portrayals of Arab independence leaders, notably Tunisia’s Habib Bourguiba, are nuanced and persuasive. But more often, the lurid accounts of torture and massacre simply overwhelm the attempts at subtlety.

Hussey is right that the colonial past still haunts the French present, like the “ghosts in daylight” whom Baudelaire saw as haunting 19th-century Paris. But he concludes, overly enchanted with the metaphor, that perhaps “what France needs is not hard-headed political solutions or even psychiatry, but an exorcist”. Hardly. Hatred does not always need violent excision. It can be leeched away by constructive policies, by greater understanding between communities and simply by the passage of time. The situation of Muslims in France, while volatile, is hardly as desperate as Hussey suggests. Portraying it as irredeemably cursed does not help. “

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/28/french-intifada-review-andrew-hussey

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Mitch Guthman 01.19.15 at 7:04 pm

I know it took a long time but better late than never. For those who are interested, here are the video clips of the French Imam and the press conference by the family of the slain French police officer mentioned earlier in this thread:

Hassan Chalghoumi (English subtitles)

http://youtu.be/ZPELjbDvtTk

Press conference by the family of Ahmed Merabet (English subtitles)

http://youtu.be/aUORwV5LPvQ

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Mitch Guthman 01.19.15 at 7:09 pm

For the reason, the link for the press conference by Ahmed Merabet’s family didn’t show up in the previous post. Here is the link for the press conference with English subtitles:

Press conference by the family of Ahmed Merabet (English subtitles)

http://youtu.be/aUORwV5LPvQ

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