I haven't read any of the news reports about the killings at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. As I admitted recently, I don't read or watch the news very much anymore. So all this is based on my reflections on commentary about these killings. (I'd also never heard of Charlie Hebdo before yesterday.)
Now then, I hate all religion. It's all the same stupid bullshit. Or, to put it more politely and precisely; Religions are all human inventions, created by peoples with less understanding of the universe they lived in, in order to try to describe and make sense of a very confusing existence. But they have no divine origins. They are relics of our specie's intellectual infancy and we would be doing well to put them all behind us. Because, when all is said and done, they all contain some pretty fucking stupid bullshit that nobody should kill or die for.
Nobody should be killed for satire. Nobody should be killed for their ideas. Nobody should be killed for the pictures they draw. Nobody should be killed for imaginary gods and their deluded prophets.
That having been said, I've always had mixed feelings about getting on the bandwagon and cheering for those Westerners who mock Islam. One reason is that I'm more comfortable mocking my own culture and the religion that was inflicted on me personally, this being Christianity, and the Catholic form of it in particular. I'm also more comfortable with other people mocking their own religion. There's a part of me that thinks that people mocking other people's religion are mocking other people's cultures. It's not entirely rational of me, but it feels like I'm listening to someone mock somebody's language as "monkey-talk" or their appearance as ugly, or their artistic achievements as garbage. Then, even worse, there are those who mock Islam not because they're atheists who mock all religion, but because they're devotees of some other religious delusion. In this case, their mockery is just one side of a ridiculous sectarian divide. The Sunni-Shia conflict that is so important to the medieval tyrants of the Middle-Eastern monarchies is just as pointless and stupid as that between the Christians and Islam.
Finally, for me there's the very important fact that a lot of the people who identify as Muslim are in societies under attack. Pretty much the whole Arab world is targeted by the United States. And a good deal of the Islamic world. From Libya to Pakistan, Muslims are under direct military assault or under the boots of US puppet governments. I'm of the opinion that the time for a debate about the delusions of Islam should wait until AFTER we stop killing them.
Because, you know, there's nothing like being under attack from the outside to make a society rally around the flag, God and country.
Personally, I think you really have to wonder how genuinely opposed to terrorism our elites are. You really have to wonder how much those pieces of shit cheer for things like the murder of those Western writers and artists. This all feeds into their bullshit "war on terror" doesn't it? The "war on terror" is a very convenient form of social control. Unthinking people happily surrender their rights to the state, to be protected from the evil terrorist threat. The fucking FACT that the evil terrorist threat has been created by elite policy is obscured by an avalanche of corporate media bullshit.
Here's an example of the sort of reaction to this thing that's really bugging me.
"Stark reminder, that for the most part, the legislators and journalists and institutions that we jab and ridicule are not, in any way, the enemy. For however frustrated or outraged the back and forth can become, it's still back and forth, a conversation between those on, let's call it 'Team Civilization.'"
I'm sorry, but "for the most part" you mock people like george w. bush, dick cheney, donald rumsfeld, condoleeza rice, barack obama (sort of), john mccain, mitch mcconnell.
THAT is your "Team Civilization"? Thieving, torturing, mass-murdering scum-bags???
It's true, that "Team Civilization" doesn't go into newsrooms in Paris, London, New York City, and shoot people in cold blood. But let's be fair here. What makes it more tragic for 12 Western cartoonists to have been killed for their views, than for 12 Pashtun-speaking citizens of Pakistan to be killed by a predator drone while attending a funeral of another innocent person who was killed by another predator drone? Or 12 Afghan villagers, blasted to bits by a NATO air-strike against insurgents taking shelter among them? Or 12 Iraqis, shot by US marines on a rampage because one of their own was killed by an IED? Or 12 Syrians killed by being in the crossfire of the civil war between the Baathist dictatorship and the fundamentalist, fanatic rebels? Or 12 Palestinians, blasted to pieces from a bomb dropped by an Israeli war plane?
What reasons did those other people die for? Is it better to die for US imperialism? Or Israeli expansionism? Are those deaths less tragic, and more "civilized" because the final source of them was in Washington D.C. or Tel Aviv?
"Team Civilization" has a lot of blood on its hands, doesn't it?
But we're trained (most of us anyway) not to notice it. ISIS beheads its prisoners! Horrible! Barbaric! It is by the way. But is it any more barbaric than condemning men to die of thirst and suffocation in closed shipping containers? Is it less barbaric to imprison an innocent man for over a decade, with no end in sight, and to torture him intermittently? (And, then, when that man is driven to attempt suicide by self-starvation, to force-feed him so that his incarceration and torture can be continued?)
Listen to the self-serving dreck of Western commentary! The murderers of the writers and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo were "radicalized"! Oh my goodness gracious me! How is it any different when young American men signed-up to the US military after 9-11? After all, aren't both these groups of young men motivated by seeing their society under assault, and responding with a blind urge to kill someone, anyone, whoever, on the "other side"?
Why don't we consider all the Keyboard Kommandos who write lengthy disquisitions about how we should drop a nuclear bomb on Mecca during the Hajj to be "radicalized" and try to discover the source of this "radicalization" and eliminate it?
Because the source of this insanity is official government policy!
It's the COMPLETE BULLSHIT of the "war on terror"!
What country is the main exporter of Islamic terrorism? Saudi Arabia! It funds it. It provides weapons for them. It often provides the men. (Google "9-11 terrorists, hijackers.") On top of this, Saudi Arabia places intrusive restrictions on the basic human rights of half of its population, ... women. As a monarchical dictatorship, Saudi Arabia denies almost its entire population their basic civil and political rights. But this terror-exporting, women suppressing, torturing and beheading dictatorship is a cosseted US ally! (Along with a handful of other similarly retrograde Arab dictatorships.)
It is a long-standing tenets of Western imperialism to ally with the most conservative, reactionary elements in the countries to be exploited. Pretty much every single time. Because these tiny, selfish cliques are the sorts of people who will sell their countries' resources for a song, and happily condemn the bulk of their peoples to poverty and misery.
The USA supported the mujaheddin in Afghanistan, and then walked away when the conflict with the Soviets was over. This policy produced Osama bin-Laden the Great Satan terrorist mastermind (who was apparently killed by Navy SEALS and his body dumped into the ocean [out of "respect for Islamic customs"] before anyone could prove he was dead).
Again and again and again, we're told that Islamic fundamentalism is the great evil of our time. A danger that necessitates our surrendering all of our rights to privacy, and freedoms from arbitrary search and seizure and freedoms from cruel and unusual punishments. And yet, US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar are allowed to export Sunni fundamentalist fighters to Libya and Syria and Iraq and Pakistan. And NATO ally Turkey allows them to cross into Syria through its border.
And yet, and yet ...
Let me end this by saying that I do not see the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo to be evidence of a Great War of Civilizations. I do not see the "radicalization" of young Muslim men as a mysterious, terrifying phenomenon that threatens our way of life. I see it as the flip-side of the coin that sends so many Aryan Nation-type dipshits to want to go to the Middle East and kill "rag-heads" because "they attacked us on 9-11."
And I see the whole thing, BOTH SIDES, as pathetic dupes in a disgusting, bloody, cynical, stupid, deluded, campaign of imperialism.
EDITED TO ADD:
For the past couple of days I've been irritated by going to the gym and seeing on the change-room TV how they've been fixated by a missing plane that went down somewhere in the Indian or the South Pacific Ocean. Ten-fifteen solid minutes of blather and speculation as if nothing else is going on in the world, and only because such an apolitical subject allows them to go on at length without stepping on any important toes.
I noticed that today CNN was spending all morning covering a stand-off between the killers of the Charlie Hebdo staff. Again, as if there's nothing else going on in the world. As if it's vitally important to tell people EXACTLY when the police killed them so that you have to have minute after minute of speculation while the camera stays fixed on the building 100 meters away, where the police have the killers cornered.
And CNN can talk as much as their pretty heads desire about the police-work that tracked the killers there, and the route they took, and how many hostages there are, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah-fucking-blah.
I couldn't resist telling this older white dude also watching "At least they've stopped talking about that fucking airplane." I was delighted when he answered: "Well, they've got a new toy."
Somehow, if somebody traced the predator drone that killed 12 Pakistanis attending a funeral, to a specific drone pilot in Las Vegas, and then to the "terrorist masterminds" at the Pentagon and the White House, I don't think CNN would be doing a second-by-second coverage of the stand-off between those war criminals and the authorities.