Circumstances request that I make note of the recent shooting in France. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the French, and I don’t think it springs solely from my inexplicable attraction to their women. For whatever reason, I just like the French, and so it hit me harder than I expected to hear of the latest attack.
It’s not surprising that people are up in arms and it’s not surprising that everyone is using this event as a way of bolstering their own narrative. That’s what people do. Everyone wants to make themselves the victim and everyone wants to stick responsibility for this on the other guy. I exempt no one from this type of behavior, which, if I were a more bombastic individual, I would properly write up as a theorem of sorts and label as one of Legionnaire’s Laws of Human Behavior
(Note to self: Propose some laws of human behavior under the category “Legionnaire’s Laws of Human Behavior”).
A Muslim friend of mine noted that had the cartoons been about Jews and Charlie Hebdo had been sued, people would not be up in arms and proclaiming the importance of free speech. I agree with her. She is absolutely correct. However, she did not think to herself why this might be, and instead ascribed it to “Islamaphobia”. Intellectual laziness really is one of the great afflictions of our time…
(Side Note: My spellcheck wanted to change “Islamaphobia” to “Agoraphobia”, which, for some reason, struck me as pretty hysterical.)
When Jews get offended by a off-color media depiction of them, they don’t shoot up buildings, they get their lawyers on the phone and try to make a big stink about it in the press. This doesn’t set off western alarm bells because it is exactly what our system is set up to do, and we find this level of reaction to be a reasonable level of retribution. Furthermore, because it tacitly implies submission to our legal and cultural norms, it doesn’t make us view the Jews as a foreign invader, but rather, as equal partners in upholding western civilization. It doesn’t set off our “foreign enemies” antibodies, but it does reinforce our sense of security in our societal institutions, and so we don’t feel the need to mobilize in defense of our traditions.
Imagine a bunch of orthodox Jews shooting up a store that sells Christmas cards but not Hanukkah cards. Now imagine a bunch of Muslims firebombing up a butcher that sells bacon and pork and refuses to do halal meat. Both of these scenarios are a little ridiculous, but the latter seems more believable because it more closely matches established patterns of behavior.
When Muslims commit armed acts of terrorism on places that insult their religion, they elicit more aggressive responses because they paint themselves as external enemies attacking us in retribution for grievances rather than internal enemies attempting to resolve a dispute.
Lawyers may be weapons just as much as guns are weapons, but they are the weapons of choice of our civilization and we view them as a much more civilized means of resolving disagreements. That’s how we do things in the West. We do not turn to armed gangs in the streets to resolve matters of offense. People who do are perceived by us as enemies who are fundamentally different from us.
Is it really so wrong of us to think this?
And yes, I can hear in the distance the cries of “Not all Muslims are like that”. I agree. Not all Muslims are like that. Not all Jews are like that either. I am specifically making a point of discussing the few extremists who are on the edge, because how they react can tell us a lot about how society at large responds to them. We can learn things through caricature that we cannot learn through a reasoned examination by sensible metrics.
Besides, not all Muslims are like that, but if bringing lots of Muslims into our societies means that we will be bringing in some people who are like that, perhaps we should have a good think as to what we are doing.
And yes, there is a bit of equivocation going on in this piece (and many others across the outer right) in using the world “Muslim” to mean both “someone who believes in Islam” and “A young, Arab male with urges toward violent terrorist activity which he justifies by evoking fundamentalist interpretations of Islam”, but hopefully contextual factors should make it obvious which meaning is being used at which time. Think of it as akin to the way that the media uses “youth” or “urban youth” when they mean to say “young black males with a history of criminal impulses”.
I’m generally a fan of the idea that groups should resolve their issues within the confines of the in-group. The struggle between fundamentalist Islamists and their more moderate counterparts is a dispute that in a perfect world would be resolved by Muslims, and would not involve non-Muslims in any way. We don’t live in a perfect world, however, and the nature of said disagreement means that it is not just moderate Muslims who are being killed in nasty ways. That makes this dispute our problem.
Muslims who respect our legal, cultural, and political norms and submit to them are not necessarily a problem, but that does not mean that there are not Muslims who are a problem, and these Muslims should be put down.
One of the great western traditions is that of the jester, saying the things that no one else can to the powers that be, skewering them with wit, humor, and satire. He is a feedback mechanism in order to let certain criticisms make their way up the ladder of power to whisper in the ear of the King. There is a certain protection afforded the jester for he could not do his job without it.
The fool that speaks truth to power because he can get away with it is one of the great archetypes of Western civilization. It is one of our cultural norms, and it is being flagrantly disrespected and defiled by those who know no other means to respond than with feral behavior and savage violence.
Violence is golden, but those for whom it is a first resort must be destroyed.
Once they have been destroyed, then the world is safe for the jester. We do not live in that type of world, however. If the jester can be named, he can be found. If he can be found, he can be killed. In a multicultural age, anonymity is the only safe redoubt of the jester.
CASTIGAT RIDENDO MORES