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Dr. Michelle Fine on Willful Subjectivity and Strong Objectivity in Education Research - Long View on Education
"In this interview, Dr. Michelle Fine makes the argument for participatory action research as a sophisticated epistemology. Her work uncovers the willful subjectivity and radical wit of youth. In the last ten minutes, she gives some concrete recommendations for setting up a classroom that recognizes and values the gifts that students bring. Please check out her publications on ResearchGate [https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Michelle_Fine ] and her latest book Just Research in Contentious Times (Teachers College, 2018). [https://www.amazon.com/Just-Research-Contentious-Times-Methodological/dp/0807758736/ ]

Michelle Fine is a Distinguished Professor of Critical Psychology, Women’s Studies, American Studies and Urban Education at the Graduate Center CUNY.

Thank you to Dr. Kim Case and Professor Tanya L. Domi."
michellefine  reasearch  dispossession  privilege  resistance  solidarity  participatory  participatoryactionresearch  ethnography  education  benjamindoxtdatorcritical  pedagogy  race  racism  postcolonialism  criticaltheory  imf  epistemology  research  focusgroups  subjectivity  youth  teens  stories  socialjustice  criticalparticipatoryactionresearch  sexuality  centering  oppression  pointofview  action  quantitative  qualitative  injustice  gender  deficit  resilience  experience  radicalism  incarceration  billclinton  pellgrants  willfulsubjectivity  survivance  wit  radicalwit  indigeneity  queer  justice  inquiry  hannaharendt  criticalbifocality  psychology  context  history  structures  gigeconomy  progressive  grit  economics  victimblaming  schools  intersectionality  apolitical  neoliberalism  neutrality  curriculum  objectivity  contestedhistories  whiteprivilege  whitefragility  islamophobia  discrimination  alienation  conversation  disengagement  defensiveness  anger  hatred  complexity  diversity  self-definition  ethnicity 
november 2018 by robertogreco
M.I.A. and the Defense of Nuance | Affidavit
"Cancelling people is exhilarating, especially when it’s done by marginalized folks, those who so often experience the world through white supremacy—sometimes as a soft and subtle barrage, other times through vicious and terrifying means. The ability to dictate someone’s fate, when you’ve long been in the shadows, is a kind of victory. Like saying “Fuck You” from underneath the very heavy sole of a very old shoe. But while outrage culture has its merits, nuance has evaporated. So often it involves reducing someone to their mistakes, their greatest hits collection of fuck-ups.

In her song “Best Life,” Cardi B raps:

“That’s when they came for me on Twitter with the backlash/ "#CardiBIsSoProblematic" is the hashtag/ I can't believe they wanna see me lose that bad...”

This is her response to being cancelled for a now-infamous Twitter thread detailing her colorism, orientalism, and transphobia. Most recently, after her song “Girls” with Rita Ora was also deemed problematic, she made a statement: “I know I have use words before that I wasn’t aware that they are offensive to the LGBT community. I apologize for that. Not everybody knows the correct ‘terms’ to use. I learned and I stopped using it.”

Cardi brings up something that I keep coming back to: How accessibility to political language is a certain kind of privilege. What I believe Maya is trying to say is that American issues have become global. What she lacks the language to say is: how do we also care about the many millions of people around the world who are dying, right now? Why does American news, American trauma, American death, always take center-stage?

There are things we need to agree on, like the permutations of white supremacy, but are we, societally, equipped for social media being our judge, jury and executioner? I started to realize that the schadenfreude of cancelling was its own beast. It erases people of their humanity, of their ability to learn from experience.

This brings up the politics of disposability. How helpful is distilling someone into an immovable misstep, seeing them not as a person but as interloper who fucked up, and therefore deserves no redemption? How helpful is to interrogate a conversation, but not continue it? Is telling someone to die, and sending them death threats, or telling them they’re stupid or cancelled the way to do it? Who, and what, are we willing to lose in the fire?

M.I.A. and Cardi are similarly unwilling to conform to polite expectation. They both know that relatability is part of their charm. They are attractive women who speak their mind. This, in essence, is privilege, too—which then requires responsibility. The difference is that Cardi apologized."



"“Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters?”

In 2016, when Maya made these comments in an ES Magazine interview, I remember being frustrated that she only accentuated the divide between non-black people of color and black folks, partially because so often we (Asians) say dumb shit.

The dumb shit I’m referring to w/r/t Maya is not only her tunnel vision when it comes to the complexity of race (plus the void and difference between black and brown folks’ experience) but also the incapacity—or stunted unwillingness—to further self-reflect on her positioning.

Because of her insolence, I had considered Maya undeserving of my alliance. Her lack of inclusivity and disregard of the complexity of political identity, especially in North America, was abominable. As a woman who had found success within the black mediums of rap and hip-hop, her smug disregard felt brash. It felt lazy.

But, as I watched the documentary on her life, I also began to see her complexity. One thing that strikes me about Maya is her personal perseverance. Her family went through hell to get the U.K. Her father’s political affiliations forced them to flee Sri Lanka. Arular was a revolutionary, and thus deemed a terrorist. He was absent her whole childhood. At one point in the film she describes riding on a bus in Sri Lanka with her mom. When the bus jerks forward, the policemen standing alongside casually sexually assault them in broad daylight. Her mother, Mala, warns Maya to stay silent, lest they both be killed. Her reality—of physical threats, of early loss—is stark. As she recalls the details in her candid, detached drawl, you imagine her grappling with the past like a lucid dream.

Herein lies Maya’s dissonance. She is the first refugee popstar, which allows her to subsume a state of Du Bois’ double consciousness. She is neither this nor that, she is a mixture of both East and West. Her experience seeps into her music like a trance, and these definitions are vital to understanding her.

She is agonized by the realities of war, of being an unwanted immigrant who fled from genocide into the frenzied hells of London, only to be pushed into a mostly-white housing estate system, replete with Nazi skinheads. “A tough life needs a tough language,” Jeanette Winterson writes in Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?, her memoir about her abusive stepmother. As I watch the documentary, I wonder, again, if what Maya lacks most is language.

In the current political climate, where Syrian refugees are denied entry into the U.S., and the Muslim Ban, or “Travel Ban,” is an attack on the very notion of being different in America, I began to understand this other part of Maya. How angry she might be for the lack of articulation when it came to refugees, when it’s still very much an issue. She came to music to survive. Art was a way to dislocate from the trauma, to inoculate herself from the past, and provide a new, vivid reality that was both about transcending where she came from, whilst also creating a platform to speak to her roots, to her lineage, to her people.

Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world. The people that speak it are, right now, being wiped out.

Her understanding of race comes from the victim’s perspective. She not only experienced white supremacy in her work, but was forced out of the country where she was born. Someone like her was never supposed to succeed. But, whether it’s Bill Maher mocking her “cockney accent” as she talks about the Tamil genocide, or the New York Times’ Lynn Hirschberg claiming her agitprop is fake because she dare munch on truffle fries (which were ordered by Hirschberg), Maya has been torn apart by (white) cultural institutions and commentators. You can see how these experiences have made her suspicious in general, but also particularly suspicious of me, a journalist.

Thing is, she’s been burnt by us too—by South Asians. So many of us walked away, attacking her instead of building a dialogue. Her compassion, therefore, is partially suspended. It’s as if she’s decided, vehemently—because she’s deemed herself to not be racist, or anti-black—that the conversation ends. She feels misheard, misrepresented. For her, it’s not about black life mattering or not mattering. It’s about prioritizing human life, about acknowledging human death. But, in America, that gets lost.

You can understand Maya’s perspective without agreeing with her, but I had another question. How do you hold someone you love accountable?

*

The talk itself was many things: awkward, eye-opening, disarming. When I asked about her alleged anti-blackness, she brought up Mark Zuckerberg as evidence that she was set up... by the internet. That her online fans should know that she’s not racist, so that perhaps her one-time friendship with Julian Assange was why she was being attacked online. Her incomprehension that people could be upset by her remarks reflected her naivety about how the internet kills its darlings. Two weeks prior to our meeting, Stephon Clark was murdered, shot twenty times in the back by two police officers. To this she responded: “Yeah, well no-one remembers the kid in Syria who is being shot right now either. Or the kid that’s dying in Somalia.” It made me wonder if she was unwell, not on a Kanye level, but just enough to lack the mechanisms it takes to understand perspective.

Backstage after the talk, she said, “I don’t know why you asked me those questions.” I told her that I thought critique, when done with care, was an empowering act of love. I needed clarity for our community’s sake—many of whom felt isolated by her, a cherished South Asian icon. We need answers from her because we are all trying to grapple with our love and frustration with her.

I don’t want to absolve Maya. What I’m more interested in is how we can say “problematic fave” while acknowledging that we are all problematic to someone. Is there compassion here? Is there space to grow?

*

In They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Hanif Abdurraqib writes, “There are people we need so much we can’t imagine turning away from them. People we’ve built entire homes inside of ourselves for, that cannot stand empty. People we still find a way to make magic with, even when the lights flicker, and the love runs entirely out.”

In the recent months, I’ve re-examined Maya with sad enthusiasm. The beginning riff of “Bad Girls”: a women in full niqab racing a car through side swept dunes. Without question, it’s an aching kind of visibility, but the tenor is different. Listening to her now it feels weighted, changed.

Laconic and aloof, I remind Maya on stage that anti-blackness is not an American issue, it’s universal. Perhaps it’s ego, or shameful anger, but I know she cares. Before she begins to speak I realize that you have to build empathy when someone fails you. That they’re not yours to own. You have to try your best to talk to them, and that it’s never helpful to reduce them to a punchline. I believe in Maya’s possibility to grow. I believe in the possibility of change. Maybe that’s my own naivety, but it’s also my political stance. It’s not about … [more]
mia  fariharóisín  2018  privilege  language  cancelling  marginalization  colorism  transphobia  orientlism  cardib  socialmedia  disposability  whitesupremacy  race  racism  apologies  learning  power  islamophobia  islam  socialjustice  noamchomsky  modelminorities  modelminority  nuance  complexity  perseverance  srilanka  silence  refugees  politics  tamil  victims  compassion  blacklivesmatter  julianassange  yourfaveisproblematic  us  australia  anti-blackness  growth  care  caring  dialog  conversation  listening  ego  shame  anger  change  naivety  howwechange  howwelearn  hanifabdurraqib  visibility  internet  problemematicfaves 
july 2018 by robertogreco
The Daily Show Highlights How Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Harms Sikh-Americans
"MINHAJ: Why don't you just go, "hey, I'm not Muslim?"

GUEST: It's just not an option for us to throw another community under the bus. Even if it means things are harder for us, we believe it's the right thing to do.

GUEST #4: Like, we need to be better than that as Americans and that's what our Sikh values teach as well.

[...]

MINHAJ: Come on, even Barack Obama was like, "hey, I'm not Muslim." Look, I can't hide it. If I were you, I would throw me under the bus so fast.

AHLUWALIA: That's not the way I was raised. That's why I wear this turban. As a reminder to myself to treat humanity with care and kindness. So that's -- so I'm not here to point fingers."

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RskvZgc_s9g ]
sikhism  sikhs  islam  islamophobia  us  politics  xenophobia  2016  selflessness  humanism 
may 2016 by robertogreco
5 Women Quashing Preconceptions About Islam on Social Media | WIRED
"YOU KNOW YOU’VE reached peak Islamophobia when a presidential candidate says he’d be uncomfortable with a Muslim in the White House. In response to Ben Carson, Twitter user (and Libyan-American Muslim woman) Hend Amry pointed and laughed, launching the hashtag #HowToStopAMuslimPresident. (First idea: all-bacon White House.) She’s one of a growing number of Muslim women who are using social media (and a healthy dose of humor) to speak truth to preconceptions.

Sana Saeed | @sanasaeed
A producer at AJ+, Al Jazeera’s all-digital, Facebook-centric channel, she coined the term “faithwashing”: when people say conflicts like Israel and Palestine’s are merely religious. Social media, she says, “allows all of us Muslim women—who veil, don’t veil, veil sometimes, veil everything, veil very little—to critique popular representations.”

Tanzila Ahmed and Zahra Noorbakhsh | #GoodMuslim-BadMuslim podcast
“There are so many things I didn’t know about being Muslim until the media told me about it,” quips Noorbakhsh on this podcast. Ahmed is most proud of how many younger women they reach with their chatty format: “We speak to them in a way that no one has before.”

Zainab Bint Younus | The Salafi Feminist blog
Responding to the concerns that women in niqabs need rescuing, this Canadian blogger—who wears the face covering—collected selfies from others like her. The results? Pretty boring … if you think covered ladies playing street hockey and riding Jet Skis are boring.

Hend Amry | @libyaliberty
When Bill Maher claimed that ISIS fighters aren’t outliers in their violence, she tweeted, “Five of the last 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners were Muslim. So according to Bill Maher, we’re all Peace Prize winners!” It was retweeted more than 7,800 times. But her best joke was that Princess Leia is a headscarf short of being “sharia-compliant.”
islamophobia  islam  socialmedia  omarmouallem  sanasaeed  tanzilaahmed  zahranoorbakhsh  zainabbintyounus  hendamry  women  muslims  faithwashing  twitter  blogging 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Schools monitoring pupils' web use with 'anti-radicalisation software' | UK news | The Guardian
"Software flags up trigger words and phrases such as ‘jihadi bride’, ‘jihobbyist’ and ‘you only die once’"



"Schools are being sold software to monitor pupils’ internet activity for extremism-related language such as “jihadi bride” and “YODO”, short for you only die once.

Several companies are producing “anti-radicalisation” software to monitor pupils’ internet activity ahead of the introduction of a legal requirement on schools to consider issues of terrorism and extremism among children.

Under the Counter-terrorism and Security Act 2015, which comes into force on 1 July, there is a requirement that schools “have due regard to the need to prevent pupils being drawn into terrorism”.

One company, Impero, has launched a pilot of its software in 16 locations in the UK as well as five in the US. Teachers can store screenshots of anything of concern that is flagged up by the software. Other companies offering anti-radicalisation software products to schools include Future Digital and Securus.

Impero has produced a glossary of trigger words such as “jihobbyist” (someone who sympathises with jihadi organisations but is not an active member) and “Message to America” (an Islamic State propaganda video series).

Schools involved with the Impero pilot already have contracts to buy or rent other software from the company, and are trialling the anti-radicalisation software at no extra charge. They are in areas including London, County Durham, Essex, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Yorkshire and Staffordshire.

A spokeswoman for Impero said: “The Counter-terrorism and Security Act places a duty on schools to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. Since the introduction of the act at the beginning of the year we have had a lot of schools approach us requesting a keyword-detection policy focused on radicalisation.

“The system may help teachers confirm identification of vulnerable children, or act as an early warning system to help identify children that may be at risk in future. It also provides evidence for teachers and child protection officers to use in order to intervene and support a child in a timely and appropriate manner."
2015  edtech  education  children  islam  islamophobia  jihad  internet  software  monitoring  terrorism  extremism  schools  uk 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The Funnies – The New Inquiry
"Rape cartoons are funny if it’s inconceivable to you that you could ever be raped. If you live in a bubble of gender privilege that insulates you from all consequences of rape culture.

AIDS jokes are funny if you’ve never loved someone who died of AIDS. If you live in a bubble that allows you not to know that millions of Africans died, thousands of gay men died, of criminal state indifference and denialism. Because they were, after all, only blacks and queers. Comedy material, not lives worth grieving.

Ebola cartoons are funny. Unless your partner is a public health doctor, forced to choose every day between treating patients without protective clothing or abandoning them to save her own life.

Cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed naked, on all fours, anus presented as target, are anti-clerical snigger fodder. Unless you and half the men and boys and boy children and baby boys you know and love are named Mohammed.

Unless you and your brothers, cousins, fathers, sons, friends are at daily risk of random causeless stop-and-frisks, patdown-gropes, strip-searches, cavity-searches inside Enlightened Fortress Europe. Because they can.

Unless your grandfather Mohammed was raped and castrated by the French in their concentration camps in Algeria.

Unless your mother survives daily harassment and threats of violence by Front National thugs in her banlieue by invoking the mercy of the Prophet on the ignorant.

Unless all the naked bodies in the Abu Ghraib torture photos look like you. Naked prone men, trailing blood, dragged on leashes by grinning US soldiers. Naked men piled in flesh sculptures by thumbs-up flashing, beaming young GIs. Naked brown Mohammed buttocks branded with cigarette burns like pointillist skin canvases. Mohammeds hooded and wired, bleeding from mouth and ears and anus, as their torturers laugh and strike poses. Naked violated men who look like you, like your brother, like your father, like the man your sweet baby boy will grow up to be.

Unless you and your friends pass around testimonies like dirty stories from survivors of CIA anal rape, also known as rectal rehydration. Survivors of Guantanamo oral rape, also known as force-feeding. Because you need to testify before they happen to you. This is survival lore.

Unless your little sister came home sobbing last week and screamed she would never go back to school, the school your parents dreamed for her before she was born. It took hours of coaxing and comforting to elicit why. The bully who makes her schooldays hell found a delicious new cruelty, one that follows her beyond school like an electronic ankle tag. He put that cartoon up on the classroom whiteboard, and the teacher left it there all day as a lesson in free speech."
#JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie  2015  france  humor  satire  parody  shailjapatel  islamophobia  charliehebdo  abughraib  guantanamo  bullies  power  privilege  gender  religion  homophobia  colonialism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Media coverage of Charlie Hebdo and the Baga massacre: a study in contrasts
"There are many reasons why the attacks on targets in Paris have received vastly more media attention than the attacks in Baga.

Paris is a highly connected global city with thousands of working journalists, while Baga is isolated, difficult and dangerous to reach. The attacks on Charlie Hebdo targeted journalists, and it’s understandable that journalists would cover the death of their comrades. The attacks in Paris were a shock and a surprise, while deaths at the hands of Boko Haram have become distressingly common in an insurgency that has claimed over 10,000 lives since 2009.

The details of the Baga attacks, where civilians fled a marauding army into the swamps of Lake Chad, where they faced attacks from hippos, are almost impossible for audiences in developed nations to empathize with.

By contrast it’s tragically easy for most North Americans and Europeans to imagine terrorists striking in their cities.

The net effect: the attacks in Baga and Maiduguri seem impossibly distant, while the attacks in Paris seem local, relevant and pressing even to people equidistant from the two situations.

In part, it’s hard to imagine events in Nigeria because we encounter so little African news in general.

Dearth of African news impacts public debate

Media Cloud, a tool developed at MIT’s Center for Civic Media and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society measures comparative attention to topics and locations in different segments of the news media.

A study we conducted in April 2014 suggests that media outlets publish three to ten times as many stories about France than about Nigeria. This disparity is striking as Nigeria’s population (estimated at 173 million) is almost three times the size of France’s population (66 million).

There’s bad news for those hoping online media will change existing patterns of media attention: while broadcast news outlets ran 3.2 times as many stories about France as about Nigeria, online media outlets published more than ten times as many French as Nigerian stories (10.4 to be precise).

We tend to read about countries like Nigeria only when they are in crisis, from terrorist attack or epidemics like Ebola. Despite the shocking magnitude of the attacks in Baga, the story can feel predictable, as the news we get from Nigeria is generally bad news.

If the attacks in Nigeria feel like they are happening somewhere incomprehensibly far away, those in Paris feel close to home, and many commentators have reflected on the tragedy in Paris as a result."



"Most victims of Islamic terrorism are Muslim: between 82 and 97%, according to a study from the US National Counter Terrorism Center.

Attacks like the one on Paris are shocking, visible and rare, while attacks on Baga are common (though the scale of the Baga attack is unprecedented.)

When we understand extremist violence as attacks on urban, developed, symbolic targets, we’re missing a much broader, messier picture, where religious extremism blends with political struggles and where the victims are usually anonymous, uncelebrated and forgotten.

We miss the point that Islamic extremists are at war with other Muslims, that the source of terror is not a religion of 1.6 billion people, but a perverse, political interpretation held by a disenchanted few.

It’s right to mourn those killed in Paris, to celebrate the city’s resilience and to honor the heroes. But if we fail to mourn and to understand Baga as well, we see a picture of terrorism that’s simple, clear and deeply inaccurate."
ethanzuckerman  2015  bokoharam  media  charliehebdo  paris  france  nigeria  terrorism  protest  protests  islam  islamophobia  journalism  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Charlie Hebdo attacks show that not all blasphemies are equal
"After the murder of Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists, pundits have tried to suss out where blasphemy fits into the social life of the West. Is it a necessary project for shocking Bronze Age fanatics into modernity? Is it a way of defending a free-wheeling liberal culture from the censorship of violent men? Or is it abusively uncivil? When directed at a minority religion, is it racist? Is it an abuse of freedom of speech, the equivalent of a constant harassment that invites a punch in the nose?

We have been told that Charlie Hebdo is an "equal opportunity offender." And in one sense that is obviously true. It drew unflattering pictures of Jesus, of Jews, and of the Prophet Muhammad. The spirit of the magazine was anarchic, atheistic, and left-wing. As Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry points out, it was a very French thing, anti-clerical and Rabelaisian.

But not all blasphemies are equal, because religions are not analogous. A gesture aimed at one can cause an eruption of outrage, but when offered to another it produces a shrug. The intensity of reaction may be determined by the religion's comfort with modernity, or by the history of its adherents. Western Christians are raised in pluralist, tolerant, and diverse cultures, and in powerful nations. Muslims experience the bad side of discrimination as immigrants, and come from cultures that have been humiliated by colonialism, autocracy, and Western incursion. But that doesn't explain all of it.

Pissing on a Bible is similar to pissing on a Koran only as a chemical reaction of urea and pulp. As gestures of desecration they mean entirely different things. The challah bread eaten in Jewish homes on the Sabbath and the Catholic Eucharist both have a symbolic relation to the manna from heaven in the book of Exodus, but trampling on one is not the same as the other, and would inspire very different reactions. Likewise, Charlie Hebdo's images are offered from an anarchic and particularly French anti-clerical spirit, but they are received entirely differently as blasphemies by Christianity and Islam.

After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, I tried to think of what kind of blasphemy aimed at my own faith would bring out illiberal reactions in me. The infamous Piss Christ of Andres Serrano barely raises my pulse. Although the pictured crucifix reminds me of one I would kiss in worship on Good Friday, I agree with the artist Maureen Mullarkey that it is trivially easy to avoid taking the publicity-and-money-and-status-generating offense it so desperately sought.

But a Black Mass — a satanic parody of the Catholic Mass, in which a consecrated host stolen from a Catholic Church is ritually desecrated — would touch something else in me. I followed the news about proposed Black Masses at Harvard and Oklahoma City intensely in 2014. I monitored the reactions of local bishops. And I thought more highly of Tulsa's Bishop Slattery for his tougher posture. I admired even more the renegade Traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, which organized a march and produced a beautiful video explaining the offense of a Black Mass, and why Catholics would seek to make reparation before God for the offense given by others.

Freddie deBoer says that those defending the practice of blasphemy are arguing against a shadow and doing brave poses against a null threat: "None of them think that, in response to this attack, we or France or any other industrialized nation is going to pass a bill declaring criticism of Islam illegal."

Not only does this ignore the chilling effect violence has on free speech, it is also just wrong. In 2006, the British government of Tony Blair asked for a vote on a law "against incitement to religious hatred." It was a law whose political support came overwhelmingly from Muslims.

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood argued that one of the virtues of the law was that it would have allowed the government to edit Salman Rushdie's work. Luckily, the House of Lords insisted on a revision that would exempt "discussion, criticism, or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult, or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents" from the law, rendering it toothless.

But if I thought about it, I understood the MP's reaction. He hoped that a law against incitement could function as a de facto blasphemy law. I hoped last year that laws against the petty theft of "bread" from a Church could be enforced to prevent the Black Masses.

It often seems the debate over the value of blasphemy is determined by what people fear the most. Do they fear the growth of an Islamic sub-culture within the West that threatens the gains of secularism, religious toleration, feminism, and gay rights? Then blast away. Or do they fear that the majority culture, like Western imperialism itself, is driving Muslims into poverty, despair, and a cultural isolation that encourages fundamentalism? Well, then be careful, circumspect, and polite.

Last week, I suggested that Europe's secularism was aimed at Christianity, and that in some respects secularism was a kind of genetic mutation within the body of Christendom. Charlie Hebdo's kind of blasphemy was a Christian kind of blasphemy. Christianity makes icons, and Hebdo draws mustaches and testicles across them. It pokes at the pretension of religious leaders. This is a kind of blasphemy that Matt Taibbi identifies with "our way of life."

But what if drawing a cartoon of Muhammad is not, theologically speaking, like drawing a parody of Jesus? What if it is more like desecrating the Eucharist, something I think Charlie Hebdo's editors would never do?

Obviously there are debates within Islam about what God demands from believers, unbelievers, and earthly authorities. Just as there are debates about what the Eucharist is within Christianity. And, yes, sometimes state pressure can effect a religious revolution. (Look to the Mormon church and the United States). But Western pressure seems to push Muslims away from liberality.

Fazlur Rahman and other Islamic scholars point out that when Islam was an ascendant and powerful world force it often found the intellectual resources to "Islamicize" the philosophies and cultures it encountered outside its Arabian cradle. But once Islam was humiliated and reduced on the geopolitical stage, these more daring and expansive medieval projects were abandoned. Other modernizing and liberal efforts of jurists like Muhammad Abduh have proven unpopular. Instead, the great modernist projects of Wahhabist and Salafist fundamentalism is what colors movements from the Taliban to the Islamic State.

When Westerners read the editorial from radical cleric Anjem Choudary, they are tempted to think he is stupid for asking why "why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims...?"

"That's not how it works here," we want to reply. But Choudary's view that the state authority is responsible for the moral and spiritual condition of the nation is quintessentially Islamic. It is a reflection of the fact that Islam's great debates are centered on jurisprudence, on the right order of the ummah. This is very different from Christianity where the primary debates center around orthodox faith and morals withing the Church. In an odd way, Choudary's complaint against France is a sign of assimilation. He expects France to assimilate to this vision of Islam. He offers France's leaders the same complaint radical Muslim reformers always offer to lax Sultans and Caliphs.

To ask Muslims to respond peacefully to Charlie Hebdo's provocations makes absolute sense to me, because I want to continue to live by the norms set by a detente between secularism and Christian churches. I suspect many (perhaps most) Muslims want the same. But those Muslims who are faithful to a religious tradition concerned primarily with restoring fidelity to sources from the first three centuries of Islam were not a party to the secularist bargain. And we ought to be aware that we are asking them to live as Christians, and to be insulted like them, too."
michaelbrendandougherty  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie  charliehebdo  freedom  freespeech  2015  france  religion  freedomofspeech  racism  islamophobia  extremism  journalism  christianity  andresserrano  maureenmullakey  blackmass  freddiedeboer  blasphemy  islam  khalidmahmood  salmanrushdie  via:ayjay  secularism  fundamentalism  fazlurrahman  anjemchoudary  jurisprudence  assimilation  matttaibbi 
january 2015 by robertogreco
I Don’t Know if Je Suis Charlie — Matter — Medium
"The stigmatizing is starting. The usual suspects of conservative politics, in both America and Europe, are making the usual cries that we must protect free speech and cultural freedom by destroying it, but only for Muslims. Besides the obvious self-contradiction of this idea, there is another notion embedded in it: that Islam has some magical quality that generates extremism. But extremism isn’t really an Islamic affliction if you look at the question historically and in depth. Like all forms of violence, as well as addiction and property crime, extremism seems to follow poverty around, like little hell ducklings that have imprinted upon the most vulnerable among us.

It was true before Charlie, and it still remains true, that the majority of contemporary victims of terrorism are Muslims, and the main capturers and killers of journalists are governments and their political groups. As if to throw this point into sharp relief, politicians around the EU began calling for more ways to restrict speech online. The UK’s prime minister, David Cameron, citing the Paris attack, called for legislation that would allow for universal surveillance in the UK, saying, “Do we want to allow a means of communication between people which… we cannot read?” A question to which the majority of journalists would answer: “Hell yes.”

Antiterrorism measures the world round seem to be doing little to stop terrorism, but the tools and laws get used against activists and journalists disproportionately. Even in America, courtesies extended to journalists are suspended if something is considered “national security” — a fuzzy phrase with no technical definition, but nonetheless used against journalists like James Risen."



"Extremism is a kind of insanity made of anger. Most people, white, black, Christian, Muslim, man or woman, never live with that kind of anger — the kind that makes you want to throw your life away just to hurt someone or something.

I think that I have been that angry. I have wanted to kill people, and felt ready to, when I was much younger. I was stopped by a friend while walking down the street with a rifle in my hands, intent on taking another life. That friend helped me get back to my senses, get back on the right side of the line. It was many years ago, and it’s not my story to tell, but it is a moment I will never forget. So, when I turned to my computer and saw the images of the armed assailants, and the smiling portraits of the writers and artists they had murdered, I saw a little bit of myself in both. Je suis Charlie, people hate me for offending their way of life. But I have crossed over to the hate, too. Thank whatever there is to thank, I got back.

There will always be those who have left the territory of civilization — those people for whom the rules and the punishments don’t matter anymore. But they are rare. The everyday profusion of horror in something like the attack on Charlie, the bombing of the NAACP, the terrible acts of Boko Haram: There are too many to be only the violently insane and insensible. The commonness speaks to the swaths of unwanted humanity we have now, people living without a better dream than killing those they disagree with.

Extremism doesn’t emerge from a vacuum. It’s not the territory of a particular religion or ideology. It isn’t some easy path. It doesn’t happen overnight. As a person who has walked down the street, gun in hand, thinking that I would kill, I can say this: You don’t get there overnight. You don’t get there alone. You get there after everything else you could imagine being good in life is gone, or you are sure the last good things are going to be taken from you. For most people, the day you pick up a gun is the day you don’t think anyone will hear your needs any other way."



"I don’t know if je suis Charlie, if I am Charlie. I don’t like the caricatures that reproduce racist images of Jews, or paint all Muslims as bearded Arabs with giant noses. Some of my French friends have said Charlie Hebdo is more anti-racist than racist, but it’s complicated. They could be right, I don’t know enough about French culture or the nuances of what Charlie Hebdo does to understand. That’s why we have free speech, to make room for things we don’t understand. I don’t want to post them, and I won’t, because my free speech means I don’t have to post things I don’t like. But I think the portrayal of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the right-wing National Front party, with her racist father as an Alien-style jaw within her jaws, is pretty funny. It was made by Cabu, who died on Wednesday. I could get a bit Charlie for that.

I am not the Kouachi brothers, but I can see how it went wrong for them, at least in the abstract. I can see how people leave sanity behind and pass into violence, how extremism and hate can swallow them up. If, someday, someone shoots me because they hated what I wrote, I will be like Charlie. I am not particularly interested in what happens to my attacker if I am attacked. I’m not sure I’m very interested in justice, per se. I’d rather not get attacked in the first place. I’d rather we prevented people from getting to that point.

I am sure of this: If, as a society, we want to starve extremism, to save cartoonists in France and prevent the strange fruit of the American South, to stop suicide bombers in the Middle East and the violence of the Nigerian countryside, we do that by not starving children. We do it by feeding their bodies and minds and hopes."
quinnorton  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie  charliehebdo  freedom  freespeech  2015  france  religion  freedomofspeech  racism  islamophobia  extremism  journalism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
France Declares War on Islam - Global Guerrillas
"
"It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity... There needs to be a firm message about the values of the republic and of secularism." — French Prime Minister Manuel Valls


Based on this statement alone, it looks like France is about to fall into a Red Queen's Trap. In this case, an all consuming struggle between an increasingly hollow nation-state and a large and growing population of people unwilling to assimilate. For example: here's a government list and atlas of the 751 "sensitive neighborhoods" like the one below that won't assimilate.

If this is a trap, here's what it is going to look like.

Since most nation-states aren't able to offer opportunity anymore (they are hollowing out due to globalization), this assimilation will be accelerated by rules, regulations, and force. In turn, these communities will resist this and seek support from outside (IS, etc.) for resisting, which will lead to more violence. More violence will lead to more government maladaptation -- largely due to the inherent weaknesses of a 21st Century hollow state -- and so on until great damage is done to everyone involved.

So, the big question is: Is France in a trap or not?

Let's dive in. Here are the interesting elements.

The attack wasn't a generic attack on a population center. It was very specific. It was an attack on French secularism, accomplished by passing judgement on the people who promote it. For example, the jihadis asked for specific people at the magazine by name when they arrived.

It was also interesting to me that the reaction to the attack was largely one of solidarity. People around the world showed support for the victims so much so that the #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie hashtag) has become the most popular hashtag in history. Here's a map of where it has been used (almost exclusively in the globalized "west"). Further, this solidarity movement is being used to generate massive rallies in Paris and around the world.

Based on this, there are two ways this could go.

If this solidarity is seen as merely support for an end to violence (which I believe it is), the entire thing will be largely forgotten in a week.

However, if it is seen as support for a new push to assimilate Islamic communities and promote secularist values, the Red Queen's trap is sprung.

The statement at the top of the page by the French Prime Minister -- this is a war -- is an indication that France may be in a trap.

PS: The US fell into a Red Queen's trap in 2001 that cost us thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, two lost wars, and most of our basic rights."
johnrobb  2015  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie  charliehebdo  freedom  freespeech  france  religion  freedomofspeech  racism  islamophobia  manuelvalls  redqueens'strap  assimilation  globalization  history  economics  nationstates  war  us  2001  hollowstates 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Why I Am Not Charlie
"There is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it. Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity. There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not the same as to become them. This is true on the simplest level: I cannot occupy someone else’s selfhood, share someone else’s death. This is also true on a moral level: I cannot appropriate the dangers they faced or the suffering they underwent, I cannot colonize their experience, and it is arrogant to make out that I can. It wouldn’t be necessary to say this, except the flood of hashtags and avatars and social-media posturing proclaiming #JeSuisCharlie overwhelms distinctions and elides the point. “We must all try to be Charlie, not just today but every day,” the New Yorker pontificates. What the hell does that mean? In real life, solidarity takes many forms, almost all of them hard. This kind of low-cost, risk-free, E-Z solidarity is only possible in a social-media age, where you can strike a pose and somebody sees it on their timeline for 15 seconds and then they move on and it’s forgotten except for the feeling of accomplishment it gave you. Solidarity is hard because it isn’t about imaginary identifications, it’s about struggling across the canyon of not being someone else: it’s about recognizing, for instance, that somebody died because they were different from you, in what they did or believed or were or wore, not because they were the same. If people who are feeling concrete loss or abstract shock or indignation take comfort in proclaiming a oneness that seems to fill the void, then it serves an emotional end. But these Cartesian credos on Facebook and Twitter — I am Charlie, therefore I am — shouldn’t be mistaken for political acts.

Erasing differences that actually exist seems to be the purpose here: and it’s perhaps appropriate to the Charlie cartoons, which drew their force from a considered contempt for people with the temerity to be different. For the last 36 hours, everybody’s been quoting Voltaire. The same line is all over my several timelines:

[image]

“Those 21 words circling the globe speak louder than gunfire and represent every pen being wielded by an outstretched arm,” an Australian news site says. (Never mind that Voltaire never wrote them; one of his biographers did.) But most people who mouth them don’t mean them. Instead, they’re subtly altering the Voltairean clarion cry: the message today is, I have to agree with what you say, in order to defend it. Why else the insistence that condemning the killings isn’t enough? No:we all have to endorse the cartoons, and not just that, but republish them ourselves. Thus Index on Censorship, a journal that used to oppose censorship but now is in the business of telling people what they can and cannot say, called for all newspapers to reprint the drawings: “We believe that only through solidarity – in showing that we truly defend all those who exercise their right to speak freely – can we defeat those who would use violence to silence free speech.” But is repeating you the same as defending you? And is it really “solidarity” when, instead of engaging across our differences, I just mindlessly parrot what you say?

But no, if you don’t copy the cartoons, you’re colluding with the killers, you’re a coward. Thus the right-wing Daily Caller posted a list of craven media minions of jihad who oppose free speech by not doing as they’re ordered. Punish these censors, till they say what we tell them to!"

[continues]
scottlong  2014  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie  charliehebdo  freedom  freespeech  hypocrisy  2015  france  religion  freedomofspeech  racism  islamophobia 
january 2015 by robertogreco
As a Muslim, I’m fed up with the hypocrisy of the free speech fundamentalists
"The response to the inexcusable murder of Charlie Hebdo’s staff has proved that many liberals are guilty of double standards when it comes to giving offence."



"Dear liberal pundit,

You and I didn’t like George W Bush. Remember his puerile declaration after 9/11 that “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”? Yet now, in the wake of another horrific terrorist attack, you appear to have updated Dubbya’s slogan: either you are with free speech . . . or you are against it. Either vous êtes Charlie Hebdo . . . or you’re a freedom-hating fanatic.

I’m writing to you to make a simple request: please stop. You think you’re defying the terrorists when, in reality, you’re playing into their bloodstained hands by dividing and demonising. Us and them. The enlightened and liberal west v the backward, barbaric Muslims. The massacre in Paris on 7 January was, you keep telling us, an attack on free speech. The conservative former French president Nicolas Sarkozy agrees, calling it “a war declared on civilisation”. So, too, does the liberal-left pin-up Jon Snow, who crassly tweeted about a “clash of civilisations” and referred to “Europe’s belief in freedom of expression”.

In the midst of all the post-Paris grief, hypocrisy and hyperbole abounds. Yes, the attack was an act of unquantifiable evil; an inexcusable and merciless murder of innocents. But was it really a “bid to assassinate” free speech (ITV’s Mark Austin), to “desecrate” our ideas of “free thought” (Stephen Fry)? It was a crime – not an act of war – perpetrated by disaffected young men; radicalised not by drawings of the Prophet in Europe in 2006 or 2011, as it turns out, but by images of US torture in Iraq in 2004.

Please get a grip. None of us believes in an untrammelled right to free speech. We all agree there are always going to be lines that, for the purposes of law and order, cannot be crossed; or for the purposes of taste and decency, should not be crossed. We differ only on where those lines should be drawn.

Has your publication, for example, run cartoons mocking the Holocaust? No? How about caricatures of the 9/11 victims falling from the twin towers? I didn’t think so (and I am glad it hasn’t). Consider also the “thought experiment” offered by the Oxford philosopher Brian Klug. Imagine, he writes, if a man had joined the “unity rally” in Paris on 11 January “wearing a badge that said ‘Je suis Chérif’” – the first name of one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. Suppose, Klug adds, he carried a placard with a cartoon mocking the murdered journalists. “How would the crowd have reacted? . . . Would they have seen this lone individual as a hero, standing up for liberty and freedom of speech? Or would they have been profoundly offended?” Do you disagree with Klug’s conclusion that the man “would have been lucky to get away with his life”?

Let’s be clear: I agree there is no justification whatsoever for gunning down journalists or cartoonists. I disagree with your seeming view that the right to offend comes with no corresponding responsibility; and I do not believe that a right to offend automatically translates into a duty to offend.

When you say “Je suis Charlie”, is that an endorsement of Charlie Hebdo’s depiction of the French justice minister, Christiane Taubira, who is black, drawn as a monkey? Of crude caricatures of bulbous-nosed Arabs that must make Edward Said turn in his grave?

Lampooning racism by reproducing brazenly racist imagery is a pretty dubious satirical tactic. Also, as the former Charlie Hebdo journalist Olivier Cyran argued in 2013, an “Islamophobic neurosis gradually took over” the magazine after 9/11, which then effectively endorsed attacks on "members of a minority religion with no influence in the corridors of power".

It's for these reasons that I can't "be", don’t want to “be", Charlie – if anything, we should want to be Ahmed, the Muslim policeman who was killed while protecting the magazine’s right to exist. As the novelist Teju Cole has observed, “It is possible to defend the right to obscene . . . speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech.”

And why have you been so silent on the glaring double standards? Did you not know that Charlie Hebdo sacked the veteran French cartoonist Maurice Sinet in 2008 for making an allegedly anti-Semitic remark? Were you not aware that Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published caricatures of the Prophet in 2005, reportedly rejected cartoons mocking Christ because they would “provoke an outcry” and proudly declared it would “in no circumstances . . . publish Holocaust cartoons”?

Muslims, I guess, are expected to have thicker skins than their Christian and Jewish brethren. Context matters, too. You ask us to laugh at a cartoon of the Prophet while ignoring the vilification of Islam across the continent (have you visited Germany lately?) and the widespread discrimination against Muslims in education, employment and public life – especially in France. You ask Muslims to denounce a handful of extremists as an existential threat to free speech while turning a blind eye to the much bigger threat to it posed by our elected leaders.

Does it not bother you to see Barack Obama – who demanded that Yemen keep the anti-drone journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye behind bars, after he was convicted on “terrorism-related charges” in a kangaroo court – jump on the free speech ban wagon? Weren’t you sickened to see Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of a country that was responsible for the killing of seven journalists in Gaza in 2014, attend the “unity rally” in Paris? Bibi was joined by Angela Merkel, chancellor of a country where Holocaust denial is punishable by up to five years in prison, and David Cameron, who wants to ban non-violent “extremists” committed to the “overthrow of democracy” from appearing on television.

Then there are your readers. Will you have a word with them, please? According to a 2011 YouGov poll, 82 per cent of voters backed the prosecution of protesters who set fire to poppies.

Apparently, it isn’t just Muslims who get offended.

Yours faithfully,

Mehdi."
#JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie  charliehebdo  freedom  freespeech  hypocrisy  2015  france  religion  freedomofspeech  medhihasan  racism  islamophobia 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Why I am not Charlie | a paper bird
"There is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it. Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity. There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not the same as to become them. This is true on the simplest level: I cannot occupy someone else’s selfhood, share someone else’s death. This is also true on a moral level: I cannot appropriate the dangers they faced or the suffering they underwent, I cannot colonize their experience, and it is arrogant to make out that I can. It wouldn’t be necessary to say this, except the flood of hashtags and avatars and social-media posturing proclaiming #JeSuisCharlie overwhelms distinctions and elides the point. “We must all try to be Charlie, not just today but every day,” the New Yorker pontificates. What the hell does that mean? In real life, solidarity takes many forms, almost all of them hard. This kind of low-cost, risk-free, E-Z solidarity is only possible in a social-media age, where you can strike a pose and somebody sees it on their timeline for 15 seconds and then they move on and it’s forgotten except for the feeling of accomplishment it gave you. Solidarity is hard because it isn’t about imaginary identifications, it’s about struggling across the canyon of not being someone else: it’s about recognizing, for instance, that somebody died because they were different from you, in what they did or believed or were or wore, not because they were the same. If people who are feeling concrete loss or abstract shock or indignation take comfort in proclaiming a oneness that seems to fill the void, then it serves an emotional end. But these Cartesian credos on Facebook and Twitter — I am Charlie, therefore I am — shouldn’t be mistaken for political acts.

Erasing differences that actually exist seems to be the purpose here: and it’s perhaps appropriate to the Charlie cartoons, which drew their force from a considered contempt for people with the temerity to be different. For the last 36 hours, everybody’s been quoting Voltaire. The same line is all over my several timelines: [image]

“Those 21 words circling the globe speak louder than gunfire and represent every pen being wielded by an outstretched arm,” an Australian news site says. (Never mind that Voltaire never wrote them; one of his biographers did.) But most people who mouth them don’t mean them. Instead, they’re subtly altering the Voltairean clarion cry: the message today is, I have to agree with what you say, in order to defend it. Why else the insistence that condemning the killings isn’t enough? No: we all have to endorse the cartoons, and not just that, but republish them ourselves. Thus Index on Censorship, a journal that used to oppose censorship but now is in the business of telling people what they can and cannot say, called for all newspapers to reprint the drawings: “We believe that only through solidarity – in showing that we truly defend all those who exercise their right to speak freely – can we defeat those who would use violence to silence free speech.” But is repeating you the same as defending you? And is it really “solidarity” when, instead of engaging across our differences, I just mindlessly parrot what you say?

But no, if you don’t copy the cartoons, you’re colluding with the killers, you’re a coward. Thus the right-wing Daily Caller posted a list of craven media minions of jihad who oppose free speech by not doing as they’re ordered. Punish these censors, till they say what we tell them to!

[image]

If you don’t agree with what Charlie Hebdo said, the terrorists win.

[image]

You’re not just kowtowing to terrorists with your silence. According to Tarek Fatah, a Canadian columnist with an evident fascist streak, silence is terrorism.

[image]

Of course, any Muslim in the West would know that being called “our enemy” is a direct threat; you’ve drawn the go-to-GItmo card. But consider: This idiot thinks he is defending free speech. How? By telling people exactly what they have to say, and menacing the holdouts with treason. The Ministry of Truth has a new office in Toronto.

There’s a perfectly good reason not to republish the cartoons that has nothing to do with cowardice or caution. I refuse to post them because I think they’re racist and offensive. I can support your right to publish something, and still condemn what you publish. I can defend what you say, and still say it’s wrong — isn’t that the point of the quote (that wasn’t) from Voltaire? I can hold that governments shouldn’t imprison Holocaust deniers, but that doesn’t oblige me to deny the Holocaust myself.

It’s true, as Salman Rushdie says, that “Nobody has the right to not be offended.” You should not get to invoke the law to censor or shut down speech just because it insults you or strikes at your pet convictions. You certainly don’t get to kill because you heard something you don’t like. Yet, manhandled by these moments of mass outrage, this truism also morphs into a different kind of claim: That nobody has the right to be offended at all.

I am offended when those already oppressed in a society are deliberately insulted. I don’t want to participate. This crime in Paris does not suspend my political or ethical judgment, or persuade me that scatologically smearing a marginal minority’s identity and beliefs is a reasonable thing to do. Yet this means rejecting the only authorized reaction to the atrocity. Oddly, this peer pressure seems to gear up exclusively where Islam’s involved. When a racist bombed a chapter of a US civil rights organization this week, the media didn’t insist I give to the NAACP in solidarity. When a rabid Islamophobic rightist killed 77 Norwegians in 2011, most of them at a political party’s youth camp, I didn’t notice many #IAmNorway hashtags, or impassioned calls to join the Norwegian Labor Party. But Islam is there for us, it unites us against Islam. Only cowards or traitors turn down membership in the Charlie club.The demand to join, endorse, agree is all about crowding us into a herd where no one is permitted to cavil or condemn: an indifferent mob, where differing from one another is Thoughtcrime, while indifference to the pain of others beyond the pale is compulsory.

We’ve heard a lot about satire in the last couple of days. We’ve heard that satire shouldn’t cause offense because it’s a weapon of the weak: “Satire-writers always point out the foibles and fables of those higher up the food chain.” And we’ve heard that if the satire aims at everybody, those forays into racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism can be excused away. Charlie Hebdo “has been a continual celebration of the freedom to make fun of everyone and everything….it practiced a freewheeling, dyspeptic satire without clear ideological lines.” Of course, satire that attacks any and all targets is by definition not just targeting the top of the food chain. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges,” Anatole France wrote; satire that wounds both the powerful and the weak does so with different effect. Saying the President of the Republic is a randy satyr is not the same as accusing nameless Muslim immigrants of bestiality. What merely annoys the one may deepen the other’s systematic oppression. To defend satire because it’s indiscriminate is to admit that it discriminates against the defenseless."



"This insistence on contagious responsibility, collective guilt, is the flip side of #JeSuisCharlie. It’s #VousÊtesISIS; #VousÊtesAlQaeda. Our solidarity, our ability to melt into a warm mindless oneness and feel we’re doing something, is contingent on your involuntary solidarity, your losing who you claim to be in a menacing mass. We can’t stand together here unless we imagine you together over there in enmity. The antagonists are fake but they’re entangled, inevitable. The language hardens. Geert Wilders, the racist right-wing leader in the Netherlands, said the shootings mean it’s time to “de-Islamize our country.” Nigel Farage, his counterpart in the UK, called Muslims a “fifth column, holding our passports, that hate us.” Juan Cole writes that the Charlie Hebdo attack was “a strategic strike, aiming at polarizing the French and European public” — at “sharpening the contradictions.” The knives are sharpening too, on both sides.

We lose our ability to imagine political solutions when we stop thinking critically, when we let emotional identifications sweep us into factitious substitutes for solidarity and action. We lose our ability to respond to atrocity when we start seeing people not as individuals, but as symbols. Changing avatars on social media is a pathetic distraction from changing realities in society. To combat violence you must look unflinchingly at the concrete inequities and practices that breed it. You won’t stop it with acts of self-styled courage on your computer screen that neither risk nor alter anything. To protect expression that’s endangered you have to engage with the substance of what was said, not deny it. That means attempting dialogue with those who peacefully … [more]
censorship  france  islam  terrorism  charliehebdo  islamophobia  2015  scottlong  solidarity  freespeech  freedomofspeech  religion  violence  oppression  oneness  stereotypes  silence  satire  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Hace mucho que Charlie Hebdo no nos hacía reír, hoy nos hace llorar (Quartiers Libres) | Tus piolets. Mi fresadora
"No seamos hipócritas. Charlie Hebdo no es un amigo político. Desde hace años, se ha desviado al campo del pensamiento dominante y participa en el desarrollo de una islamofobia de izquierdas. En cambio, NADIE puede ni debe alegrarse de la ejecución de estxs periodistas. Nada puede justificar este acto en el contexto actual de Francia. Pero este ataque no debe hacer callar tampoco las críticas que se pueden hacer a Charlie Hebdo y a la prensa en general acerca de su línea de redacción y su humor islamófobo."

[translastion of http://quartierslibres.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/ca-faisait-longtemps-que-charlie-hebdo-ne-faisait-plus-rire-aujourdhui-il-fait-pleurer/

"Ne soyons pas hypocrites, Charlie Hebdo n’est pas un ami politique. Depuis des années, il a basculé dans le camp de la pensée dominante et participe au développement d’une islamophobie de gauche. Pourtant personne ne peut ni ne doit se réjouir de l’exécution de ses journalistes. Rien ne peut justifier cet acte dans le contexte actuel de la France. Mais cette attaque ne doit pas faire taire non plus les critiques à l’encontre de Charlie Hebdo et de la presse en général sur sa ligne rédactionnelle et humoristique islamophobe." ]
charliehebdo  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  france  racism  freespeech  2015  islamophobia  edwardsaid  orientalism  freedomofspeech  satire  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
When cartoons upset the 'wrong people' - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"I condemn the attacks on the cartoonists even though I don't agree with the publication's editorial slant, which I have often found to be hurtful and racist. Nevertheless, I would continue to stand for their freedom of speech…

Freedom of speech is a powerful weapon and one I have never fully had - but for those who do have it, I wish they would stop taking it for granted.

Instead, they ought to ask the right questions - the questions that need to be asked - rather than accusatory ones that fuel the stereotypes that have originated in mainstream media.

Their work must focus on conveying the right message. They must work towards bridging the gap - and not widening it."
charliehebdo  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  france  racism  freespeech  2015  islamophobia  freedomofspeech  satire  cartoons  khalidalbaih  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
On Charlie Hebdo | Jacobin
"However, there is a wider narrative that is emerging in the rush to judgment, as news media attempt to stitch together details — at first entirely circumstantial— into an explanatory story. The assumption is that the killers are members of some sort of Islamist group, possibly linked to Islamic State, and are exacting political retribution for the publication’s regular satirical attacks on Islam by executing its journalists. And about that, I do have something beyond the obvious to say, just as a starting point.

The first point is that French President Francois Hollande declared this a “terrorist” attack very early on. Now, we don’t need to know any concrete details to understand the purpose of this. “Terrorism” is not a scientific term; it is inherently normative.

The uses of “terrorism” in such contexts are by now well understood. I suggested apropos the Woolwich killing that it functions as a narrative device, setting up a less-than-handful of people as a civilizational threat evoking stoic defense (of “British values,” “la république,” “the West,” etc). It justifies repressive and securitarian responses that tend to target Muslims as such, responses which in the United Kingdom chiefly come under the rubric of the government’s Prevent strategy.

The second is that there is already an enormous pressure, in this context, to defend Charlie Hebdo as a forceful exponent of “Western values,” or in some cases even as a brilliantly radical bastion of left-wing anti-clericalism.

Now, I think there’s a critical difference between solidarity with the journalists who were attacked, refusing to concede anything to the idea that journalists are somehow “legitimate targets,” and solidarity with what is frankly a racist publication."



"No, the offices of Charlie Hebdo should not be raided by gun-wielding murderers. No, journalists are not legitimate targets for killing. But no, we also shouldn’t line up with the inevitable statist backlash against Muslims, or the ideological charge to defend a fetishized, racialized “secularism,” or concede to the blackmail which forces us into solidarity with a racist institution."

[Also posted here: http://www.leninology.co.uk/2015/01/charlie-hebdo.html ]
charliehebdo  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  france  racism  freespeech  2015  islamophobia  edwardsaid  orientalism  freedomofspeech  satire  richardseymour  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism « The Hooded Utilitarian
"Now, I understand that calling someone a ‘racist asshole’ after their murder is a callous thing to do, and I don’t do it lightly. This isn’t ambiguous, though: the editorial staff of Hebdo consistently aimed to provoke Muslims. They ascribe to the same edgy-white-guy mentality that many American cartoonists do: nothing is sacred, sacred targets are funnier, lighten up, criticism is censorship. And just like American cartoonists, they and their supporters are wrong. White men punching down is not a recipe for good satire, and needs to be called out. People getting upset does not prove that the satire was good. And, this is the hardest part, the murder of the satirists in question does not prove that their satire was good. Their satire was bad, and remains bad. Their satire was racist, and remains racist. "

[See also commentary on Tumblr: http://finalbossform.com/post/107500460335/in-the-wake-of-charlie-hebdo-free-speech-does-not ]
charliehebdo  2105  satire  racism  france  terrorism  jacobcanfield  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  freedomofspeech  punchingdown  power  supremacy  islamophobia  freespeech  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Two — but only two — cheers for blasphemy - Vox
"Blasphemous, mocking images cause pain in marginalized communities. The elevation of such images to a point of high principle will increase the burdens on those minority groups. European Muslims find themselves crushed between the actions of a tiny group of killers and the necessary response of the majority society. Problems will increase for an already put-upon group of people."
matthewyglesias  charliehebdo  2015  freespeech  marginzalization  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  freedomofspeech  satire  racism  islamophobia  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Charlie Hebdo: This Attack Was Nothing To Do With Free Speech — It Was About War — Medium
"White people don’t like to admit it, but those cartoons upheld their prejudice, their racism, their political supremacy, and cut it how you will — images like that upheld a political order built on discrimination."



[Caption next to an image of a drone: "A ‘free speech’ machine. It looks for people who do not have enough free speech and them gives them some" ]
charliehebdo  2015  freespeech  power  discrimination  racism  prejudice  supremacy  freedom  extremism  politics  france  europe  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  freedomofspeech  satire  islamophobia  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
#JeSuisCharlieHebdo? | AL JAVIEERA
"I. It’s surprising to have to spell out these notions, but here goes…

One can condemn violence and at the same time sustain a critical stance against Charlie Hebdo.

One can condemn the “asymmetric warfare” of masked gunmen and also reject racism, tyranny, and hate.

One can denounce cold-blooded massacres while also unsubscribe from the horrible, orientalist titillation of Charlie Hebdo cartoons and the mental passivity of liberalism.

----------

II. It is imperative, at this frightening intersection, to resist the coercive call to stand behind a vacuous, hypocritical, shallow slogan about “free speech.” The response to the horrible tragedy in Paris already seems to become folded into the same previous mode of thinking that enabled the magazine to exist and thrive. It is a mode in which there is no deliberation of better or worse ideas; just a liberal “freedom” excuse to embrace hate (albeit hate selectively applied, despite liberal disclaimers otherwise).

Western culture is arbitrary in its principles; it is arrogant, self-centered, and self-deluded about its respect and care for the weak and oppressed. A glance at statistics about drone strikes tells the story. Ebola tells the story. Palestine tells the story. The migrant labor building imperial stadia for futbol and Olympics tell the story. The fact that a hashtag like #BlackLivesMatter exists. The deportations of millions and deaths on the high seas…

This is a frightening moment — a moment charged with reactionary simplifications and reductions. These reductionisms serve a purpose. Among other things, the point is to ignore the very complex circulations through which the killers were likely trained, funded, armed, and recruited. If we explored these circulations, more than the usual suspects that might be rounded up in the coming hours or days would be implicated.

Instead, political doctrinaires murmur slogans about an ancient religious cause behind the killings. They equate vast social processes with merely “terror,” nothing more; and none of it has anything to do with the actual, mediatized and quite modern ways in which the operation came about. These dimensions must remain unthought and unimagined.

Who identifies with “#JeSuisCharlieHebdo,” and who does not? It is exactly at these points where one should resist and explore ideas more critically and openly and generously, but this is politically dangerous for the neoliberal parties.

III. The cartoonists and reporters killed earlier cannot speak now, obviously. The voicelessness of death never dies. It lives on in martyrdom. We thus create Western martyrs, ventriloquizing with their corpses. Sadly, the victims themselves are appropriated. The dead suddenly appear solemn. They are actually being used as blunt tools against dissenting thought and radical ideas. The morbid fascination with the dead falsely assures the living that life isn’t meaningless. But ironically, it has been Charlie Hebdo and many more who have been complicit with precisely such a cheapening of life. The response pathetically shows exactly how we live in such terrible times; in societies of alienation. I would post the images of the covers, but it is not worth it to continue giving them more views.

To work in collective and common ways against alienation requires critical thought and analysis. But huge forces exist to force closure, such as #JeSuisCharlieHebdo. The massive public spectacles in plazas are smoothly incorporated into these forces.

To make matters worse, our Western governments and corporations have operated in the spaces of totalitarianism: they’ve spied, bombed, tortured, and killed in (semi-)secrecy.

What can be said or done to counter the outpouring of craven solidarity with nothing but an abstract notion of “free speech”? This outpouring insults real people who have differences and needs, but seek to live together. It also closes down a discussion that builds on a true public knowledge, exposing all that is done in our names. #JeSuisCharlieHebdo is patently antithetical to collective and common life, alienating entire groups of people who never saw their lives represented in this rag. And it is therefore contradictory to abdicate power, as happens at these moments, to the states which have proven time and again to be incapable of facilitating this shared life."

[See also Javier's RTs assembled by Kenyatta: http://finalbossform.com/post/107505352430/twitter-users-resurrect-the-invalidating ]
javierarbona  2015  charliehebdo  racism  islam  hate  tyranny  liberalism  freedom  freedomofspeech  religion  freespeech  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  hypocrisy  satire  islamophobia  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco

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