Are We Charlie Hebdo?
Though we stand in solidarity against violence and hate, it seems hypocritical for the US to be identifying with this radical press and calling for press freedom and more surveillance simultaneously. The hypocrisy also runs deep, given the repression and limitations of our mainstream media. For those of us cursed with the ability to think and an awareness of the world's realities, nothing is simple. This cartoon by Joe Sacco says it well:
Power comes with the need for responsibility. This is just as true in the case of the press as it is with police and political power. Abuses of the press have led the way to genocide and war. Manipulation of the news by government, whether by dictatorships or the CIA, is as bad as stifling censorship. Both are intolerable in a free society but the freedom of the press can also go too far if it publishes racism, libel, or unfounded calls to violence. I do not know that this was the case with Charlie Hebdo. I tend to think it was not. I do support limits of hate speech, but only enough to ensure responsibility and the freedom to speak the truth and to be legitimately critical of anything.
There can be no justification the murderous attack in Charlie Hebdo. Fundamentalism, dogmatism and fanaticism of any kind, political or religious, are a danger to civilization. In France and in Germany, massive rallies stand against hate racism and division. This stands in contrast to the US where the slightest provocation, real or twisted by our press, results in an outpouring of hatred and calls for violence.
A better response to radicalism might be to examine the cause, to wonder what radicalized them. In this case, as Ray McGovern points out it was the torture by the US in Iraq and elsewhere as well as our drone wars and blind support of Zionism. Though European leaders showed their hypocrisy at the Paris rally by linking arms with Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the greatest purveyors of hate and terror on the planet, the civilized response of people on the streets in rejecting fascism, religious fanaticism and division and the difference in our own country speaks to where we, as Americans find ourselves culturally, at the precipice of fascist barbarism. I have written in depth on this for a local cultural paper and feel it deserves a national conversation. It also demands that civilized people make ourselves heard, standing against the hatred and barbarism of right-wing fascism and religious intolerance.