The vertical middle finger. To the Romans, the digitus impudicus — the impudent digit. The finger that defiles and degrades its victim. The finger that provided such sterling service at Abu Ghraib and the other black sites around the world where the Americans tortured their many Muslim victims in their bogus "war on terror".
And here it is again, flaunted in a newspaper that avowedly upholds the "values" of the "civilized" West. A newspaper that, surely, would never condone the violation of someone's anal or vaginal orifice. But at whom, exactly, is it directed? At all Muslims? At only the "worst of the worst" (in the words of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld) — those orange-suited abductees who often turned out to be totally innocent? At only the "vile, cowardly killers" (in the words of Manawatu Standard editor Rob Mitchell) who shot up a Charlie Hebdo editorial conference in Paris on January 7, 2015?
Left: The foolish challenge from Charlie Hebdo.
Whatever the Standard cartoonist's intention, can any Muslim look at the above drawing and not feel, in the current climate, that the contemptuous gesture is not directed, to some degree, at either him or his religion? Can he help wondering why only Muslim killers are judged "vile" and "cowardly", while drone operators, who wipe out wedding parties in Waziristan from the safety of air-conditioned trailers in Nevada, are regarded as brave defenders of their country?
The Muslim may also wonder whether, at the time of the shootings in Paris, a similar number of people were being killed by the West in one of the many countries where the West is intervening — either directly, with its armed forces, or indirectly through a proxy force of al-Qaeda terrorists (as in Libya) 1. He may wonder why no candlelight vigils are held for the victims of the West's attacks in these countries. Indeed, he may wonder why the deaths are rarely even reported.
When the deaths are reported, the Muslim will note that the victims are always described as "militants" — people who, according to the determination of a secret algorithm, were up to no good, and therefore worthy of death. "Bug splat" is how the American drone operators describe these killings. The operator clicks his mouse and — whoosh! — the victims are wiped out by a missile. They die in a cloud of dust, sometimes writhing in agony and clutching the stumps of amputated limbs. Very surgical. Very civilized.
I know, too, that such incidents are regarded, in some quarters, as crucial in securing public acceptance of an increasingly militarized police force, equipped with armored vehicles and helicopters, and invested with the power to order lockdowns of entire towns.3 In this way, terrorist attacks, whatever their provenance, serve the sinister objectives of the authoritarian state.
Mitchell begins his editorial (see below) on the Paris shootings with the usual invocations of "freedom of expression" and "freedom of speech", apparently unaware of how intolerant "Western civilization" has been, and still is, of ideas it deems inimical to its core beliefs or interests. Consider the following, for example:
. . . on 13 December 2011, British Muslim Ahmed Faraz was sentenced to 3 years in prison in London after being convicted of disseminating a number of books which were deemed to be terrorist publications. One of those books is [Sayyid] Qutb’s Milestones. In a trial which lasted over two months, jurors had the entirety of Qutb’s thoughts and ideas, as expressed in his book, read out to them to decide whether or not such ideas are permissible in 21st-century Britain. They ultimately concluded that they were not and Milestones has now been criminalised as a “terrorist publication” and effectively banned in Britain.
Milestones is also published by Penguin Books, who previously found themselves in the dock in 1960 (around the same time that Qutb was writing Milestones) after publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the last case of its kind until now.4
It is in the penultimate column of the editorial, however, that the self-congratulation becomes truly sickening: "It [Charlie Hebdo] could have used satire quite legitimately to highlight some of the many challenges faced by Muslims and others in a civilised, largely secular society that respects both men and women and the importance of knowledge, education and tolerance." The take-home message here — certainly, the inference that will be drawn by most Muslim readers — is that the Muslim world, in contrast, is not civilized, does not respect both men and women, and attaches little or no value to knowledge, education and tolerance.
The irony here is breath-taking, since many of the "Western" attributes of civilization, including romantic love, arose not in the brutish West, but in Muslim al-Andalus, which was, in its day, a model of tolerance. Furthermore, the first two universities in the world — the University of Al-Karaouine and Al-Azhar University — were both established in the Muslim world — in Morocco and Egypt, respectively. The first was founded by a woman, Fatima al-Fihri, who would have been familiar with the hadith (saying of the Prophet) that "Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim." 5 Today, every Muslim knows this hadith6, so any man who says something to the contrary, even if he wears a turban, beard, and thobe, is not serving the interests of Islam. He is serving the interests of another agenda.
That's why the Malala Yousafzai saga — from her shooting by "Muslim extremists" opposed to girls' education to her appearance on the world stage as a cause célèbre — is such a charade — and such a painful reminder that perceptions of Islam, in the 21st century, are shaped more by Madison Avenue than by Makkah. If the aim of the exercise was to make Islam look cruel and backward (and the West, in contradistinction, to look noble and enlightened), Edward Bernays himself could not have done a better job.7 — Editorial posted by Alan Ireland on January 11, 2015.
1. "US-Saudi funded terrorists sowing chaos in Pakistan": http://pakistanthinktank.org/tony-cartalucci-us-saudi-funded-terrorists-sowing-chaos-in-pakistan
2. Suspected Paris shooter lived with underwear bomber in Yemen: Charlie Hebdo attackers now linked to multiple US-run terrorists http://www.infowars.com/suspected-paris-shooter-lived-with-underwear-bomber-in-yemen/
3. "War, Media Propaganda and the Police State": http://www.globalresearch.ca/war-media-propaganda-and-the-police-state/5405032
4. "Banning and Burning Books: A New Milestone in the War on Terror": http://www.cageprisoners.com/our-work/opinion-editorial/item/3019-banning-and-burning-books-a-new-milestone-in-the-war-on-terror
6. Though many know only the apocryphal version of it: "Seek knowledge even unto China".
7. "Has Malala Become a Puppet of the West?" http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/12/has-malala-become-a-puppet-of-the-west.html. See also "Malala Yousafzai and the White Saviour Complex": http://www.loonwatch.com/2013/10/malala-yousafzai-and-the-white-saviour-complex/
The above editorial was published by the Manawatu Standardon January 9, 2015, under the headline "Freedom of expression also requires thought".
The Charlie Hebdo Story Simply Doesn’t Wash, by Paul Craig Roberts: http://ht.ly/HlTYf
The Charlie Hebdo affair has many of the characteristics of a false flag operation. The attack on the cartoonists’ office was a disciplined professional attack of the kind associated with highly trained special forces; yet the suspects who were later corralled and killed seemed bumbling and unprofessional. It is like two different sets of people. Usually Muslim terrorists are prepared to die in the attack; yet the two professionals who hit Charlie Hebdo were determined to escape and succeeded, an amazing feat. Their identity was allegedly established by the claim that they conveniently left for the authorities their ID in the getaway car. Such a mistake is inconsistent with the professionalism of the attack and reminds me of the undamaged passport found miraculously among the ruins of the two WTC towers that served to establish the identity of the alleged 9/11 hijackers...
What Hebdo Execution Video Really Shows, by Jonathan Cook: http://ht.ly/HlZQh
...But [the execution video] does, at least to my mind and obviously a lot of other people’s, judging by how quickly it’s spreading, suggest that Ahmed Merabet, the policeman outside the Charlie Hebdo office, was not shot in the head, as all the media have been stating...
Charlie Hebdo And The War For Civilisation, by the editor of Media Lens: http://ht.ly/Hp7ca
...in fact, the bloodiest attack on journalism in living memory, at least in Europe, happened on April 23, 1999 when Nato bombed the headquarters of Serbian state radio and television, killing 16 people. The dead included an editor, a programme director, a cameraman, a make-up artist, three security guards and other media support staff. Additional radio and electrical installations throughout the country were also attacked...
Dying ‘Good Career Move’ For French Hate-mag, by Finian Cunningham: http://ht.ly/Hpfe8
...The French government might claim this week that it is “at war with terrorism, not Islam.” But that is disgraceful cop-out of responsibility by the French authorities. All Western governments are responsible for fuelling a nefarious climate of Islamophobia and negative stereotyping of “Muslims as terrorists” over the past several years. It is absurd for these governments to try now to disclaim responsibility while they continue to bomb Muslim countries in a fictitious “war on terror” against extremist groups that Western states have created in the first place to advance their imperialist agendas. Added to this are Western state police powers directed towards the Muslim community and legions of unlawful imprisonments and other miscarriages of justice...
Police Commissioner Involved in Charlie Hebdo Investigation “Commits Suicide”. Total News Blackout, by Prof Michel Chossudovsky: http://ht.ly/Hph4V
...according to reports, he committed suicide in his workplace, in his office at the police station. Did he commit suicide? Was he incited to commit suicide? Or was he an “honest cop” executed on orders of France’s judicial police?
France Arrests a Comedian For His Facebook Comments, Showing the Sham of the West’s “Free Speech” Celebration, by Glenn Greenwald: http://ht.ly/Ht6HD
...As pernicious as this arrest and related “crackdown” on some speech obviously is, it provides a critical value: namely, it underscores the utter scam that was this week’s celebration of free speech in the west. The day before the Charlie Hebdo attack, I coincidentally documented the multiple cases in the west – including in the U.S. – where Muslims have been prosecuted and even imprisoned for their political speech. Vanishingly few of this week’s bold free expression mavens have ever uttered a peep of protest about any of those cases – either before the Charlie Hebdo attack or since. That’s because “free speech,” in the hands of many westerners, actually means: it is vital that the ideas I like be protected, and the right to offend groups I dislike be cherished; anything else is fair game.
Charlie Hebdo, Paris, France Shooting Hoax. Staged False Flag Terrorist Conspiracy: YouTube video
Excuse me, but why is this man at a march against terrorism?
An alternative headline for the picture — an AFP photo by Philippe Wojazer — could be, "The wolves lead the sheep down a Paris street". I'm sorry, but in view of the blood that is on the hands of some of those in the front line, I see the event as farcical. (I looked up "farcical" in a dictionary, to find the French equivalent. The word I was given was "grotesque", which works just as well.)
A day after I wrote the above paragraphs, Chris Floyd had this to say on the subject:
Meanwhile in Paris, more than a million people marched in a moving — if highly selective — show of solidarity against violent extremism and the repression of free speech. Unfortunately, the moral high ground of the march was lowered somewhat by the presence of several purveyors of violent extremism and repression of free speech in its ranks. Such as that well-known avatar of tolerance and free speech, Benjamin Netanyahu, who, as [Tejo] Cole notes, had killed more than a dozen journalists in Gaza last year, in his American-supported (and American-armed, American-funded) devastation of Gaza...1
These journalists, who happened to be working on the "wrong side" at the "wrong time", are among those "unmournable bodies" that Cole wrote about in The New Yorker, in an article that underlines the fact that
Western societies are not, even now, the paradise of skepticism and rationalism that they believe themselves to be. The West is a variegated space, in which both freedom of thought and tightly regulated speech exist, and in which disavowals of deadly violence happen at the same time as clandestine torture. But, at moments when Western societies consider themselves under attack, the discourse is quickly dominated by an ahistorical fantasy of long-suffering serenity and fortitude in the face of provocation.2
None of this should come as a surprise. After all, if an individual can have an idealized image of himself, a community can certainly entertain the same sort of delusion. Like a person in the early stages of psychosis, the community becomes convinced it is under insidious siege, but that all would be well if some perceived malevolence, some canker in the body politic, could be excised. Yesterday, the object of the execration was the Communists, today it's the Muslims, tomorrow it could be the Chinese. But because the condition is, like schizophrenia, essentially irrational, you can't talk someone out of it by appealing to reason — especially when state mythology and/or propaganda constantly reinforces it. — Editorial posted January 13-14, 2015,
1. The Unmourned: Another Mass Killing by the Peace Prize Prez: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40685.htm
EARLIER ISLAMNZ EDITORIALS:
Cartoonist Tom Scott gets it right at lasthere for earlier cartoons, or head over here for some free hits!
Photographic featuresTaihape Mosque
Protest against the TPPA, Palmerston North, New Zealand, November 8, 2014
Islam Open Day Palmerston North, New Zealand, 2014
March for Gaza, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Festival of Cultures, Palmerston North, New Zealand, 2014
Esplanade Day, Palmerston North, New Zealand, 2014
Palmerston North Mosque
Eid al-Adha Barbecue, Palmerston North, New Zealand, 2013
Islam Open Day, The Square, Palmerston North, New Zealand, 2013
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