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Watching Charlie

The manhunt for the terrorists continues.

At least three mosques in various French cities have been attacked.

News sources deliberate whether to repost the covers of various Charlie Hebdo magazines which were offensive to Muslims, unsure whether doing so would be simple news coverage, or construed as support for freedom of speech, or support for the presumed sentiments behind the images, or what. 

No matter what they choose, they will be criticized.

People argue, again, whether criticism of Muslims can be racist even though Islam isn’t a race. They argue about whether the Charlie Hebdo images were/are racist. They argue about what satire means. They are argue about hate speech laws. They argue about whether enough Muslims have apologized, authentically and tearfully enough, for crimes committed by people who have no relation to them aside from sharing a religion.

They have all of the same arguments, again and again and again.

Perhaps Charb and the others would be happy these arguments are happening. Perhaps they would see it as something of a tribute toward their efforts to be irreverant, controversial, brave truth-speakers.

Perhaps they would be right.

I don’t know. I just feel tired and sad, reading all of this. And yet I can’t stop.

1 Comment

I can understand your exhaustion, yet such arguments are necessary. In particular, the "it's racist to criticize Islam" meme is an Orwellian scam which absolutely must not be allowed to take root. Christian fundamentalists in the US, too, increasingly resort to the tactic of claiming that any criticism of their anti-gay, anti-science, anti-freedom taboo system is itself somehow a form of bigotry. People see through this relatively easily, but ignorance about Islam and the Middle East makes Americans easier to confuse about those issues.

Some of the most clear-thinking and vociferous atheists in the world today are ex-Muslims. They're well aware that racism against Middle Eastern people exists, but reject attempts to conflate that racism with a critique of Islam — a critique which they themselves make more eloquently than anyone else. There are millions of atheists in the Middle East, even if most of them have to keep quiet about it. They chafe under the smothering social (and often legal) tyranny of religion as much as atheists in the West two or three centuries ago did. Any effort to silence critics of Islam is a betrayal of those people.

I attack Islam not because I hate Middle Eastern people, but because I want to see them liberated from it, just as the West is being liberated from Christianity.

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