Some people are missing the point. The victims of the Charlie Hebdo assault in Paris are not the Muslims satirised by the magazine or the Muslims who face the possibility of backlash. The victims are the 10 journalists, murdered for drawing cartoons. Their murder deserves better analysis. They don’t deserve to be defiled after death-for exercising the right which caused their murder. They certainly don’t deserve their status as victims to shift to people who weren’t murdered for drawing cartoons. They deserve unreserved sympathy, not for their cartoons, but by existing, and confidently asserting their right to do so.
What happened on Wednesday was viscerally clear: A cornerstone of liberal democracy was assaulted by theofascists. Focusing exclusively on the ‘maleficence’ of the cartoons, immediately after their assault, distorts this: whether the cartoons are horrible or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether they have the right to exist, unburdened by the threat of murder. As the incidents on Friday suggest, this is more profound than the contents of the cartoons. This is an assault against free speech, Jews, gays, women and anything or person inconsistent with their warped ideology. This is a cult of death and an attitude of appeasement, apologetics and equivocation constitutes suicide.
But people are still missing the point. They’ll continue to do so because, put simply, the victimhood of non-white people is the premise with which they draw conclusions; 10 journalists murdered for cartoons is really about the Muslims they portrayed and the Muslims who could face backlash. The murder of these journalists is not an assault on free speech-that is too simple, straightforward and direct. It is really about race narratives, interconnectivity between power structures and “islamophobia“. The fetish for nuance nullifies an honest analysis. Rather than saying the force of radical Islamism directly threaten our liberties, we inwardly gaze for our Islamophobia and imperialism. Rather than saying “x” we say “x, but”. If we can’t respond to straightforward evil with a straightforward moral response, our values will continue to degenerate intermittently.
It has already begun. Freedom of speech being qualified with respect to beliefs is indistinguishable from de facto blasphemy law. Hate speech laws, blasphemy laws, every tenet of civil liberties will soon be sullied. Unless, of course, rights are affirmed and analysis is honest. The two go hand in hand and depend on positive dynamism. Not self-loathing and not paralysis.
This attitude, though, will continue to fester amongst people of my generation. Anti-racism is developing from a principled position into a vehicle for excusing and mollifying totalitarian forces. These forces don’t possess shaven heads or white masks. They do possess the same impulses, instincts and the same pathological supremacism. The response to them should also be the same. I fear it won’t and my fears are not being assuaged at the moment.