Murdered for telling jokes

Francis Carr Begbie


Two immediate consequences of the Paris massacre are already clear — one is that, as usual our political leaders are completely baffled as to why Muslims would act like Muslims and carry out such a horrific crime  in the name of their religion.  Who on earth could have predicted such a thing?

But the second is more interesting. None of the normal evasions and rationalisations trotted out by our leaders on these occasions can do anything to obscure the reality of what has happened.

Twelve people killed in a European capital for the crime of telling jokes. No one can say they were not real Muslims or still pretend that Islam is a religion of peace. It is far too late in the day for that. Nobody can say it was “lone gunmen” with possible mental health issues whose motives were a mystery.

Of course they’re crazy, but it’s a craziness that is quite common among Muslims in the West. And the craziness that hostility to such cartoons is all the fault of Western disrespect rather than Muslim intolerance is supported by large percentages of Muslims in the West and even larger percentages in Muslim countries. We have to suppose that large percentages of Muslims are quite comfortable with the Paris massacre. Tell me again, why are Western countries importing Muslims in droves?

Even that utterly predictable distraction tool, beloved of the Left — the feared Islamophobic backlash — doesn’t look like it’s gaining much traction.  An attempt to resurrect the #Illridewithyou social media campaign that infuriated so many after the Sydney Australia outrage has been met with fury.

“Horrific attack in Paris, which unfortunately will be followed by ignorant toxic abuse directed towards Islam again #illridewithyou

Even the usual attempts to blaming the victims are deeply problematic. On a previous attempt at blaming Charlie Hebdo magazine for being firebombed in 2011 Time correspondent Bruce Crumley wrote these memorable words. :

Not only are such Islamophobic antics [as publishing cartoons] futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy in the name of common good. What common good is served by creating more division and anger, and by tempting belligerent reaction?

Do you still think the price you paid for printing an offensive, shameful, and singularly humor-deficient parody on the logic of ‘because we can’ was so worthwhile? If so, good luck with those charcoal drawings your pages will now be featuring.

Re blaming the victim:

They should’ve known it would upset crazy fundamentalists” is the theological equivalent of “she shouldn’t have worn such a short skirt.”— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) January 7, 2015

Still, some will not easily let go of the narrative. For the Daily Telegraph in London a main angle was that “France now faces a rising tide of Islamophobia” and that there is rising racism in France.

The shootings at the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo are important because for once the victims were people the comfortable bourgeoisie could identify with.

None of the elites in the media or politics gets worked up about rape victims in the northern English towns or Malmo or the Paris banlieus.  They are probably lower class and therefore don’t matter.  This is different.

Left-wing cartoonists shot to death one after the other in their own office. This struck right at the heart of French culture. Forget the Church , a trendy magazine is an institution that Western elites actually care about and no amount of pretentious sophistry can intellectualise this away.

The events of today are likely to have huge consequences. Tension was already high because of a number of incidents at Christmas of a car ramming into crowds where the Muslim driver shouted Islamic slogans. The future of French politics has now been transformed, not just  for the standard bearer of the anti-immigration right Marine Le Pen,  but for all nationalist and alternative right groups throughout the continent.

This week’s Charlie Hebdo cover shows a cartoon of controversial author Michel Houellebecq, whose latest novel tells the story of how right wing and left wing parties come together to stop Marine Le Pen from being elected President. A Muslim president is elected and France is taken over by an Islamic party. Women are encouraged to wear veils, polygamy is legal and the Koran is taught at universities.

Ms. Le Pen, the daughter of the right-wing politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, came third in the presidential elections in 2012, behind the Mr. Hollande and the former president Nicolas Sarkozy. The latest polls have her winning the presidency in a runoff with Hollande. The effect of the January massacre on her prospects will be, to say the least, interesting.

Press freedom will become a hot topic in the coming months. The left have been supportive of hate speech laws.  It will be interesting to see if this continues.

This is a historic day for our side, for Europe in fact. Millions of Europeans will have been jolted into awareness of the disaster towards which our elites are dragging us.

One other thing is assured. The victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre will get far more sympathy than did the Dutch film film maker Theo Van Gogh or Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn who were both killed for attempting to warn their countrymen about the dangers of Islam.  They paid the ultimate price and were rewarded with sneers and derision for their efforts.

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