” You claim an anticlerical tradition, but but feign ignorance of how it differs fundamentally from Islamophobia: the first was built during a hard, long and bitter fight against a Catholic clergy of formidable power, which had – and still has – its newspapers, its members, its lobbies, lounges and vast real estate assets; the second addresses the members of a minority denomination devoid of any sort of influence on the spheres of power. It is diverting attention from the well-fed interests that govern this country, to excite the mob against citizens who are not already at the table, if you bother to consider that for most of them, colonization, immigration and discrimination have not offered them the most rosy place in French society. Is it asking too much of a team that, in your words, “is divided between supporters of the left, the far left, anarchy and ecology,” to take into account just a smidgen of the country’s history and its social reality? ” Olivier Cyran ( former journalist with Charlie Hébdo) (my translation)*
I felt the same way when I saw the cartoons that Charlie Hébdo had published as I did when I heard what Gian Ghomeshi had really been accused of – as if I had not gotten all the information on the subject before supporting the right to freedom of expression…freedom of choice as an un-nuanced principle.
In Gian’s case, the aggression was against women who it seems he needed to dominate.
In the case of Charlie, it was against Islam.
For the record, I am not a fan of religion, or of hierarchies of any kind. I do not believe in the God of the People of the Book (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), as “He” has been translated by the patriarchal clergy of these 3 sibling faiths.
I am also not French, and admit, perhaps as a stereotypically Nice Canadian, to having been being shocked at the sexism and racism that passes for freedom of speech in that country. I have experienced many manifs, again, admittedly, from an outsider’s point of view, and have been frightened by the rabidity of la meute – the pack…the mob. Resistance and revolution may be a tradition in France, but The Mob is such an easily-manipulated incendiary variable in an equation that has been well understood and often employed by the ‘well-fed interests that govern’, and definitely not only in France. Whenever I hear ”Down with…(insert whatever the flavour -of-the-month may be)”, I now turn around to see what exactly I am not meant to observe.
What is emerging since the Charlie murders is not the peaceful, non-violent, Gandhian sort of resistance, but rather an energy aggressively directed against a sector of society that is already marginalised.
Homophobia, sexism and Islamophobia are on the rise everywhere in the West, not only in Europe, with a swelling of not just far right-wing sentiments – these sectors are now wielding real power. We are aware of the shenanigans of the Right in the U.S. and Canada, but on this side of The Pond we have perhaps been made less aware of what has been happening in Europe:
I know I am not the only one who feels a concerted, calculated and powerful mass manipulation of social foment – a skillful wielding of the time-honed tool of ‘Divide and Conquer’…
We must resist blaming and hatred…
We must resist believing we are cornered, with nothing and no one to save us but military might. There is so much at stake here.
I am especially nervous about anything that fuels the already well-built and carefully tended fires of Islamophobia. I personally am aware of having been programmed to fear Muslims. It is not something that was ever expressed verbally to me, but I’ve certainly absorbed it from somewhere – perhaps from the formerly-Hindu side of my family..? Who knows? It doesn’t matter who administered the programming – the ultimate response to that question must be that it was born of Fear. The generations just before mine were subtly and not-so-subtly propagandised against Germans, Russians and Japanese….
What I do know is that it is my responsibility, for my own conscious evolution as well as for the planet, to work to undo all the unconsciously warped perceptions I may still hold…against any member of our Earth Family.
This is our greatest challenge – to use the tragedies being beamed at us to uproot our platitudes, to question our programmed beliefs rather than use them as a kind of force-field that will allow us to settle back into our couches and grab another bag of Cheetos ( or kale chips), smug in the certainty that we are right and justified in our prejudices.
Our challenge is to become the Love and Compassion we are capable of being.
All that is not Love is not who we really are – it is what we have learned… and what we can un-learn.
Blessings on All Our Relations….
*” Vous vous réclamez de la tradition anticléricale, mais en feignant d’ignorer en quoi elle se différencie fondamentalement de l’islamophobie : la première s’est construite au cours d’une lutte dure, longue et acharnée contre un clergé catholique effectivement redoutable de puissance, qui avait – et a encore – ses journaux, ses députés, ses lobbies, ses salons et son immense patrimoine immobilier ; la seconde s’attaque aux membres d’une confession minoritaire dépourvue de toute espèce d’influence sur les sphères de pouvoir. Elle consiste à détourner l’attention des intérêts bien nourris qui gouvernent ce pays pour exciter la meute contre des citoyens qui déjà ne sont pas à la fête, si l’on veut bien prendre la peine de considérer que, pour la plupart d’entre eux, colonisation, immigration et discrimination ne leur ont pas assigné la place la plus reluisante dans la société française. Est-ce trop demander à une équipe qui, selon vos termes, « se partage entre tenants de la gauche, de l’extrême gauche, de l’anarchie et de l’écologie », que de prendre un tantinet en compte l’histoire du pays et sa réalité sociale ? ” Olivier Cyran