About That Paris March…

HEADSOkay, I’m feeling dense here. The massacre at Charlie Hebdo was an act of fundamentalist religious madness with an undeniable political dimension that makes it all the more horrendous as a potential goad to other criminal and/or deranged extremists who see it as an acceptable act of revenge for insults to Islam

The simultaneous attack on the kosher market was another facet of religio-fascist Islamic fanaticism that considers Jews a particularly heinous subset of infidels.

I understand the spontaneous gatherings of the thousands who poured out into the streets of Paris. My older son was among them. In the midst of such trauma and uncertainty (the killers were still on the loose; the shoppers in the market were being held hostage) such an act of community, solidarity, and mourning is a good, positive response.

I understand the immediate messages to the French nation of concern and condolence from world leaders and prominent international figures.

What I don’t really get, as I think about it, is the meaning of all those dignitaries and heads of state, many of of them, as has been pointed out, among the cruelest dictators on the planet, some of the most repressive national leaders, who, even as they march in Paris, hold journalists, dissenters, political rivals, etc. in brutal captivity. Who torture, exile, spy on, and silence their own people on merely the suspicion of dissenting ideas.

What, exactly, is the message of this outpouring of the notable and the just plain folk? Why do I feel this is one big anti-Islamic gesture that will further marginalize millions of men, women, and children resident in western nations, and give license to the demonization of Muslims worldwide? I just don’t see this cadre of “world leaders” dropping everything to go stand up and be counted for Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, or for freedom of the press, or for… what, exactly?



3 responses to “About That Paris March…

  1. What puts this all in stark relief is the killing by Boko Haram of 2,000 citizens of Nigeria, reported this morning. Of course there will be no heads of state marching in Lagos. Even the current head of state of Nigeria seems to want to pretend that nothing is happening.

    The differences? Race of victims, class considerations and the fact that Paris is one of the popular haunts of world plutocrats and Nigeria is anything but. And of course France is filled with the kind of people “we” care for and have opinions about. After a 20-second description of the Boko Haram attack this morning on NPR, there was near 8 minutes of analysis of the state of affairs in France following the march including an interview with the publisher of The New Yorker in New York (!) opining about what it will all mean in terms of Jewish emigration from France to Israel. I guess no New York celebrity intellectual had much of an opinion about the situation of the folk in Nigeria.

    From the heads of state point of view, the natural result of the Paris attacks will be just what the authoritarians prescribe for all things: more police, more surveillance, more repression, less freedom. Just what the terrorists hoped would happen when they planned the attack. Many of these leaders are probably marching in gratitude for further justification for authoritarian principles..


  2. DK! So glad you are still writing.

    So the vaunted gathering of heads of state becomes more and more ludicrous. Turns out they had a massive photo-op, but did not really march anywhere given what would have been an impossible security situation.

    And I particularly enjoyed seeing how the major orthodox Israeli paper photoshopped out every female head of state, leader, or representative. But not all that skillfully, so there are assorted limbs, bits of clothing, mis-matched hands throughout.


    • I’m actually not writing anymore. Either the world or I have reached a tipping point. So to avoid sounding like the old guy constantly finding fault with things, I try to keep quiet and calm down by reciting Zen koans (hence the avatar). But occasionally I can’t contain myself and have to rant. Since I don’t participate in other social media (or even WordPress any more) this bad habit is limited to the blogs I subscribed to long ago by email. And you. my friend, are one of those (un)lucky ones.


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