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Friday, January 9, 2015

Charlie Hebdo …


Cartoons pissed off Islamic fundamentalists to the point where they felt compelled to kill people for drawing satirical jokes. There’s no explaining the minds of people caught up in zealotry, whether it be religious, nationalistic, and/or sycophantic worship. Humans have been getting brainwashed forever. None of us are any different. Most of us have pledged allegiance to a flag, made the sign of the cross, or performed some other religious ritual. We’ve taken Boy Scout and Girl Scout oaths. Some have joined sororities and fraternities. Mostly, it’s harmless stuff, but not always.
It appears that most of the young recruits being sucked into the jihadist movement are disenfranchised, and/or oppressed. Maybe. How they conduct their raids/attacks on those they target is both cowardly and devastating, but our history isn’t so different. The British army wasn’t too thrilled with our revolutionary army. “Whatever their limitations in formal military discipline, most American militiamen thrived in the guerilla warfare of the backcountry: they ambushed their opponents, wore hunting shirts instead of uniforms, and were fairly undisciplined.”
Jihadists appear to find a purpose for a holy war that makes little, if any, sense. Die a martyr and visit paradise where 72 virgins await.
And I thought parting the Red Sea was a crock of shit.
As for which religion is doing more harm to the other ... it's not all as one-sided as FOX News likes to portray.
I don’t know that the Muslim faith is any more harmful than any other faith, or nationalistic pledge, for that matter. I’m not a proponent of any form of zealotry, to include the absurdity of blood oaths like omerta. The leaders of any movement desire absolute loyalty, usually for their own purposes, but those interests are much easier to disguise, as regards a genuine motive that seeks power, when wrapped in a flag and/or a God. It is a shame that SOME young Muslims have been brainwashed to have zero regard for life. Obviously not all Muslims, young or old, desire paradise and/or the 72 virgins. Whether they have faith or not, they aren’t flocking to the lines where suicide vests are being distributed.
Both were terrible crimes against humanity and neither can be excused as “collateral damage.” Whether the method of war being fought is a declared war, deemed a police action, labeled guerilla warfare, and/or terrorism, it is killing, and therefore it is wrong. What causes some to accept the dogma they are fed by those seeking to control them probably has more to do with the socio-economic conditions of living under oligarchs and/or foreign occupation than any genuine need to sacrifice themselves for the sake of some mystical being.
Yes, “Je Suis Charlie” … of course, and Je Suis the victims at that Muslim wedding as well, because (how’s this for irony), “there but for the grace of God …”
Those engaging in surprise attacks to kill anyone expressing their opinions, no matter how foul those opinions may be (and no matter how fearless the attackers are of death), are still cowards. How hard is it to pull off what these murderers did in Paris? How hard would it be to do the same pretty much anywhere? All one would need is a disregard for human life. Nobody is expecting to be gunned down for showing up to work. (See Timothy McVeigh andthe Oklahoma bombing of a federal building there … 168 people didn’t expect todie the morning McVeigh’s bomb went off). 
The so-called martyrs in Paris may have been willing to die, but apparently only after a surprise attack they believe will afford them some sense of victory (and their leadership a new recruitment tool). Shooting people at their place of work isn’t an act of heroism. Shooting people who’ve shown up to work is not so different than shooting a deer from a hunting blind, except most of the time the deer are killed for a rational reason (like food).
I don’t agree with Bill Maher’s take on this tragedy (i.e., “That is mainstream in the Muslim world. When you make fun of the Prophet, all bets are off. You get what’s coming to you. It’s also mainstream that if you leave the religion, you get what’s coming to you—which is death. Not in every Muslim country… but this is the problem in the world that we have to stand up to.”)
I can’t believe for a second that there are 100 million people so gullible they desire killing and/or dying for the sake of some fantasy. I believe what is happening today is what happened during our wind-up toward a war with Iraq. Not that we’re looking to take on the entire Muslim world, but the same techniques are being fostered by the media to generate fear that quickly turns to hate, and ultimately a desire to kill. Once we buy into the fear, we react without regard for a war that will ultimately lead to another vengeance-seeking generation of disenfranchised people.
I was a victim of the propaganda after 9-11. Like most Americans, I believed the bombings deserved a military response that would end the threat of terrorism against America, and I willingly supported a second unnecessary war with a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 (not that Afghanistan had anything to do with 9-11), mostly because my blood was still boiling from New York City being hit. I worked across the street from the Twin Towers the morning they were attacked. It took me a few years to realize what a fool I’d been for dancing to those war drums. What a total tragedy both wars have been. Are we any safer? Are native Afghanis any safer? Iraqis? Has terrorism decreased anywhere in the world?
After those military fiascos benefitted defense contractors and friends of those in high places, and because I ignored the comparisons being made to our Vietnam debacle, I am now forced to question EVERYTHING my government tells me. I’ve also come to realize how those we went to war with, especially survivors of those we regarded as collateral damage, could not possibly want to understand our why’s and how’s. Why should our national interest be a concern of those we kill by mistake or purposely? Imagine coming home to find your entire family and home has been wiped out by a bomb dropped with the wrong coordinates?
Imagine being a family member of one of those killed in Paris this week?
As much as I support Israel’s right to exist, if I were born a Palestinian, there’s a very good chance I’d passionately want to harm Israel. Likewise, if I were born in Israel, there’s a very good chance I’d want to hammer Palestine with the same amount of passion. The point being, so long as we blindly cling to nationalism and/or religion, who we support or denounce will always depend on which ox is gored and which side of the fence we happen to be standing on at the time of the goring. America has played both sides of so many fences for so long, it’s become comical to hear so-called patriotic conservatives decry attempts to settle things without the military. Our support of brutal dictators for our own self-interest couldn’t possibly win us fans in Iraq and/or Iran (we supported Hussein against Khomeini, after Khomeini deposed our puppet, Pahlavi … and so on, and so on).
So long as nationalism and/or religious fanaticism remains some kind of moral aphrodisiac, we’ll be dealing with this never-ending cycle of irrational violence.
What happened in Paris was horrific. If the goal of the murderers was to intimidate, they failed. They failed miserably. Charlie Hebdo will print 1,000,000 copies of their next issue next week, as opposed to their regular 60,000 printing.
The key for the world now is to handle these types of tragedies as depicted in the pictures above and below. The last thing France should do now is to follow our lead into another war that will accomplish nothing more than perpetuate desires to kill.

Back to book and movie reviews next week.