8 January 2015

Charlie Hebdo killings

Yesterday (January 7th) at least two gunmen opened fire at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, killing at least 12 and wounding 11, four of them seriously. The staff cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous, and Wolinski, along with economist Bernard Maris and two police officers standing guard at the magazine, were all killed.

Fortunately, there's been some Muslim response in the West denouncing the killings. One of my pet-peeves when I go through people's reactions (both anti-violence Muslims and non-Muslim westerners) is that there's this sense that we have to see "both sides," so we get statements beginning with phrases such as, "While I don't condone the cartoons" and so on. And then there's the occasional reference to Western colonialism or Christian savagery in the Middle Ages and so on. What nonsense! Some killers walked into a building and murdered some innocent people. End of story. The killers need to be found and punished. Anyone who lent them financial support should also be punished, and those who support them ideologically (even indirectly) should be found guilty in the court of public opinion.

I liked the response over at Badtux: "On a more expansive level, if the only way to defend your beliefs is violence, then you need to take a long hard look at your beliefs, because there’s something wrong with them. Violence that is not in self-defense is the last resort of evil, and if your belief requires violence, then your belief is evil. Period."

As discussed by Juan Cole (and Carl over at The Reaction), this incident (along with all acts of terrorism) should be seen in perspective. There are few terrorists in the world. The reason terrorists use terrorism is because they're a minuscule sliver of the population who want to appear more powerful than they are. To treat them as if they're a serious movement is to play into the hands of their propaganda.

No comments: