Since George W. Bush’s war on terror anthropomorphized a concept into human form, I have been most skeptical about the use and abuse of this term. Terrorism has become everything from “hate speech,” to alternative political thought, to violent acts, to mere disagreement. Terror is everything and anything.
I even had to suffer through an American woman, the first Christmas Eve after 9/11, rant about how “they [Afghan men] treat their women,” while our bombs rained down on the heads of Afghan women and children, rendering irrelevant these women’s freedom to live.
Now a few days after the horrific attack in Paris, hashtag #JeSuisCharlie floats about the Internet as a neo-liberal nod of solidarity to those who were killed in the attack. While I see its good intentions, in the big picture this hashtag serves as a demonstration of alliance with that coveted icon of western identity: freedom of speech.
But make no mistake, the reasons the perpetrators carried out this attack were more complex than simply freedom of speech. For what is pitifully lacking in most every media representation of the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo is the historical background of what this attack was about.
More to the point, what the media fails to discuss is what being Muslim in France means and how the superficial and all-too-familiar echo of “they hate our freedoms” reduces the violence to a familiar tone of the dudes in the black hats are again going after those in the white. Neither fictionalizing the situation into simplistic tropes nor creating a vacuous environment where any explanation that touts the word “hate” repeatedly will suffice to get to the heart of what is going on on in France, or in Europe for that matter…
The writer goes by the name Julian Vigo and is apparently not a Muslim but a garden variety wing-nut with a simple narrative: the West is evil, Muslims are good.