Saturday, January 10, 2015

I don't know

I've been watching (or listening to, while traveling) the news about France for several days now.

My main reaction is that when someone blasphemes the central figure of MY faith, I sigh and move on and accept that Jesus is bigger than any of the stupid insults foolish men may hurl at Him. (And of course, He went through that very thing during His time here on earth....)

I can't understand a concept of "honor" that requires you to kill people whom you disagree with....

Also, from what I've read, the magazine that was attacked had a history of poking fun at EVERYONE. Apparently Catholics and Jews got almost worse parodying. But of course, most people-of-faith react kind of how I react. As I said, I can't understand going from "That person drew something that is a major insult to my faith" to "That person should therefore die."

(It's also possible that Charlie Hebdo was simply a convenient target; this could be the start of a bigger terror campaign, considering what happened yesterday.)

A couple of random thoughts:

A. This is what happens when people who immigrate to a country are not encouraged to assimilate. One comment I read was that the goal should not be for the Muslim immigrants to fear the French police/state more than they fear their imams; it should be for them to value the freedom of France more than the idea of converting others to their ideology.

Also, the shadow of an idea that there are some Islamists who want to take over France and make it a theocracy: I wonder how likely that is. I know some write about that with fear but short of an armed coup and major take-over, I don't see that happening in the near future.

I don't know. Maybe a change to immigration policy? But it seems like the EU set the policy and won't change it. But I tend to think countries should not allow in people who will work to take down the country. 

B. I didn't know of the existence of no-go zones before now, I had to look them up. Scary concept. I mean, we kind of have de facto no-go zones (for certain groups) in American cities, but the idea of lining off areas and saying, "If you don't belong to this group, you can't go here, and what's more, we're kind of going to ignore what goes on in those areas."

C. How do we balance giving people the freedom to more or less live their lives with the need not to have groups or individuals who feel that massacring others for being different is a good idea? You hear this kind of thing sometimes when there's a shooter situation or a mass-murder; talk comes up of the person being a "loner" and then there's talk of looking very closely at all the "loners" lest they be dangerous. (As someone who is a bit of a loner but who would never, ever, ever harm another human being (except if my own life were clearly at risk), that makes me twitch). And yes, I have known Muslims who considered harming non-believers (or any human) an abhorrent and anti-Islamic thing, so I don't buy the "They're all bad and should all be thrown out of the country" argument. The radical Islamists are a dangerous group but expelling all Muslims is like saying "Someone claiming to be a radical Evangelical Christian blew up an abortion clinic, so let's shut down all Christian churches"

And the bigger issue of how much liberty do we give up for some kind of relative safety? I don't like the level of surveillance that exists in an average American city these days. I would loathe having to walk through a metal detector each day to get to work. I would strongly object to a "government observer" sitting in on the church services and Sunday school classes to "make sure nothing subversive was said." And I don't know that surveilling ordinary civilians does much of anything, other than remind people that they're not as free as they once were.

And I also don't like the idea of encouraging citizens to snitch on each other; that was an idea that was floated shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, but to me it seems like a way for petty neighborhood feuds to be escalated and there to be so much "noise" (of people falsely reporting others, either as revenge or because they misinterpret stuff) that any REAL information that might be useful gets buried.

D. The "We are all Charlie" cry rings a little false to me when some publications that have sort of self-censored use it. And it seems like another example of the age of hashtag activism.

E. Another sad thing? I hear that some European Jews are being counseled not to wear the Kippah (yarmulke) in public. Now, this isn't just related to the current state of emergency; anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe once again. (And again: how do we balance encouraging people to practice their faith while at the same time preventing those who would do harm in the name of faith? I would argue that killing people in the name of your faith is always wrong....). It's like, did World War II teach us NOTHING?

What I DON'T want to see is appeasement - the saying, "Well, you know, maybe we shouldn't do certain things....and then maybe they won't hurt us." Because that could end in women losing their drivers' licenses and being asked to wear the burqa. Or in Jews once again being expelled from the countries where they live, like they were in the 1930s.

I don't know. I'm really glad that this is one of those situations where I have no authority in dealing with the situation. I wouldn't want to be a French politician or military leader right now.

2015 started out really awfully. I hope the rest of the year is better.

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