This is the second part to my two part “The Blame Game Series”. The first part can be found here
Blaming The [Muslim] Immigrants
If [Muslim] immigrants want to stay in “Western” countries why can’t they assimilate and instead of always highlighting their “differences”. Look at other immigrant groups who have successfully integrated into their host countries’ culture/society. The Vietnamese for instance got their country bombed by the US and France yet when most emmigrated to the West, they have became part of the cultures of the US and France and you don’t see their descendants and children planning to bomb the US or France for past actions. Even [West] Africans who had their countries looted and destroyed by the West seem to have assimilated into the West perfectly fine as also kept their cultures. Sure there are racial tensions and not everything is perfect but they don’t want to kill inhabitants of Western societies. Also if [Muslim] immigrants are so sensitive to the portrayal of Islam and Mohammed why do they migrate to Western society that take pleasure in politically incorrect portrayals. Why can’t they move to Saudi Arabia or a majority Islamic country where there are laws that prohibit portraying Islam and Mohammed a non official way? They don’t have a monopoly on being sensitive and they should leave the country if they are going to be butt hurt everytime someone says something unfaltering about their religion. One cannot profess to coming to a new country for the freedom that it provides and away from tyranny and then complain about the new country. They should just accept the rules and laws of the host country period.
This is where I began to see the xenophobic nature of some of my friends but I think they brought up some salient points. Why would one move to a country that they feel will insult their religion/ideology/whatever. Wouldn’t it be prudent for them to live in a place that has legal protections against that sort of thing? I think its quite funny to blame immigrants based on a massive generalisation. I am absolutely positive that there are Muslims who have been fully integrated into Western societies and claim the identity of their home country as well as host country. Alternatively, there are Muslims immigrants who refuse to integrate and assimilate into western countries for their own reasons. Those who refuse to assimilate are not necessarily bad people.
I reckon its the vocal few who want Sharia laws, the oppression of women, the limiting of speech, make the West part of a Caliphate. Do these vocal minority deserve to live in the West? I do know that as an agnostic, I have a peculiar relationship with any kind of organised religion but I dont begrudge others who are religious. I have no complaints with any religion but any religion as a political ideology that promotes some kind of sort of neocolonialism (imperialism?) that is intolerant of any dissent would not sit well with me. Ultimately, it is not my place to say who is allowed or not allowed to live in a country. We all immigrants if one thinks about it deeply.
Also there is absolutely nothing wrong with being “different”. Aren’t we all supposed to be “unique”? Interestingly, multiculturalism and diversity what most Western cities are always highlighting as an advantage. This implies that “different” people from all sort of backgrounds have learned to co-exist and live peacefully. It is a true disservices to blame Muslim immigrants.
Blaming Free Speech
“If Charlie Hebdo had not published the cartoon in the first place, none of this would have happened. I am not saying that the people deserved to die but they should have know something was bound to happen eventually”. “I’m not really a fan of this whole freedom of speech business, some things are better left unsaid”. Well they were kind of bullying Islam and what did they expect. Just because you have “freedom of press and speech” does not mean you have to use it. Freedom of speech is an illusion.
Most of the people I spoke/debated with also held this opinion of the printing of the carton. My sister was the most vocal of them and I find it interesting because she is very opinionated and has no filter. She says what ever comes to mind when she is arguing or even having a conversation. She is also the very politically incorrect thus I found it ironic for her to have such a stance. But then again, she is not particularly fond of the French due to some bad personal experience so I reckon it may have clouded her opinion…The issue of freedom of speech is contentious at best and since I’m not a lawyer, I can’t go into legalities but I am firm believer that people should be able to say whatever they want and they should also be criticised if need be. As long as said speech does not incite violence or spread hate.
Did Charlie Hebdo have the right to ridicule/satirise Prophet Mohammed? Absolutely. Were they being deliberately provocative? Probably. Was is done in poor taste? Certainly. Did the cartoonist deserve to die for doing this? Absolutely NOT! In the current society in which I currently reside, I believe that people should be allowed to criticise whatever they like, and people who take violent action on those criticisms do not belong in that society. The cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo had the right to say/print whatever they wanted. The extremists had the right to be offended but they did not have the right to deprive the cartoonists to their right to live. There was nothing compelling the extremist actively seek out and read the cartoons. Charlie Hebdo certainly did not present danger to their health and welfare.
For me, “free speech” means I also get to be offended by things other people say as well. For instance, I get offended when people claim that being gay is unnatural or that gay people should be removed from society. I do not, however, have the right to react in a violent manner. Words, like art, are a powerful medium. To pretend that others words mean nothing is arrogant and naïve. Thats why there are legislation that dictates what is considered hate speech and what is not.
Additionally, I think it is wrong to claim that any criticism of Charlie Hebdo must be interpreted as an endorsement of the extremists. People have the right to criticise Charlie Hebdo for its actions (i.e. satirisng and printing the cartoons). There is room for expressions of various opinions. Yet I also don’t want to live in a politically correct society where we are scared to offend others. To me, that would mean being self-censorship or excessive deference to ideas and practices that some may find troubling, abhorrent, or simply ridiculous.
Comedians mock liberals, conservatives, radicals, and politicians and yet cannot touch religion? Why is that. Religion is an ideology and I have yet to see ideologies having emotions. We mock, ridicule and satirise other ideologies so why is religion exempt? According Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie, “respect for religion has become a code phrase meaning fear of religion. Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, and satire.” I think it’s time for rational, clear thinking people/mediums to stop tip-toeing around religion, for fear of offending someone, and share their opinions. Once these opinions are out in the open, they also deserve to be criticised if they appear to be ignorant or filled with factual errors.
You cannot blame someone for having an opinion and sharing it whether we find it offensive or not. I believe that in life more than half the things we do, someone will find it offensive.
Blaming The Media [Boko Haram]
A few days after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, Boko Haram attacked a village in Nigeria where it was reported that they massacred nearly 2000 people yet all the “Western” media outlets were still focused on Paris and the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Most people (interestingly Africans and African-Americans) were furious and began to criticise “Western media outlets for not dedicating the 24/7 news cycle to the Boko Haram massacre. The hahstag #Blacklivesmatter beagn to trend on twitter again with comments staying how the West does not value black lives.
While I think it was great for the people to criticise Western media outlets for their lack of reporting on the Boko Haram massacre. I really don’t blame them for the lack of coverage. One shouldn’t expect the West to show any overt sorrow for not reporting on Boko Haram. Isn’t that the job of Nigerian media? What about the Nigerian politicians acting as if nothing has happened. The Paris incident caused the nation to stop and address the issue at hand. The Boko Haram massacre was barely a blip on the radar for most people in Nigeria. Did people really expect a society where a huge percentage of the people view Africa as a country reporting Boko Haram news 24/7 no way. What would advertisers say? Revenues will drop It sucks that they don’t report on other atrocities happening around the world but if everyone views the “West” as the gold standard why should thy report on stuff that they doesn’t seem relevant to them? What about “non-Western” countries in Asia, why weren’t they criticised? They also dedicated a portion of their news to the attacks in Paris yet they were exempt from the critique. Why weren’t they called out? Furthermore, where was the is pseudo outcry when the 130 children were murdered in Peshawar in Pakistan? How many African nations made this their frontpage news? How many African nations themselves made the Boko Haram massacre their front page news?
So why did the world ignore Boko Haram’s attacks? Some people claim there is a hierarchy in the value of life across the world. It is very true African lives matter little in other continents when it comes to headline news, and African nations are not exempt from this. The question is why is the African life of little value across the globe? To answer this question, one needs to look at history and centuries of geo-political influence and [negative] social conditioning that has shaped the attitudes of millions of people in regards to Africa. Interestingly, millions of Africans themselves, have cultivated pathologies of inferiority and continue to view the West as the gold standard for everything. Funny thing is that the American government “cares” (using this term loosely here) about what was happening in America. In contrast, one cannot say the same about Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan was out partying a day after 2000 of his people were murdered. The sad reality is the Nigerian government don’t care about their own people. Western media is not solely culpable.
As a society,we have the tendency to blame others when things go wrong. We barely look at our own society and see what is wrong. We are quick to point fingers and keep forgetting that three of our own fingers are pointing directly back at us. So who’s to blame for the current state of the world, at this point I would say we are all responsible for what the world has turned into. From religious ideologies to freedom of speech to news reporting, each and everyone of us has a role to play to reduce of not eradicate the rise of extremist radicalisation. If we were able to send a man to the moon and create an infrastructure that connects people instantly, I am pretty sure we can sole our social problems. It doesn’t need to happen instantly as societal change is not instantaneous but rather gradual.
If we continue with “us vs them” (i.e East vs West, Islam vs Others, etc) mindset instead of coming together to finding tangible solutions to global terrorism and extremist ideology, we will continue to be fighting a fruitless way. Perhaps maybe that is what these extremist want after all. They probably want us to decide on public safety vs. free speech forcing us to choose one or the other. Or they are using the olde adage “divide and conquer” to create a new world order with their financiers. Either way we can’t allow them to win.