Tuesday, January 13, 2015

necropolitics: freedom fries structure, meaning, self-worth and dignity...,


truthdig |  Becoming a holy warrior, a jihadist, a champion of an absolute and pure ideal, is an intoxicating conversion, a kind of rebirth that brings a sense of power and importance. It is as familiar to an Islamic jihadist as it was to a member of the Red Brigades or the old fascist and communist parties. Converts to any absolute ideal that promises to usher in a utopia adopt a Manichaean view of history rife with bizarre conspiracy theories. Opposing and even benign forces are endowed with hidden malevolence. The converts believe they live in a binary universe divided between good and evil, the pure and the impure. As champions of the good and the pure they sanctify their own victimhood and demonize all nonbelievers. They believe they are anointed to change history. And they embrace a hypermasculine violence that is viewed as a cleansing agent for the world’s contaminants, including those people who belong to other belief systems, races and cultures. This is why France’s far right, organized around Marine Le Pen, the leader of the anti-immigrant Front National, has so much in common with the jihadists whom Le Pen says she wants to annihilate.

When you sink to despair, when you live trapped in Gaza, Israel’s vast open-air prison, sleeping 10 to a floor in a concrete hovel, walking every morning through the muddy streets of your refugee camp to get a bottle of water because the water that flows from your tap is toxic, lining up at a U.N. office to get a little food because there is no work and your family is hungry, suffering the periodic aerial bombardments by Israel that leaves hundreds of dead, your religion is all you have left. Muslim prayer, held five times a day, gives you your only sense of structure and meaning, and, most importantly, self-worth. And when the privileged of the world ridicule the one thing that provides you with dignity, you react with inchoate fury. This fury is exacerbated when you and nearly everyone around you feel powerless to respond.

The cartoons of the Prophet in the Paris-based satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo are offensive and juvenile. None of them are funny. And they expose a grotesque double standard when it comes to Muslims. In France a Holocaust denier, or someone who denies the Armenian genocide, can be imprisoned for a year and forced to pay a $60,000 fine. It is a criminal act in France to mock the Holocaust the way Charlie Hebdo mocked Islam. French high school students must be taught about the Nazi persecution of the Jews, but these same students read almost nothing in their textbooks about the widespread French atrocities, including a death toll among Algerians that some sources set at more than 1 million, in the Algerian war for independence against colonial France. French law bans the public wearing of the burqa, a body covering for women that includes a mesh over the face, as well as the niqab, a full veil that has a small slit for the eyes. Women who wear these in public can be arrested, fined the equivalent of about $200 and forced to carry out community service. France banned rallies in support of the Palestinians last summer when Israel was carrying out daily airstrikes in Gaza that resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths. The message to Muslims is clear: Your traditions, history and suffering do not matter. Your story will not be heard. Joe Sacco had the courage to make this point in panels he drew for the Guardian newspaper. And as Sacco pointed out, if we cannot hear these stories we will endlessly trade state terror for terror.

“It is a sad state of affairs when Liberty means the freedom to insult, demean and mock people’s most sacred concepts,” the Islamic scholar Hamza Yusuf, an American who lives in California, told me in an email. “In some Latin countries people are acquitted for murders where the defendant’s mother was slandered by the one he murdered. I saw this in Spain many years ago. It’s no excuse for murder, but it explains things in terms of honor, which no longer means anything in the West. Ireland is a western country that still retains some of that, and it was the Irish dueling laws that were used in Kentucky, the last State in the Union to make dueling outlawed. Dueling was once very prominent in the West when honor meant something deep in the soul of men. Now we are not allowed to feel insulted by anything other than a racial slur, which means less to a deeply religious person than an attack on his or her religion. Muslim countries are still governed, as you well know, by shame and honor codes. Religion is the big one. I was saddened by the ‘I’m Charlie’ tweets and posters, because while I’m definitely not in sympathy with those misguided fools [the gunmen who invaded the newspaper], I have no feeling of solidarity with mockers.”

Charlie Hebdo, despite its insistence that it targets all equally, fired an artist and writer in 2008 for an article it deemed to be anti-Semitic. Fist tap Vic.

6 comments:

BigDonOne said...

..."Muslim prayer, held five times a day, gives you your only sense of structure and meaning, and, ...self-worth."

In Dearborn, you can add Echo-Bravo-Tango cards to the list...
There are currently an estimated 6 Million Fuzzlamic adherents in the USA... It's especially big in prisonz and jailz, i.e., the only Self-Worth that is left.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_to_Islam_in_U.S._prisons

Dale Asberry said...

Echo-Bravo-Tango... Really Dawnie? You're looking at getting another smack upside the head...

CNu said...

lol, give BD props for staying true to his cherished dog-whistle terms and simultaneously creeping around my filter for the same. Look, all that's interesting here is the way in which the narrative under which 15% of able-bodied citizens no longer needed for non-existent manufacturing jobs have been and will continue to be liquidated.

Since BD's piss-poor ROI DoD can't possibly go toe-to-toe with Russia or China because both have major standing armies not afraid to fight and substantial nuclear arsenals to back up the conventional fight, all's that's left is some or another pogrom under which musical chairs on the deck of the Titanic can be reshuffled.

The Amerinazi program is an interesting phenomenon and its unabashed adherents even moreso.

Dale Asberry said...

Lol, that was props! No smack delivered, only a warning ;-)


And the whole David Brooks article, priceless.comedy.gold!

Vic78 said...

What would life be like without David Brooks? He normally tells us there isn't blood on his hands. Today, he finally admits he has blood on his hands. I bet his next column goes back to denial or fighting his war on the 60s.

CNu said...

lol&smdh, dayyum you cats is hard..., Brooks was on Meet the Press this sunday making cryptic reference to Omelas. No telling how he's spending his time now that he's been busted back down to the rank of a single man, on his own, and back into the thick of strange new thangs.

There's more to that story than meets the eye, however. You saw what happened when Russell Brand stripped off the Morning Joe crew's carefully practiced masks and reduced them to so many developmentally arrested little fuzzballs. Le Guinn is on point about what has to happen to essence/conscience in order for blithe little Eichmans to flourish.

Mebbe Brooks try'na straddle the high electrified fence of Panem, keep his capital paycheck (still gotta make those alimony payments) while ever so gently signalling what's up to those who may be capable of walking away?