I don’t even really know how to write this. I stand firmly on the side of these cartoonists, freedom, satire, etc. I am anti jihad. I don’t back terror at all. Ever. I am team Rushdie. 100%. I don’t want to take anything at all away from a terrible tragedy. Cartoonists being killed because they insult someone’s goofy ancient belief system, that’s a horrible, dark, inexcusable thing. It really shook me yesterday morning. The rhetoric around this that I’ve seen, regarding the shooters has been pretty “look at these savages, they’re so humorless, they’re beasts. They deserve what they get,” which I tend to agree with.
However, this isn’t really very different from the response to a furious black america burning down gas stations in Ferguson recently. “I got no sympathy for people who trash their own neighborhood” say disappointed white people who have probably never been pushed to the breaking point by a world that actively hates and seeks to destroy them. To quote a great, and severely underrated band, the Honor System, “Starve the dogs for a week, fence em in, they’ll fight until they feed.” When you systematically attempt to destroy people, and senselessly harm them, how can you act surprised when they flip around and use seemingly random, or at the very least, misplaced, frustrated violence in return. At the risk of drawing a super condescending parallel, kids who are beaten often grow up to beat their kids. It ain’t right, but you beat something into someone’s blood long enough, it starts flowing there. Violence begets violence. This is always true and anyone who denies it is either terribly naive or so pampered or detached from reality that they have no real business commenting on violent acts of desperation in the first place.
So the people in Ferguson destroyed some locally owned businesses. How shocking! My friend recently smashed his acoustic guitar into bits after getting into a fight with his wife. Was it stupid? For sure. Is it an unprecedented act of savage sub-humanity? Not even close. there’s a reason that soap operas feature a lot of lamp throwing during heated domestic disputes. That shit happens all the time, even to fancy, white people lamps. BUT, we ain’t talking Ferguson or American race relations or any of that shit today. We’re talking about a couple of shitty thin-skinned, humorless cowards killing some cartoonists simply because they dared insult mohammed. It’s ugly, and it’s a dark day for art, for freedom, for any kind of world that seeks to be free from brutal, thuggish strong arming.
But lemme ask you something. Do you think there’s ANY chance that these dudes had been pushed so far that they just wanted to kill, and this just seemed like a good lightening rod? Do you think it’s possible that the ‘these mofuckers drew mohammed’ was…not an excuse, but a righteous rallying point, a magnifying glass through which to magnify a disenfranchised rage so profound and complete that even the people of Ferguson couldn’t quite understand it?
When we say things like “well, US foreign policy creates more terrorists through these botched military operations” what are we really saying? We’re saying that our bombs and soldiers go into these deserts and kill everyone, brutally. The people left, young men who have seen their children killed for no reason in front of them, children who have seen their parents destroyed IN FRONT OF THEM, rally together in destroyed, bombed out shells of homes and try to make sense of a world where the sky rains fire, money flows like rivers away from them and the organization that just killed your family, your neighbors family and your entire neighborhood, is still occupying your rubble, not speaking your language, not assimilating into your value system, but instead mocking it, killing more people and making more plans to destroy and undermine your way of life. I know, this sounds dramatic and apologist. It’s not. I’m just suggesting that under these circumstances, I bet some pretty fucked up value systems get run up what’s left of the flagpole.
I mean, have you EVER considered traveling intercontinentally to kill a cartoonist? Fuck no. That’s desperate shit. Psychopath shit. In the states, our psychopath shit just seems senseless. Over there, decades of brutality give it an agenda. It’s still psychopath shit, but it’s psychopath shit with the paper-thin veneer of an excuse attached to it, and it seems like we’re all focusing on the excuse like it has any real relevance at all, when it’s obvious bullshit. It’s like focusing on accidentally bumping into a guy at a bar who’d already decided he was gonna kick your ass because he hates your face.
To be clear: I hate the idea of thuggish censorship. I hate violence. I strongly distrust guns. I hate radical fundamentalism, whether it’s islam or christianity. Fuck it all. However, I think that our narrative is deeply flawed when we see these kinds of acts and don’t even ask why they’re happening beyond “wow, these assholes hate our freedom and get super butthurt when you mock their dumb prophet.” That’s ignoring A) that this is an act perpetrated by crazy people and B) that there’s rage out there that’s very real and it’s the result of personal loss and horrible grief. “They hate our freedom?” Sheeeit, maybe because our ‘freedom’ is what’s dropping bombs on their children. At this point, that party line is so played, but all yesterday, I heard otherwise-smart people reducing this senseless horror to that.
No one should be killing anyone, and when something truly evil happens, sometimes it’s just a mailman in a clown suit burying young boys in satanic patterns in his crawlspace but sometimes it’s psychopaths spawned from a place where the rest of a world has destroyed everything they love right in front of their faces and lit their cigars on the burning remains. That horror is real too. Just something to think about.
love you guys.