As Americans we grudgingly tolerate others and their views. The haters amongst us have rarely carried out death threats they make anonymously but nothing has ever occurred at the level that extremists Muslims perpetrated in Paris yesterday against editorial staff at the weekly satirical newspaper of Charlie Hebdo
Religious intolerance of the worst kind has reared its ugly head by fanatical zealots who methodically gunned down 12 people, including two French police officers in Paris yesterday. The other ten were executed in their seats in an office at the Charlie Hebdo weekly satirical newspaper where the editors were all meeting.
Why Charlie Hebdo staff? Because their perceived insensitivity about the Muslim faith and it’s prophet Mohammad, was too much to tolerate for the two fanatical Muslim brothers suspected of committing this slaughter. In a world where freedom of speech is so much more limited than in Western democracies, especially regarding the Islamic faith, people like those responsible for these cold-blooded killings are simply incapable of dealing with any kind of disparagement of their religious beliefs.
Numerous fundamentalist Christians in the Western democracies have made many death threats to anyone who challenges their ancient notions about Jesus and their invisible god-man in the sky, usually in on-line blogs in the comments section or other social media venues. But to date, none have been carried out that we know of and surely none at the level that occurred in Paris.
While the atrocities committed by two suspected miscreants will be cheered in a few dark corners of the Islamic world their actions will ultimately backfire and unite not only the French who felt the greatest impact of this crime, but across the globe, especially in those Western democracies who are despised by many Muslims. One of the first responses by millions around the world is to declare their allegiance to the satirical magazine’s credo of free speech. “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) is now being printed on thousands upon thousands of Twitter and Facebook accounts to show solidarity rather than the fear it was hoped the murders would evoke.
I’ve been an advocate for tolerance for quite some time now, especially where professed Christians have called for actions just sort of cruel maliciousness towards Muslims. I will remain so. But unlike other times when I have been silent as Islamic zealots, often referred to as jihadist, have attacked innocent people out of some sense of retribution for what foreign governments have done in the Mideast, I cannot do so this time.
This wasn’t jihad and it surely wasn’t the will of Allah. The God of Mohammad is the same god of Abraham and Moses. It is written in the Mosaic laws that justice is measured “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” In this killing there was no justice because the punishment exacted against the publishers of Charlie Hebdo by the fanatical Muslims did not fit the wrong the murderers claimed had motivated them.
My blood boils when hateful speech is used by those who attack abortion right activists, atheist, liberals, gays, people of color and a litany of other groups who don’t fit a narrow model of “good and decent people”. Some times I have even taken pleasure at the thought of them falling to their death from a high cliff while walking in a dense fog. But it is the tradition of those raised in democracies to oppose such contempt for others with methods that do not include physical harm. Free speech is there for us to honor as it is for all Muslims who have a broader and compassionate rendering of the Quran.
So rather than fall back in horror and fear from the murders at Charlie Hebdo as the sick perpetrators intended, I join the French who proclaim “Je suis Charlie”. Not because of the magazine’s insensitive satires about things many Muslims hold as reverent but because a free press and free speech are all our birth right and we should not let murderous cowards deprive us of that.