My friends in unstable countries are divided between thinking we wouldn’t know an atrocity if it bit us and those who think we’re letting them down by not being harsh enough on terrorists.
But what can we do? We react how we react. Every person on Earth is a hypocritical bigot with double standards. Many of Europe’s dreams have been pinned on violent revolution from the French Republic to Marxism to anything that isn’t fussed about an election. Christianity like Islam is imperialistic – it recruits and it intimidates or coerces to keep its political power. Europe and the majority Muslim countries have seen Empires, and dictators and shifting borders.
To me – it’s a terrible new development that journalists and cartoonists have been killed in their office – because of its newness. I’m used to transport being unsafe… I’ve got a vague idea that shopping centres can be dodgy… but I haven’t had time to adjust to this ‘publish and be shot’ paradigm.
Some of the victim blaming has been demoralizing – it’s what you get for baiting an oppressed minority – and yet the same people have been ignoring or justifying the attack on the Jewish super-market because of the horror of Gaza. As if killing people in a Chinese take-away could be seen as the price you have to pay if your old government occupies Tibet. One of the terrorists said citizens deserve it if they pay their taxes, a percentage of which will be spent on defense… so that’s most of us… and it also ruins Noam Chomsky’s racket of always supporting the enemies of the West because as dissidents we can’t be responsible for our government and if the enemy does something truly disgusting we simply move on to another cause.
This isn’t a fight that gains anything for anyone unless they like killing or they sell weapons (ok – that is actually a lot of people – but still…). Islam can’t shut out our ideas, we can’t shut out Islam. Our numbers and migrations are too great. Our energy security and trade risks ruin – and for what? A new world order that will be a clapped out bore within half a decade? Yay! ‘The Israel question’ is made worse by this chaos. It is a racist state – but it’s a racist state because other races keep trying to kill them. They have a huge security dilemma… if they trust us and we’re good to them then everything is fine… but if they trust us and we’re bad to them then they’ll be in a worse position than they are now. And why would they trust us? We have a history of being nice for generations then suddenly attacking Jews because they’ve ‘murdered a Christian’ or ‘they secretly rule the world with unfair networks’. And we do that because our religions draw attention to them and their low numbers mean they can never truly fight back. People like to smell blood – we never rage about anything unless deep down we know we’ve got a chance of winning. Israel survives because Europe feels guilty, because America is bullish, and because Muslim countries can use it as a way to take the heat out of their other political problems.
It’s unfair – it’s grotesque – it’s not going to be changed by an act of shiny, defiant, righteous slaughter or a morally pure global protest – that’s what created it.
All things are contingent.
There is no them and us – just us – little bundles of atoms* – jostling for position – inventing stories so we can bond with randoms or steal their candy**. ***
*Disclaimer : I know less about science than I do about the minor Gods of Olympus
**that’s either Zen, Buddhism, Tao, Sufism, Shamanism, Hinduism or European rational liberal existential nihilism depending on what books you’ve been reading.
*** And now I’m not immersed in ideas about our Mercantile Progressive Empire (I read a lot of old novels), the American Dream/Manifest Destiny (I watch a lot of Hollywood movies) and Marxist Historical Determinism (my leftism is floating rudderless on the seas of Now), and I can’t fully invest in the idea of an Islamic Caliphate (sounds glamorous, looks horrific) and my Christianity has no political ambition – I just want to be as good a person as I can be… I have no idea how to frame news events… I just gawp at them and hope to stay alive… which is weird… I could be a hermit and it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to my internal narrative. I feel like the decline of Byzantium but with terrible decor.