As fate would have it, for my turn on the Lady Shed this week I wanted to talk about satire, comedians and politics but in the light of the events in Paris, Russell Brand is out. My friends will know that I have been going on about my visceral fears of France’s fate in the last year, my country. Sleep has been difficult since 7/1.
We must beware to point the finger at one religion as most commentators have done, it is far more complicated than that, this attack did not happen in a vacuum, it happened within world events, it affects us all. To continue to simply point the finger at Islam extremism will only lead to more extremists, more hatred, more divides and ultimately, as we all fear, more blood.
We do not have freedom of speech nor do we have press freedom. France’s laws prevent its citizens from writing anything racist, xenophobe and, unlike this country anti-Semite. This is as it should be. It must be noted however that in France anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are seen as one, despite being two different things; they have become a single toxic subject that few will dare talk about for fear of misunderstanding, fear of offending and fear of reprisals. This is the most difficult post I have written, but France is my country, I cannot keep silent.
As the BBC has rules about not having any depiction of the Prophet for fear of offending, the French media does not discuss Anti-Zionism for fear of opening up old wounds that are deeply anchored in the French psyche; genocide a common guilt that Catholics have no idea how to deal with. We’re ill equipped for dealing with guilt when born in a Catholic society. Hell in the eternal life looms over our head to the point of silencing us in our short life on earth, as it has on many subjects over the centuries.
Zionism is not a religion, it is not a race, it is political. Sweeping difficult subjects under carpets does not mean they go away. Prohibition has consequences we have seen before. When France is not permitted to discuss Zionism yet discusses Islam extremism at length, this is not a balanced discussion of France’s other cultures within the republic. It is not about race or religion, it is about culture and the way we are brought up at home within a country where all are equal. We cannot have Fraternité nor Liberté without Egalité.
Anybody who is surprised about armed men taking the law into their own hands has not been following France’s events. French people are not surprised. Charlie Hebdo’s attack is in part due to the fact that very few newspapers and magazines will go where Charlie Hebdo went. I wanted to see newspapers around the world who said they were shocked about the events as it attacked freedom of press to publish some of the magazines’ cartoons on their front page. Not just the ones denouncing Islam extremists as many blogs have done adding fuel to the fire of misunderstanding what Charlie Hebdo stood for, but also the ones about Catholics, Jews, the Far Right, and the narrow minded white French man, Frenchie Joe Blogg. Oh and the English, my favourite subject, naturellement.
We need humour to survive. Humour is like anything else, what I like to eat is not what you like to eat. What I am allowed to eat is not the same as what other religions can eat. Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, I love it. No apology. Satire has long existed. Humour is part of our evolving civilisation. Court jesters were the only ones who could tell the all powerful King what the peasants thought and not be killed when he delivered the message; provided the King was fair and did not kill his subjects when he did not like what he heard, just because he could.
Satiric cartoons have long been able to depict in one single image an event, a mood, a wrong doing by the all powerful, kings, emperors, popes and again, even common people like me and you. We need this art more than ever. In our world where if this post goes over 800 words you won’t read it, we need images to wake us up to the realities that we keep shying away from. If art makes us smile or cringe but makes us think, it is needed. We want to get on with our lives, protect our children. We want to give our children a better world for tomorrow but are absolutely and totally hopeless at dealing with the bigger issues that are at the root of 7/1.
Since 9/11 the West has finally realised that a part of the world population hates us. Deep down we know why. We live in a world where a mainly Christian democracy thinks they have the right to tell the rest of the world what to do. Along with its allies, who are forever reminded that they were helped against the Nazis, and yes especially the cheese eating surrender monkey French, they (we) attack Muslim countries to prevent a war on terror and, because we are not infallible, we get it wrong. Are we helping? Are we attacking or are we defending? Are we defending ourselves against terrorists?
The largest democracy in the world uses drones against these countries whilst backing and funding a Jewish state that was given to Zionists by WWII winners. A war that started in Europe and took over the world once the Americans were attacked in Pearl Harbour gave its winners the right to draw a line in the sand in the Middle East, an appropriated land. Do we really wonder why the world is constantly at war? No we don’t. We know. But we are so deep in shit created by the past that we have no idea how to deal with the present to give our children a decent world in the future.
“Mummy, will we have a war” said my son when Ukraine kicked off.
Miss a heart beat.
We are already at war.
It is a world war.
Europeans and Americans helped start the Ukraine uprising, then pointed the finger at the Russians for their wrong doings because others’ wrong doings are always worse than ours. On 7/1 this international war came to the French capital with Russian AK47. Should we blame the Russians for selling arms?
It is all interlinked, we never really got out of the Cold War as the state of Europe today shows. When a French person says that a large majority of people in jail are Arabs, they’re called racist by news presenters who are petrified their show will turn into contentious subjects they’d rather not discuss at all. When we are labelled anti-Semite on one hand, racist on the other when we discuss the problems our country faces, with facts and figures, not emotion; when our police does not enter some parts of our cities where deprived disconnected French citizens feel they are not part of French society and rule a violent mini society within, where do we go next?
This is where we are. Are we Charlie? Charlie is the bloke in the pub that talks loudest, he is totally politically incorrect and many walk away from him. Charlie is not a fascist. He does not vote Le Pen or UKIP. He hates the Far Right and shouts it from the top of his voice to whoever will listen. And he doesn’t give a damn if you walk away offended. He speaks his mind. He takes the piss out of everybody, especially the Far Right voters who have forgotten than in the 1930’s, Germans never thought that Hitler would kill his own people if they were disabled, gay or stood up against his regime. Do we think we can’t go back to that? Did the Germans of 1930 think they would ever have to live what the ones who survived had to live?
In Dresden in 2015 some people think their problems are due to Islam, as more and more people do in many parts of Europe. Our problems are rooted in a history we cannot change and a diversity of population that keeps changing as it always has. The arms trade is doing fine. Yet for a minority of armed extremists there are billions of people who do not want war. Now more than ever we are able to stand together against more militarisation and against those newspapers and political parties that only bring more hate and division. We won’t solve the problems in one post, within one year or within one country. But together we can pressure our governments to lead us on the road of meaningful negotiations, and we can convince one person at a time that hate fuelling newspapers should not be shared so these media outlets who are dividing European citizens against each other within their own countries, let alone within Europe can lose readers, one by one. Non violent unarmed people are the majority.
If we lose hope and humour, we lose everything. Let’s have faith in human beings.
The cartoons on this post are by Charb one of twelve French citizens killed on 7 January 2015 by three French citizens armed with AK47.