Let me hold up my own pen in the spirit of Liberté

Let me hold up my own pen in the spirit of Liberté. And since French president François Hollande now honors insolence in journalism, let me speak frankly. How do you say in French not everything that glitters is gold? Sometimes it’s just the sun reflected off merde. Every crowd that gathers is not an expression of human solidarity nor every “Je suis Charlie” sign a defense of civil liberties under attack.

The suspects are not apprehended with French police reportedly violating all sorts of search & seizure rights to find them. They’re having as hard a time as the US Pentagon when it hunted down Osama bin Laden in the caves of Afghanistan. But it didn’t take long for the collective outrage to begin to shake out & take on something of a clamor. We see behind that furor not just defiance of terrorist acts but a cacophony of objections to religion & mostly a chance to have a go at Muslims. Remarkable when they still don’t have the suspects in hand & we don’t know if they’re actually guilty or if either has ever seen the inside of a mosque.

Let me say to those who oppose religion, this is not the time to express your critique. It should not be difficult to understand that when people are under attack you stand with them, not provide more ammunition for persecution.

As for those who go after Muslims under the guise of Liberté? Islamophobia is the ethos of neoliberal capitalism used to justify massive restrictions on civil liberties & scare-monger us into supporting unspeakable crimes against humanity. Those who do not stand with Muslims against this choose to stand with tyranny, war, colonialism. There are unsavory comparisons in history for this perspective. German fascism comes to mind but there are others as odious.

You can’t stop this crap by speaking truth to power–unless when you speak truth to power you bring a million people with you. It can only be defeated by mobilizing the power of human solidarity against social hatreds of every kind & standing against their murderous wars. For those who think that too daunting & can’t be done, think again. Over a million people around the world stood with Gaza last summer; the antiwar movement is weak now but in the past has mobilized millions on a single day around the world.

The world is changed not by those who give up without a fight but by those who believe in the possibility of social transformation. Is there any proof of that? Is there any proof it doesn’t? Is there any reason not to try?

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