Tag Archive | Paris

Daily life with neither fear nor apology

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris will see New York on a higher security alert than usual. There will be more armed soldiers and more heavily armed police in some of our transit centers and crowded tourist areas.

New Yorkers this week will go to work as they normally do. The buses will be too slow and the trains too crowded. New Yorkers will continue to secretly and openly hate one another as is our birthright.

But what we won’t do is let savage lunatics keep us from doing what we need to do. We’d love to stay home and watch the news while eating cheese in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in France, but we can’t afford the time off from work.

And, to borrow an over-used phrase, if we deviate from our miserable daily routines, the terrorists have won. Let’s observe a moment of silence for the victims of these horrors, but don’t dare be silenced by fear. Don’t let the fear of terrorism affect how you live your life and don’t let the fear of being labeled or maligned stop you from speaking your mind.

New Yorkers will be divided on what the Paris attacks say about Islam and the Muslim world at large. My social media news feed is filled with people wanting to bomb all Muslims back to the stone age (some are already there!) and people trying to shame us for caring more about Paris than Beirut. All of this is nonsense. New Yorkers care more about Paris because Paris is more like New York and it resonates when people more like ourselves are harmed. That’s not xenophobia, that’s human nature.

The five boroughs are home to as many as 1 million Muslims and most of them are peaceful people we interact with on a daily basis without incident. It’s Muslims who are the biggest victims of Islamic fundamentalists and Muslims who are doing the most to take the fight to these extremists. And it’s also realistic Muslims who will admit that there’s a real problem with Islam today. It’s the religion that has most dialed up the crazy factor something terrible and the Islamic Uma has been home to an ideological war for decades with too many moderates sympathizing with the other side.

New Yorkers are a generally liberal lot and the usual suspects have expressed more angst about possible backlashes against Muslims than about how we go about preventing another terrorist attack. We’re a divided city just as we are a divided country, but after all the hand-wringing and shouting, we’ll still be a buzzing metropolis. We’ve seen terrorism at its worst and we’re still here.

New Yorkers will pause to honor the victims of terror and then keep going to work and coming home every night. We’ve been down this road before. There’s too much life to live here. We can’t afford the fear.

Nous Sommes Charlie

New York is a city that lives on the freedom of expression. It is the place where people come to from all over the world to be free and to be themselves. There are many thousands of Muslims in New York and no one has been killed here over a cartoon.

New Yorkers were aghast that people in a civilized country like France could be massacred because they published cartoons of a religious figure. Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of lots of religious figures, it was their depiction of the prophet Mohammed that got them killed. True to form, the newspaper has vowed it will publish again.

If I were a better artist, I’d draw up some nice Mohammed cartoons of my own. But cartoonists quickly reacted with great artistic aplomb and there are now many great works of art depicting the Islamic prophet in a host of inventive poses. More power to them.

That there is any reluctance to embrace the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ movement is a troubling sign that the cowardice in the face of Islamic extremism is already firmly rooted among many in the West. Some media outlets are even declining to publish the controversial Mohammed cartoons that Charlie Hebdo published. Those editors are cowards.

Each terror attack generates more pathetic coddling of Muslims than backlash attacks against them. The bodies at the Charlie Hebdo offices weren’t cold before the Internet was littered with the usual moral scolds warning us against “intolerance.”

Intolerance is actually OK when faced with the intolerable, and murdering people for publishing cartoons is as intolerable as it gets. It is right to be intolerant of any ideology that feels justified treading on the freedoms of others. It would be wrong to paint all Muslims with such a broad brush, but not acknowledging Islam’s greater propensity for violence is being willfully ignorant. The immediate calls for “tolerance” in the face of terror cross the line from reason to submission.

There’s also a big difference between criticizing and satirizing the tenets of Islam and attacking Muslims. People who burn down mosques are attacking Muslims. Publishing a cartoon that makes fun of the prophet Mohammed is par for the course. Like it or not, Mohammed’s success in founding one of the world’s largest religions has made him a public figure and public figures are subject to ridicule regularly.

Most of my family and friends are Christians and they can take seeing Jesus ridiculed. Christians believe Jesus forgave the people who crucified Him, so posting a cartoon of Jesus giving Mohammed a reach-around has got to be forgivable.

We should have as many Charlie Hebdos as the newsstands and Internet can hold. We should saturate the market with as much blasphemous imagery as possible and let religious fanatics see their icons desecrated every day.

The idea of killing a cartoonist or a writer over satirical work is so appallingly immoral that it demands we double down on the blasphemous satire. There should be no publication in the world not running offensive Mohammed cartoons.

Islamic fundamentalists have now made it a moral imperative to insult their prophet in the most objectionable manor possible. No one should hesitate to publish a single one.

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