I've been watching and reading the news about the shooting in France last week, to put it mildly. As anyone knows who owns a TV or a computer, there's been an incredible overload of coverage on all the news sources, one not seen since 9/11. The first person I saw who said anything even the least bit against-the-current was Southern Beale in her wonderful post, "I’m Not Charlie, or, Why Does Everyone Have To Be So Mean?" As was well described in her post, I find it odd that "I am Charlie" has become such an international movement. What Charlie Hebdo does with its comics is puerile foolishness which I don't find the least bit funny and to which I certainly would not want to align myself.
In addition, most of the legions of "I am Charlie" followers probably fail to see the disgusting hypocrisy. A pen or pencil has become the symbol of the freedom-of-the-press movement, but just try to print something anti-Semitic. Incredibly, Charlie Hebdo itself disallows it. What kind of freedom of the press is that?
Fox News has been slamming the president for not attending the rally to which so many heads-of-state rushed to be seen. And the coverage they received seems to have made it all worth it. The solidarity was unanimous. Everyone agrees freedom of speech and non-violence are good. But in many of those very same countries it's illegal to deny the Holocaust. In Angela Merkel's Fatherland it's illegal to display a swastika.
What hypocrites. They should be ashamed of themselves. I'm sure President Obama had his reasons for not attending, but to not appear among that confederacy of hypocrites is certainly nothing to fault him over. God knows there's plenty to complain about where our president's concerned - drone strikes against unarmed targets, indefinite detention for so-called terrorists, widespread warrant-less wiretapping, not to mention the continuing existing of our off-shore penal colony, Guantanamo, but not showing up for a ridiculous rally in Paris is not one of them.
Perhaps the biggest problem with all this, which seems to have gone completely unnoticed, is that the Charlie Hebdo shooting, as horrible and terrifying as it was, resulted in 12 deaths. We frequently have shootings in the US with death tolls close to that or greater even. The results: no international Twitter campaigns, no rallies of heads of state, no non-stop coverage of the news media, no nothin'.
This leaves me to wonder what's it all about then. Why such a phenomenal world-wide turnout? Well, my guess is it's all about scapegoating radical Islam. It, radical Islam and Islam in general, has become the boogie man that we can all look to for a legitimate target of our fears and inner need to blame. Of course there are Muslim people involved in the rallies and signing up for the Twitter campaigns, but that's little different than the NRA boasting of black and female members. The movement is really Islamophobia disguised as anti-violence and freedom of the press. It's a way of coming together against a common enemy, all the while denying our own involvement and contribution in radicalizing these misguided murderers.