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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Strategy of the Charlie Hebdo Attack

The murderous attack by Islamic terrorists on the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo earlier today may be part of a nefarious strategy to use Western outrage against, well, the West.

In short: I think the West is being terribly played today.

This analysis offers a strategic theory. As such, I am avoiding repeating the condemnations and ancillary topics (i.e. immigration) which are readily found elsewhere on the World Wide Web.

If you start on the premise that Islamic terrorists are claiming (whether justified or not) that Western (read: Christian or Jewish) society's attacks on or oppression of Islam validates their actions (whatever, wherever and whenever they are), consider the following points.

First, Charlie Hebdo was satirizing the Prophet Muhammed. That is pretty clear, and it's also pretty clear that satire (or worse) of a religious figure is pretty serious. In the United States, it is constitutionally protected free speech, and it is actually a "core" constitutional right according to the Supreme Court.  But it is also undeniably offensive.

Now, I am not arguing or even suggesting that there is no right to offend others. And those of you offended 25 years ago with Andres Serrano's taxpayer-funded portrait, "Piss Christ," or all other manner of anti-Christian blasphemy, should know exactly how that feels and understand that point -- because that was what was thrown at you a quarter-century ago.

Second, it appears Charlie Hebdo was attempting to provoke. Again, this is part of American-style free speech. It is also the same intent, the same secular insult, which so many Western Christians have felt or perceived, and which has so incensed them over the past several decades. 

When you write something, knowing it offends some in the audience -- whether they deserve to be offended is a subjective value question, and it is not objective -- and when you intend to offend them, you are being very provocative. Some would call this very passive-aggressive behavior. Let's emphasis the aggressive part of this. And please consider all the ways this type of anti-social behavior already is in -- no, it dominates -- Western culture.

I compare this to going to a zoo and using the sharp end of a stick to poke the eyes of a ferocious animal. I'll bet my money and your money you would never do that, not without some pretty strong protection between you and the animal. My real end point is this: When you are acting in an unambiguously offensive and intentionally provocative manner, do you have the high moral ground?

When your opposition has been claiming -- with no basis whatsoever -- that the Judeo-Christian cultures of the West have been oppressing it, aren't you actually validating that claim by mimicking the intentionally offensive and intentionally provocative?

When some commentators in the United States use the Charlie Hebdo massacre as the pretext to issue all sorts of intentionally-offensive remarks, isn't that aggressive behavior?

(Let me stop readers here: I am not suggesting there should not be universal condemnation of the attack, only to point out that the common responses you are most likely having are the result of a carefully-designed chain of events. In other words, you're being played. Like a fiddle. Keep reading.)

If the claims of Western hostility were pure rubbish before the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the mass re-publication of cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammed and others can -- whether you want to admit it or not -- be used as physical evidence of that hostility.

This results in the atrocious result, that Western outrage, as justified as it may be, as understandable as it may be, is likely to take the ridiculous blood-libel Islamic-terrorist argument, and actually begin to give such evil rubbish the spectre of truth, legitimacy and moral equivalency.

In other words: Have Western cultural thought leaders just been suckered into giving the Islamic terrorists perhaps the first literal justification to claim a legitimate offense, by being baited and drawn into a rightful fury, so that their reactions and your reactions would give the attackers a basis for, finally, claiming some high moral ground?

And here's the crux of the theory: What if this attack was designed exactly to provoke the deliberately-offensive (blasphemous?) cartoons and other cultural attacks on Islam that the Islamists need to turn themselves into victims?  Furthermore, what if the terrorists deliberately chose a radical-Left publication to attack, in order to activate the Leftist side of the political activist spectrum to further demand, not free speech per se, but rather an untrammelled right to exclusivity in the public square, that is, to shout down, intimidate and otherwise squash opposition and dissent. As one United States Senator has remarked about this remarkable intolerance in the name of free speech, it is, "Free speech for me, not for thee." 

This should be unthinkable. But I think that's exactly what's happened here, and I think this -- not the twelve dead people in Paris -- was the real objective!

In other words, are all the "free press" and "free speech" expressions containing the deliberately and directly offensive cartoons just the desired result of a brilliant Islamic offensive strategy?

Maybe, just maybe, that's the real attack. 

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