We hate to toss around terms like “inevitable,” but I think this sort of thing is pretty much, well, inevitable due to globalization. A hundred years ago no one would have cared what a French satirical magazine published, at least, not outside of a small circle in France or maybe Europe. But today, everything that is published anywhere ends up everywhere, via the Internet. People who once were content to police their own local society, and institute whatever rules they wanted to control their own media, are now looking to impose their views on everyone–because they see our views (freedom of the press, for example) being impose on them, by virtue of the pervasive presence of the Internet which brings everything to them whether they want it or not.
We can try to avoid the question of universal values all we want, but ultimately, if we’re serious about the importance of things like freedom of expression, we’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that that view itself is contentious, and may have to be fought for. We just have to come out and say, we don’t care what your local views are, on a global scale, freedom of expression is a human right, and if your religion or culture doesn’t want that, tough luck. Are we willing to do that? The costs are high, but the costs of not doing that will mean we restrict freedom everywhere to the lowest common denominator.l
Good analysis, and I’ve made similar points myself on other occasions. The mantra is that globalization is great because it makes the world smaller and everyone is neighbors with everyone else now. The problem with that notion is that some cultures don’t want to be neighbors and react violently to the concept. Starting with the telegraph and proceeding to today’s internet, electronic communication has forced societies into proximity that were effectively isolated previously. How do we cope with that? It’s a difficult question because the free press is not a government organization and has no responsibility to put its employees’ lives at risk in the name of freedom of expression. I think we need to protect them far better when they do, but it’s impossible to blame them from shying away from danger when they don’t.
There is an unfortunate feedback loop too. Xenophobia meets with a press who plays up bad news, because that sells, which in turn ramps up the xenophobia which in turn incentivises press coverage of anything involving a Muslim turning into some jihadist action.
It’s ugly, and I’m not sure how we can deal with it positively.
I do despair about the extraordinarility divided society of France, though, which unfortunately serves as a driver for radicalization of many sorts.
CraigM - It’s worth looking at the work of Quilliam, a UK-based Muslim anti-extremist think tank.
(They’re pretty effective against extremism in general…they persuaded the UK’s “English Defense League”'s leaders to quit and denounce their former organization (Not to become /nice/ people you understand, but still!))
I think this is the real feedback loop. If xenophobes (or any niche true believer) perceive the mainstream media is downplaying coverage, they pounce on that. They might hate Islamic terrorism, but “elitist liberal media” really gets their blood boiling. Then they feel compelled to look for more examples.
People aren’t stupid. They know when the media is trying to soften perception. I see it in the comments of every local news article that leaves race out of a crime report. Just another reason for racists – now posting with their Facebook accounts, for what little good that did – to caustically point out the omission.
Hiding things worked well back in the days when media was controlled. Now I just think it makes it worse. Giving a greater voice to universal anti-extremists, who understand both sides, sounds like a good idea. Thanks for posting about Quilliam, Starlight.
Indeed, aujourd’hui, nous sommes tous Français. We can’t appease or understand this, or it will lead to more murders. The only way to fight this is with actual martial strength and belief in ourselves, and to actually be the strong horse.
If after 12 cold-blooded murders in broad daylight in Paris by Islamist extremists, one’s first response is to worry about racists posting on the Facebook, that is part of the problem.
I hesitate to ask this because I don’t want this to devolve into political bickering (yes, I’m aware this is P&R) but I’m going to ask anyway, and not in a loaded manner. With the disclaimers out the way, how do you envision leveraging Western martial strength to resolve this sort of issue?