Quick Thoughts on the Attacks in France

I want to say something about the whole situation in France.

1.No one deserves to be killed or be the victims of violence. This is true no matter who they are, or what they say.

2. What happened in France in terms of the killing was a tragedy. Many people died needlessly.

3. This does not mean that the Charlie Hebdo magazine wasn’t racist. It is important to discuss the differences between satire and just plain bigotry, between necessary criticism of bad ideas and using it as an opportunity to perpetuated stereotypical ideas based on biases.

4. I support the push for more open satire, parody, and criticism or religion, among other things, but with the caveat that if you do so in a way that punches down, your work creates harm rather than good. You can be critical of religion without being racist. You can draw Mohammad without being racist. You can create satire that is not harmful to oppressed peoples. If you can’t think of how, then you shouldn’t be doing it. A lack of creativity is no excuse for bigotry.

5. It is important to think critically about the attacks that generate this level of public attention and how they always focus on acts of aggression by stigmatized groups against privileged groups. The attacks of the majority groups on minority groups are largely ignored. Where is the outrage over the Muslim women in France having their hijabs forcefully pulled off, and being attacked. She was pregnant and lost her baby as a result of the attack. A Synagogue in France was attacked and also graffiti with Nazi symbols and anti-semitic messages. Neither of these attacks have been publicized nearly as much. There are no hashtags standing with these victims. What about the firebombing attack on the NAACP. This is not a Dear Muslima post. These attacks should be publicized and a public discussion of harmful ideologies generated, but not at the expense of always ignoring acts of violence, terrorism, and systemic racism, against minority populations. The critic that doesn’t take time to look in the mirror objectively is at best a hypocrite.

6. It is important to discuss how attacks like these don’t exist in a vaccuum. Yes they were wrong and there is no justification. That said, the result will most likely be a greater danger to the lives and safety of anyone who is, or more specifically, looks Muslim. Just like in the US the horrible 911 attacks were used to justify incredibly racist and unconstitutional laws: including detention without access to a lawyer or notification of charges, legalized and even encouraged racial profiling at airports and borders, etc.

7. When People of Colour and other oppressed minorities are telling you that something is racist. When they are telling you that racism exists, is rampant, and is perpetuated by certain things, it is important to listen. White people don’t get to decide what is racist and what isn’t, just like abled people don’t get to decide what is ableist, men don’t get to decide what is sexist, and cis folk don’t get to decide what is transantagonistic.

Last but NOT least. In fact I think this is the most important point.

8. The only successful way to combat attacks like this is not by increasing our culture of racism and prejudice but by fighting against it. By making this world, our world, one of acceptance and aid. By eliminating the excuses that are used to justify brutal acts of violence. By empowering the people within these minority groups so that the voices of the reasonable are not silenced, but can drown out the voices of the fundamentalist. Give a greater audience to brilliant writers like Heina, who have lived experience of what it means to be Muslim, an apostate, and a woman of colour in our Western Culture. Stop letting white men be the voices of what’s wrong with Islam, of what is an isn’t racism, or sexism, or transantagonism, cis-sexism, or ableism. Stop telling people in these communities how they should act and instead listen to what they have to say. Listen, and learn! and Do Better.

So no, Je ne suis pas Charlie, but my thoughts and condolences to the families of all those lost in the senseless violence.

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