Ideology is a Mind Killer

Ideology is a Mind Killer

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

News Flash to Terrorists - Violence doesn't work, try something else

By Mel Carriere

A couple of times a week I try to get up a little extra early so I can hack out a few lines before I go to work.  The bad part of being a writer is the isolation and loneliness that comes with it, which is of course self-imposed.  In order to get anything done you have to exile yourself on some dark, lonely, quiet little island  where nobody with any sense is going to keep you company at 5:30 in the AM.

While editing an article I eventually sent away to Bird Watcher's Digest this morning, my bleary eyed wanderings through cyberspace somehow led me to a story on Google News.  I'll put a link to it on the bottom, but first you're going to have to slog through my exhausting rants.  The article was about the recent terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in France.  In case you are living in self-imposed news exile on your own island, Charlie Hebdo is a weekly French magazine whose offices were attacked by gunmen on January 7th.  12 innocent people were killed in the attacks, and in the process of carrying out these acts of barbarous violence the militants have now made Charlie Hebdo a household word everywhere, whereas prior to this it was relatively unknown outside of France.  Instead of getting people to denounce the publication for its rather irreverent treatment of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, Al Qaeda has now made certain that everyone who is not a militant Muslim is a fan of Charlie Hebdo.

I do not enjoy denigrating or disrespecting other people's religion, but to show my solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and their right to freedom of speech I have posted one of their magazine covers on top of this blog.  In doing this I am throwing caution to the winds.  Come and get me terrorists.  I'm a bad-ass mailman armed with a can of pepper spray and half a dozen surly dogs that will have my back in a crisis (Most, unfortunately, are only Chihuahua size or less). So bring it on!

I'm not sure what this cartoon says, my French is really not that good, but I'm pretty sure it is mocking the prophet Mohammed.  Charlie Hebdo has made a living poking fun at the prophet, and Muslim extremists have not taken kindly to this.  In 2011 Muslim militants made their first attack on this magazine, firebombing the offices after the publication took a few unappreciated liberties with Mohammed.

So after two deadly attacks, the editors and staff of Charlie Hebdo are cowering in fear, right, just like Sony Pictures did after they were threatened with acts of terrorism prior to the release of The Interview.  The creators of this magazine have got religion, admitted their wrongdoing, and are probably right now cowering in fear in one of those French caves with the bulls and stick figures carrying spears painted on the walls, right?

Wrong.  Instead of cowering in fear, reversing their position, and vowing never to desecrate the Prophet again, they have instead announced that their upcoming edition will once more feature a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.  3 million copies of this magazine will be published.  If the terrorists intended to suppress what they interpret to be disrespect toward their Prophet, they have miserably failed.

The fact is that terrorism doesn't work, and it is awful surprising to me that nobody has figured this out yet.  70 years of terrorist attacks against Israel have failed to dislodge the Jewish state from Palestine.  The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center did not cause the United States to back away from meddling with the Middle East either.  Instead, we invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq, and such was the depth of outrage after the deeds of that horrible day that I'll bet Americans would have willing to march all the way to Mecca to get revenge.  Folks tend to get upset when you murder innocent people in their own front yard; even those who may have started out sympathetic to your cause distance themselves and start calling for heads to roll.

A recently released movie named Selma gives an example of a tactic that does work, one that has been tested time and time again, and this technique is known as Civil Disobedience.  

The film's title comes from the town of Selma, Alabama, which was a key battleground in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.  Only one percent of black people were registered to vote in the South at that time, and to combat this outrage the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (Note the inclusion of the term Nonviolent in that title, please), being inspired by the ideas of passive resistance advocated by Martin Luther King (successful), who had been inspired by Gandhi (also successful), carried out protests against the white supremacists in that Alabama town.  Americans watching at home on TV were appalled by scenes of peaceful protesters being billy-clubbed, attacked by dogs, and sprayed down by firehoses.  Shortly thereafter The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law, guaranteeing the right to vote for every American, regardless of color.  Peaceful resistance won the day.

Based on the success of inspirational leaders like Martin Luther King and Gandhi, one would think Arab leaders would take a look at a page in the Civil Disobedience Manual, tug on their thickly whiskered chins a bit, and conclude that "Hey dudes this stuff really works!"  Then, in order to counteract the editorial policy of Charlie Hebdo, instead of using suicide bombs and flying airplanes into buildings they might organize a boycott, march in the streets, or stage a sit-in in front of the Charlie Hebdo Offices.  Sit-ins and boycotts are embarrassing and bad for business, and they just might have been enough to make the magazine pull the offending pictures of Mohammed.

Instead, everybody who reads French is going to want to read Charlie Hebdo now, and a few people who flunked French in High School are taking remedial glasses so they will be ready when this issue comes out.  The last part might be a little poetic license on my part, but you get the idea.  The point is that whatever the terrorists intended to do by attacking the offices of Charlie Hebdo has completely backfired.

Look up at the Scoreboard, fellas.  Civil Disobedience is kicking butt, terrorism is losing badly.  It's not even close.  Time to change the playbook.

Voice of America article can be read at:

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