Murder is wrong when committed by individual gunmen with grudges and it is still wrong when it comes from a drone strike. A unity march should denounce human rights abuses, of which warfare is the worst.
Don’t kill white people. After all is said and done, the Charlie Hebdo outrage, the hashtags, and the million person marches amount to that simple but very powerful dictum. In the eyes of the governments that do most of the killing on the planet and the corporate media who act as their scribes, there is nothing worse than targeting even a handful of white people for death.
Charlie Hebdo is a supposedly satirical magazine published in Paris, France. It was little known to Americans until January 7, 2015 when two gunmen attacked its offices and killed twelve staff members. Charlie Hebdo was well known for intentionally violating the Islamic prohibition of depicting the prophet. According to survivors, the killers announced themselves as members of al-Qaeda and said they were avenging the prophet Muhammad. A policewoman and four more people were killed the following day when another gunman took hostages in a kosher supermarket.
One look at Charlie Hebdo cartoons shows that the word satire is being used very loosely. The depictions of cabinet minister kidnapped Nigerian school girls as pregnant welfare recipients make a mockery of the world satirical. Regardless of how many French politicians are skewered in its pages, it must be pointed out that Charlie Hebdo indulges in racist hate speech.
Their reputation for insult and offense was quickly forgotten and the call to unquestioningly identify with the victims was immediate. Within a few days, #Jesuischarlie was tweeted more than one million times. The propaganda onslaught created an awkward example of hypocrisy for world leaders who are always the worst killers of all.
Barack Obama trotted out tired denunciations, calling the attacks “cowardly” as he claimed to stand up for the rights of a free press. These were strange words coming from a man who on seven occasions has used the discredited Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers who leak to the media.
Americans were not alone in hypocritically condemning murder. The convenient selective amnesia of the French people is as stunning as their sense of feeling more aggrieved than anyone else in the world.
France was a party to every atrocity and genocide committed by Europeans in history. France played a major role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, kidnapping approximately 1,250,000 Africans and sending them to work under barbaric conditions in their American territories.
After being forced out of Haiti by the world’s most successful slave rebellion, France then held that nation hostage under threat of re-enslavement and demanded a payment of $60 million which were paid from 1838 to 1947. Haiti remains poverty stricken to this day as a result.
France was at the table during the 1884 Berlin Conference which chopped Africa up into European spheres of influence. France engaged in mass slaughter again and again as it attempted to prevent colonies such as Vietnam and Algeria from gaining independence.
After NATO murdered Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, French president Nicolas Sarkozy traveled to Libya to personally gloat over the country he helped to destroy. He was joined by UK prime minister David Cameron, who was also among the killers-in-chief who arrived in Paris looking solemn. France and the UK are part of the NATO effort to destroy Syria and turn it into a chaotic ruin as they have done to Libya.
The corporate media determines who is and who isn’t a worthy victim and people with dark skin rarely make the cut. The thousands of Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza included members of the press. Seventeen journalists were killed in Gaza in 2014 alone, yet Israeli president Netanyahu was allowed to join the “unity march” in Paris as if he too were an innocent.
There is enough horror in the world to cause outrage but the level of outrage seems to depend on who is being treated horribly and who is carrying out the atrocity. The worst acts of terror are committed by heads of state who don’t kill seventeen people as these attackers did in Paris. They kill in the thousands yet are still treated with respect.
It doesn’t say much for the state of human advancement that killings committed by individuals still create so much more concern than those committed by governments. They get away with mass murder because the same corporate media which saturated coverage of Charlie Hebdo say little or nothing about Gaza or Libya or Somalia or Syria or Iraq or Haiti. Instead of pointing out that Barack Obama is a killer too, the pundits criticize him for not being among the sanctimonious liars who gathered in Paris. The group photo should have been a perp walk to the Hague instead of a photo opportunity for the seriously blood thirsty.
Murder is wrong when committed by individual gunmen with grudges and it is still wrong when it comes from a drone strike. A unity march should denounce human rights abuses, of which warfare is the worst. The next time 1 million gather to denounce terror, the anger should be directed at those people who carry it out the most.
* Margaret Kimberley is editor and senior columnist at Black Agenda Report. Her Freedom Rider column appears weekly.
* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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