By the time you read this post, a unity rally in Paris will be winding down. On Saturday over 700,000 people rallied in France in response to the Charlie Hebdo affair, and more than a million, among them the heads of several states, will be on deck today. The French Prime Minister has declared a “War on Radical Islam” ahead of the rally according to the New York Times. Whether this is a mere reaction to the deaths of 12 at the offices of Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday and the deaths of four hostages at a kosher deli in Paris on Friday, or whether this is a case of accumulated outrage is anybody’s guess. One thing is certain: new lines are being drawn across the globe.
17 people died in Paris between Wednesday and Friday, all of them for merely being modern and (likely) secularized. In the Nigerian town of Baga, hundreds, if not thousands, were likely killed by Boko Haram in the days leading up to Wednesday. The situation is so desperate there that people are reportedly swimming to a remote island on an adjoining lake to escape the attacks, and then starving to death. Not incidentally, Boko Haram now has captured all of northern Nigeria, and adjacent areas in three other African states. They apparently are ready to set up a new government, ISIS-style.
It seems so strange. Back when so many, even many of us, where protesting GWOT, I don’t think we could have imagined that it would ever get this far. Now you’d be a fool not to embrace GWOT. It’s absolutely necessary. For all of us, whether we are in Paris, or in Baga.
Maybe that’s the reality that has finally been brought home by the Charlie Hebdo attacks. This just feels different. This is not some ragtag group of rebels taking over remote parts of Iraq, Syria, and Northern Africa anymore. There’s an entire crescent (an irony not lost on me) of land captured now by armed and organized militants, so organized that they can remotely radicalize a small group of childhood friends who basically grew up in the west to the point that they will perpetrate impromptu jihad in the middle of our most modern and secularized cities. Sidney, for instance, less than a month ago. Or Boston.
Here in America, land of the free, home of brave, there’s a “nuanced” discussion going on about whether or not to identify as a “Charlie.” It’s playing out like a macro-version of the argument Bill Maher and Ben Affleck got into last year. The usual suspects are lining up along predictable, ironic lines.
The crowd still snickering over art featuring feces and the Virgin Mary are posturing defense for the most retrograde major religion on earth. To be fair, this is a minute subset of the political left. This group is pretty far gone, as demonstrated by this DK recommended diary. They are completely unable to view the world outside of their warped American point of view and thus they cannot get past the majority colors if Islam–by which I mean not white.
From a purely anthropological point of view, their trajectory has been fascinating. At first they were sold on the idea that the murders at Charlie Hebdo headquarters were a righteous matter of freedom of speech. They filled the screen at Memeorandum and other news aggregators with voluminous screeds decrying the incident. “I am Charlie!” they agreed. This lasted about 12 hours, until they took a look at some of the covers. Then, in knee-jerk fashion, they were like, “Weeeeeell…” Well what? Is it suddenly okay to kill people for publishing cartoons you don’t agree with? They’re a little on the fence about this. Which puts them in some interesting company.
And suddenly, we are not all Charlie. Most of America, Europe and other parts of the world stand in unity today against being threatened into submission by a virulent, violent, and strident world view backed with increasing military might and a nasty penchant for remote radicalization. For goodness sake, there were Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers in Paris this week. The Canadian Parliament Building was attacked two months ago. By any honest account, we appear to be under global siege. Even Anonymous recognizes the importance of this moment.
The world is definitely changed. Will today mark the day that the West says enough? I don’t know, and I doubt it. But it feels like a juggernaut is being released in slow motion, doesn’t it? Like Atlas finally dropped the ball, and the weight that is the earth is rolling, destined to gather no more moss for some time.