Flogging Hate

by Maniza Naqvi

Flogging newspapers with hate drawn up as free speech is a cheap self serving marketing trick. Nothing new there. Hate sells war. It sells weapons. It sells newspapers. Hate sells.

Floggings and cartoons to caricature Muslims as the newest kid on the block to hate, well that's relatively new in the scheme of history and things. And who does that? The House Saud for one, which has condemned a citizen blogger to a thousand lashes in 20 batches of 50 lashes each for his speech. Public floggings, though this one has been postponed, are routine in the Kingdom of the House Saud. The House Hebdo flogs Muslims too. Both flog and lash Muslims. And neither of them protests or caricatures war. A funny thing happened while the wars were being waged in these last fourteen years—Mecca was transformed into a strip Mall by the House of Saud. Charlie Hebdo and the House of Saud have another thing in common they couldn't give two hoots about the Prophet. They both sneer at him. And both probably consider their own versions of caricatures in the name of the Prophet their most sustainable profit making enterprise.

And both are supported by the so called leaders of freedom of speech. Witness how free speech and freedom were caricatured when those great defenders of human rights and freedom of speech, the Saudi foreign minister, Netanyahu and the President of Gabon formed the frontline at the march in Paris on January 11, 2015. Witness the eulogizing of the chief financier of extremism this week in Riyadh by all these leaders of freedom of speech–sellers of weapons, guzzlers of oil.

But lashes, words and caricatures can be survived. You cannot survive bombs and bullets. The House Saud and stunts like the House Hebdo sell hate and ensure that bombs and bullets will continue to be produced and used without question. France is the largest seller of weapons to Saudi Arabia, followed by the UK and Germany and Sweden and the US. Germany has announced its decision yesterday to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. The majority of the Germans want Germany to stop all trade with Saudi Arabia. That is a good step.

‘I think therefore I am.' We are told that this is central to European culture. As if, it isn't a universal idea. Reason requires the ability to question and laugh be satirical. But a cheap laugh is easier to get behind than thinking it through. We are constantly being given memes and moments to stop thinking and just acquiesce to the reality of a perpetual war. And we are churning in a state of endless war. To paraphrase Graham Greene from a Gun for Sale ‘The news of a murder has pushed war off the front page.' How Rupert Murdoch must be laughing alongside most of the arms linked together thugs sales representatives of arms manufacturers, walking along solemn faced as the front line of the more than a million people march in Paris on January 11, 2015.

The cartoons and the jokes have me choking with laughter. I can't breathe because I'm laughing so hard at all this racially and religiously selective freedom of speech which confines itself to attacking the Prophet Mohammad and not war and its merchants.

It's been a Charlie Hebdo moment hasn't it these last fourteen years of war? Safe from drones and invasions and so forth cozy as June bugs watching our nightly comedy shows as sources of fact and news. Hahaha. We have been reduced to this. So we've ha-ha-ha-ed our way through the Patriot Act, drone attacks, wars, racial profiling, torture, secret black sites, extra renditions, Abu Ghraib. Yup, it's all a big laughing opportunity—free for all takers isn't it. And for those of us who don't quite get it—Its only because we don't understand satire, the subtle humor and the context is lost to us in translation because our thinking isn't sophisticated enough, we are told, to be able to understand Charlie Hebdo. Our inability to laugh is a sign of our intolerance.

Why insult Mohammad the Prophet who a billion Muslims revere and love like their mother and father and more? Why not focus on the criminals and draw cartoons of them? Ah, the Charlie Hebdo moment. Because Muslims are never victims right? Because, if they were, how would it be possible to justify this endless war? How else to justify the carnage wreaked on Gaza last summer without a peep from the world leaders on freedom of speech? How else to turn criminal individual acts into acts of war—a whole ideology with a potential army of over a billion people and their still unborn progeny?

The point of the cartoons of the Prophet are not to make fun of jihadis or extremists—but rather to make fun of Muslims. To try to show that their anger and hurt amounts to all of them being extremists. The point is to delegitimize their claim as European citizens and more importantly their claims to their ancestral lands, motherlands and homelands or any grievance caused to them there or anywhere.

The illustrative moment in the march on January 11 2015 was when all the Charlies marched arms linked, forming its frontline, the largest weapon suppliers to Saudi Arabia, led by France of course. An average of 100 people, mostly Muslim, die every single day if not more—because of war and its financiers. We've compared the jokes at the proverbial office water cooler instead of being horrified by the news of war, torture, secret renditions or surveillance. Few question the easy stilted usage of the word terrorism and terrorist. We don't need to because now the image of who is a terrorist is embedded in our brains just as the journalists were embedded in the military invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. So we've spent a decade and a half laughing and chortling away instead of protesting war and the weapons, the uranium depleted ammo and the daisy cutters and the use of phosphorous bombs.

The second illustrative moment was in which a pigeon pooped on Hollande's coat sleeve during the Paris march and the supposed bunch of ‘Je Suis Charlies' went nuts, giggling away. And that moment captures it for me. They simply don't care. Don't give a shit—pardon the pun. You see they are having so much fun. Their friends have been killed and this march is an outpouring of emotion and yet they can't take it seriously.What a lark,-quelle droll momente, ne c'est pas. Oh mon dieu! It's not that they have a joie de'vivre or they are equal opportunity offenders or whatever—or tres specifique genre of low artists—no, no, no—they're just con artists—-no they simple don't care at all. That's just it. They just show a fuck you finger, because it sells. No thinking required. They don't care if those giant pencils look like missiles or bullets or pitchforks to a cowering frightened minority. Or that this one million or more march for freedom of speech can easily be a forerunner to pogroms. They're not making any point at all, except that they are racist and they are exactly like a bullying high school gang. These are unfeeling morons who insist with their bully pulpit to bully those who have no voice.

Maybe it's true the path to the profane lies through the sacred just as the journey to the sacred lies through the profane. All I know is that the profane sells by selling the sacred. There is no Prophet in this, its just Profit.

The House Hebdo the magazine and the House Saud, the House Murdoch and the weapons industry of Europe and North America have much in common. They profit from the caricaturing of the Prophet. They are all first and foremost business enterprises. The magazine enterprise and the House Saud both profited from the caricaturing of the Prophet. Witness the 5 million copies sold and witness the turning of Mecca into a tiled cheap Mall complete with an oversized Big Ben. Witness the support and outpouring of sympathy and subservience to the House of Saud, by the House of the coalition of the willing in the wars. And there you have it.

Why print such cartoons? Because they sell. There is a demand for them. This hate towards Muslims sells. What was the reason for the crime against the cartoonists? Because that sells too and so does war. This is truly frightening. The shelf lives of the products in the shops of House Murdoch, House Hebdo and House Saud have been extended for a few more decades purchased by selling hate for Muslims. At what an awful cost?