Paris, 2015

Justin E. H. Smith in The Utopian:

Tumblr_inline_nibvvxE5QB1qe7zezMy, what a year it’s been, so far. I spent the first week of it happily writing an overdue article on philosophical debates about avian vocalization—birdsong—from Aristotle to Kant. I spent the second week engaged in near-constant polemics and editorializing about the place of free speech in a just society. My life has been entirely overtaken by debates about what is at stake in the wake of last week’s attacks. I have tried to pull out, to get back to a normal sleeping schedule, to return to beautiful things. But I can’t. It has simply been too severe a bouleversement. It is a true crisis. Life, and history, occasionally throw these our way.

In case you missed it: some days ago in Paris a pair of assassins targeted and murdered the cartoonists associated with a weekly satirical magazine that had offended them with its contributions to the low art of caricature. Two days later, an ally of the assassins murdered four more people. What was their offense? They were Jewish, and they were moreover guilty by association with the cartoonists. What was the nature of this association? They happily lived and paid taxes in the same country that had hosted Charlie Hebdo.

In the days that followed, two trends emerged. The state cynically co-opted the attacks, and used it to promote “national unity,” which in fact means increased Islamophobia and deprivation of basic rights to privacy and freedom of expression. Parallel to this a number of commentators sought effectively to excuse the attacks, or to downplay the atrocity of them.

More here.