Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Charlie Hebdo

I used to work in magazines.  I cannot tell you how the attack on Charlie Hebdo felt so -- well, personal.

The magazines I worked on weren't terribly controversial.  We pointed out things like maybe the use of lie detectors has no place in pre-employment testing (Congress later passed a law -- I take no credit, it was a groundswell).  Or the idea that people weren't seeing the death rate from recessions because there's a two-year lag -- the heart attacks come two years after the recession, during a period of prosperity.

We never had a reason to print a picture of Mohammed -- and remember, it doesn't have to be derogatory.  The ban is on any pictorial representation of Mohammed.

My wife works in a school.  Since Sandy Hook, the operative assumption is that the receptionist will die in any attack.

This is our life now.  Schools and magazines exist to inform people.  To educate them.  To speak the truth.

And now we die.

It shouldn't be this way.  Already I see Muslims being demonized for their assaults on the West -- which happened.  The newly minted Muslims burst out of the Arabian peninsula into the Middle East, conquering North Africa and Spain, only to be stopped by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732.  Tours is in northern France.

Later the Turks were only turned back at the gates of Vienna in 1521 and at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Sounds pretty aggressive, doesn't it?  Well, how about the Crusades?  Take the First Crusade.  To riff on Adolf Hitler, who now remembers the Siege of Jerusalem in 1099?  (We'll leave aside the prior Siege of Antioch -- cannibalism is not my cup of tea.)

Or the Fourth Crusade, when God's army diverted from Jerusalem to an easier target, Constantinople, sacking the home of Christian Orthodoxy in 1204.  A prostitute set up for business in the patriarch's throne at Hagia Sophia.

Can't we put all this behind us?  Can't we stop searching for pretexts to hate?  There was a fellow years ago who said the only way to peace was through peace.  I'm beginning to think he was right.

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