The Times of London headline on the 9th of January 2015 read: “France is paying price for pushing six million Muslims to the margins.”
Since the attack on Charlie Hebdo offices took place (on the 7th of January 2015), the murder of the policewoman and the subsequent murder of four Jewish shoppers at a kosher supermarket on the 9th of January there have been thousands of lines of print wasted on making excuses for the kind of people that carried out the attacks.
We can all make excuses for our behavior – the pedophile was abused as a child, the wife beater was beaten by his parents, the right wing racist is a product of his family environment. But the Muslim racist is the product of poverty or discrimination in society. His or her embitterment is the fault of society itself. Everyone is forgiven their sins of commission except of course that this is not the whole picture.
Why not? We live in a world of choice, we all have the freedom to watch what we like, read what we desire, speak our own thoughts and dress as we wish but magically, as soon as we cross the boundaries for what society deems “acceptable behavior” we are condemned. Society judges us by the standards that society sets. We abide by the rules and society protects us. It is called the “social contract”. It has inspired political reform since before the French Revolution and it can be argued that it has served imperfectly, as the cornerstone of Western Society since that time.
But standards are not necessarily applied uniformly and it is with this issue that injustice occurs. We too often excuse the murderer and damn the innocent. It is how we perceive injustice that informs the way we see society and the press is inevitably at the forefront of interpreting both that perception and the reaction. It is imperfect, prejudiced; the arbiter of morality, judge, and jury and by its complicity in forming public opinion, society’s executioner.
Imagine society as a room with people chained to the walls. For thousands of years those chains defined the distance we could wander. At the same time our proximity to one another was finite so that the alliances we made protected us. When the chains were removed we were free to wander away from the group or we could choose to stay. Our freedom of action expanded exponentially, as did our choices. By the same process, action and reaction became both random (unpredictable) and disconnected. The freedoms we have experienced over little more than the last century created challenges we are barely capable of predicting let alone adequately and equitably responding to them. Our legislative activism has been inconsistent and philosophically parlous in responding to the new world we inhabit.
We should not condemn an entire religion for the actions of a minority even though Jews appear to be excepted from this rule. Muslims have slaughtered innocents but we cannot blame all Muslims. Nor should we refrain from debating the many sources of tension that enabled criminals to assume a right to commit murder with joy in their hearts. It says something terrible about their education system and ours that we are hesitant if not terrified to openly discuss these things.
The problem is in those standards that society set. If we fail to apply them equitably then our standards are a sham. Polygamy and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are both illegal in Western society. Yet we pay social security to Muslim men who control multiple wives. Thousands of girls are physically tortured and psychologically sentenced to a life behind bars, every year, in London, England when their parents permit the abomination of FGM to take place without consequence. Mosques that incite their congregants to hate the infidel and to commit violence against the non-believer are permitted to remain open because their free speech and freedom of belief supersedes, potentially, our right to life. That social contract I referred to earlier is only selectively applied. That selective application of human rights is where the fracture in society has occurred.
The question we should be asking is how we can repair it and whether that fault line is irreparably damaged?
In a New York Times oped Dennis Ross referred to the free pass given to Muslims in Western Society as “reflexive absolution.” Not just in the West. I recently read that over the last decade 100,000 Christians have been murdered every year in the Muslim world and in countries where Islam has a significant minority presence. I cannot verify that figure of a million dead but the number of killed is much higher for Muslim on Muslim violence.
We appear to be powerless to prevent this ongoing escalation of Islamic bloodletting.
The outrage we all felt when over 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Muslim fundamentalists in Nigeria very quickly dissipated. We should have boycotted Nigeria until every girl had been accounted for and returned to their families. We did NOTHING.
We share few values with those people who cannot either renounce a holy book or if not renounce it, then to accept a modern western concept of equality. The Muslim world has no sense of accountability but one heck of an over-inflated sense of grievance that treats any concessions as illegitimate. There is a myth and it is called Islamic tolerance. Islam’s sense of superior purpose can only be met head on.
Reflexive absolution is a great catch phrase that describes the western worlds’ selective immorality and its ethical bankruptcy towards Islamic terrorism. A paradigm shift in our attitude towards our religious competitors is needed if society is ever to be mended.