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Feb 232015
 

An article posted last month, “We Are All … Fill in the Blank” by Noam Chomsky in “chomsky.info, January 10, 2015” (https://chomsky.info/articles/20150110.htm; obtained on 2-23-2015) began the following way:

“The world reacted with horror to the murderous attack on the French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo. In the New York Times, veteran Europe correspondent Steven Erlanger graphically described the immediate aftermath, what many call France’s 9/11, as ‘a day of sirens, helicopters in the air, frantic news bulletins; of police cordons and anxious crowds; of young children led away from schools to safety. It was a day, like the previous two, of blood and horror in and around Paris.’ The enormous outcry worldwide was accompanied by reflection about the deeper roots of the atrocity. ‘Many Perceive a Clash of Civilizations,’ a New York Times headline read.

The reaction of horror and revulsion about the crime is justified, as is the search for deeper roots, as long as we keep some principles firmly in mind. The reaction should be completely independent of what one thinks about this journal and what it produces. The passionate and ubiquitous chants ‘I am Charlie,’ and the like, should not be meant to indicate, even hint at, any association with the journal, at least in the context of defense of freedom of speech. Rather, they should express defense of the right of free expression whatever one thinks of the contents, even if they are regarded as hateful and depraved.”

And the article ended the following way:

“Isaac Herzog, then, is mistaken when he says that ‘Terrorism is terrorism. There’s no two ways about it.’ There are quite definitely two ways about it: terrorism is not terrorism when a much more severe terrorist attack is carried out by those who are Righteous by virtue of their power. Similarly, there is no assault against freedom of speech when the Righteous destroy a TV channel supportive of a government that they are attacking.

By the same token, we can readily comprehend the comment in the New York Times of civil rights lawyer Floyd Abrams, noted for his forceful defense of freedom of expression, that the Charlie Hebdo attack is ‘the most threatening assault on journalism in living memory.’ He is quite correct about ‘living memory,’ which carefully assigns assaults on journalism and acts of terror to their proper categories: Theirs, which are horrendous; and Ours, which are virtuous and easily dismissed from living memory.

We might recall as well that this is only one of many assaults by the Righteous on free expression. To mention only one example that is easily erased from ‘living memory,’ the assault on Falluja by US forces in November 2004, one of the worst crimes of the invasion of Iraq, opened with occupation of Falluja General Hospital. Military occupation of a hospital is, of course, a serious war crime in itself, even apart from the manner in which it was carried out, blandly reported in a front-page story in the New York Times, accompanied with a photograph depicting the crime. The story reported that ‘Patients and hospital employees were rushed out of rooms by armed soldiers and ordered to sit or lie on the floor while troops tied their hands behind their backs.’ The crimes were reported as highly meritorious, and justified: ‘The offensive also shut down what officers said was a propaganda weapon for the militants: Falluja General Hospital, with its stream of reports of civilian casualties.’

Evidently such a propaganda agency cannot be permitted to spew forth its vulgar obscenities.”

 

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Louis DeCola, Jr.  © 2015                                    The Hygiology Post ®