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Man in the Mirror—and You Thought Jihadis Were Bad…

At the beginning of this month, I responded with abhorrence to the murders of the Charlie Hebdo artists by jihadis and asked whether Islam has a fundamental tendency toward violence that Christianity does not.

In one of those wonderful moments of cosmic connection, I walk into class today and find AP students reading "Postcolonial Criticism and Multiculturalism," a chapter from Stephen Bonnycastle's literary theory text In Search of Authority. On page 230, Bonnycastle directs students' attention to Frantz Fanon's critique of Europe's history of oppression:

...Let us waste no time in sterile litanies and nauseating mimicry. Leave this Europe where they are never done talking of Man, yet murder men everywhere they find them, at the corner of every one of their own streets, in all the corners of the globe. For centuries they have stifled almost the whole of humanity in the name of a so-called spiritual experience. Look at them today swaying between atomic and spiritual disintegration.

And yet it may be said that Europe has been successful in as much as everything that she has attempted has succeeded.

Europe undertook the leadership of the world with ardour, cynicism and violence. Look at how the shadow of her palaces stretches out ever farther! Every one of her movements has burst the bounds of space and thought. Europe has declined all humility and all modesty; but she has also set her face against all solicitude and all tenderness.

She has only shown herself parsimonious and niggardly where men are concerned; it is only men that she has killed and devoured.

So, my brothers, how is it that we do not understand that we have better things to do than to follow that same Europe? [Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 1965, pp. 311–312].

I was aiming too low in comparing jihadis professing Islam to contemporary Christians who seem not produce proportionate holy warriors. I should have looked at the history of the great Western European Empire, at the pinnacle of which I comfortably Tweet, an empire built on the enslavement, exploitation, and extermination of millions from other cultures. Killing cartoonists, colonizing continents... what's the difference?

Update 16:47 CST: In related news, the Super Bowl is this weekend....


  1. David Newquist 2015.01.30

    And in your comparison, don't forget the Inquisition.

  2. larry kurtz 2015.01.30

    Or the Crusades or the Protestant Reformation or the Discovery Doctrine or Generalissimo Franco or The Troubles or Argentina's Dirty Little War or South Sudan....

  3. Richard Schriever 2015.01.30

    Or the dark ages.

  4. Lanny V Stricherz 2015.01.30

    Don't forget that those millions that were slaughtered, were not making fun of and denigrating the Deity upon whose behalf those millions were being slaughtered. That millions could march in protest of the assassination of Charlie Hebdo people, led by heads of State who themselves had slaughtered journalists, but would not march in protest of the hundreds of thousands if not millions that have been slaughtered in the Middle East in the past 20 years, is ludicrous.

  5. Bill Dithmer 2015.01.31

    Is General Franko still dead?

    The Blindman

  6. larry kurtz 2015.01.31

    Funny, Bill. Franco was reincarnated as Victoria Jackson.

  7. larry kurtz 2015.01.31

    Tiger Woods was born in 1975: it could be him.

  8. Les 2015.01.31

    My heroes have always been Cowboys.

  9. Michael Dulitz 2015.02.02

    I took a short field trip to the Sultanate of Oman last week to get a first hand look at predominantly Muslim country, given the poor depiction of Islam in the United States. Contrary to what most would believe, I found Oman to be a safe, peaceful, rapidly modernizing country. Out of the countries I have visited, Oman made me feel the safest (even when you factor in Europe). The people were warm, friendly and moderate, crime seemed to be almost non-existent, and business was definitely booming.
    Now, don't get me wrong, Oman is led under an absolute monarchy and has had some history of smaller scale human rights abuses and suppression of criticism the press but, in general, life seemed to be peaceful. The Sultan implemented a rapid modernization of the country, bringing it from a desolate middle east country to a moderate middle east power.
    In many ways, Oman seemed to fit most of the "utopian" views held by some lawmakers in their vision of South Dakota. It was funny how people that may be viewed as the "enemy" because of the religion they practice are many times closer in ideology than your own friends.

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