1/9/15

radicals

Henri Matisse, The Blue Window, 1913
We have another month of medical madness ahead of us - Hazel has her adenoids out, and Eloise will have another hospital stay for her J-tube removal. All of it takes so much logistical planning on my part, and requires a lot of time to prepare. But all I can seem to think about is the terrorist attacks in Paris. Its hard to concentrate. I have been so upset, its all so disturbing and terribly sad. It feels like a friend has come under siege.

The distress I have felt has been balanced by no small amount of anger directed at the American media. I have heard so many statements that start: "Nothing can excuse what those men did, but if you put into context colonialism/immigration/social immobility..." I even heard it was the fault of the French, because they haven't done enough to integrate with Muslim culture. And I listen to liberal media, folks! I shiver to think what the far right is saying...
Anonymous, Claude Debussy at the piano in the home of Ernest Chausson, in Luzancy, 1893
I just have to get this out in written form, because I have minimal adult contact during the day, and those who I do see don't necessarily want to go into foreign or religious politics with me. First of all, colonialism. Yep, I've read the orientalist theories and read colonial history. Many atrocities and horrors were wrought upon the Middle East and Africa and beyond, but it happened a long time ago. Not even our great-great grandparents' generation. Today's generations in France have as little to do with those decisions, or having to make reparations for them, than a croughnut has to do with a croissant. So stop throwing that into the discussion, peeps.
Secondly, no one should expect social mobility in a culture if they don't speak the language, don't appreciate or accept the culture, or leave their former culture behind on some level. From my experience, and I say this without any hatred or prejudice, the Muslim community seems particularly reticent to conform to any Western society. That's fine, but one can only expect to succeed to a certain degree in a foreign land without conforming to their system.

Thirdly, this will sound very Mormon-y of me, but hey I am Mormon. I don't think Islamic religious ideals, the Qu'ran, social immobility, or any other factor has as much to do with the extreme violence as the breakdown of family. The Kouachi brothers were orphans, raised in the foster care system. It seems to me that when a void as big as losing both parents exists in someone's life, something has to fill it. They are accountable for what they choose to fill it with, be it a gang, radicalism, drugs, whatever. Children need mothers, they need love, direction, stability, boundaries. It breaks my heart to think of young boys or girls finding those needs filled by those who would manipulate and abuse their flexible minds...

Paris has seen many radical extremists, but many of them propelled society forward. That can't be said this time.
Honoré Daumier, Épouvantée de l'héritage no. 280 of the series Actualités published in l'Album de siège, 1871. Political cartoon.

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