Emily has written a very thoughtful piece in reaction to the terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo in Paris and I share her feelings of despondence.
Yet I must quibble with this particular sentence:
This isn’t really terrorism, because that assumes that there isn’t a larger plan other than to make people afraid and disrupt the casual way in which we go about our daily lives.
Oh, but this was terrorism. Just as with the World Trade Center, Islamists had attacked Charlie Hebdo previously. Charlie Hebdo is as much a part of the Parisian fabric as the Eiffel Tower and the Champ-Elysées just as the World Trade Center was part of the New York City’s fabric. Aside from deliberately killing civilians, Islamic terrorists take aim at public institutions which represent stability. Charlie Hebdo is almost required reading on the Paris Metro and who can say one of its trains won’t be next? From where the Islamists sit, every aspect of our lives is decadent and impure. In their eyes, we are infidels to be slaughtered. Those who survive must submit to an Islamic caliphate. Terrorism is but the means to that end.
I was also struck in a different way by another one of Emily’s passages:
I’m lucky. I say a lot about how freedom in this country is being threatened, and how America has lost its way from the principles and values that made the founding of this nation possible, but at the end of the day, even when I don’t trust my own leadership to effectively defend my rights, I say these things in an environment that is relatively stable.
For the most part, this is true. But there are cracks in that stability. These cracks bring me to the cartoonist formerly known as Molly Norris. Remember when South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were threatened by jihadists in Brooklyn over their Muhammad episode? Well, in the spring of 2010, Molly Norris, who worked for Seattle Weekly, came up with a Facebook campaign called “Everyone Draw Muhammad Day”. It ended up getting a lot of attention. One of the people whose attention it attracted was the late American born al Qaeda in Yemen leader Anwar al-Awlaki who then targeted her for death. Norris tried to call off the whole thing, but it didn’t matter. Once you’re the target of a fatwa there’s no going back. The FBI told her she was on her own. Seattle Weekly discontinued publishing her work, she changed her name and has dissapeared from public view. Here is part of what I wrote at the time:
Now one can the make the case that it is easy to say she should have stood her ground when one’s life has not been threatened by the man who is arguably the most dangerous Muslim cleric in the world and being told by the FBI it is in your best interest to suddenly change your identity. But to what kind of life can Molly Norris now look forward? She can no longer call herself by her real name. She has very likely been forever cut off from family and friends. And while she might be able to draw in the privacy of her own home, she can surely never submit her drawings for publication for fear that her works will be recognized. In short, the artist formerly known as Molly Norris is being deprived of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I cannot begin to think of the state of her life now. If Islamists still had Charlie Hebdo on their minds, surely Molly Norris can’t be far behind. I cannot fathom what her life is like now.
Emily writes, “It sounds rather dramatic, but we have a lot to decide in the coming weeks, months and years.” Well, Molly Norris made her decision more than four years ago. The state of our freedom and liberty will be determined by how we respond when the next Molly Norris comes along. Will the next Molly Norris choose not to hide? And if she chooses not to hide, will we stand with her?