We Are All Charlie

2015: a new year that has begun under a dark cloud. It is the cloud of religious intolerance taken to murderous extreme, and we should all be outraged.

Followers of this blog know my feelings about religion, in general. If, when I was young, I was hesitant about admitting my humanistic philosophy and atheism, I’ve lost all inhibitions about doing so now that I’m older. To paraphrase, frankly my dear readers, I don’t give a damn, and if people like me can’t speak up, then what’s the first amendment for? Ah! Freedom of speech. Something we tend to take for granted or, unfortunately, as a couple of letters in this morning’s L.A. Times (one ignoramus actually referring to the Jewish “race”) distressingly reveal, rejected or forgotten.

The recent mass murder in Paris, then, is about more than just radical Islamism, although that’s certainly its foundation. But it’s one thing to have radical religious views and quite another to kill people by acting upon them. The three terrorists who committed the slaughter may have been acting from the fundamentalist base of their religion, but what they actually were doing was expressing in the most violent of ways their ideal of a religious totalitarianism, where to voice or publish any unorthodox view is a capital crime. Sadly, much of the world has neither a sense of humor nor respect for any view unacceptable to self-righteous absolutism.

Religion has brought much beautiful art, architecture, and music to the world, and in some cases even expressed worthy thoughts about how life should be lived. On the other hand, history is full of dysfunctional, cruel, and intolerant religious expression, and I would argue that not all the art, music, or moral exhortations outweigh the extraordinary damage done by religion over the centuries.

The murderous ignorance that led to the recent massacre in Paris was not just an attack upon a satirical publication. It was an attack upon us all. All of us who treasure freedom of thought, of expression, and the ability to walk the streets in safety, secure in our beliefs whatever they may be, should be appalled by what has happened. By what is happening all around the world and not only in Paris. And if the rest of the world does not stand up and say, enough, and work with all its might to put an end to religious bigotry, ignorance, and resultant terrorism, then we will all be to blame for what went down in the offices of Charlie Hebdo. In other words, the world must act because nous sommes tous Charlie.

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