Leaked E-mails Show Al-Jazeera Hates the Post-Hedbo Attack 'Free Speech' Spin

Brendan Bordelon at National Review has published some internal e-mails at al-Jazeera that show how the Qatar-based network shows a real hostility to Western values of free speech – especially when that speech is mocking and insulting religion. The subject was the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Al Jazeera English editor and executive producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr sent out a staff-wide e-mail Thursday.“Please accept this note in the spirit it is intended — to make our coverage the best it can be...We are Al Jazeera!”

Then came the questions:

– Was this really an attack on “Free speech”? Who is attacking free speech here exactly? Does an attack by 2-3 guys on a controversial magazine equate to a civilizational attack on European values..? Really?

“I am Charlie” as an alienating slogan – with us or against us type of statement – one can be anti-CH’s racism and ALSO against murdering people(!) (obvious I know but worth stating)....

Danger in making this a free speech aka “European Values” under attack binary is that it once again constructs European identity in opposition to Islam (sacred depictions) and cements the notion of a European identity under threat from an Islamic retrograde culture of which the attackers are merely the violent tip of the iceberg (see the seeping of Far Right discourse into french normalcy with Houellebecque’s novel for example)....

You don’t actually stick it to the terrorists by insulting the majority of Muslims by reproducing more cartoons – you actually entrench the very animosity and divisions these guys seek to sow.

NRO has more e-mails showing this actually sparked some internal battling with more Western-oriented correspondents. But MRC’s Steve Edwards pointed out how this al-Jazeera counterpoint to the Paris killings is now emerging on their website, in a Saturday commentary by Mark LeVine, a professor at the University of California-Irvine. The fact-challenged headline: “Why Charlie Hebdo attack is not about Islam: Charlie Hebdo massacre is rooted in generations of violence, hypocrisy and greed.”

Yes, blame capitalism, “structural racism,” and Western colonialism for the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Extreme religion and extreme capitalism created a “necropolitics” so we can spread the blame far and wide!

Where does the story begin? Quite simply with colonialism. It's no mere coincidence that at least two of the Charlie Hebdo attackers are reportedly of Algerian descent and the third from Senegal. France's 1830 invasion of Algeria began a 130-year odyssey of murder, expropriation, racism, exploitation and misrule that only ended after a vicious anti-colonial struggle costing well over one million Algerian lives.

"Colonisation brought the genocide of our identity, of our history, of our language, of our traditions" is how President Abdelaziz Bouteflika well described it. French rule in sub-Saharan West Africa was even more costly, particularly in the context of the centuries-long slave trade....

Radical Islam has today charted a path that mirrors radical capitalism, using violence only shocks "us" because we've managed to make the violence unleashed and supported for so long in our name morally and politically invisible....

Neo-liberalism and jihadism are in fact happy bedfellows (the famous Charlie Hebdo cover of an Islamist and a secular Frenchman kissing would have more accurately depicted a banker, not a hipster.)

Both are rapidly anti-democratic, support the concentration of wealth and power, and draw much of their strength from violence, war and a manageable level of chaos that keep oil prices high and petrodollars recycled via everything from fancy weapons to even fancier real estate....

Add to that the ongoing and well-documented structural racism against France's large Arab/Muslim and African communities, which has included mass murder in the streets of Paris and remains "rampant" not merely in the poor suburbs of major cities, where concentrated poverty and marginalisation lead so many to crime, drugs, prison and, not uncommonly, to radicalisation. ...    

It's no more shocking that some Muslims have become psychotic enough to murder, rape and pillage their way across eastern Nigeria and eastern Paris than it is that France, home of "liberty", "equality", and "fraternity", sells billions of dollars of weapons and otherwise provides political and diplomatic support to countries that practice the polar opposite of all three; that the US kills thousands of civilians with drones (and tens of thousands with conventional weapons) that are as merciless as the terrorists they presumably target; that Israel kills 1,500 Palestinians with the complete acquiescence of the US and Europe; or that most every Muslim government condemning the attack on Charlie Hebdo routinely imprisons and tortures artists and activists for far less offensive expression, all with the support of the West.

As the Lebanese cartoonist Karl Sharro (aka Karl reMarks) points out, ultimately the violence against Charlie Hebdo is not about Islam per se; it's about a contemporary world system that is particularly adept at grinding down whatever decent values exist in Islam and other faith systems (and in liberal capitalism as well). Decades of the combined onslaught of extreme capitalism and extreme religion have shaped a necropolitics of the oppressed that is the mirror image of the necropolitics of local and western governments, and the oppression and violence they've imposed.

Al Jazeera
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