Friday, January 9, 2015

Je Suis Charlie: Terrorism or Racism?

So, in case you didn't know yet, some Islamic extremist group attacked and murdered some cartoonists of the Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) French publication in Paris. (Unfortunately, it happened on January 7, 2015, which is my little bro's birthday, sadly). There had been a lot of right-and-left opinions, such as generalizing Muslims as terrorists (yet again) when extremist groups are actually different from them, and people calling the publication "racist", especially non-French people. Here's the stuff I could conclude from the incident.

Artist Freedom

Yes, I am aware of artist freedom. I am aware of how society today has a lot of flaws, especially with people who can't keep their opinions to themselves or respect others. Freedom of speech is a good thing, but there should at least be some limits. Here's why:

How many people have attacked their country's government and system (and religion, for that matter)? Corruption, poverty and countless other problems still plague our country (the Philippines) and not even a coven of rallyists were able to make politicians "change their hearts". I'm not saying that venting or ranting about society shit is bad - I'm just saying that we should also be responsible for what we say. However...

Cultural Differences

On the other hand, we don't really know what's going on because we are not French. Foreigners can't judge the Napoles scam, Maguindanao Massacre or other tragic controversies in our country because they don't completely understand our culture the way we do, and this is the same for the French who live with Charlie Hebdo everyday in their lives. European definitions of satire may be different from our definition of satire, since we are clouded in, uhm, religious views.

Racism or Not?

I saw some of their cartoons and to the normal, non-open-minded person, it would definitely look like racism or hate speech. But take note that racism is "selective satire". Charlie Hebdo would only be considered racist if they only attacked Muslim culture, since they also touched upon Catholicism and other cultures. I don't think they're actually mocking the religions or culture - they may just be merely making fun of their mistakes.

Nobody is Perfect

Like it or not, all religions have flaws. Religions are managed by people, so it shouldn't be a surprise. The same is true for any culture, society, government and other groups of people. Perhaps these artists had a better aesthetic view of attempting to change, or if not, simply express their lament or sharing their point of view to the masses. 

The biggest problem with religions, in my point of view, is fanaticism (example: Feast of the Black Nazarene where people literally dive into a stampede instead of just approaching the Black Nazarene on a regular day). Fanaticism isn't only in extremists, but also in Christianity. I'm a Roman Catholic myself, but I know why people are attacking our religion so much. In fact, I'm pretty disappointed with our religion (I think INC is a lot more organized than us) that I don't feel like it's a religion anymore, it's only a "social status", to say that "you are not a Filipino if you do not believe in God and Jesus Christ, blah blah". The same thing is happening to the Muslim community because of these extremists, because a little butthurt from Charlie Hebdo is enough to make them kill people, which is religiously and also morally wrong.

Perhaps, if we don't want our religion to be criticized, we should be more open-minded to our mistakes. Even Pope Francis is starting to accept scientific theories.

Art as a Weapon

I once didn't understand what "art won't save the world" meant (I was greatly offended by it before), but I think I know now. While art is a great way to start a revolution to make a change to the society, sometimes, people are just hard-headed and will always label you as some crackpot hater. Even if you draw some cultural person naked and stuff, that's not gonna stop corruption, hard fanaticism, terrorism and other faults of humanity. I don't know, that's just from my experience.

Why Generalize?

Like I mentioned earlier, not all Muslims are extremists (those who will die for their religion). Not all satirical cartoonists have hate speech in mind. Just because they're French doesn't mean you'll get immediately scared of French people or going to that country. Just like, how you shouldn't be scared of going to Mindanao, since there are still more places there that are peaceful (like Davao).

Filipinos, in my past experiences, really love to generalize a lot. They automatically go like "Muslim = Terrorist", just because of the mass media and because we're Catholics, which is downright wrong. Didn't your C.L. teacher or catechist tell you to befriend people with different religions? Or are you just too drowned in your own fanaticism?

In Conclusion

We shouldn't judge the Charlie Hebdo incident right away because it's not really our culture. But we can learn from it. There will never be any kind of satirical or anti-religious work if we straighten up our practices better. Maybe if we reduce our fanaticism and think about ourselves as humans, think about how others would really feel on what we do, maybe things like this won't happen in the future.

Il n'y a pas de fumée sans feu.

(sorry Google Translate lol)

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