Reading between the rhetoric after the Charlie Hebdo attacks

Jonathan Downie

Jonathan Downie
January 12, 2015

How can Christians respond to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in France? Partly by resisting easy narratives of dehumanization and retaliation.

January 13, 2015

Strong article. I agree, of course, but the situation is also complex.

The surviving staff of Charlie Hebdo have already made beautiful statements forgiving the Islamic extremists who murdered their colleagues. However, that does not mean that nothing should change.

Perhaps there are immigration laws that can be improved to be both safe and welcoming: it would be wrong to oppose improving them. Perhaps these terrorists were not "lone wolves" at all, but part of a large confederacy of hateful organizations. It would be wrong not to oppose them in every reasonable way.

It is wrong for a Christian to know of organizations of hateful murderers, but refuse to name or speak against those organizations. Suppose that fascist Germany had been opposed more strongly in the 1930's...?

Interpreter Again
January 14, 2015

I would agree with you but I would want to define reasonable. Reasonable for me means avoids collateral damage and being smart about how we deal with the situation. Bombing the snot out of countries obviously doesn't work since the police here in the UK are now stopping 5 threats a month, their highest figure ever. Surveillance is troubling as there are tools that help people evade notice and arguably, the more arbitrary you make your surveillance laws, the more you encourage people to use harder channels to hack.

As for immigration laws. Here in the UK, we need to work more on the welcoming and fair side of the equation. But, yes, I think immigration does need to be fundamentally rethought, including how we deal with refugees and asylum seekers and how they are characterised in the press.

Part of my reasoning behind the article was precisely that I think we are facing something that is qualitatively different to World War II, which was a clear-cut fight between nation-states controlling mappable tracts of land. Now the war is over the human heart. It is simply not a battle we can win completely with drones and guns. If it was, the end of Osama Bin Laden would have been the end of the war. It wasn't.

We need the full range of measures: political, legal, and technological. But all of them need to be deployed and used reasonably, with love and in ways that are proportional to the actual numbers of threatening people. Even 1,000 potential threats, a number that has been bandied about here in the EU, still represents a tiny fraction of 1% of the total population.

January 15, 2015

I completely agree that the world is not like the 1940's, but it has a few similarities to the 1930's. That's why I feel this is not just a minor point.

I also hope that my nation will reform its immigration laws in a meaningful way. There are currently thousands of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim people seeking protection from militant Islamist terrorism. I hope we will show love, not in words, but in action and in truth.

I fear that, just like in the 1930's, we are telling millions of people in mortal danger to be "warmed and filled."

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