Sunday, January 11

In a sea of hate, France crumbles

Many French are reeling under a shock after the events of the past three days at Paris. For some, the shock is of death or of the uncertainty of life. But for most, this shock is from their affront: French people like to believe that the French revolution of 1789 was a great thing, and they like to also believe that France incarnates values of liberty, equality and fraternity. Of course, those three words are grand words: not many people in this world, whether French or not, will be really able to define those three words. And now, they are shocked beyond measure: that how this can happen on French soil, a soil that nurtures these three values. The two big wars of the past century and Indochina never happened for them: Germany is cast as the villain for the former evil, and the latter is just shrugged off. No one mourns generations of hate that were sown in this society by those actions, and even more so by the hypocrisy of continuing to evoke great sounding values: but most of these mourn that the liberty to abuse someone's belief system has been cut down abruptly. I wonder if someone were to publish a jihadist text tomorrow in France: will it be allowed? What about a Nazi supporter's tract? And how are these texts different from the crude, publicity-seeking cartoons that only succeeded in making this society a worse one? If freedom for freedom's sake is the thing we are after, why do not we just say that it is ok to kill, steal and fuck whomsoever everyone wants, as doing otherwise would be curtailing liberty? Or are ideas and beliefs seen as lesser entities, and only men's lives and property respected?

They stopped the trams and metros at noon for a minute's silence. Everyone became noble and felt so good about themselves for that minute. But one woman kept on talking on her phone, oblivious of the decencies of life where you can publish crude, derogatory cartoons but not keep talking when a minute's silence is the fraternal thing to do. And then a girl told, how she just wanted to give a nice hiding to woman who wouldn't shut up and how she was just so disgusted. The silence, it seems, was not just for self-satisfaction, but also for judging others. And yet it was supposed to remember, to think, to reflect, within the precise matter of sixty seconds. In other places, school classes became silent: some rebelled (spoke), but many others were peer-pressured into remaining silent for that minute which never seemed to stop. It is like the national anthem or song which asks viewers to stand up before a film is played in Bangalore: if you do not, you feel that you might be lynched right there. Free will does not seem to play a huge part in fraternal societies.

And now, what do we have? The President has not yet addressed the people about the Muslim community, nor the Muslims directly: he just doesn't care, isn't it? Instead, the government is bringing out the same magazine next week with state money: as if seeking cheap publicity by derogating others was a martyr's cause. Pity that ideologies cannot sue in courts: only well-oiled humans seem to have that right. Because of the extraordinary sensation that the media has created out of it, thanks to another hashtag spring, the society is now even more divided: many and many Muslims, especially young kids, have now seen the cartoons which they never had earlier, and they cannot understand how such things can be just cloaked up in the freedom to speech attire; the entire non-French-looking people, even if they are white, have become the Other, who don't understand the pain that the French have felt over their pride being destroyed; parties like Front National will create more discourses and incidents to divide people further; and aims of all those who seek to further violence and thus pillage this land and its people will be furthered. And all this in the midst of an economic downslide: whereas France needed to open up its shores, this will only lead to the politics of suspicion, anger and exclusion.

The violence rooted in society, perpetrated in other lands, is now coming back to haunt France. This incident will be a catalyst for Europe's accelerated downslide. And no one will hear those who cry from tenderness, from love, from sadness: only anger will be heard, and responded to. And the response will also be anger, be hate. When the French couldn't be proud of the expanse of their colonies anymore, they turned to their language. When English became the undisputable lingua franca, they turned to their flag, their values. As these values turn out to be hollow and the economy flounders, the last of their fiefdoms disintegrates, and pain is trampled upon by politics and hypocrisy.

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