As my friends, colleagues, and students will attest, I don’t often seem at a loss for words. The attack on Charlie Hebdo, however, left me numbed by the repetition of killing for truth, and prompted me to draw what I would guess are a couple of dozen quick sketches of Charlie Brown in various shades of sorrow, anger, disgust, and, perhaps finally, resignation.
Every time one of these terror events occurs there seems to be a renewal of the assertion that the Muslim community does not publicly condemn those who kill in the name of Allah. Maybe, just maybe, a glimmer of silver lining this time could be that not only has the Muslim community spoken out quickly and loudly, some who have accused them of silence before are actually hearing the condemnations. Maybe that’s a little bit of silver lining. But it’s pretty cold comfort.
On one end of the spectrum in the US, Bill Maher, a noted and loudmouthed liberal, offers the opinion that with so many “bad apples” there must be “something wrong with the orchard.” At the other end, conservatives of all stripes have mouthed the expected words – not all Muslims are terrorists – but their actions, too, push us further toward division, suspicion, isolation, and intolerance. Overall, there are a lot of voices shouting out condemnation for the acts in Paris – and, as usual, the only ones I am sure are not listening at all are the ones who committed the acts, and the ones who will come after them to commit more.
I’m as sad, and angry, and bewildered as Charlie. And it cements in my mind the conviction that there is nothing so dangerous as an individual who is absolutely sure he or she knows the truth.