Sunday, January 11, 2015
Je suis Charlie, Я – Чарлі, I am Ukraine, I am Crimea, I am Donbas
Indeed, the premeditated, methodical murder of a dozen journalists in their editorial office is instantaneously more shocking and incredulous than the perpetual killings during the 10-month-old Russo-Ukraine War of 2014.
In three days last week, radical Islamic terrorists perpetrated a coldblooded attack against freedom of the press, democracy, peace, Paris, France, Jews and the world’s sensibilities.
The global outrage against this bloodshed and tumultuous support for what the victims in two locations stood for was more than justified. About 3 million people by some estimates, including 40 national leaders, among them President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, participated in Sunday’s march of unity in Paris. An inspiring manifestation of fraternity, equality and brotherhood that was tarnished by the presence of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. But hypocrites will always be immoral frauds.
The outpouring of support for the related issues is inspiring, historic and worthy of repetition. At its peak last Thursday evening, there were nearly 6,500 tweets per minute with the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie. As of late the following day, there had been more than 5 million tweets using that hashtag since the previous Wednesday and the subsequent reach was astronomical.
There has also been a lot of soul searching in the aftermath of the killings as masked murderers shouted “Allahu akbar” while shooting innocent people, then fleeing in a car. Everyone who was touched by this crime reflected about freedom of speech, the newsworthiness of ridiculing Mohammed and other religious symbols, and terrorism.
Sally Kohn, activist, columnist and television commentator, observed on CNN:
“As others have pointed out, in the wake of the Paris attacks we’ve conflated support for free speech with support for the actual speech in question. But while I unquestionably support the free speech rights of the KKK and ‘god hates fags’ protesters, for example, that clearly doesn’t mean I would support, never mind join in, their hateful messages. Some on the right insist that media should have to re-print Charlie Hebdo’s anti-Islam cartoons or else they're cowardly. However, this is a fundamental perversion of free speech, to say the least. There is no inconsistency between supporting free speech for Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists and finding the content of some of their cartoons offensive and disrespectful.”
Or as Voltaire was to have said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
As civilization has come to learn in recent history, the evil of terrorism comes in different sizes and shapes but it is all the same: Senseless. Vile. Bloody.
With these murders in Paris occurring during Russia’s war against Ukraine, some social media tweets and posts sought to condemn the French government for failing to support Ukraine against Russian terror. However, with murders at Charlie Hebdo still fresh, it was not prudent to reprimand French leaders for their cold policy regarding besieged Ukraine and Russian terrorism there. It’s better to build national, popular support and consensus.
Having said that, it is appropriate for the world to remember that the Ukrainian nation is in the throes of a murderous war that Russia is waging against it. Press freedom, human rights and democracy were violated in Paris while at the same time the right to an independent national existence, sovereignty and democracy are being violated in Ukraine by a megalomaniac in the Kremlin.
Russia’s brutal, criminal behavior toward Ukraine is terrorism on a grander scale but with boredom enveloping the world’s leaders and activists, the war in Ukraine will likely not get a fair hearing. While radical Islamists were out rightly condemned for the carnage in Paris and reminded of earlier massacres, Putin and Russia are given the benefit of the doubt with evasive criticism and naïve hopefulness.
How can world leaders accept the invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea; how can world leaders condone the subsequent invasion of eastern Ukraine and seizure of Luhansk and Donetsk; and how can world leaders tolerate the murder of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, and innocent air travelers?
When will 3 million non-Ukrainians gather in any national capital to condemn Russian aggression and defend Ukrainian national rights?
These questions are as painfully real as those being asked on the Champs Elysees.
History has shown that when Ukrainian interests intersect interests’ of other countries or issues, Ukraine has been placed on the short end of the stick. Already NATO leadership has uttered hopes that Russia, which has fervently supported global radical Islam, would join in the fight against it. Radical Islam is an indisputable global danger but free world leaders would not do better by forgiving Russia, begging it to help in the fight against international radicals and betraying Ukraine.
Radical Islam is a threat to world peace and stability just like Russian terrorism is and the world doesn’t have the luxury to choose between lesser or greater evils.