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Rage against the Black and White!

The shootings at Charlie Hebdo, the French newspaper, have shocked us all. But let us be united by it, writes Paul Dellit.

Charlie Hebdo stands for the essence of democratic society based upon pluralism.

Salman Rushdie has issued the following statement:

“Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect”.

Of course, this attack by fundamentalists has a strategic purpose. Their objective is to provoke us into abandoning our values in favour of adopting theirs: the absolutism of believing that I am the bearer of immutable truth and anyone who does not share my belief is my enemy. And as one of the enrolled, I am entitled, if not obliged, to remove any obstacle to my belief becoming predominant in the world. I am entitled to kill anyone and destroy anything if it assists my mission. There are no grey areas for discussion. There is no point in debate when you possess the absolute truth. The world is divided into two camps: those who believe as I do and those who do not; those whom I would uplift and those whom I would remove from the face of the earth. The distinctions I make are as clear as the ultimate extremes of black and white.

Christianity has abandoned the overt pursuit of its violently barbaric Inquisition, long since Christianity was uniquely the Roman Catholic Church, heir to the Holy Roman Empire. But it is only in relatively recent times that the traditional Christian Churches have backed off their dogmatic tone in Sunday sermons and in public statements. Vatican II did not presage this change in public attitude. Vatican II failed, ultimately because men of the stripe of George Pell saw it as the creeping democratisation of the power structure which gave them their own autocratic power and status. And they could tell themselves that their mission was virtuous for, was it not true that they held office within the organisation chosen by the one true God to be the standard-bearer of His absolute truth.

Closer to home, it is unsurprising that the mediocre intellects which dominate the Front Bench of our current Government are committed to Hayekian dogma. The majority of them are still devotees of the particular flavour of Christian dogma in which they were schooled. They like dogma. It gives them that warm fuzzy feeling of being tucked up inside their middle class residences and looking out at those who aren’t. In essence, it satisfies two basic human cravings: certainty about the world they live in which, incidentally, places them in the box seat; and relief from those unpleasant intimations of mortality. Their pursuit of personal wealth at the expense of others is sanctioned by their secular dogma and their Christian dogma promises them life eternal.

The delusions of these men and one woman would be laughable in any other circumstances than that it is their hands gripping the levers of power for one whole term of government. Like all good Hayekians, their limited view of life and total lack of any broader philosophy leaves them with the view that economic utility equals happiness, that the accretion of money is the single purpose of life, that we are nothing more than utilitarian foragers pitted against our fellows for whom the notion of compassion is anathema. They are men and one woman who lack the broad range of sensibilities and sensitivities which mark out all that is fine and estimable in our humanity. How else could they have Abbott as the Minister for Women, Morrison as the Minister for Social Services, and Brandis as Minister for the Arts.

It may be that Charlie Hebdo provides a particularly French character to the art of satire. It pushes the three founding principles of the French Revolution to the limits of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. It is an equal-opportunity satirist with caricatures of every religion, commercial institution, government party and organisation – a true iconoclast with its origins in the 1960s which, unlike Honi Soit (extant) and Oz (deceased), has been able to maintain the rage long after the flowers wilted and the Beatles left the rooftop.

This is a truly sad day, but with the saving grace that it provides the opportunity for all countries and people of good will to unite in their steadfast maintenance of their belief and practice of pluralism.



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  1. Jack

    “The shootings at Charlie Hebdo, the French newspaper, have shocked us all. ”

    hasnt shocked me.. what is shocking, is the way it is being reported. plenty of videos on youtube that show the so called assasignation of the policman.. without the blurry evidence blocker.. that show the folks to simply be bad actors.

    israel has a lot more reason to be angry at france lately..

    shocked? no.. it happens so regularly – theres a name for it.

  2. philgorman2014

    Its a poor idea that needs violence to defend it.

  3. Phi

    Good article by Paul Dellit and Salman Rushdie is spot-on.

  4. Graham Houghton

    Moi aussi, je suis Charlie.

  5. John Lord

    G W Bush made a unilateral decision to invade Iraq based on a lie and with the motive of revenge for 9.11. He is a “born Again Christian” and on the record as saying that God told him to do so. As a result it is estimated that approximately 250,000 innocent people lost their lives.

  6. John Lord

    ‘The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason,never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rationale explanation’

  7. Florence nee Fedup

    Could the aim of these terrorist be that they want the west to turn against all Muslims. Want to make it a religious war. Weakens those who opposes them in Muslims countries. If so, we should not fall in the trap. They will only beaten within their own communities. We need to stand by the moderates.

  8. Bilal

    Wahhabi-Salifi lunatics stabbed a Bosnian Imam who opposes ISIS two days ago in Trnovi. The Leader of Bosnia’s Muslim community, Husein Kavazovic, has repeatedly warned Bosnians not to fall for extremist rhetoric aimed at pulling them into the fight in Syria.
    “Our job is to keep repeating, to keep warning that this is evil and cannot be justified,” he said.
    That’s exactly what Beganovic has been doing — at the risk of his life.
    “These are dangerous people,” he said. “Their place is in a mental institution.”

    ISIS/Daesh is basically a resurgence of Baathists, with some support from tribal Sunnis who suffered badly under the US promoted Maliki, who was similar to Saddam but anti-Sunni. They use the Wahhabist ideology as a recruitment tool for the disaffected and alienated. That ideology has its roots in the 1700s when it was used by the British Empire against the Ottomans. It was resuscitated after the Ottoman defeat in WWI to remove the Arab nationalists around the Emir of Mecca who wanted to establish a caliphate under the empire. That was too dangerous for the criminals of the Sykes-Picot betrayal of the Arabs who fought the Ottomans.
    The Wahhabis were brought back from obscurity to rule “Saudi” Arabia and have been loyal British and US allies ever since. They are being used to undermine Islam now more effectively than in WWI.
    Note their support for Al-Sisi.

  9. Paul G. Dellit

    John, I may be too Machiavellian in my reading of the LNP, but it certainly does suit their interest to limit access to education to the wealthy classes with whom, predominantly, they find a natural affinity. If you make education universally available, you end up with a lot of people applying analytical minds to the content of the LNP message, LNP ‘philosophy’ and LNP self-interested motivations. And of course, the power of mythological lore to be considered as providing a credible guidebook for life’s journey evaporates, religion ultimately reduced to an interesting subject for sociological study.

  10. fairsuckofthesav

    Sickening watching serial human rights abuser and recidivist liar lolling back and laughing while at the cricket. That ‘christian’ Howard damaged so many lives and got away with it is appalling. Not to mention taking this country to war based on a lie.

  11. mars08

    U.S. drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan have killed approximately 1,147 unidentified people in pursuit of 41 “named” suspects, or 28 unknown people for every intended target, according to a report released by international human rights organization Reprieve.

    Drones Kill 28 ‘Unknowns’ for Every Intended Target: Reprieve

    Apparently you’re only a terrorist if you are in the same city as your innocent victims. If you can do it using globe-spanning technology, it’s not so evil.

  12. la_lasciata


  13. Harquebus

    It is religion that is the problem. If it can be defeated or relegated to the lunatic fringe where it belongs, a lot of problems will disappear. Religion only survives because it is allowed to indoctrinate children who, are programmed to believe everything that they are told. Theologians use mankind’s natural fear of death to impel obedience and conformity on the false promise of eternal life.

  14. stephentardrew


    One despairs at the ignorance on both sides of politics concerning science and a more nuanced understanding of inequality. What I would call second principles based upon judgment, blame and retribution which is underscored by original sin and victim blame as opposed to first principles of scientific causation that traces the hereditary, familial, historical, cultural, religious and economic conditioning based upon habituation and primal ignorance. First principles are concerned with initial causes and concern a primarily deterministic universe that removes choice from many who are born into irrational families and cultures. True choice is not conditioning of past dysfunctional habits when they lead to dogma, irrational religious ideologies, injustice, and inequity.

    Choice actually rests in compassion and empathy which leads to reasoned understanding of dysfunction, cruelty, war, inequality and absurd wealth alongside abject poverty. Second principles allow you to believe anything in the name of dogma and authority whereas first principles demand reason, compassion, goodness and, might I say, love of you fellow humans. We can either let primitive reactive drives dominate or we can overcome emotional reactivity with well reasoned solutions based upon non-judgment, empirical evidence and tolerant application of the facts.

    It is so easy to demonstrate that people do not create their realities and/or circumstances and most only have nominal choice under conditions of sever environmental and educational restrictions against change. Just visit the slums of Delhi to see how just life is.

    Natural selection is much more tolerant of community and the required consideration of others than brute dogmatism and uninformed opinion.

    Sadly our academic institutions are failing us miserably when they ignore the straight out fact that economic rationalism and supply side economics are a complete failure yet carry on as if the status quo is the only viable alternative.

    Many politicians are scientifically and logically challenged however we should expect a lot more from our academic institutions than conformity to a wholly corrupt political system open to the highest bidders.

  15. stephentardrew

    The Middle East has been the playground of western empires as they draw lines on maps while commandeering resources for their corporate masters. As a result hundreds of thousand die or end up living in in poverty and hardship while the West plays its moral high ground of hypocritical undemocratic elitism.

    Why should we be confused when such disasters occur? Push people beyond the limit of tolerance by disenfranchising and impoverishing their youth and hope that all is going to be well.

    We are our own worst enemy.

  16. Dagney J. Taggart

    Damn,I knew I should have put money on how long it would take the “but but but Christians…” crowd to start flinging the inquisition around. Absolutely appalling what was done then, to men, women, and Jews – no doubt.. But it was hundreds of years ago.

    With regard to G. W. Bush claiming God told me to do it, the source of this is Mahmoud Abbas – hardly what I would call a reliable source. Bush himself has denied saying it. You would think a fundamentalist Christian would embrace a state tn like this, assuming that he actually made it.

    Now, the civilian deaths in Iraq. The overwhelming majority were not done by the west. They were done by Muslim against Muslim. Okay, the west should never have invaded Iraq, but the responsibility for most of the resultant carnage rests with Islam and it’s more radical supporters.

  17. Möbius Ecko

    PLOS Medical Study of all casualties in the Iraq illegal invasion.

    35% of violent deaths were attributed to the Coalition, and 32% to militias. I’m not sure if they were militias supporting the CoW but I think they were. If that’s the case then 67% of the deaths were caused by the CoW and those supporting them.

    For those who attributed to the HIP deaths to the Labor government as it was their policy, then the Iraq deaths belong to the CoW, including Howard, as they were a direct result of the illegal invasion.

  18. mark delmege

    Some good comments above but If you dont mind a link to a blog thats sums it up even better
    Charlie Hebdo – The Chickens Come Home To Roost

  19. Dagney J. Taggart

    I assume that is the 2,000 family survey. Of course, if the militias were not supporting the CoW, then one can equally argue that 65% of deaths were caused by other than the CoW (and their supporters). There are other statistics that indicate anti occupation forces have killed more that CoW forces since 2003.

  20. Sad sack

    Christians were politically killing Christians until about 20 years ago a key element in stopping was the involvement of women. When do you think Muslim men will allow Muslim women a say? The Saudis are treating women who want to drive as terrorists??

  21. Annie B

    While utterly sickened by this evil event in France …. I have to say I am equally sickened, repulsed, and indeed saddened, by our own elected Prime Monster Abbott … jumping in front of cameras ( yet again ) to make a statement that was ill-timed, ill-advised, pretentious and even patronising.

    He likened this planned and diabolical death attack on 12 people in a Paris office area …. and police outside, to the recent tragic event in Martin Place, which was brought about by a nut-case anti-everything person ( of the Muslim faith admittedly – so he claimed by his flag waving ) ….. and was a one off – not connected to a PLANNING by a terrorist cell of any kind.

    Man Haron Monis had made a lot of threats against a lot of people ( which the AFP and NSW Police decided to ignore !! ) …. including threats against other Muslims ( against one Muslim, for engaging in some kind of agreement with a Jewish group ).

    So – he, Abbott, has once again claimed some form of ’empathy’ and parallel alignment between the outrage in France ( certainly terrorist cell activity ) and our own horror recently in Martin Place. …. It was like watching a child saying ‘na na, nee na na’ …. ‘we’ve had that too – so there’. Repugnant.

    I do not, by my comments, degrade the horrific outcome of Martin Place. ….. But it bears no resemblance at all to what has taken place in France this morning.

    To those taken so violently today .. .. Puissent-ils reposer en paix .

  22. Annie B

    @ Dagney J Taggart :

    re : …….. ” Absolutely appalling what was done then, to men, women, and Jews – no doubt.. But it was hundreds of years ago.”


    What IS appalling, is that we haven’t progressed very far – have we ? ……

    Still doing the same ole, same ole.

    Makes me sick to my stomach.

    And here’s us, with so much more scientific and technological data to be used. ? ……. We can’t even begin to be humane.

    Including Christians and all other religious ideologies in that comment.

  23. divide et impera

    ‘The shootings at Charlie Hebdo, the French newspaper, have shocked us all.’

    Given the shredding of flesh from bone goes on daily in our global community, I don’t see how any observer paying attention through recent decades could be more shocked by one sickening event over another.

  24. Michael Taylor

    Of course other events shock us too, but this article wasn’t about those. How do you expect us to begin an article about the Paris shooting? We obviously wouldn’t start off with “The murder of eight children in Cairns shocked us all” for example.

    Don’t be so picky.

  25. stephentardrew

    We continue to act with shock rather than rational assessment of causes, effects and their solutions. While on this emotional merry go round we fail to see that we are being tipped into reactive emotionalism rather than reasoned assessment. May seem a bit harsh however tears will not stop this farce. Guilt is more appropriate when we are complicit in creating the conditions for such excesses. No amount of sorrow is going to stop unjust wars and degradation of peoples lives through some elitist idea that we have the right to intervene in another countries difficulties especially when we lie our way there. It’s easy to be emotional but no so easy to be responsible for our involvement.

    How do you turn emotional visceral drives to reasoned assessment and coherent action?

  26. divide et impera

    As shocking goes I find the deafening silence on who funds which ngo miltia movement more the point to ponder so oft missed by the selective outrage entitled industry.

    Knowledge leads to potential solutions. If the global peaceful majority had that information then we all have the same BDS fridge magnet collection to consider when parting with those hard earned quids.

  27. mark delmege

    presactly, divide et impera. We know but they aren’t saying cos it would reveal what racist criminal thugs they are at heart.

  28. mars08


    We continue to act with shock rather than rational assessment of causes, effects and their solutions…

    War has a way of following us home. Yet we expect to remain untouched.

  29. Annie B

    @stephent ….

    Well said, and agree with most all you have said in your post.

    One, perhaps towards big problem though – the day none of us can shed tears, have emotional visceral ‘drives’, and be moved and have feelings of at least alarm, at these increasing events, is the day we become complacent, and desensitised to these horrors. ……. and frankly, THAT will not bring about reasoned assessment and coherent action.

    That’s my opinion. …… but I might be wrong.

    There’s a degree of collective grief when terrorists succeed in any degree against innocent people. Within grief, there are several stages – one of which is anger ( the degree of which would be according to the cause of the grief ). ….

    It’s that anger that will kick start reasoned assessment and coherent action. I would think ( don’t know for sure – would like to hear your opinion ) … that terrorists might be minorly pleased at the outpouring of grief and tears, but would certainly prefer to see complacency and densitisation to their vile works. …….. Would make their evil intentions, more easily accomplished.

  30. mars08

    “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.”

    : Author Samuel Huntingdon, “The Clash of Civilizations” (1996)

    And it’s still happening today…

  31. musicinhills

    Poor feller, my Planet

  32. mark delmege

    ‘Charlie Hebdo stands for the essence of democratic society based upon pluralism’

    No I don’t think so. Not at all. Rather insensitivity and arrogance and stupid white men who think they have a right to offend.

    And there are more important issues which I am glad to see others have raised here.

  33. mark delmege

  34. corvus boreus

    Je nést pas Charlie Hedbo.

    I deplore the murders of the staff of this magazine, (and the policemen), as a despicable act committed by sick murderers, and reject and despise the kind of dementedly intolerant zealotry that seems to have been behind it. People should not be subjected to any violence, let alone murdered for expressing an opinion or simply doing a job.

    I do not, however, stand with Charlie Hedbo as a commercial media entity. From what I viewed of the cartoons reported/reputed to be the alleged catalyst for the atrocity, they were the kind of defamatory caricature pornography that I deplore when deployed by Pickering, only directed at a figure held as sacred by a large slice of their countryfolk.
    There are a number af rational critiques and criticisms that can be made about Islam(and others), on a variety of issues (including gender prejudice, intolerance, irrationality, inherent fatalism etc), none of which are Communicated by depiction of genitals displayed during devotional prostrations or generic middle-east types being riddled with bullets through a Quran.
    The intent of the cartoons seem to have been merely to provoke reaction and controversy, possibly to help move print, rather than to make any valid point or encourage any rational discussion. They received the irrational response of murdering gunfire from a bunch of homicidal lunatics.
    A trite comparison but valid would be someone loudly abusing other patrons in a bar and getting glassed in the throat. Glassing people is completely and utterly wrong, but gratuitously sledging people with offensive vulgarity is not entirely righteous(or clever).
    I have unreserved sympathy for the victims and those around them, but this is not matched by any desire to offer symbolic ideological support, based on what I have seen, for Charlie Hedbo or the type of media entity that it represents.

    Je suis pour humanité civile.

  35. Paul G. Dellit

    Je suis Charlie, not in defence of the publication. In some respects, Charlie Hebdo was indefensible, particularly when its characatures crossed the line into racism. My article attempted to make two points: that we should heed Voltaire’s defence of pluralism; and that we should reject the admonitions of socially divisive ‘us and them’ ideologies, secular as well as religious.p
    Of course there are many other threads that we can tease out of the fabric of these sad events. As important as the two points raised in the article is the reflection that former colonial powers, like France and the UK, and those who profited from the slave trade, like the USA, are paying the price for the atrocities they perpetrated upon other human beings in the name of religious and secular ‘us and them’ ideologies.
    The sins of colonialism and the slave traders are continued to this day in the ghettos and areas of institutionalised poverty of those countries and in Australia which was invaded following the colonial model.
    The great obscenity of the Abbott government is that it seeks to overturn the pluralist welfare state we have had in Australia in favour of a new social structure comprised of winners and losers, us and them, an ecomically disadvantaged class willing to work for next to nothing, like the working poor of the USA. Abbott and his coterie of neocons seek to widen the gap between rich and poor, the rich becoming even richer at the cost of the health, education and all of the other rights the disadvantaged are entitled to in a welfare state. The Hockey Budget was their neocon ideology writ large. I guess we can be thankful for the small mercy that the Abbott front bench is almost to a man and woman comprised of mediocre intellects verging upon the palpably stupid.

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