|15A006 Religion, Murder and Government by Jim Davies, 1/21/2015
Being just a tad short of the $598 I'd have needed to buy on eBay an authentic, French, collectors'-item hard copy of the Survivors' Edition of Charlie Hebdo, instead I splurged a whole $1 on a .pdf version of the same. I'm now scraping a load of rust off my French, and am mightily grateful for Google Translate.
It is a very remarkable publication.
The staff at CH are not Muslim, and so are in no way subject to that religion's rule that no image of Mohammad shall be penned. They have penned many over the years, and ten of them got murdered for that fact on January 7th, but their colleagues did it again on the 14th, on the front page, in-your-face. Good for them!
But then look at how they portrayed him. He holds the iconic sign, declaring he favors the publication and opposes those who killed in his name. A wedge is skilfully inserted, between the ordinary Muslim who tries to live a good life and mind his business, and the "leaders" whose confidence in their beliefs is so low that they must kill those who reject them.
Further yet: a tear is being shed for the victims, and he is shown as pardoning the killers! "All is forgiven"! I have my doubts whether the real Mohammad, were he alive today, would do any such thing - but the artist charitably presumes he would. Further, since this is the front page of the Survivors' Edition, that statement must come also from the survivors. Had my colleagues been murdered a week earlier, I'd not be forgiving the culprits. Yet that's what the staff say they are doing.
The wedge thus driven is the best thing that could possibly have come from this tragedy. If 5½ million Muslims in France can be led to dissociate from their violent leaders, real progress will have been made. Charlie Hebdo may have roots in the far Left, and may have distasteful, vulgar cartoons in every issue, but here I say they did good.
Separating the followers from the fanatics would be an excellent start, but is not a full fix. For that, let's delve deeper.
The central problem is that ever since that lamentable outfit was invented, government has made use of religion to secure its grip on the hearts and minds of its subjects. Religion in the coming zero government society will be a distraction and an inconsistency, as shown in this ZGBlog, but it will be harmless; when government is around, it isn't harmless. There is a deadly synergy between the two and always has been, as I show in Denial of Liberty.
They key in my opinion to separating a person from his religion is to challenge its core - to go for the jugular. All three Abrahamic varieties (and most others) start with the premise that there exists a God; but in no case is that premise shown to be secure. It is plucked out of thin air, and presented as raw dogma; the reader of Genesis 1:1, to which all those three religions subscribe, is invited to take it or leave it.
Very well: challenge that. Call first, as George H Smith brilliantly suggests, for the term "God" to be defined; for it's impossible to discuss the existence of an entity that cannot even be defined. This was my own route out of religion; I'd enjoyed many aspects of being a Christian for many years, but then re-examined its root, by checking the evidence for the existence of God. To my surprise, it disintegrated at the first push.
To engage a Muslim's mind, especially, with such radical thinking, has been almost impossible until recent years because the bond between that religion and the government in its locality is extremely tight; apostasy is often punishable by death. But now, millions of them have migrated to Europe and elsewhere, to countries where speech is relatively free; so if your neighbor is a Muslim, get to know him and gently begin to question the foundation of his faith. The first "pillar" (of five) in Islam is "there is no god except God, and Muhammad is God's Messenger." So what, exactly, is meant by "God"? Given that he, she or it is invisible, intangible, inaudible, unsmellable and untasteable, what evidence for existence do you find? Why do you think that time had a beginning?
A useful aid to that approach may be my most recent e-book. Which Church (if any)? It's meant for anyone interested in Christianity and considering which, if any, of its various denominiations to join. That's true of many immigrants, especially teenagers born in the West. It presents a fair, brief history of the religion but also offers a "decision tree" that starts with the question above, about how to define "God" and settle the matter of his existence - so it is useful in considering any theistic religion. At only $3, you might give it to your young neighbor as a gift.
Much better yet, invite your neighbor to study the ideas of liberty, in The On Line Freedom Academy - and after doing so, to bring one of his friends along to do the same, once a year. This simple, replicative method is a priceless chance to work through a Muslim population (and any other) like a does of salts. In TOLFA, the subject of religion comes up in its fifth segment - after some vitally important foundations have been laid in the first four. After all, our prime aim is to educate folk out of the religion of government; when that one has vanished the residue of any others will be harmless and any magazine will be free to publish whatever it wishes, without risk of slaughter.