America. I forgave you Obama, a lot of people got swept up in that hope-change-yes we can-shit. Someone even gave that sweet talking, smooth walking mutha a Nobel Peace Prize just for saying shit. I even forgave you for George W. Bush, I mean, we had our own war criminal bathing in the blood of dead service personnel and Iraqi children and drying themselves in hundred dollar bills – people in glass houses and all. I will not, however, forgive you Donald Trump.
The images this week of 3 gunmen killing journalists at Charlie Hebdo whilst at work sent shock waves around the world. People reacted strongly to the attack, the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie trended and peaceful assemblies to remember them took place all over.
I was with some police officers when news broke and the images started to go viral. My first thoughts were with the victims and their families, then the countless number of innocent Muslims that would be victimised as a result of this barbaric act. This was a vicious attack, conducted by a handful of people with significant issues but not one driven by religion.
The attacks are alleged to be in response to several cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo, that portrayed the Prophet Muhammad in a negative light. This has resulted in dozens, if not hundreds, of people coming out and expressing their belief that these attacks were an attack on the freedom of speech and expression itself. People such as Barack Obama and David Cameron. Barack Obama and David Cameron? These people have been the face of oppression, both sides of the Atlantic, with acts and bills being passed day and night that have gradually stripped away our freedoms and liberties. I do not recall any of them bleating about our rights to expression then?
Secret Courts, TPIMs, DRIP, NDAA, RIPA, CISPA; you name it, they have passed it, to protect our ‘liberties’. If the situation in Paris was not so serious, it would be laughable to hear these people come out in their support of our freedom of expression.
The right to freedom of speech and expression is something that causes controversy; is it okay to have freedom of speech and expression if it incites hatred or intolerance, or cause offence? The main problem is the balance with which this freedom is given. Even with a cursory glance at the media you will see that the majority of views, regards certain religions or beliefs, are typically one-sided and biased. If we are therefore to have the freedom for all to express themselves, without remit, there has to be an equal and opposite balance of views, which is something sorely missing. Some believe that our freedoms come with moral responsibility to be mindful of others.
To put the bleating of Cameron into perspective, in the lead up to the Royal wedding, the MET police went on a ‘pre-crime’ spree of arresting people who they believed would visibly oppose the wedding, sort of like the Tom Cruise film ‘Minority Report’. Is this the action of a state that supposedly supports the freedom of expression, something that we would “never relinquish” as exclaimed by David Cameron this week? But, you might say, there should be a line, it was someone’s wedding, something that people wanted to see, so you cannot speak out openly about it and disrupt the publics viewing pleasure. How is that any different to the divisive images created by Charlie Hebdo or others? Their images may have caused offence to the population of Frances’ Muslim community, and the wider Muslim community as a whole, yet there was not the global race to remove such imagery from their repertoire?
Where do we draw a line on what is the right to free expression? Do we draw a line? Should there be a line? Would the same support for this freedom of expression have existed if the cartoonists were making offensive imagery of Jews? I doubt very much so. Russia Today journalist Harry Fear said: “There’s a big difference between the right of expression and the freedom of expression. The latter concept conveys solely the ability to express; one is free to do something. It’s different to be able to do something, than to be able to do something and also to do it. In France, yes, it’s a freedom, to insult, humiliate and disrespect minorities for the sake of it, just to hurt them — but should it really be a right that one fulfils for the sake of it? Further, is it really noble to do so? Is it valuable for democracy? It is a symbolic measure of civilisation?”
What happened this week was a vicious, cowardly act, perpetrated by deeply troubled people. It has been used by the right to justify their beliefs and actions over minorities and now there are calls for the Muslim community to apologise, but why? Did we ask the Catholic church or the Buddhist temples to apologise for Hitler or Moa? Did we ask all Jews to apologise for the acts of the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza last summer? No. So why are some in society making the requirement for one group to apologise over another? For villains such as Rupert Murdoch, who it might be said are complicit in the deaths of millions of innocent people and armed forces personnel wading in to call for Muslims to be held responsible is deplorable. The religion someone is born into, the language they use to justify their actions, should not be used to perpetuate intolerance towards the wider, peaceful majority. Hitler, Stalin and Moa were all born into certain religions, used phrases such as ‘doing the lords work’ yet we do not condemn the entire faith base of their religion with the same crimes or with the same conviction. Do not do so to followers of Islam either.
The attacks in Paris this week were horrendous but the clamour by the establishment to call this the ‘war on freedom’, with the evidence and experience we have of the way in which we are viewed as subjects by our very own governments, is as callous and scandalous a move as I have seen.
Do not be undone by fear, we are more alike than we are different and do not let the seeds of fear grow doubt within you because the media says so.
Martin Luther King (MLK) spoke of a dream, a dream whereby the content of someones character becomes more important than the colour of their skin. In Washington this week thousands gathered to listen to three Presidents; Carter, Clinton and Obama, along with members of MLK’s family to pay tribute to his speech that has transcended the ages. Unfortunately that dream, regardless of what Obama and Clinton said yesterday, is yet to be realised for billions on this planet, including Americans and of course us Brits.
The ghetto looks the same from the front of the bus and now people are being left behind from all cultures at a phenomenal rate.
We live in a time where a country that supported Saddam Hussein whilst he gassed a million Kurds, selling him chemical weapons, now finds itself prepared to start a war with Syria over an allegation via YouTube that the government used chemical weapons on its own people. Unwilling to wait for a United Nations inspection report, the Nobel Peace Prize winning President Barack Obama, is preparing public opinion and wants to get on with it ahead of his trip to Petersberg on Tuesday for the G20. His lap-dog David Cameron is upset that the opposition, Labour, have vetoed any action until such time as the UN inspectors report has been digested. Labour of course were the puppets in charge when Tony Blair lied through his teeth with Jack Straw and told us Saddam was stock piling Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and so have steadied the surge for action, conscious of a backlash from the people of the UK for condoning another illegal war. I have a nightmare.
We live in a time where America, the land of the free, use depleted uranium in their munitions that left thousands of Iraqi children deformed and with cancer, they reigned down white phosphorus on civilians, said nothing when Israel did the same and yet they find the alleged actions of the Syrian regime unacceptable. The Syrian civil war has been waging for over two years and at no time have the American or UK government been interested in anything other than selling arms to a rebel group that has not been properly vetted and that has served only to perpetuate and escalate the war. I have a nightmare.
We live in a time where America, who dropped an atom bomb on the people of Hiroshima just to flex their military might, speak out against the Israeli right to retaliate against indiscriminate bombing, who will now chastise the Syrians when they retaliate to any intervention carried out by the axis of peace. I have a nightmare. We live in a time when Madeline Albright said it was justifiable for the U.S. to be responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children through sanctions and bombings and now claim to care about Syrian children, I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare of a UK pilot being shot down by Syrian forces using a surface to air missile sold to them by Russia, which will result in ‘boots on the ground’ and the Middle East spontaneously combusting. I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare that Russia and China will take an exception to the world police mobilising to annihilate Assad and will offer their services to stop them. I have a nightmare that Hezbollah will see any action by the West as an act of aggression and that this will result in the Syrian civil war spilling on to the streets of the UK and America. I have a nightmare.
We live in a time where in the UK we have go home vans driving around the streets, 50 years on from the I have a dream speech by MLK in America. The UK has not had a Civil rights struggle the same as America but the cry is the same, we all want to be free. I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare of the black shirts, police, stopping people in the streets and asking them if they have the correct paper work. I have nightmares that doctors will ask to see our paper work to ensure we have the right to medical treatment. I have a nightmare that the fire and ambulance service will end up privatised and we will only receive their help if we have the correct insurances, I have a nightmare.
We live in a time where America and the UK attack China and Russia for vetoing the option for action on Syria until the UN inspectors results are in, when somewhat hypocritically they veto any decisions taken that involve Israel.
We live in a time where Tony Blair, who has the blood of men women and children on his hands, should be arrested for his war crimes but instead has been appointed a Middle East Peace envoy and now we have to listen to him bleat on about how we should resolve the conflict and his talk of intervention. It is like asking a heroin addict for advice on the best way to dispose of methadone. 30-50 people a day dying in bombing incidents Tony Liar, well done!
We live in a time where MLK had a dream but Barack Obama has a drone and they operate out of America, the UK and a host of other airbases across the planet and they kill people indiscriminately without trial. They focus on first responders because they too may be ‘the bad guys’. When it is American or British first responders to scenes of ‘terror’ on our streets, they are commended for their bravery; in Yemen, Pakistan and soon to be Syria, they are regarded as the enemy. I have a nightmare.
MLK’s dream is one that changes with each generation, today we have civil partnerships and gay marriage, or as I like to call it, marriage. I have a dream was a call to mobilise on the back of peaceful direct action and civil disobedience that has been lost in the MTV generation, but it is one that I feel is being slowly regained as more and more people are becoming aware of the deceit and corruption of the power principle personas at the head of our states. If we want freedom to ring across the continents and throughout the ages we must rise up together against the tyranny and corruption of these people in position of influence and stand for each other across the variety of issues that face us all. There are no problems but human problems.
“We can bomb this world to pieces but we cannot bomb it into peace” ~ Michael Franti