THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN (1969). Joseph McGrath directs Raquel Welch, Peter Sellers, Roman Polanski, and Ringo Starr in Terry Southern’s comedy in which the richest man in the world proves anything can be bought.
“ Now, at the beginning of the breakfast meal, Harry had noticed, a tall, mysterious-looking man with long dark hair and gaunt, enigmatic features. He was dressed stylishly in a crisp, black suit; and his tie made a shock of red in the otherwise totally black outfit. The dark hair on his pale chest was neatly trimmed but still noticeably thick; and he wore elegant, black leather shoes on both of his feet. It was now that he noticed that, on the table that this man was sitting at, was a placard that said on it, "Mr. Snape.” “
Make no mistake: the slaughter of twelve people is horrific. Journalists deserve the right to freely investigate and speak out about troublesome aspects of society that few people take close looks at. My heart goes out to the families of those who were lost, and I pray for them. But the cartoons that Charlie Hebdo was publishing were shoddy, racist caricatures rather than skilled, meaningful satire. Of course, this doesn’t remotely justify the attack that happened, and Charlie Hebdo was well within its right of free speech to publish them. But I’m going to exercise my right to free speech and say that just because it was the victim of a cruel and meaningless terrorist attack doesn’t mean I have to unquestionably support everything they published and uphold them as heroes and martyrs of western civilization.
It’s long been said that good satire punches up rather than down. If they were operating in a Muslim-majority country where governmental and societal authority derives from Islam, and islamic extremism is something that actually has a direct affect on people’s every day lives, their cartoons would be acceptable. But they weren’t. The cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo were White, non-Muslim men in a Christian-majority country with a long history of colonializing Muslim countries and where Muslims are still frequently the subject of racist hate crimes. If they were satirizing Christianity and its sway in the French government, it would be different. But Hebdo’s Mohammed cartoons were a direct punch down, denigrating a minority religion and a minority race, insulting their long-held practices and stereotyping them as irrational, fanatical barbarians. But they insulted every religion! If only every religion held equal status within Western society. Saying “they satirize religion in general” wipes away the prejudice and harassment that Muslims face, the insults and the stereotypes that might just make them turn inward towards a radicalized version of Islam. Yeah, you’re free to publish it. But I’m also free to say that it’s racist, and Muslims are also free to say “I find that to be hurtful.”
This isn’t really the first time that racist men have made racist works of art that have drawn the ire of Muslim extremists. Theo van Gogh made the film Submission and was subsequently murdered for it. Of course it’s a travesty that he was murdered. The Bible says murder is wrong, and the Qur'an says that murder is wrong. Basic human decency says that murder is wrong. But I’m not going to mince words. Submission, now a film school standard to show the importance of free speech, is utter garbage. It’s a ten-minute film about the abuse of women in Islamic countries, showing Islamic scriptures in shadow over nubile, naked female flesh. It somehow manages to fetishize, exotify, and infantilize Muslim women all at once. It paints Muslim men as thoughtless, violent barbarians who use the Qur'an as an excuse to beat women. It places the blame for violence against women in the middle east squarely on Islam rather than, oh, I don’t know, institutional misogyny, and it conveniently ignores the violence that women in Western countries still routinely face. It’s a masterpiece of racism and sexism. It may not be an excuse to murder someone, but good God, it’s hard to praise someone who created something so insulting.
It’s easy to blame Islam as the cause of terrorism. It’s something most westerners don’t understand, and many of us don’t even have a Muslim friend who can say to us, “well, Islam doesn’t condone murder.” Uncivilized men praise God in languages we don’t understand and commit unspeakable acts of violence. Surely it’s all because they read that devil book, the Qur'an. We don’t like to think that there could be anything more to it, things like the legacy of colonialism, White supremacy, brutal Western foreign policy, failed cultural integration, and of course, alpha male macho bullshit. When I look at recruitment videos from ISIS and Al-Qaeda, I see the same things promised by American military recruitment ads and video game ads: supremacy, domination, nobility and strength. Alpha male macho bullshit. Be the man you’ve always dreamed of being. Toxic masculinity. It’s hard for men to recognize the element of toxic masculinity that fuels terrorism, because that would mean looking at yourself and asking, “am I at all like this?” It’s hard not to ignore it in the stories of the young men from Western society, alienated, unattached, and bored, who go and join ISIS. It’s not just the promise of Jannah that’s causing them to leave their families and lives behind. The same goes for the Tsarnayev brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon. From what I’ve read of Tamerlan Tsarnayev, he spent his life in America feeling like an outcast, never receiving the material success and financial stability promised to him by “the American dream.” So he retreated to the fantasy of the “freedom fighter” from Chechnya, striking out against the cold, heartless society that had made him feel like a loser. Just like Elliott Rogers turned his rage against the women who he believed had spurned him and killed six people. The same alienation, entitlement, and search for glory that drove Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to shoot up Colombine High School, Cho Seung-hui to shoot up Virginia Tech, and Adam Lanza to slaughter twenty first-graders.
But no! They shouted Allahu Akhbar! They were trying to be like their martyr terrorist heroes! Before James Holmes murdered twelve people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, he dyed his hair and dressed up like The Joker. Before Jerad and Amanda Miller went out and murdered a police officer, they dressed themselves up as The Joker and Harley Quinn. Are we going to blame the Batman franchise for this violence? Of course not! Millions of people are Batman fans and they don’t murder people! In Western society, pop culture takes the place of religion. On a Sunday morning, where are you more likely to see thousands of people all gathered in one place, fervently praying for one thing, at church, or at a football stadium? When someone sees a violent movie and sees that act of violence being praised, thinks to themselves, I can do that, are they really all that different from someone who sees an ISIS video and thinks, I can do that? Does the fact that we’ve brought God into the issue really change the pain caused by this violence, or undo the harm done?
Religion is, ultimately, neutral. It’s a list of instructions on how to live your life with a million different ways of interpreting it. It’s an excuse, a cover for ignorance, fear, and prejudice, a convenient veil that we use to hide away the complicated, ugly things within ourselves that we don’t like to look at. We don’t like to think that White boys shoot things up for the same reason that Muslim terrorists shoot things up. We lament “honor killings” in Pakistan while ignoring the number of Western women who are murdered by male partners who suspect them of cheating. We denounce religious extremists who live in a medieval mindset that subjugates women and then turn on 19 Kids and Counting. We praise the importance of freedom of the press but then refuse to publish pictures of queer couples kissing on their history-making wedding day.
I’m not afraid of Islamic extremists. I’m afraid of the fuckwits who will now think that it’s their patriotic duty to draw racist, islamophobic cartoons. I’m afraid for the harassment and violence my Muslim friends are going to face in the coming days, harassment and violence that will be blamed on terrorists rather then racists. I’m afraid for the unarmed Black teenagers who will be murdered by cops who will get off scott-free. I’m afraid for the queer teens who face the psychological torture of conversion therapy because their Christian parents love them so much. I’m afraid of the anonymous commenters who are going to call me a SJW feminazi, try to doxx me, and then send me death and rape threats. That is the terrorism that I live with.
After an intense battle that has lasted for many years, The War on Christmas has finally come to an end. Heretics, non-believers, and worshipers of false gods have battled long and hard to annihilate Christmas, and the battle, today, was won.
Christmas trees all across the United States have been set ablaze. Children everywhere are crying, as heathens break into the homes of happy Christian families, and snatch away their presents.
Every single chain of stores across the country has ceased all sale and development of Christmas related merchandise, and are no longer partaking in any manner of Christmas sales. In fact, virtually no establishment, be it business or media related, will anymore acknowledge the existence of Christmas.
The atheists, who now control 100% of Congress, have passed a law banning all practice and celebration of Christmas. Anybody caught celebrating Christmas, or praising Jesus Christ, will be arrested.
All calenders have removed any mention of Christmas and Christmas Eve, and December 25 is now just another ordinary day, devoid of any celebration.
Fox News reporter Bill O'Reilly said, “It’s a sad day today in America. Christians are now no longer allowed to celebrate a holiday which I am legally not allowed to even name on-air, due to the new tyrannical atheist rule in this once great country. I warned this day would come. Christians have long been an oppressed people in America. And this is what has come of that.”
Eugene Peters, the new atheist President of the United States, issued a formal announcement. “I stand here today, euphoric, to announce that Christmas is no more. We atheists have been fighting for years, waging our war on Christmas, and today we stand triumphant. We wanted to abolish Christmas, and today we succeeded. It’s fortunate for us that our numbers greatly surpassed the Christians. That their holiday would be wiped from the calender was inevitable. Join me, fellow Americans, as we recite our new atheist prayer, and stand together as a proud atheist nation.”
However, countless Americans are now mourning the fact that Christmas no longer exists.
Historically ignorant labrats rehashing century-old arguments that have been debunked by Christians hundreds of times over, in a logical format less convincing then when the first barbarians announced them, who bow down to the papacy of peer review and self-defeating dogma of naturalism while accusing non-atheists of the same irrationality, and while accusing their opponents of misunderstanding their view when they spend no time studying their opponent’s, all the while pretending to be rational skeptics of everything*.
*By the way, they’re a collection of sparkly space shit (ref. Sagan) who happen to be conscious