Ignorance & Arrogance: the Charlie Hebdo Tragedy

To begin, I should state that I firmly believe if everyone in the world routinely watched the cartoon South Park, the world would be a better place.  Is this because I think the world needs more sophomoric jokes and making fun of people?  No, not really, but there is a very important vein to South Park that I think many seem to miss completely when criticizing the show: they make fun of everyone.

I am a very conservative fellow, probably one of the more conservative that you will meet, but I firmly believe that once you lose the ability to laugh at yourself for doing something silly or stupid, or to find the humor in situations, you might as well climb into the grave.  I think humor is part of what makes us human, and if you don’t take advantage of a good laugh every once in a while, well, you aren’t much of a human at all.

This brings us to the popular, satirical and envelope-pushing French magazine Charlie Hebdo.  Most American’s have only heard of Charlie before this week as the only magazine in the world (that I’m aware of) with the courage to actually print pictures of the Islamic prophet Mohammad; others have said they would but immediately backed down when threatened by the religious zealots in the Islamic faith.

Now, unfortunately, the magazine will be remembered by the tragedy that took place last week, in a three day rampage of violence resulting in 17 dead, 2 of which were my brother Masons.  Many people will have a hard time believing or understanding this, but as many Masonic websites around the world have posted, at least they died in standing for their Masonic virtues of free speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of the people, for which I know they are proud.

It is an absolute shame that there are people (and I use that term loosely) who would be so vile and have such a lack of respect for humor or life that the mere drawing and publishing of a cartoon would drive them to a murderous rampage.  It truly is a sad state when this can be condoned by anyone, and all I can ask is that God have mercy on their wretched souls.

But there is a valid point to be made here, and one that I feel must be addressed.  I have heard many people (now, after 9/11, and numerous other times) blame horrible events like these on the religion of Islam.  Being that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the Middle East and with Muslims, I have to call that general assumption that all Muslims would condone this just as ignorant as the animals who enacted this tragedy.

By using that same logic, all Catholics are guilty of harboring Nazi war criminals, as members of the Vatican were found to have helped the highest echelons of the Nazi military to escape to South America after WWII.  By that same logic all Christians are bloodthirsty racists, as churches in the south not only condoned the Klu Klux Clan during the worst parts of our nation’s history, but also provided places for them to meet and had clergy comprising its ranks.

As a man who’s been around the world many times over, I can say that some of the best human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing were Muslim; of the same token, some of the worst human beings I’ve ever known were Muslim.

Some of the best human beings I’ve known were Christian; but of the same respect, some of the worst human beings I’ve ever known where Christian.

You cannot blame a religion for its followers, just as you couldn’t blame a rock band for lunatics listening to their music.  By making those broad generalizations you become just as ignorant and hate-filled as the pestilent scum who enacted this massacre, and you’re better than that.

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