As the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mickey Mouse enlists magic to get his broom to fetch water. When he can’t stop the flow, a flood ensues. Manically chopping the possessed tool with an axe creates two brooms, then four, then an uncontrollable army. Our elimination of “key figures” in terrorism feels like trying to stop the march of the brooms.
Many people, especially the young, are vulnerable to the allure of heroism and glory. Recruiters in our military exploit it with slick advertisements.
The difference is that the Islamic State sells the idea to some disaffected kids that they can experience glory and heroism for a romanticized, though radical and twisted cause.
Taking offense at Charlie Hebdo for putting another drawing of you-know-who on its latest cover was fine. But it’s hard to square the idea that criminals who are responsible for brutally massacring and enslaving other humans in the name of religion are somehow so very, very sensitive about comic art.
Some people simplistically divide the world into “us” vs “them.” Like terrorists for instance.
I have many moderate, freedom-loving Muslim friends who have expressed to me their abject fear of what could happen to public sentiment in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders. Already the #JeSuisCharlie tag is beginning to morph grotesquely into a de facto right-wing French nationalist rallying cry against Muslims. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, almost all of whom have done nothing wrong. It’s extremely important to remember that.
Last week, I listened to survivors talk about the Peshawar school massacre in Pakistan. The children bravely showed up at school in their bloodied uniforms the next day to display defiance toward the Taliban. Like Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, they know that knowledge is their most powerful weapon against religious hatred.