Lars Jorgensen

Vår retorik bekräftar extremisternas våta dröm om sin makt att förgöra den europeiska demokratin, skriver sociologen Lars Jørgensen.

“For nothing is more democratic than logic; it is no respecter of persons and makes no distinction between crooked and straight noses.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

Since the attack on Charlie Hebdo, most people have reacted as if the attack somewhat justifies the publication of Islam-mocking cartoons. Suddenly we all seem to think that we should mock and ridicule all Muslims. The solidary unison may look like the best of worlds, but we are blind to the unintended consequences. Now more than ever we all march in step with the extremists.

We believe we are protesting against the extremism, but we are supporting it. We may convince ourselves that we are into freedom, democracy and seeking peace and security; we do the opposite and consequently move on to a more dangerous situation. We need to realize what we are doing, confront our illogical right wing thinking and change our agenda and rhetoric.

‘I am Charlie Hebdo’ – Really?
One might say that the reaction towards the Charlie Hebdo massacre gave the assassins a victory in the rhetoric conflict machine, which the Western right extremism has been building up for years. Whatever good intentions in all the being and sharing of Charlie Hebdo, we implicitly support all the extremists’ premises: We all share the absurdity that (Muslim) terrorists work on behalf of all Muslims, exactly as the attackers and extremists want us to. We admit to the extreme rights claim about Islam’s general disposition for terrorism. We show our ‘true western colors’ to Muslim fanatics as we all mock Muslims now. However, our reaction is unfair to all but the attackers.

Now we see right wing extremists in several countries gain strength by the attack and European governments pressing for more law enforcement. This is sociological given that our categorical European response plays directly with the extremist’s simplistic worldview. Muslim fanatics now more legitimately than ever in their confused minds, may find just cause to strike back at ‘us’ anywhere in Europe. Our politicians consider this but their reaction reinforce the extremists’ rules of the game! It is madness; we will enter a spiral of violence, if our politicians and we do not think and act much differently.

The extremist rhetoric is in power – How can we regain democracy?
First, we must reject the simplistic abstract explanations used for years by the right wing from the Front National in France to the People’s Party in Denmark. We must reject the ridiculous talk about us modern from the Western world against them with a dangerous Muslim religion. The exact abstractions a maniac in Norway used explicitly to kill 70 people a couple of years ago. The simplistic language is insane. We need to think clearly. Two fanatics cannot attack and threaten our European democracy. In fact, they did not. They attacked a French newspaper. Let us stop supporting every extremist’s wet dreams of potency.

Second, let us get rid of the freedom of speech fanatics!
It is mythical that we normally accept an unlimited freedom of speech in our democracy. In reality, we have censorship everywhere for both good and bad reasons too! It is logic that people in a democracy have to make way and provide all citizens the freedom to be and do different things to facilitate a peaceful co-existence. To insist, that mocking Muslims is a question of freedom of speech is illogical, unjust, unfair and hypocritical. In fact, the opposite is true. The meaning of the freedom of speech is to ensure the powerless the right to stand up against power. It is only embarrassing how we have allowed fanatics to use it mockingly repress the Muslims, so we did not hear their voice.

Thirdly, let us stop betraying our democratic values and ourselves
In order to regain democracy and become citizens with a consistence in mind and deed, we must realize how the right wing extremism thought pattern is destroying us. Even our children can easily see that we are illogical if not hypocritical, when we insist, that they should not mock other people, while our political agenda for ages has made a virtue of mocking the Muslims and their religion. We mock our own values and ideals, when we allow that. Let us stick to our everyday values, where most of us make a virtue of our ability to get along at all places and levels showing tolerance and respect.

People will say fear is behind my reasoning. This is true, and important. Peaceful co-existence is a most vital democratic value. Only a fool thinks it problematic to take the risk of war and terror into consideration arguing for the continued importance of insulting an entire religion. When we do not show Muslims respect, we fuel parallel Muslim societies and create more conflict.

Fourth, let us all be Europeans and apologize
It is human to err. It takes a big man to admit it. We need to apologize to the Muslim world for our behavior towards them and their religion. Many will argue that we give in to extremism. Clearly, the opposite is true; we are distancing us from all kinds of extremism. I suggest that we use the Charlie Hebdo attack as a wakeup call to strengthen our democracy by reflecting on who we are and who we really want to be as Europeans. Instead of marching with the extremists we should let them be, put an end to the mocking of Muslims and shake hands with the millions and millions of sensible Muslim people, who for so long and now more than ever have had to put up with our idiotic lack of respect.

We really ought to stop talking about democracy and do the opposite. Until we do, we should not expect our children to understand logic, let alone democracy, moral behavior or us. In addition, we destroy any hope of a better future for them. Let us all wake up and push for a very different and much truer democratic agenda and rhetoric. The longer we wait the more violence we will experience.

Lars Jørgensen, sociolog, f.d. lektor