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Paris Picayune

14 Jan
One of the advantages of having misspent your youth in going to philosophy graduate school and taken all the class work for a philosophy doctorate is that you end up reading all of Aristotle’s minor works.  In one discussion, I believe on types of friendship, Aristotle has a small essay on the picayune or trivial – on a kind of obsessive compulsive vice where one takes into account things not relevant in a given context (e.g. who had the more expensive appetizer at lunch between two true friends).  Likewise this week many people, mainly leftists (though some Moslem or Catholic theocrats have joined in), wish to discuss the many European state limitations on free speech, as if it compared in some way to cold blooded murder of journalists or artists.  Here is one such, by Jeremy Scahill, whose website The Intercept we have in our blog roll in our sidebar, and who speaks at Students for Liberty events.  And his remarks on hypocrisy are all true.  But does censoring journalists reporting on surveillance or even jailing or lashing journalists equal killing and calling for more killing of anyone who criticizes or spoofs a totalitarian religion or ideology.  I think the perfect is being made an enemy of the not good enough, in a way that furthers the evil.

Meanwhile, fascists on the left, for example MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell are already asking what is so bad about attacking Charlie Hebdo and other publications that criticize Islam, when there are so many laws protecting Europeans from hearing any speech that might offend them.

“Circus of Hypocrisy”: Jeremy Scahill on How World Leaders at Paris March Oppose Press 
Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of the TheIntercept.org, where his most recent article is “Al Qaeda Source: AQAP Directed Paris Attack.” His latest book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, is out in paperback. His film Dirty Wars was nominated for an Academy Award. He is also the author of the best-selling book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army

AMY GOODMAN: An estimated 3.7 million people rallied across France Sunday in response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings and ensuing attacks that left 17 people dead. On Sunday, more than 40 world leaders traveled to Paris for the demonstration. At the Place de la République, demonstrators wearing Charlie Hebdo headbands waved French flags, and some sang “La Marseillaise,” the national anthem. Several mounted the Statue of the Republic, a symbol of the French Revolution, and hoisted up an inflated pencil to honor the killed Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. Here are some of the voices from the streets of France on Sunday.

DEMONSTRATORS: [singing] …dans les campagnes
mugir ces féroces soldats?
Aux armes, citoyens.

DEMONSTRATOR 1: [translated] We are free people in France, where everyone can live with one another. And it is important to voice and show it.

DEMONSTRATOR 2: [translated] Beyond Charlie, it is about freedom of speech, secularism, all the values that make up France that have been rattled. But the fact of gathering together, to see all these people, gives back a lot of hope.

DEMONSTRATOR 3: [translated] I sympathize with the people who have lost their loved ones. I would like to tell French people not to get confused, that at no time, in not a single book related to religion, whether it be the Qur’an, the Bible or the Torah, is it asked to kill one’s fellow man or woman.

DEMONSTRATOR 4: [translated] Everybody is concerned, not only in France. It’s all the people. The entire planet Earth is concerned. That means we’re united. All countries are free, but we are here to prove that France is a welcoming country and that we are really free to express our joy whenever we want.

AMY GOODMAN: Voices from Sunday’s demonstration in France, one of the largest protests in the nation’s history. Again, 3.7 million people marched across France.
The march took place two days after the gunmen who attacked Charlie Hebdo, Chérif and Said Kouachi, were killed by police after a siege at a printing works plant following a three-day manhunt. Minutes after the print shop assault, police broke a second siege at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. Four hostages died there along with the gunman, Amedy Coulibaly. France has announced it will deploy 10,000 soldiers on home soil and post almost 5,000 extra police officers to protect Jewish sites. On Friday, Chérif Kouachi said he received financing by the Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. He made the assertion to BFMTV before his death.

CHÉRIF KOUACHI: [translated] I’ll tell you only that we were defenders of the Prophet Muhammad and that I was sent, me, Chérif Kouachi, by al-Qaeda of Yemen. I went over there, and it was Anwar al-Awlaki who financed me. Rest in peace.

AMY GOODMAN: Reuters is reporting both brothers who carried out the attack against Charlie Hebdo traveled to Yemen in 2011 and had weapons training in the deserts of Marib, an al-Qaeda stronghold. Meanwhile, a source within al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has provided The Intercept with a full statement claiming responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack. The statement reads in part, quote, “The leadership of #AQAP directed the operation, and they have chosen their target carefully as a revenge for the honor of Prophet …The target was in France in particular because of its obvious role in the war on Islam and oppressed nations,” unquote. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula members have taken to social media and discussion boards to praise the attacks.
Well, for more, we’re joined by the article’s author, Jeremy Scahill. He is co-founder of the TheIntercept.org, where his new article is “Al Qaeda Source: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Directed Paris Attack.” His latest book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, it’s now out in paperback. His film Dirty Wars was nominated for an Academy Award. He’s also author of the best-selling book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.
Jeremy, welcome back to Democracy Now!
JEREMY SCAHILL: Thanks, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk about this latest news out of France.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, well, I mean, first of all, you know, what we saw yesterday on display, on the one hand, was very heartening, to see so many people come into the streets. And, you know, one of the core issues of press freedom, if this is a moment where the whole world is saying we have to have a free press, and that no matter how controversial or hateful some of the speech is or may be interpreted in some communities, that we judge a free press by how we treat the journalists or the stories that we don’t like or that we’re offended by.
But on the other hand, this is sort of a circus of hypocrisy when it comes to all of those world leaders who were marching at the front of it. I mean, every single one of those heads of state or representatives of governments there have waged their own wars against journalists. You know, David Cameron ordered The Guardian to smash with a hammer the hard drives that stored the files of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Blasphemy is considered a crime in Ireland. You had multiple African and Arab leaders whose own countries right now have scores of journalists in prison. Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Israel has targeted for killing numerous journalists who have reported on the Palestinian side, have kidnapped, abducted, jailed journalists. You know, there’s this controversy right now: Why didn’t President Obama go, or why didn’t Joe Biden go? You know, Eric Holder was there already and was representing the United States.
I think that we should remember—and I was saying this on Twitter over the weekend—that Yemen should have sent the Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye as their representative. He, of course, was in prison for years on the direct orders of President Obama for having reported on secret U.S. strikes in Yemen that killed scores of civilians. Or Sudan should have sent Sami al-Hajj, the Al Jazeera cameraman who was held for six years without charge in Guantánamo and repeatedly interrogated by U.S. operatives who were intent on proving that Al Jazeera had some sort of a link to al-Qaeda. So, you know, while there is much to take heart in, in terms of this huge outpouring of support for freedom of the press, hypocrisy was on full display in the streets of Paris when it came to the world leaders.