By Paul Avallone, Author Tattoo Zoo
Oh what a wonderful opportunity this is, the jihadist attack upon Charlie Hebdo, for it brings together two hot-button issues for which Americans have been made to feel guilty for the past few years; bullying and torture.
The first, that our precious children are being bullied on the playground—for everything from cross-gender sexual identity to obesity to shy introversion, you name it—with said bullying destroying their self-worth and confidence, and we just can’t allow that, “our children must not be bullied!” is the common rallying cry.
And torture, hasn’t it been beaten into us that Bush & Cheney authorized torture of captured enemy combatants, with the CIA and our military then carrying out the dirty deeds, all in spite of the fact that torture is evil, it’s always evil, it’s the most evil of all evils, and, by God, don’t you realize anyway that, “torture does not work!?” – the other rallying cry.
Tell that to a jihadist. To the Islamic warriors who just killed twelve in their storming of a French magazine that had dared to publish cartoon caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. Talk about bullying, wow, it doesn’t get much more dramatically effective than with flaming AK-47s and RPGs. Talk about torture, hooah, want to bet that any one of those twelve would have opted for a week’s waterboarding in place of what they got.
And yes, that attack is bullying and torture. Regardless the spirited warriors’ claims that they were simply revenging their loving prophet, the real purpose is to bully everyone worldwide not to take Mohammed’s name in vain. Not his name nor his image in vain. The purpose is to bully all of us into living the jihadists’ commandments. The torture is by proxy. The twelve are examples of what will happen to us if we do the same.
The fear of upcoming physical harm can be as debilitating and dehumanizing as any actual sleep-deprevation/bamboo-under-the-fingernails/hot-poker-in-the-eye/water-up-the-nostrils fratboy-CIA shenanigans. Call it torture without torture. A torture down-the-line in the future, after you’ve besmirched Mr. Mohammed one day and find yourself a few weeks later to be a scattered few thousand pieces of flesh, muscle, bone and organs on the driveway moments after your car explodes upon your opening the door.
What these jihadists have done in one galvanizing event is an alchemist’s dream: to combine bullying and torture in one act of but a few minutes duration in an attempt to erode the very foundation of our western culture—free speech and our confidence in being secure in that free expression.
Bullying is successful only when the victim is weak and fearful. Torture is successful when the victim fears pain and values his life and limbs more than his convictions and secrets. Bullies and torturers are successful and motivated to demand more of their victims when they are not challenged. Today you’re killed for cartooning Mohammed naked. Tomorrow you’re killed for not covering your wife in a burka. Two Wednesday evenings from now you and your family are killed in your basement during your clandestine Bible studies reading.
Absurd? Is it? Have you never been on the receiving end of a bully’s ever-increasing demands? Have you never thought about the relationship between extortion and bullying, and how the ease of the latter increases exponentially the quantity of the former?
Forgetting for a moment the inevitability of the jihadists’ future exponential demands, it would be easy today to condemn the tastelessness and crass ugliness of Charlie Hebdo’s satirical cartoons of Mohammed and to ask of ourselves that we as a culture in whole should respect the Muslim culture as we would in return like to be respected. Love thy neighbor, that sort of thing.
Absurd? Would it be?
You bet. The absurdity is in believing that love-thy-neighbor works on the bully and torturer who wants and demands something more from you than simple mutual respect; and that particular something in this case, however much we do not want to admit this, is that without exception all people—it is the word of Allah through Mohammed in the Koran—must take Islam as their only religion and Allah as their only God. Must or die.
Bullying through proxy torture—the Charlie Hebdo massacre— is successful when future potential victims are weak and fearful, whether they be individuals, families, tribes, organizations, governments or collective cultures.
This now is the perfect opportunity to be strong and stand up to the bully. Bullying is defeated with force, sometimes excessive force. Fear not the bully; terrorize him instead.
Let magazines, newspapers, web sites, YouTube and blogs galore publish those cartoons of Mohammed, and do it in spades. Let’s go hog-wild and inundate media with ticklishly playful and viciously savage mockery of Islam.
Consider: If Curb Your Enthusiasm creator and star Larry David could televise an episode in which he urinated on a portrait of Jesus Christ, he can now film one featuring him defecating on a portrait of Mohammed. If South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker could stage the hit satirical Broadway musical Book of Mormon, they can now produce one called Book of Mohammed.
That is, if we are not to be bullied.
That is, if we are not already intimidated and made impotent with fear by the Islamists’ potentially most devastating weapon against us: bullying by proxy torture.
Paul Avallone spent three-plus years in Afghanistan as a Green Beret then an embedded civilian journalist. His novel of the Afghan War, Tattoo Zoo was published in December.