25 March 2012

Mohamed Merah's ugly legacy

Right after the brutal attack on a jewish school in Toulouse, when everybody still believed it to be the act of a neo-nazi, opinion columnists immediately jumped onto the anti-Sarkozy bandwagon, blaming the french president and his party for the recrudescence of far-right ideology in France. However, when it became clear that the murderer was arab and muslim, the opinion columnists immediately jumped into...the anti-Sarkozy bandwagon, of course. Leaving aside the astonishing absence of the term "antisemitism" in opinion pieces about a deliberate attack on jews, what's striking in these articles is the columnists' view on the victims, as mere instruments for political leaders to use as they see fit and rightly so.

And now this:

A teacher has been suspended in France for allegedly asking pupils to hold a one-minute silence for gunman Mohamed Merah, who killed seven people, according to local reports.
A french teacher has asked her french students to hold a one-minute silence for the murderer of other french students...Why?

Because, according to her students, the teacher claimed that Merah's links to Al-Qaeda were invented by the media and by - you guessed it - Sarkozy himself.

I'm not sure how to label the hysteric demonization of Sarkozy, which ironically puts him on a par with our own Bibi. Is it an issue of ideological left against political right? The wall-to-wall condemnation of Sarkozy's politics in the left leaning media in the aftermath of the massacre seems more like a cult-like alignment behind prevailing preexisting beliefs than serious evaluations of realities on the ground. The New York Times editorial goes even further:
In response to these killings, Mr. Sarkozy has proposed tightening some laws, but his approach seems far too broad. He would make it a crime to repeatedly view Web sites that advocate terrorism and would take action against French residents who travel abroad for training or “indoctrination” by terror groups. It is not clear how such rules would be carried out, or if they can be without curtailing the rights of law-abiding people
I'm not advocating putting people under a microscope, but what about the rights of law-abiding people not to have their loved ones slaughtered by residents who travel abroad for training by terror groups?

The more I think about the reasons behind this vicious attack on Sarkozy, the more it seems that what really triggered it wasn't the outrage at the murders, or concern for the values of western democratic societies. No, it was this wonderful opportunity to smear an opponent and bring the flock of his voters back to the folds of the left. I'm at a loss of words for a definition of this attitude - "moral bankruptcy" floats in and out, but somehow it doesn't seem right. How do we call a situation where ideology trumps morality, common sense, facts on the ground, basic human emotions like compassion? Wouldn't it be the same kind of extremism that's likely to curtail the rights of law-abiding people who happen to be on the wrong side of this ideology?


Rebecca Lesses said...

I don't understand the Times editorial - the US itself has laws against giving "material support to terrorism," which includes going to training camps in Afghanistan or Pakistan. People have been convicted and are sitting in jail for long terms for doing that. Why shouldn't France do the same thing?

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Excellent question that. I guess in Europe they do things differently. A trip to a training camp like these is, probably, considered as part of on the job education and entitles the "student" to a salary increase ;-)