Well, we knew it would happen. In my last article on this I said:
I hope this revolting act will help those who decry any criticism of Islam as Islamophobia recognize just what a problem it has the potential to be. Any belief system that includes an invocation to kill critics and unbelievers, and rejects all attempts at reform is likely to spawn such acts.
My hope was wasted, and a prominent New Zealander has said on Facebook that it is the fault of the editor of Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier, that he and eleven others are dead:
The hate and ignorance displayed by Fox are unbelievable. There are so many things wrong with what he has to say, I’m not even sure where to start. I’ll try and take his “points” one by one.
1. Stephane Charbonnier (who Fox didn’t even bother to name) “…[assumed] cultural superiority and arrogance, he was the bully believing he could insult other people’s culture and with impunity …”
Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine, similar the Mad magazine. It mocks EVERYBODY Derek, not just Muslims, not just religious people. There is no assumption of cultural superiority or arrogance – they’re just trying to make people laugh. If Charlie Hebdo picked exclusively on Muslims, you might have a point. They don’t – it’s just that extremist Muslims are the only ones incapable of ignoring stuff they don’t like. There was no bullying. There was satire. The last tweet they sent before the attack was a mock New Year’s greeting from al-Baghdadi (right), the self-appointed leader of DAESH, who claims he’s a direct descendant of the prophet Mohammed. Further the version of Islam and Sharia that al-Baghdadi is promoting is not one that any decent human being should insist needs protecting from insult. His ideas need to be be exposed and criticized.
2. “… unfortunately in paying the price for his arrogance [Stephane Chabonnier] took another 11 people with him.”
Fox is saying here that Stephane Chabonnier deserved to die for exercising his right to freedom of speech. That Mr Fox, makes you a**hole of the year, and we’ve still got 51 weeks to go. Even if all your charges of bullying, racism and bigotry stood up, that is no excuse for anyone to commit murder! And you’re talking like it’s completely fair that if these murderers felt the need to kill eleven other people in their rightful murder of Chabonnier, that’s OK too. All I can say is I really am pleased you failed in your bid to become the MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti in 2008 – we can do without people like you in our parliament.
3. “… and he believed he would be protected in his racism and bigotry by the French state. … Power cultures all like to use the old chestnut of freedom of speech when they choose to ridicule people who aren’t exactly like them, and mostly they get away with it.”
For a start, there’s no racism here – Islam is not a race, it is a religion. I don’t know how many times we have to explain this. People like Fox have this idea that because most of the Muslims he sees in the media have brown skin, this is a racial issue. It’s not. That is a red herring and an excuse to make the attack worse by injecting accusations of racism.
And what exactly, Mr Fox, is your problem with freedom of speech being protected by the state? If that’s not a privilege you appreciate, how about going to live with DAESH where your every word will be monitored and blasphemy is punished by execution. As a former broadcaster and politician, you of all people should appreciate the value of living and working in a country where free speech is protected.
People like you, Mr Fox, use the “old chestnut” of “power cultures” to excuse any kind of bad behaviour, even, as in this case, murder. How do you suggest we deal with people like al-Baghdadi who are going around chopping off the fingers of cigarette smokers? It’s al-Baghdadi who’s developed a culture of power and control – to him freedom is a dirty word. As Sam Harris said in the now infamous interview of Bill Maher’s Real Time, “We have to be able to criticize bad ideas.” It’s true that many of the attempts to help by the West in the Middle East have been nothing short of disastrous, but there have been good initiatives too, and DAESH cannot be left to flourish.
4, “These guys liked the privilege but didn’t think they’d get caught up in the ramifications.”
Well, they did know about the ramifications actually – that’s why they had a police guard. There had been multiple death threats and the offices had been fire-bombed in the past. Bravely, the staff of Charlie Hebdo carried on, not letting the real bullies, the Islamic Extremists, tell them what they could and couldn’t write.
5. “This should serve as a lesson to other people who believe they can use the power they wield by way of dominating the media to abuse and ridicule others they believe to to [sic] inferior to them – just like in this country.”
Derek Fox here not only justifies the murders carried out, but says this is a method of shutting down free speech that SHOULD be used in the future. According to Fox, murder is an appropriate response to feeling offended. And I can’t believe he went there, but he accuses the media in New Zealand of doing the same thing that Charlie Hebdo did, which, by extension, means he thinks they deserve to be murdered too.
According to the Otago Daily Times, Fox later stood by his comments:
Mr Fox … said that if the magazine had not published gratuitous insults “they would still be alive now”.
“But they didn’t, in fact they ramped it up to sell more mags. Well they got bitten severely on the bum.”
The New Zealand Herald reports:
National Party list MP Chris Bishop said it was a “horrific, ridiculous, shameful comment”, adding that supporting freedom of speech was a human right, not “cultural supremacy”.
Well said Chris Bishop.
Fox was formally a prominent broadcaster and chairman of Maori Television. It such a position it’s impossible not to offend someone, but if someone had decided to kill Fox and eleven of his colleagues in such a situation, would he be defending them from the grave? Of course not.
This is the wonderful response of cartoonist Matt Davies to the massacre:
Apparently Fox has now wiped his Facebook page. I hope this is a sign he’s gained some personal insight. Somehow, I doubt it.
Thanks to reader Jason for alerting me to Fox’s reaction.
Words fail me!!!!!!!!!!!
I used to think he was alright, despite his slightly supercilious manner – so much for my judgment!
We get shot of Harawira and bingo we have another racist idiot to fill the gap. What a stupid person this Fox has become.
Maybe I’m being unfair, but I suspect he’s turning into a bitter old man before his time, and is living back in the 70s.
Saying that criticism of Islam is not racist because Muslims don’t all have brown skin really misses a more fundamental point, I think: Islam is not a race; it’s not even people.
In any case, it’s hardly irrational to be afraid of people* who think their beliefs give them a warrant to kill anyone who criticises or ridicules their beliefs and who act on that. That is scary. (*A minority of all Muslims, to be sure.)
“He beats her every time she cooks the roast like that. You would think that by now she would know what he likes. Poor girl. Too proud to learn how to cook. What else would one expect? A working man likes a nice meal. “
Thanks for this
What a disgusting man this person is, victim blaming is never a pretty sight. To even think that murdering someone over a cartoon you don’t like is an acceptable response is unbelievable.
Je suis Charlie.
Not being a New Zealander, I don’t know Fox. But if he is Maori, doesn’t he have some justification in pointing out that “Power cultures all like to use the old chestnut of freedom of speech when they choose to ridicule people who aren’t exactly like them, and mostly they get away with it.”?
In the US there is a general consensus that using the word Nigger to refer to African Americans is offensive, because of the exploitation of this group by the majority population. There is presently a controversy over using the nickname “Redskins” for a sports team. In my opinion this is also offensive. Not saying it justifies murder, but there is usually a context for these things. The French killed over 100,000 muslims in the Algerian war of independence to maintain their imperialistic rule. Each of those lives was just as important as the Charlie lives.
Fox is Maori, which is where my comment about him still living in the 1970s came from. At that time, NZ was at about the same stage in Civil Rights as I judge the US to be now – lots of progress had been made, and most people of European descent thought everyone was treated equally. Back then, I would’ve supported his comments. Of course, we haven’t eliminated racists, and statistical evidence shows several socio-economic factors where Maori and Pacific Islanders do less well on average than the general population. Those figures are continuing to improve though. My family is multi-racial, which is fairly common in NZ, and the whole country is fairly egalitarian in attitude.
I follow US news fairly closely. I can’t even write the “N” word without feeling ill. There’s been no slavery in NZ since European colonization, so the situation is a bit different here. Many Maori were treated badly, and much land was stolen. There has been a process of either returning the land or compensating the original owners in place for several years now in an effort to redress past wrongs. Settlement with various iwi (tribes) always include a formal apology too.
I think “Redskins” is offensive. In 1970s NZ it would have played out just like it’s playing out now in the US – most people wouldn’t see what the big deal is. By the 1980s it would’ve been changed, so there’s still hope. As for Algeria – while that situation was appalling, I don’t think it is immediately relevant in this latest massacre. There is a genuine grievance there of course, and I don’t know if France has ever apologized for what they did, but it’s not an excuse. In my case, going and killing a few English people because of the way the English treated some of my Scottish ancestors wouldn’t be considered valid.
Good to hear NZ is doing better than US in making amends, Heather. So-called evangelical Christians seem to be the most racist element here. I too have Scottish ancestors and have recently read the story of Edward I’s conquest in Hume’s History of England. I think the difference between that and the French/Algerian situation is that there are still people alive whose parents and grandparents, maybe even siblings were killed in the latter war. Peace.
Edward I (Hammer of the Scots) was pretty rough, but I was thinking more recently of all the Scots thrown off their land (the crofters), who starved to death, were imprisoned for wearing tartan, forced to emigrate, and worse. It was mainly following the antics of Bonnie Prince Charlie (18th century), but it carried on for decades. Some of it happened as recently as the late 19th century, so the memories are fairly fresh for some. Many Scottish Nationalists are still very focused on these events, and extremely bitter about them (understandably).