R.K. Laxman, Indian cartoonist, and satirist extraordinaire died today at age 93, after a life well-lived. My childhood was much enriched by his mind-expaning cartoons about corruption, politics, and the absurdity and hypocrisy of our lot. He made (some of) us want a better world. Rest in peace, beloved artist.
And while we are at it, another nuanced article by Teju Cole from the New Yorker, about who we choose to mourn and why? Who we call terrorists and who we don’t, even when the casualties are innocent?
I am was going to post my thoughts on the distinctions between free speech and responsible speech, and Islamist extremism and Islamophobia, soon after the attacks happened. But, Joe Sacco and Teju Cole, made my life easier by saying everything I wanted to say, far more brilliantly, than I could have.
“France is in sorrow today, and will be for many weeks to come. We mourn with France. We ought to. But it is also true that violence from “our” side continues unabated. By this time next month, in all likelihood, many more “young men of military age” and many others, neither young nor male, will have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere. If past strikes are anything to go by, many of these people will be innocent of wrongdoing. Their deaths will be considered as natural and incontestable as deaths like Menocchio’s, under the Inquisition. Those of us who are writers will not consider our pencils broken by such killings. But that incontestability, that unmournability, just as much as the massacre in Paris, is the clear and present danger to our collective liberté.” (-Teju Cole, January 9th, 2015)
I am posting this on a wider forum, because, when I expressed my thoughts on Facebook about using the massacre to dig deeper on the responsibilities that come with free speech, and to think about why the world is the way it is today, I was accused of justifying what happened, which, I am not.
The irony of the defenders of free speech asking me to shut up, wasn’t lost on me.
I hope that these articles will help form us a wider narrative of the world, every single day that the world is being polarized by our shameless media conglomerates, because the truth, is that a deeper understanding of our constantly, shifting and changing, and largely, gray world, will guarantee more security and safety for all of us – not calls for Jihad, nor the calls to bomb places “back to the stone age”, and certainly not by turning our backs on the atrocities perpetuated by our own governments on its people, and innocents elsewhere.