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The Politics Of Contempt

"People are stupid and evil.  There's something wrong with us.  Some hideous flaw..."
-- Dr. Delia Surridge
"V For Vendetta"

Here we go again.

Paris has been dealt another terrorist attack and already people are trying to use it to further their agendas, building their ivory towers on the bodies of the dead.  For those of you wondering why I'm so happy my life is half over.

The reactions to this have been abominable.  For example, Newt Gingrich is already seizing on this as affirmation for concealed carry and 2nd Amendment absolutism (it's not even the same laws and the same country!).  We live in an era where what happens isn't as important as announcing your beliefs and stances to the world, truths you hold so self-evident, you don't see how anyone could conclude otherwise.  The only way they could think differently is if they aren't as smart as you, so events exist only to affirm your own selfishness and arrogance.

Just to make sure I'm clear:  I pray for Paris, I support them, I want to help, and I hope they overcome this.  But I am not going to say "I am Paris" and act like their struggles are my struggles, that my ideas are the beating of butterfly wings that stir up a hurricane in the world.  Back in March, I did the DanCon independent comic creators convention, and I was asked why I wasn't participating in the "I Am Charlie" campaign that had lit up the Internet after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.  My reasoning was simple -- I'm not the one facing death threats.  The worst reaction I ever got was from a fundamentalist who didn't like my take on Christianity in the Hannah Singer books and told me I was going to burn in Hell as a blasphemer and he was praying for my salvation.  I got attitude, but not death threats.  Hell, even my piece on Planned Parenthood that got people absolutely livid only led to back and forth.  No death threats, no attacks.  My stance on marriage equality has gotten me dropped from friends lists and the like, but that's it.  When my opinions are different and/or controversial, all I get is snark and/or ignored.  Saying "I am Charlie" to people whose life expectacies have dwindled to the vanishing point wasn't just wrong, but morally reprehensible.  "Look at me crusading against this threat that I'll never have to face!  I'm as brave as you!"  A lot of these Freedom Of Speech absolutists, if faced with an actual terrorist attack over something they said or did, would fold like fresh laundry, so the sooner they stop acting like a Twitter hashtag is the same thing as staring down the barrel of a gun, the better.

There has been a lot of wonder about why the terrorists targeted the sections of Paris that they did.  Those areas aren't touristy, they are for locals, they are culturally diverse, not a lot of disposable income...us Chicagoans can think of it as analogous to Bucktown.  The reason they targeted there is simple -- because it will motivate people to give the terrorists what they want.

Because it is the same thing the people affected want.

Everyone likes to talk about how we should all be good to each other and how we should all get along.  Live and let live.  But the fact is, that's not true.  The past few years have seen a rise in the dark side of human nature, the side that doesn't want to get along.  That's too much work, and means you are compromising instead of getting everything you want.  People want to go back to the old days.  When you could openly hate and not be told it was wrong, but celebrated because everyone in your little social circle thought the exact same thing.

People are out to turn the world into a series of gated communities, but with metaphorical walls instead of physical stone.  For example, there is a backlash against feminism, saying it is turning into an attempt to create a matriarchy and become the thought police.  No.  These people are confusing radical extremists with feminists.  Doing so redefines the meaning of feminism so that people will not want to be labeled with the term.  As a result, true feminism, that women have the right to define themselves, gets subverted and loses support as people fear being judged.

People say the world is divided into Right vs. Left, Democrat vs. Republican, Conservative vs. Liberal, Fascist vs. Anarchist.  Smarter people see the world as Up vs. Down, Rulers vs. Subjects, Ruling Class vs. Working Class.  That's closer, but it's still not right.  Simply put, the world is Us vs. Them.  People who want to hate, who want to exclude, will find any reason, any excuse, to establish that they are superior and no one else has a right to what they should have.  From politics to religion to even silly diversions like fandoms or just what brand of car you drive, the human ego with its desire to be the center of attention and regarded as the Smartest Person In The Room smashes through everything like a bulldozer, wrecking everything as the driver trundles along.

The terrorists see this.  ISIS has no interest in religion.  Their statements have nothing to do with that.  They want to create their own little place in the world where their beliefs and priorities are correct and followed.  Just like everybody else.  Look at the state of Kansas, where despite all the proof that their supply side economics experiment has Hindenburged, they are continuing to defend it and prevent it from changing.  They are turning the state into their own little pocket universe, where those inside it can pretend to be superior and have it all figured out and everyone else can piss off.  All these major groups are looking to make their own places.  And the newest Paris attacks will give them an excuse to create their own.  People on the Right think all Muslims should be purged and are using this as proof.  On the left, Obama is saying that ISIS just has to be contained.  In other words, give them their own little place of soveriegnty.  That's a reward, not a punishment.

Anyone who doesn't see the Paris attacks as a human tragedy and instead as something to bolster their political clout is giving the terrorists exactly what they want.

And if they are too stupid to see that, then they deserve what they get.

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