(Animal Justice) Party Poopers: Why we’re Not Voting for the Animal Justice Party, even though we’re Vegans

By Nick and Katie

 

Animal-Justice-Party-600x300

 

Katie’s bit – the personalised, passionate part

For anyone assuming I would vote for the Animal “Justice” Party because I believe in animal rights and social justice, you’re wrong. This is the party that preferences the Liberal party. Their candidate attacked me and destroyed the animal rights group I was with, leaving me in a deep depression. One of their people said they would support homophobic legislation if it meant passing their animal welfare Bill. The worst kind of vegans are those who only care about animals and not any other social justice causes.

 

strange bedfellows

Image from getup.org.au – there were problems with the Animal Justice Party preferencing right-wing, racist, homophobic etc parties last election. Same again this time.

 

Nick’s bit – the impersonal, boring part

Preferencing the Liberal Party

The Animal Justice Party ‘supporting the re-election of Jason Wood [from the Liberal party] in the seat of La Trobe’ is a good example of their single issue, “it’s all about the animals” approach. They argue that they have done this because he supports a ban on the import of hunting trophies from hunting in Africa (hardly a controversial position in the West) and because he supported legislation to stop animal testing of cosmetics in Australia. This is despite the fact that Labor and the Greens also support this legislation along with the Liberal and National Coalition – it is going to get through anyway. Nevertheless, they ‘will preference him over his rivals’. This is because they argue that: ‘Any politician that supports decent treatment of animals, regardless of party, deserves our support’ (my italics).

 

This support is despite his atrocious voting record on human rights and social justice issues, which you’d expect from a Liberal party politician:

  • Voted very strongly against increasing scrutiny of asylum seeker management.
  • Voted very strongly against implementing refugee and protection conventions.
  • Voted very strongly against increasing protection of Australia’s fresh water.
  • Voted very strongly for privatising government assets.
  • Voted very strongly against increasing funding for university education.
  • Voted very strongly against extending government benefits to same-sex couples.
  • Voted very strongly for decreasing availability of welfare payments.

 

I guess all of this is beside the point for a party that solely focuses on (non-human) animals – humans are animals too! These issues are not even raised as concerns for the Animal Justice Party, who focus solely on his attitudes towards non-human animals. Interestingly, Wood’s voting record also shows a complete disregard for the environment:

  • Voted very strongly against a carbon price.
  • Voted very strongly against increasing marine conservation.
  • Voted very strongly for unconventional gas mining.

 

Crossovers between Different Issues

Wood’s voting record on these policies affects not just the environment as a whole but non-human animals specifically, who are harmed and killed as a result of environmental impacts such as climate change and loss of habitat. This demonstrates the crossover between environmental and animal rights issues. Indeed, there are strong links between all social justice issues, including human rights issues as well.

 

 

We care deeply about non-human animals but unlike the Animal Justice Party, that is not our single focus. We also see how the oppression of non-human animals shares similarities with and intersects with other forms of oppression, which we also view as important issues in their own right. For more on why we support an intersectional approach to animal advocacy, which views other issues such as human rights and environmental issues as also important, you can hear our talk ‘Intersectionality in Practice’ or listen to episode 93 of our podcast, which includes this talk and further discussion on intersectionality:

 

bobslide6

Cartoon by miriamdobson.wordpress.com

 

Policies Towards Non-Human Animals

Any party’s policies towards non-human animals are going to be limited within the current animal welfare framework, including the Animal Justice Party. They focus on ‘the phase out of factory farming’ and ‘the rapid phase out of live export and the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning for any reason; including religious beliefs’. So basically we’re left with the “humane” slaughter of animals, which we think is nowhere near enough to take the interests of non-human animals seriously – cutting their life short is a harm in itself. Their position on this is understandable, as no party will gain any traction calling for a complete end to animal slaughter. However, despite some important exceptions such as mentioning plant-based diets and opposing the kangaroo cull, their current policy for the vast majority of non-human animals who are killed by humans, which is for food, is the same as parties like the Greens – more “humane” slaughter.

 

The Animal Justice Party has (very slightly) better policies towards non-human animals than progressive parties like the Greens. However, it would only make sense for us to vote them if non-human animals were our singular focus. That is why we will be voting for progressive parties whose current policies towards non-human animals are inadequate (as are the Animal Justice Party’s), but who, unlike the Animal Justice Party, have strong positions on a wide range of other issues we care about, such as opposing the horrible treatment of refugees, addressing economic inequality and protecting the environment.

 

How We’re Voting This Election

Senate:
1. Socialist Alliance
2. Australian Progressives
3. The Greens
4. Australian Sex Party
5. Pirate Party
6. Drug Law Reform

 

House of Representatives:
1. HODGINS-MAY Steph – The Greens
2. McKENZIE-KIRKBRIGHT Levi – Drug Law Reform
3. VON DOUSSA Henry – Marriage Equality
4. DANBY Michael – Australian Labor Party
5. SMYTH Robert Millen – Animal Justice Party
6. HOLLAND Peter – Independent
7. GUEST Owen – Liberal
8. MYERS John B – Independent

 

Why We’re Voting This Way

We discuss why we’ve ordered the parties in this way on episode 138 of our podcast:

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The Importance of Veganism: A Historical Perspective*

By Nick Pendergrast

*This article was originally published on the 17th of March 2012, on the site four-domains.net. This site is no longer active, which is why I’m adding the article here. If you’re new to veganism and would like to find out more, check out my articles on what is veganism? and why vegan for animals, the environment and health.

vegn

Image from zazzle.com

Lately “veg*nism” seems to be everywhere. I see people talk about “veg*n” food when all the food is vegan, people encouraging others to support “veg*n” restaurants or businesses, and people saying it is pointless to talk to “veg*ns” about animal rights because it is “preaching to the converted.”

I also see many groups and individuals saying that if you’re already “veg” or “vego”, then try to convince others – as if there is nothing to be gained for non-human animals by avoiding other animal products beyond flesh.

It also seems common for people to be vegan at home and vegetarian when they eat out. At a vegetarian restaurant where I live in Perth, Australia, they even give away a free dairy bubble tea with any meal on Monday to congratulate people for supporting Meat Free Mondays.

free dairy drink on meat free mondays

Leave out the meat and get a dairy drink instead?

Animal Flesh as the “Ultimate Evil”

The idea that flesh is the “ultimate evil” rather than just one of many products that involve the exploitation of other animals is very dominant in the animal advocacy movement. But is this idea a valid one?

I believe that Leah Leneman’s article ‘No Animal Food: The Road to Veganism in Britain, 1909-1944‘ sheds some light on this. Back in 1847, when The Vegetarian Society was set up, they justified the consumption of dairy and eggs on the basis that it was not necessary for animals to be killed to produce these products.

This idea was challenged in The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review (The Vegetarian Society’s magazine) from 1909-1912, with many different people pointing out that dairy and egg products involve the slaughter of the males who cannot produce the desired product. Also explained was the slaughter inevitably waiting the females once they were no longer producing enough eggs or dairy to be profitable. Finally, others also pointed to the separation of the mother and her calf in the dairy industry – her calves will be stolen away and slaughtered for veal so she can be continually impregnated to produce dairy.

veg_mess

Image from happycow.net

In 1911 and 1912, there were a few vegetarians who attempted to challenge the idea that suffering and death were inherent to the dairy and egg industries in The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review. However, after 1912, such arguments were not made in this magazine again.

Justifying Vegetarianism based on Practical Considerations

After this point, the Vegetarian Society justified the consumption of dairy and eggs based on practical, rather than ethical considerations. Veganism was seen as too difficult, so while the Vegetarian Society accepted that dairy and eggs could not be justified ethically, they argued that it was too difficult to give up all animal products and that vegetarianism was a transitional stage to a more humane, “pure vegetarian” diet that avoided dairy and eggs as well as flesh.

It has been about 100 years since the Vegetarian Society has attempted to justify consuming dairy and eggs ethically. So what about the argument that it is just too difficult to give up all animal products?

Referring back to Leneman’s article, the first vegan cookbook in Britain, No Animal Food, was written by C.W. Daniel and published in 1910. The review of this book by the editor of The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review explained that these recipes showed that it was ‘not at all impossible to obtain a variety of palatable dishes without recourse to either eggs or milk.’

In 1964, Eva Batt explained that ‘veganism is by no means concerned only with food; vegans deplore the slaughter or exploitation of any creature for any reason.’ She also explained some of the forms of exploitation that vegans avoid, including those involved in food, clothing, entertainment and household products. Batt explained that: ‘This may seem a formidable list…However, for all the above there are humane alternatives.’

In the same article, Batt went on to say that: ‘Putting  veganism  into  practice  will  require  a  little  patience,  some  knowledge  of nutrition (which is easily learned and is a most rewarding study) and perhaps a bit of help from other vegans who have acquired local knowledge about the availability in the  area  of  pure  foods,  humane  clothing  and  household  products.’ Keep in mind, this was in 1964.

eva batt

Eva Batt – image from candidhominid.com

I recently published an article explaining the gains for veganism in 2011 alone, in terms of awareness of veganism and the reasons for becoming vegan, as well as increased vegan options in supermarkets and restaurants. Think of how far veganism has come since 1964.

The internet has made things so much easier now. Unlike in 1964, anyone with internet access can easily find numerous websites, podcasts and books on vegan nutrition. Humane clothingpersonal and household products are also easy to find. Vegan mentor programs and 30 day vegan challenge programs can provide support for people making the transition to veganism.

rise of veganism

Image from huffingtonpost.com

At What Point Will the “Transitional Phase” End?

In the early 1900s, the Vegetarian Society admitted the problems with dairy and eggs, however, saw vegetarianism as a practical step on the transition to a vegan diet. Unfortunately, this transition does not seem to have happened.

They continue to encourage people to give up flesh but not eggs and dairy, even speaking of the “virtues” of “free-range” eggs, which involve the slaughter of animals, while elsewhere on their website challenging the idea of “humane” slaughter.

chicks

Male chicks being killed in the egg industry, a standard practice because males do not lay eggs, so are not profitable to the industry. Image from Vegan Outreach.

But this prioritisation of flesh is quite arbitrary and unnecessary. Not only do dairy and eggs involve the slaughter of other animals, but dairy has the additional cruelty of the continual separation of mother and calf. In fact I’ve heard many people convincingly make the case that dairy actually involves more suffering than flesh.

mdi-grieving-mother

Image from peacefulprairie.org

When I was vegetarian, I obviously gave up flesh, but increased my intake of dairy and eggs. As a result, I was possibly contributing to more animal suffering and death than before.

I won’t assume every vegetarian was the same as me – some may not increase their intake of dairy and eggs. However, if we accept that products like dairy are just as bad as flesh, then are vegans still “preaching to the converted” when talking to vegetarians?

If someone totally gave up dairy but continued to eat flesh and eggs, as well as wearing animal products like leather, and using household products that contain animal products and testing, would we think it would be pointless talking to this person about animal rights as we’re “preaching to the converted”? Of course not – but this is much the same as someone who does not eat flesh but is otherwise engaged in animal exploitation.

Of course individual vegetarians may refuse to consume leather and may avoid household products that are tested on animals. However, there is nothing inherent to vegetarianism that requires avoiding such exploitation – vegetarianism is a diet. This is contrast to veganism, which goes beyond diet and is about considering non-human animals in all of the choices that we make.

veg vegan

In 2012, with more vegan options than ever before, it is important that we advocate for veganism, which means advocating for all non-human animals. Not just those raised and slaughtered for their flesh, not just those used for food – but all non-human animals that are exploited by humans – whether for clothing, entertainment, or whatever other purpose.

When I interviewed Patty Mark from Animal Liberation Victoria for my PhD thesis, she explained that in the 1980s, they were concerned about using the word “vegetarian” because it might put people off and marginalise the organisation as too radical.

Now vegetarian is such a mainstream term – but this is only because people used the word, promoted vegetarianism, and demanded vegetarian options. We can do the same with veganism, and it has never been easier to do so.

If The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek and the ABC are happy to talk about veganism – though they generally only focus on the dietary aspect – surely vegan animal advocates can also embrace the term, and encourage a fuller appreciation of it?

Let’s Promote Veganism, Not Veg*nism

The debate over whether animal products beyond flesh involve suffering and death to non-human animals was resolved by 1912. Vegans such as Donald Watson and Eva Batt also showed that it was very possible to live without animal products even decades and decades ago, meaning that there was never a need for the “transitional” phase of vegetarianism. With mainstream awareness of veganism and increasing vegan options, the argument that we are still in a “transitional” phase where animal products like dairy and eggs are not desirable ethically but are too difficult to avoid is even less convincing.

With all of this in mind, now has never been a better time to be vegan, and to promote veganism. This does not mean being hostile to vegetarians or anyone else who isn’t a vegan. Rather, veganism can be promoted in a positive way, highlighting the benefits of avoiding animal products, rather than dwelling on the animal products people are currently consuming – flesh or otherwise.

The problems with our relationship with other animals go well beyond the consumption of flesh. Being vegan, and promoting veganism rather than veg*nism, shows that avoiding animal products beyond flesh is a really important and positive step to take on behalf of non-human animals.

Opposing ALL Forms of Homophobia in Light of the Orlando Attack*

By Nick Pendergrast

It is horrible to hear what has happened in Orlando. This terrorist attack was inspired by homophobic outrage at seeing two men kissing. In order to address such extreme acts of violent homophobia, we have to tackle homophobia (and any form of queerphobia) all of the way along the spectrum of the ‘continuum  of violence’.

Continuum of violence (Hollomotz)

Image from Hollomotz (2013) in the book Disability, Hate Crime and Violence.

Whether it is homophobic language, attacks on important programs that support queer youth like Safe Schools, or mass acts of violence like occurred in Orlando, they are all based on the same homophobic thinking and all have the same effect in terms of keeping queer people marginalised.

I have been watching Malcolm Turnbull’s response to the attack and it is not enough to just condemn this violence at the extreme end of the spectrum, while supporting the attacks on Safe Schools that address issues such as social exclusion and stigma. To meaningfully stand against this attack you have to stand against all homophobia and queerphobia.

 

*This post has since been expanded into an article on New Matilda. Please check out the article there and share it around, thanks!

Katie Takes on Game of Thrones

*Content warning: discussion of sexual violence*

feminists are coming

So apparently they are going to “tone down” the sexual violence in Game of Thrones. So nice of them.

Personally, I get enough of it in my daily life that I don’t need it exploited in the name of ‘entertainment’.

Sex on TV? Yes. Violence on TV? Yes. Sexual violence of TV? Yes. But do not exploit sexual violence in a way that is “sexy” in order to increase ratings.* True Blood had all three without exploiting sexual violence for ratings, or making “blurred” consent sexy.

Porn use declined when GoT reaired this year. Research shows the popular pornography on the Internet involves violence and degradation of women. That tells you everything you need to know about this disgusting show.

sexism GoT

Image from xojane.com

NOTE: If you want to defend this show to me, don’t. Survivors get sick of being lectured to about how they need to deal with “reality”. Uh yeah, we do. Every fricking day. Which is why we want to avoid this horrible triggering shit as our entertainment.

 

*A number of scenes that were written as consensual sex in the books have been changed to sexual assaults in the TV show.

 

 

A Message for the Baby Boomers

By Katie

cigar

Image from: smh.com.au

Between 1975 and 2015, Sydney housing prices increased 30-fold. While housing costs 30 times more, wages only rose 10 times more during that period. Gen Y have to pay for university degrees which were free for Baby Boomers. Our Medicare system is being decimated. A working welfare system is a thing of the past. And the rate of insecure work more than doubled between 1984 and 2014 (thank you neoliberalism). Not to mention the risks our generation face in the next 15-20 years of societal collapse due to climate change.

real house prices

Image from: rba.gov.au

So how exactly are we the entitled generation???

Baby boomers who don’t support Labor’s negative gearing plan are locking their children and younger generations out of the property market.

Baby boomers who helped destroy this world before we were born, who voted for neoliberal reforms, who oppose Labor’s negative gearing plan, who did nothing to stop the decimation of unions and therefore the destruction of working conditions, YOU OWE US.

We deserve basic things like having a stable home, job and planet. Think about that next time you fill your car with petrol. Think about that next time there is a discussion about negative gearing or workers’ rights.

THINK ABOUT THAT AT THE POLLING STATION.

 

Sources:

http://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/40-years-of-change-what-were-paying-way-more-for/news-story/3a9cc7dbc1ec5394c3dbe8ba9365b064

https://www.nuw.org.au/noc2014/inequality-and-the-rise-of-insecure-work

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/mar/14/nasa-civilisation-irreversible-collapse-study-scientists

 

Gluten Free Funds Terrorism!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Nick

I’d heard of this whole “Halal Funds Terrorism” thing before but I was inspired to write this after I was surprised to see people actually falling for it on a vegan Facebook page. I wish I was more surprised though – there is actually a lot of racism amongst animal advocates. I’ll leave that topic for another time, but here I’ll just briefly explain why this “Halal Funds Terrorism” is complete bullshit.

This is made totally clear by looking at any even vaguely reputable source. I’m sure I don’t have to convince anyone reading this but thought it could be useful for anyone getting trolled by people promoting this ridiculous campaign.

What is Halal?

What does halal actually mean? It’s a religious requirement for Muslims that the food they consume is prepared in a certain way — one that is free from pork products, alcohol and non-halal meat sources.

Linking this back to veganism, this means that ALL vegan products that don’t contain alcohol are halal. Scary stuff! 😮

Beware of the Mooslims!

Halal BS

This “Halal Funds Terrorism” campaign is based on Islamophobic conspiracy theories pushed by white supremacists, such as those from the racist One Nation Party:

A basic internet search of the Beware! Halal Foods Funds Terrorists stickers found on the Nestle products shows it can be purchased from Restore Australia whose CEO is Mike Holt, the One Nation Party’s candidate for the federal seat of Fairfax.

Not only is it being pushed by racists, these racists have zero evidence to support their claims:

Smith is concerned profits from Halal could be used to fund terrorism and she points to overseas examples as evidence of the risk.

Yet when approached by New Matilda, the Australian Crime Commission had this to say in regards to its recent Eligo National Taskforce, which found some financial links in Australia to groups including Hezbollah:

“The task force has identified direct links between serious and organised, money laundering and terrorism funding. However, the Australian Crime Commission is not aware of any direct links between the legitimate Halal certification industry and money laundering or the financing of terrorist groups.”

Even Coalition backbencher George Christensen, who is pushing for all Halal certified products to be labelled, so he and other Islamophobes can avoid them, has admitted ‘it’s not terrorism’.

Blaming Muslims

Links with Anti-Semitism

This whole uproar over Halal labelling is similar to the anti-Kosher campaign white supremacists have pushed in the past – it seems as though they’ve just moved onto Islam now:

The claim of the anti-halal brigade is that their concern does not extend to kosher food, since Jews do not pose the same level of threat as Muslims. However, the scare-mongering against halal certification follows a precedent set by antisemitic scaremongering about kosher certification (or the “Jewish tax,” as white supremacists refer to it). Housewives are urged to purge their pantries of any products bearing the tiny “K,” the insignia of the rabbinical council which imposes the certification scheme – described by one notorious leaflet as the “Kosher Nostra Scam.”

As Martha Nussbaum and others have pointed out, Jews have long occupied the place of the abhorrent “hidden enemy” within Western societies, all the more foul and disgusting for their ability to conceal themselves. The campaign against halal certification is just one of the ways in which racism against Muslims has increasingly come to resemble historic patterns of racism against Jews.

So what does this Halal Label Really Mean?

This label on food is about as scary as any other. Just as someone who is gluten intolerant will benefit from the gluten free label so they can avoid these foods, the Halal label is useful for Islamic people so they can avoid foods that are haram (forbidden).

So eating foods labelled Halal is not going to fund terrorism any more than eating foods that are labelled gluten free. Eating gluten may cause Ebola though – if South Park is real life…

When Will Moderate Whites Condemn the NAACP Bombing?

By Nick Pendergrast

Right around the time that twelve people were killed in the shooting at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the office of the NAACP, one of the oldest civil rights groups in the US, was bombed by a white man. While fortunately the NAACP bombing did not result in any injuries and deaths, justifying a greater media focus on the French shooting, this bombing was pretty much ignored in the mainstream media until African American people on Twitter managed to get #NAACPBombing trending.

While most people will be well aware of all of the details of the French shooting and subsequent acts of violence in France, what has been lacking in most of the media coverage has been a discussion on the context behind the actions. In this article I will look into the recent violence in France and media coverage, free speech and Islamophobia.

Context, Context, Context

Journalist Robert Fiske recent published an article which provided an in-depth look into the French repression of Algerian people. A huge majority of France’s Muslim population are Algerian. Fiske points out that this context is often neglected in stories about violence covered by the media:

Maybe all newspaper and television reports should carry a “history corner”, a little reminder that nothing – absolutely zilch – happens without a past. Massacres, bloodletting, fury, sorrow, police hunts (“widening” or “narrowing” as sub-editors wish) take the headlines. Always it’s the “who” and the “how” – but rarely the “why”.

There are several reasons why we often don’t get the full context from the mainstream media when they report on atrocities. Part of it has to do with commercial constraints, where a simplified/shorter explanation of ‘why’ (or even no explanation of all) is more palatable to a larger audience, meaning commercial media outlets do this so they can get more papers sold, more clicks to their website, more advertising and therefore more money. After all, the primary function of commercial media, by their very nature as businesses, is to make money.

But I think people often don’t want to look into the ‘why’ because it is seen as excusing the actions. I believe it is not about excusing anything, but about understanding what is going on around the world in a deeper way. That is what I will try and do in this article.

A Free Speech Issue?

The attack on Charlie Hebdo has often been framed purely in free speech terms. For example, the organiser of a “Je Suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) rally in Melbourne, mourning and supporting the people killed in the attack, explained:

But more because it’s just not a terrorist attack against France, it’s a terrorist attack against freedom of speech and it’s something like, it’s very important all around the world. So I think when somebody attacks freedom of speech, it’s the beginning of the end.

I will not be a part of the “I am Charlie” campaign – I am NOT Charlie.* I think it is very possible to condemn the Paris shootings while also condemning the Islamophobia of Charlie Hedbo, which will be outlined below. While free speech is important, I believe we shouldn’t look at this issue purely through the lens of free speech without also without also looking into the broader context of white supremacy and Islamophobia.

Comedian Aamer Rahman does this in relation to the repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in Australia, which makes it illegal to insult people on racial grounds. This repeal was proposed by the Abbott government, on free speech grounds. The idea has since been dropped, although the Paris shootings have led some in the Abbott government to once again call for the section to be repealed.

The cartoon below is from Charlie Hedbo, making light of Muslim vs Muslim violence, in reaction to 1000 Egyptian people being killed.

koran

“But Islam isn’t a race” we often hear when the issue of Islamophobia is raised. Well, just because it isn’t racism, doesn’t mean it’s okay. Secondly, when the attacks are often made by white people against people of colour, it is certainly wrong to say there is no racial basis at all behind Islamophobia.

Richard Dawkins recently posted on Twitter:

dawkins2

I think what Dawkins leaves out of his analysis is context, power and privilege. Maybe in a different world “atheophobia” would be exactly the same as Islamophobia, but that’s not the world we live in. While atheists certainly face some discrimination, in conservative parts of the US, for example, it is certainly not to the same extent as Muslims face Islamophobia in countries like France. This Islamophobia is state-sanctioned, including the French state banning pro-Palestine rallies, headscarves in schools or the public service, and burqas and niqabs everywhere.

Predominantly Muslim countries are being bombed all around the world and where Muslims are the minority in countries like Australia, they face a lot of discrimination, such as street harassment. I think comparing the two is like saying racism against people of colour is exactly the same as “racism” against white people.

Others argue that Charlie Hedbo mocked the pope and orthodox Jews ‘in equal measure‘. First of all, this is highly debatable, in fact Maurice Sinet was fired from the magazine for making comments against Judaism, while Islamophobia is laughed at by the magazine.

Even if hypothetically this was the case, I think this is besides the point, as such mockery takes place in a completely different context. It’s like saying a magazine had some sexist stuff but they also made fun of men, it had some racist stuff but also made fun of white people – these things aren’t equal because of the context – see Aamer Rahman’s video above.

Charlie Hedbo’s cartoons mocking Muslims, such as the one pictured above, helped to play a role in maintaining the position of French Muslims as “second-class citizens”. As Asghar Bukari wrote:

White people don’t like to admit it, but those cartoons upheld their prejudice, their racism, their political supremacy, and cut it how you will — images like that upheld a political order built on discrimination.

This doesn’t make for good satire. As comedian Aamer Rahman has tweeted:

This is obviously not to say that satire that “punches down rather than up” should receive violence but we also should not celebrate Charlie Hebdo on free speech grounds without also looking into the broader context of white supremacy and Islamophobia.

Racism, Islamophobia and the Media

Speaking of racism and Islamophobia, the mainstream media often perpetuates both of these in the coverage of terrorism. As the NAACP bombing mentioned at the start of the article showed, terrorism by white people who aren’t Muslim often gets far less media coverage than violence carried out by Muslim people. Not only that, but the coverage is very different, as is shown in the coverage of the NAACP bombing compared to the Paris shooting:

Perhaps this media narrative of who is and isn’t responsible for terrorism explains why the media has virtually ignored the fact that one of the twelve people killed in the French shootings was a Muslim police officer. This media coverage is also likely to play a role in the predictable call for moderate Muslims to condemn terrorism whenever violence by Muslim people is in the news.

This struck me the morning I woke up after the Sydney Siege, where hostages were taken in a Lindt chocolate shop and two people were killed – one by the gunman and it has been recently revealed that one of the victims was killed by the police. Muslims in Australia, like everyone else, would have felt saddened, upset and scared by the Sydney Siege but then on top of that would have to worry about the backlash they could face. This is an additional burden that non-Muslims don’t have to worry about when such violence takes place.

Soon after the Sydney Siege, Sociologist Randa Abdel-Fattah highlighted this pressure that is unjustly placed on Muslims to “distance themselves” from actions that have nothing at all to do with them:

There is another issue though, too. And that is whether Australian Muslims will be entitled to grieve the deaths of the two hostages and the trauma suffered by the survivors in a way that does not make their empathy and grief contingent on condemning, apologizing and distancing themselves from the gunman.

As Muslim leaders condemn the violence in Paris, others point to the Qu’ran being inherently violent and hateful. I am an atheist who has not read the Qu’ran so, unlike Richard Dawkins, I won’t have a say over who is being a “true Muslim” and who isn’t, as I have no idea.

What I hope most people can agree with me on though is that we need to stop blaming a whole group for the actions of individuals, as well as challenging this pressure placed on Muslims to condemn acts of violence by other Muslims – particularly as this pressure is not placed on other groups.

 

*An earlier version of this article contained Charlie Hedbo cartoons depicting a French politician as a monkey and Boko Haram’s sex slaves as “welfare queens”, as examples of racism from the magazine. These cartoons (and many others from Charlie Hedbo) were certainly racist in that they relied on and perpetuated racist tropes, although I originally pictured the cartoons without the context. The cartoon of the French politician was actually lampooning a far-right’s group depiction of this politician and the Boko Haram one was actually criticising the right-wing’s opposition to welfare for immigrants. While this was done in a problematic and racist way, as this context was not included originally, I have decided to delete the cartoons from the article and focus on the Islamophobia of Charlie Hedbo.