Reprinted from The Greanville Post
Much has been written about the horror perpetrated on journalists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and shoppers at a kosher grocery store in store in Paris on January 7-8, 2015. One question about which not much has been written, about the attacks and their aftermaths, is the old one from the days of Rome: "Cui Bono" (who benefits)? But before we get to that one, let's consider who didn't.
First of all, the two brothers who committed the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, Cherif and Said Kouachi, said that they were doing it to avenge the various depictions of the Prophet Mohammed that they found sacrilegious (the latter, of course, like obscenity, all being in the eye of the beholder). Well, A) they are dead and B) their actions will hardly stop others from depicting the Prophet in the terms that Charlie Hebdo did, or worse. (Of course, in their next issue, the Charlie Hebdo survivors came out with a depiction of Mohammed, sympathetically this time, but nevertheless, a prohibited "graven image.")
Then there was Amedy Coulibaly, the killer at the Jewish grocery. He said that he was protesting against the US, French, and other interventions in the Middle East. Well, there are lots of opponents of those actions, both in the Muslim (and especially Arab) and Western worlds (including yours truly and, I might surmise, many of the readers of BuzzFlash). Coulibaly's action is unlikely to win over many, if any, converts to his cause. So neither they (to be sure) nor their causes can said to have benefitted.
Next let's look at the "cause of free speech," which many commentators in the West said was the principal issue in this case of the Massacre. (There has been an interesting lack of attention to the cause for his action raised by Coulibaly. I wonder why?) Well, first of all, for the perpetrators, "freedom of speech" was never a consideration. Each was protesting something, violently, not with speech. In the case of the Kouachi brothers, certainly they were responding to something they call "blasphemy" by instituting the death penalty, but they were hardly concerned with "free speech" as an issue. Second of all, despite the massive protests in France and elsewhere, the response of certain governments, e.g., France and Great Britain, to the supposed assault on free speech, has been an attempt to limit it, or at least interfere with it, at least when it comes to the internet.
Third of all, in the context of the "cause of free speech," there is at least one U.S. "Christian" "pastor" who described the massacre as "God's divine retribution for mocking Christianity." No defender of free speech he. One might raise the question with him of why such a horrible, vengeful God would employ persons who he, the "pastor," regards as infidels (and they him, of course), but that one is a question for another time. But no matter, how one looks at it, neither "the cause of free speech" nor its defenders benefit from this one.
So who does benefit? Well, when one starts to poke around, the beneficiaries are to be found on the political Right, in a variety of countries and non-national locations. First of all, the set of incidents and the Western response to them has most likely been a major recruiting tool for ISIS (or ISIL if you prefer -- remember when Fox "News" was criticizing President Obama for using one term rather than the other) and Al Qaeda (at least the one in Yemen. In Syria, ISIS and Al Qaeda apparently have been at odds), both right-wing organizations.
Second of all, speaking of Fox "News," virtually all they could do, at least for the first few days after the horror, was yell and scream about the President (apparently) not using the words "Islamic terrorism" (he apparently preferred the words "Islamic extremism) and "radical Islam." According to one F"N analyst," ("propagandist" might be more suitable, one of the principal functions of propaganda is changing the subject) K.T. McFarland (who served in the Reagan Administration), by not using the words, Obama demonstrated that he was a "coward." Of course McFarland knows about "cowardice" -- Reagan immediately withdrew from Lebanon after the bombing of Marine Headquarters. Too, Reagan made sure that he got a backwater job when he was in the military in World War II, while one of his favorite "Peacenik" targets, Sen. George McGovern, was flying 10 over the 25-mission quota in his World War II B-24 Liberator bomber (otherwise known as "flying coffin," because it was so hard to get out of if hit). But hey, different strokes for different folks.
Third of all, Islamophobes all over the world benefit from this one, from the growing political Right in Europe, to the wing-nuts in the US Republican Party who are convinced that somehow Sharia Law (a major concern of the "historian" Newt Gingrich) is about to be imposed in the United States. In a country in which only a tiny minority of the population is Muslim, they have actually gotten several state legislatures to pass laws banning it. Then there are Likud/Zionists of Israel who used the Paris demonstration as part of the Netanyahu re-election campaign and to promote the Israeli version of Islamophobia.
Of course the Permanent War crowd, mainly in the U.S., but present in other imperialist countries as well, benefits tremendously from these events. I'm just waiting for the Cheney/McCain/Graham cabal to get on all the media, demanding that Obama send in troops. Where? Not exactly sure. The winnable mission? Not exactly sure. How to pay for it? Not exactly sure. How to sell it to the U.S. people? Not exactly sure. But send them in!
But the biggest beneficiaries of this kind of terrorism are the reactionary rulers of many Arab states, from Saudi Arabia on down (or up, depending upon your point of view). To pick one, Saudi Arabia is one of the most reactionary socially and most repressive politically countries in the world. No democracy. No free speech. No even semi-equal rights for women. The use of torture. Authoritarian rule. Public beheadings. You know those current ads for Land Rover taken (apparently) in The Empty Quarter, the world's largest sand desert? Well, the Saudis have been known to take members of the royal family (it numbers several thousand -- you can imagine why) who have committed some infraction, out by air to middle of it and leave them there. Oh yes, why does one not ever hear a word of protest from the "human rights" focused U.S. government? Well, oil's the word.
ISIS, et al, are funded at least in part by wealthy Saudis and others of the rich from the oil states. They just love having the focus of at least some of their possibly restive youth taken away from the miserable conditions in their own countries and aimed towards the "infidels" in the West. "Color" revolutions? Fuhgeddaboudit. Focus on the "infidels" is so much better. Ah, the use of religion to distract from the people's real concerns that goes so far back in history. It's really something, isn't it? I am not talking conspiracy theory here. I am talking about reality.
Thus, one cannot say that there are no winners here. There are. And many of them speak English, French, German, Hungarian, or Arabic.