On Sunday morning, I awoke in beautiful, permissive, perverted France. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and went down to the kitchen. I prepared the filter coffee, and put a couple of butter croissants in the oven to warm. Because this is France.
After breakfast, I pulled on my inappropriately tight and short running attire, and went outside to do whatever I pleased, wherever I wished, dressed as I deemed fit, and whether or not my husband agreed. I ran through the vineyards that year after year offer up hectolitres of delicious and ludicrously cheap wine for the “perverted” people who commit the ultimate sin of enjoying the privilege of being alive. I reveled in life, ‘The Eagles of Death Metal’ resonating in my ears and determination coursing though my sinful veins. I appreciated my liberty to stop at a bar on the way home and have a cool drink, or even sip a glass of wine, if I so wished. Even on Sunday, even at ten in the morning, even when others are at church. To talk to complete strangers – male or female, black or white, Muslim, Jewish, Christian or atheist. Because this is France, and France is a free country – whatever any gun-wielding crackpots with the IQ of Smelly Dog’s chew-toy would like to believe.
When I returned home, I read the letter Daesh sent to the French. I read it several times over, and I was struck by the language content as well as the message it contained. This is my reply.
Using words as a weapon
The written word rocks my everyday life. I work with words all day, in French and in English. When I have finished, I relax with words. I read. I write. I communicate. Language is the basis of all human communication. As you have understood, it can be a terrible weapon when put in the wrong hands. Words influence people, and draw human nature from deep inside us, bubbling to the surface. For any given situation, words can generate pity or malevolence, compassion or hatred, pride or arrogance. It all depends who is wielding the pen and how alert the reader is to the danger of being manipulated.
The outdated hate-mongering on my screen was written in such archaic language that I would have expected it to be delivered to the French President by camel, carrier pigeon or an exhausted, bare-footed messenger in medieval garb. However, you saw no contradiction in posting it via modern-day communication technology created by the very “miscreants” you claim to despise. And just to twist your pocket knife a little further into French flesh, you typed it in white print, on a blue background, with a red banner at the top.
You begin by explaining that you are writing “in the name of the very misericordious Allah”. This sentence deserves a little time, for two reasons. Firstly, I find it disrespectful and even downright arrogant to claim to represent anyone except oneself, particularly when it is to take responsibility for toting a machine gun in a public place. Most of us get over bleating “He told me to do it” at kindergarten.
Secondly, my dictionary defines the word “misericoridious” as “compassionate, merciful”. I’m not sure that anyone with those values would condone this behaviour, and particularly not in his or her name. How on earth could a “misericordious” God find it ‘merciful’ or ‘compassionate’ to kill and maim innocents? Either ‘he’ has a very twisted view of mercy, or you have interpreted the written word to suit your personal need for violence.
Choose your verb with caution
In the third paragraph, you nicely shoot both yourself and your “cause” in the foot – the ultimate paradox for a terrorist. You claim that Allah is “all powerful”, yet you do not appear to trust “him” to be powerful enough, as you continue to boast that you and your pals have “rescued his religion, his prophet and his allies by humiliating his enemies”.
“Rescued”? Unfortunate choice of verb there. Should we understand that you see “him” as being so fragile that “he” needs YOU to step in and not only speak, but kill on “his” behalf? What “all-powerful” higher entity would need a hoard of self-appointed henchmen wielding hate and Kalashnikovs to be heard by the mere mortal?
Next up, you claim that it is perverted to enjoy life, conveniently ignoring the gross inappropriateness of your own behaviour. What is more perverted? Sipping a cool glass of Pastis with friends on a Parisian terrace, or hiding away at a safe distance as you blow up an eight-year-old child weighed down with explosives on a market place to kill indiscriminately for your “ideals”? Accepting the religious and cultural differences of your population, or attempting to impose your views through terror and violence? (You may remember that a few other people tried that one before you. If you come across Staline, Franco, Mussolini or Hitler in the afterlife, ask them how well it worked out for them.)
You get a kick out of killing innocent civilians. We get pleasure from listening to a rock concert. I find the former far more perverse than the latter. While we’re on the subject of idolizing perverted music, you still have time to change your minds. Just for the record (no pun intended), Bin Laden listened to Western pop cassettes in his hideout, and more specifically, songs by Gaston Ghrenassia, aka Enrico Macias. If one of your spiritual leaders secretly enjoyed listening to a singing, dancing Algerian Jew who lived in France and became an international star, then maybe you should question the legitimacy of your argument.
Heroes, Martyrs and Caped Crusaders.
On Friday, your sidekicks were not martyrs, just cowards. There were heroes, though. Real life heroes who tried to shield their loved ones from bullets with their own bodies, those who guided others to safety, or stopped in their flight to safety at the Bataclan to help a pregnant woman who was dangling out of the window, screaming in terror. They acted on instinct – to protect life, not to destroy it.
As we are on the topic of heroes, let’s have a look at the word “crusader”, which you used to describe the French. This noun only really crops up these days when preceded by the word “caped”. Although I really do quite fancy the idea of the French population wearing their superhero knickers over their lycra leggings and walking the streets as a peaceful army composed of Batman, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, Edna in the cartoon “The Incredibles” says we don’t need capes to be heroes, and she’s right.
France left the 11th century a long time ago, and Paris, far from being the Crusader HQ you make it out to be, is now a place where people of all origins sit together outside bistros on the public squares like the ‘Place de la République’, ‘Place de la Concorde’ et ‘Place de la Bastille’, where they are free to drink alcohol or not, dance or not, show their hair or not.
Last but not least, one word that unfortunately does not appear anywhere in your text is the word “love”. I find this revealing, because from what I can establish, it is a word that appears in all religious texts. Yet you choose to carefully sidestep what should be the main raison d’être of any religion: to teach people to love each other and live together in harmony.
You wanted to create a wave of division and hate, but have only succeeded in provoking, once again, an international tsunami of unity and love. This is France. Multicultural, strong, democratic, beautiful, free France. If freedom is perversion, I will willingly embrace it. Along with all the other ‘perverts’ in this country, I raise my glass to freedom, equality, and fraternity. Cheers.
Any post that quotes Edna is quality, in my book. “Milan, darling. Milan.” While obviously everything you say is spot on, the most resonant point is the one about love. Every religion has love at its core: the means by which we are all able to improve ourselves personally and improve life in general. Anyone who claims to be faithful but has lost the point about love, has lost the point, period. I am devastated that for the second time I think of you so close to hateful tragedy that has made international news. I wish for a better 2016 for you, my blogger friend with such a wicked (that’s a compliment if it comes from someone who has lived in the Boston area) grasp of the medium of the written word. Thank you for your response. Thank you for being properly perverted.
Thanks, Crystal. Edna absolutely rocks. There’s a lot of sensible stuff in that film, including this quote from Mr Incredible:
“No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for… for ten minutes!”
The problem here, like in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, is weeding out the worms in the apple whilst convincing the French population that every Muslim is not a terrorist any more than every Catholic is a paedophile. Marine Le Pen has leapt on the issue with as much enthusiasm as Paris Hilton with VIP access to the Hermes sales.
Last year finished off with the killings in Peshawar. This year, Paris. 2016 has to be blood free.
Raise my glass to your appreciation of liberty.
Cheers, sweetie. I’m lifting my cup of coffee, and will be off for a charge through the vineyards shortly.
More power to your scribbling fist!
😘 The scribbling fist is currently doing warm-up tours around its paddock. The season looks promising.
Well said MM.
Thanks, drizzle-cake Queen. I’m sure that we could win these people round with Drizzle cake. Or leave it to go hard and lob it at them, but that would be wasting good drizzle cake.
Perhaps cake is the way forward! Sitting round and eating cake and chatting would be a much better way to sort problems out.
Mrs Playmo is offering to police guests with her saucisson truncheon.
It sounds like just the sort of thing that Mrs Playmo would be good at. Good old Mrs P.
I thought of you and another fellow blogger when I heard of this tragedy. I was wondering what your views would be. Your post spells that out. I hope things settle down for you all over there very soon.
Thank you, Tric. I’m still sorting through my emotions, and avoiding the minefield of stupidity on social networks, where many people fail to understand the difference between being patriotic and naively playing into the hands of these nerds by being racist and xenophobic. Hugs.
You nailed it! There has absolutely been a tsunami of love and a sense of unity across international lines that wasn’t there a week ago. Sorrow has produced a “family” choosing with strong resolve not to let acts of terror take a bite out of liberty. You have the power of words used well and I encourage you to continue to use your voice to inspire, which will in time help heal. I admire your strength as well as your ability to clearly express what many people feel, but often struggle to convey. Peace.
Thank you, Debra ❤ I hope that this unity and support will continue. If all the world leaders could get together and eliminate all the means these awful people have to fight, then things could get better. Just for once, maybe Russia, Europe, the Middle East and the US could work together for the good of the entire planet – not only by bombing the crap out of them (as they are already doing) but by stopping financing them and buying their illicit fuel.
The pen is mightier than the sword. A vos plumes, citoyens!
Well said….sadly, I believe that your correspondents are beyond reason.
Who knows. Perhaps we could bring them round with a bit of Enrico Massias, a cup of mint tea and a plateful of Elaine’s lemon drizzle cake. Failing that, we could lob week-old Nun’s Farts at them from behind a wall of home-made mille feuilles (difficult to scale).
Re-read, re-posted and re-blogged. This is a brilliant post MM. I don’t believe the bombings and killings have anything to do with religion, the terrorists are driven by hate and greed.
Thank you, PN, and thanks for reposting! I have no respect for people who use religion as an excuse for their own violence. Any so-called “religion” that preaches violence isn’t a religion, it’s just megalomaniacs parading as believers.
I agree with you completely. I love your humour and your posts and this post is particularly clever and insightful.
Reblogged this on Englishman in Italy and commented:
Following the terrorist attack in France, MM has put pen to paper and created a brilliant post. Please read it and share it.
Brilliant post, MM. You certainly are a craftswoman with words. 🙂
Mind you, Islam is hardly a religion of love (except of Allah). The word is used only 15 times in relation to human love and none of those exhort people to love each other. Still, that’s no excuse for fanatics to mow down innocents with Kalashnikovs.
There’s an interesting discussion in the comment section of this post:
Thanks, Sarah! Funny you mentioned that – I did look into the number of times the word “Love” occurs in each of the Bible and the Quran. I established that there were 538 occurrences in the Bible, and 69 in the Quran (although opinons appear to differ according to the “scholar”). Then I thought that it depended on context too, and discovered that of the 69 times, the majority of times does indeed appear to be in a negative context, i.e.warning the reader of the sinful nature of loving anything except Allah. I decided I wouldn’t go down that road in the post, and changed it to read “what should be the main raison d’être of any religion” – rather than putting an affirmative form. There may be more positive uses of the word love, but as you say, what I’ve read for the moment doesn’t seem to support that. It doesn’t stop muslims applying the Quran without the negative aspects, though; happily, the majority of modern-day Muslims know how to sift through and ignore the hate-mongering.
PS. That first link is one of the ones I read to find out the contexts in which the word “Love” is used in the Quran.
Indeed, and after all, modern-day Muslims are as much a target of the fanatics as us infidels. 😦
Modern-day Muslims have to get their act together and weed out the cretins with us.
I hope David Cameron is considering the lemon drizzle cake option. I can’t see anything else working.
Unfortunately the only language these people seem to speak is violence. I have a feeling that people who like Lemon drizzle cake don’t shoot people, they eat cake with them instead. Bombing the crap out of them seems to be the second-best option.
If it were a war of letters, this post would surely be a strike for the good guys, MM. Sadly, it is not….although I am inspired by some of the responses to hope that there will be an upside. Have you read the open letter from the director of The Artist? It is very French (and perhaps shockingly hard core!), but certainly eloquent: https://www.facebook.com/hazanavicius.michel?fref=nf
I’ll pop off and read that now, thanks for the link. If you want to read something totally nauseous but very revealing, check out the text by the far-right wing Catholic site Riposte Catholique, whose attitude about attending concerts at the Bataclan is a perfect echo of the Islamists’ opinion. Scary.
Read, and approved. A bit “raw”, as you say, but very true.
Perfectly put. That is all. x
Thank you, beautiful. x
Beautiful written and a wonderful response. I certainly agree that spreading lemon drizzle cake around the globe can only have a positive impact on world peace and harmony. Do you want to set up the Lemon Drizzle Party? xx
Thank you, sweetie. I would love to set up the Lemon Drizzle Party. The LPD, for short. Hey, that has the word “Party” in it. Already one positive aspect.
As always you totally nail it, MM. Beautifully and powerfully written. Those attackers couldn’t have been more wrong about how France and most of the rest of the world would react to their actions.
Thank you, Kathy 🙂 France’s recent knee-jerk reaction of voting far right didn’t reassure me much… but hey ho, that’s the beauty of democracy. Apart from that, vive la France!
Oops. My alter ego has escaped and posted on here. It was really me, MM. 🙂
🙂 Nice to have another name for you, but I’ll keep calling you Miss P if you don’t mind. Old habits die hard…