France’s Warfare on Obscurantism

The French nation has expressed its unqualified horror and revulsion on the brutal assassination of a trainer final Friday by a deluded fanatic satisfied he was making use of some sort of divinely ordained justice. Any crime directed in opposition to an individual due to their beliefs or positions on problems with political significance successfully wounds the human collectivity itself. It denies essentially the most primary rules of any human society.

We dwell in a society wherein acts of this sort are repeated incessantly sufficient for us to hunt the technique of understanding the psychology behind them. Society usually reacts initially with a sense of dismay and concern. It makes an attempt to purge its emotion earlier than in search of to unearth the that means behind such acts. Within the public accounting that follows inevitably two excessive reactions emerge.

The primary comes from those that concentrate on the truth that the perpetrator’s motivation stemmed from the notion of an actual injustice that must be addressed. As a result of each act of violence, together with home crimes, accommodates a that means and a motive, this evaluation is justified. It turns into excessive as quickly because the concentrate on understanding results in dismissing the act as merely an illegitimate type of protest and even justifying it as an act of conflict.

The response on the reverse excessive comes from those that use the act to increase accountability to complete teams of individuals. This implicitly and generally explicitly accuses a good portion of a whole group of approving such acts to the purpose of encouraging different people to interact in comparable acts. The belief is objectively true in instances of political or cultural conflict, although it normally applies to a restricted variety of people. It turns into excessive when it attributes complicity to a whole group, threatening retribution past the scope of legal justice.

Emmanuel Macron, France’s Islamophobe-in-Chief


Alas, each excessive reactions inevitably seem within the aftermath of crimes like this one. For the second, nobody has claimed complicity or sought to justify the homicide, definitely not France’s Muslim group. The whole political class in France has mobilized to categorically condemn the act, refusing to emit any sympathy for the killer’s potential motives. Some politicians, nevertheless, have detected a chance to take advantage of the shock to additional their very own ends.

Emmanuel Macron has lengthy understood the electoral worth of casting suspicion on France’s Muslim group. The president just lately renewed his effort to stake an anti-immigrant place in anticipation of the 2022 election. As quickly because the information of the trainer’s assassination broke, Macron referred to as it “a terrorist assault.” Prime Minister Jean Castex claimed to know the deceased killer’s deeper, broader motives: “Secularism, the spine of the French Republic, was focused on this vile act.”

Macron managed to counsel the blame needs to be positioned on an enormous class of individuals sharing the identical worldview. “They’ll by no means succeed,” he asserted. “Obscurantism won’t win.”

Right here is as we speak’s 3D definition:


A time period of insult utilized by dogmatic rationalists to sentence different folks for failing to stick to each one in all their dogmas, together with their political views, which they firmly consider symbolize scientific reality and philosophical correctness.

Contextual Be aware

Merriam-Webster gives this definition of obscurantism: “opposition to the unfold of data: a coverage of withholding information from most people.” Macron conflates the assassination of a trainer with an assault on information itself. However within the period of refined hyperreality, governments, together with Emmanuel Macron’s, systematically search to suppress the spreading of data they discover unpleasant whereas, within the title of nationwide safety, withholding from most people information they deem too treasured to share. Additionally they manipulate the media to flow into information that comforts the beliefs related to their ideology.

The background to this story reveals a sequence of occasions that decision into query two perception methods: one dogmatically non secular, the opposite dogmatically secular. The murderer believed that the trainer, who claimed to make use of the cartoon as an example the secular dogma of “freedom of expression” was an lively infidel assaulting Islam within the classroom. The cartoon in query depicted Mohammed with the message “a star is born” on his bare buttocks. The Muslim lady current noticed this as pornographic.

The trainer might have taught his course on freedom of expression in the best way training has finished for hundreds of years, by verbally explaining the occasions surrounding the 2015 assault on the workplaces of the satirical journal Charlie Hebdo. However in our age of audiovisual media, he selected to make use of a visible prop. Understanding that the photographs could also be poisonous for some — one in all his college students suggested him in opposition to displaying the picture — as a substitute of adjusting course, he took the extraordinary initiative of inviting Muslim kids to go away the room. As a result of one lady determined to remain and subsequently described what she had seen to her mother and father, the lesson provoked a public scandal. The college tried to take care of the problem in a sequence of conferences.

Not one of the commentators appears to have remarked that, although framed as voluntary, the trainer’s suggestion that the Muslims go away the room was a divisive, humiliating and discriminatory act. Think about the impact of a German trainer within the 1930s inviting Jewish kids to go away the room earlier than a lesson on the “Elders of Zion.” Or a trainer in an American faculty inviting Christian kids to go away the room throughout an illustrated lesson on pornography within the trendy world. What accountable educator could possibly be so missing in cultural delicacy as to fail to evaluate the psychological affect of such an initiative?

Macron’s authorities calls this an assault on secularism. The absurdity of the grievance turns into evident after we contemplate that the content material of the lesson, illustrated by controversial imagery, refers to faith. The French have elevated the concept of secularism — laïcité — past the standing of the straightforward precept of the separation of church and state. It has turn out to be a republican dogma, with all of the irrationality related to any ideological dogma. The dogma admits two interpretations: that impartial secularism banishes the query of non secular beliefs from public life and that aggressive secularism claims superiority over faith.

The assassinated trainer seems to have utilized the second. For a historical past trainer, he additionally appears to have been curiously unaware of the historic context. For 3 a long time, the Western world has skilled the troubling ambiguities of what Samuel Huntington referred to as “the conflict of civilizations.” Lecturers in as we speak’s multicultural societies ought to pay attention to hazard zones and perceive tips on how to navigate them with bizarre delicacy. They need to additionally remember that within the West’s particular tradition of exacerbated individualism, unhinged people who determine they’ve a mission typically really feel empowered by the tradition itself to hold out the mission to show their identification.

Historic Be aware

Treating this assassination as a criminal offense by an unhinged particular person would have had no electoral worth for Macron. He wanted to make it not simply political however philosophical. The journal L’Obs quotes Macron as saying: “He wished to overthrow the Republic and the Enlightenment. That is the battle we face, and it’s existential.”

Macron desires us to consider that the 18-year-old murderer is a political and cultural revolutionary intent not solely on overthrowing the French republic however endowed with the higher historic mission of canceling the nation’s proudest accomplishment, the 18th century Enlightenment, consigning to the dustbin of historical past Diderot, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Condorcet and the opposite thinkers of the age.

The Guardian reported this statement by Macron: “One among our compatriots was assassinated as we speak as a result of he taught pupils freedom of expression, the liberty to consider and never consider.” Is that basically what the trainer was educating? The Charlie Hebdo affair was basically concerning the freedom to make use of business media to disgrace a gaggle of believers. That might have been an fascinating matter to discover as a characteristic of contemporary historical past. It wouldn’t have required displaying provocative cartoons to 13-year-olds, who in any case are too younger to understand the financial and cultural intricacies of the controversy.

One fascinating historic improvement may need been to spotlight the parallel phenomena of Donald Trump and Charlie Hebdo, who’ve multiple factor in widespread. That may have contributed to a mirrored image on the connection between politics and the media. However none of that may serve the reason for Macron’s future electoral probabilities.

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news. Read more of The Daily Devil’s Dictionary on Fair Observer.]

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Honest Observer’s editorial coverage.

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