Jihadists Believe in Paradise. And Hell Is Here

At the fascist fringes - Islamic State, Al-Qaida, Boko Haram - nobody cares about enlightenment, the separation of religion and state, the distinction between the cartoon and the one who draws it.

Yitzhak Laor
Yitzhak Laor
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People who fled the village of Gwoza, after an attack by Boko Haram, sit at a camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Nigeria, November 27, 2014.
People who fled the village of Gwoza, after an attack by Boko Haram, sit at a camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Nigeria, November 27, 2014.Credit: AP
Yitzhak Laor
Yitzhak Laor

Reporting on terrorism in the West is a symptom of the thing itself. Who will devote days of broadcast to a massacre in Islamabad?

Paris has been in our hands for a few moments. Jews died there because they were a minority, and the offense to French free expression was our own.

Everyone supports freedom of expression, as long as it is Sapir College or Natali Cohen-Vaxberg.

What is left from all that? France is broadcast here as the flagship of xenophobia, as if it had taken in all the immigrants out of compassion and not as a workforce. As if the slump in the birth rate among whites in Western Europe had not created aging welfare societies.

The immigrants and their descendants also solved the actuarial problem, did any job that needed doing and filled the national-insurance coffers. Look at trains to Charles de Gaulle: businesspeople and tourists, and African cleaning women who won’t be flying anywhere.

In France, is it permissible to insult everyone? It depends who does the insulting and to whom.

But terrorism is foreign to the French Republic. An example: No leftist splinter terror group came out of the failure of the 1968 uprising despite the power of the Maoists, who favored terrorism and a “third world.”

France’s republican aspect, which demands that the Muslims adapt to its secular nature, was stronger.

Left-wing terrorist groups actually did emerge from the ruins of the uprising in Italy and Germany, for example, and in Japan and the U.S.

In Italy, the Red Brigades’ years of terrorism ended in 1978 after Aldo Moro was assassinated. The Red Army Faction was active in Germany until the 1980s.

The U.S. eliminated the Weathermen in its own way, while in France the failure of 1968 was translated into intellectual activity, such as the founding of Libération and, more than that, philosophical activity that concentrated on criticism of the Enlightenment and Humanism.

Rivers of blood that had been shed in the war in Algeria, where about a million subjects were massacred in the name of enlightenment, still flowed beneath the surface. The biographies of several of that generation’s key thinkers - Althusser, Derrida, Lyotard, Lacan - were linked in some way with the places of slaughter.

The Parisian theories, under the heading of post-colonialism, gradually became an academic bon ton, particularly in the U.S. It reached us from there, much later as always.

Anyone who reads here works on gender studies, for example, will find a complete flattening of the 1970s philosophical criticism of Decartes and Hegel. In theory, of course. No practical terrorism, heaven forbid.

In any case, the Parisian shakeup of what had been seen, since the 17th century, as a given in philosophy - that the thinking man was white - peaked, though it had begun long before, in the African-French psychiatrist Frantz Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth” (1961).

In the preface, Sartre wrote: “[W]ith us there is nothing more consistent than a racist humanism since the European has only been able to become a man through creating slaves and monsters.”

The book, a cornerstone of post-colonial philosophy, opened with a paean to violence. Fanon: “As far as the native is concerned, morality is very concrete; it is to silence the settler’s defiance, to break his flaunting violence - in a word, to put him out of the picture.”

How did the dream of liberation turn into a nightmare?

Capitalism did not allow its subjects to free themselves. Or perhaps Sartre and Fanon, in praising violence, spoke in the name of enlightenment. They never mention religion. The radical left assumed that violence would expand secular enlightenment to the point where it included everyone.

“The end of history” and the triumph of capitalism left the West and the shrinking left facing the sole enemy: the religion of the Other. And there - at its fascist fringes, Islamic State, Al-Qaida, Boko Haram - nobody cares about enlightenment. They believe in paradise. And hell is here.

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