This is our truth, tell us yours
If you have ever been in counselling you will probably be familiar with the therapeutic use of silence, even if you don’t realise it is one of the tools that therapists use. As humans one of the natural responses to silence is to try to fill it, therapists have to become comfortable with being silent so that it can be filled with another’s voice. Sometimes the rush not to fill the silence can be hard and it takes practice to be comfortable letting silence reign.
This, of course, is not a blog about the counselling experience but about Charlie Hebdo. The murders of yesterday have quite naturally been the top news story, the graphic pictures, the location at the center of one of Europe’s great cities, and the fact it was an attack on journalists meant it could never be anything but. However it is not just reporting that is going on, but a million voices determined to comment, to claim, to explain why this event means their view-point is somehow bolstered by the killings.
The first, that I saw, was Julie Bindel, claiming that her no platforming for being a bigot meant she understood exactly what it felt like to be shot in the head by fanatical gunmen, a similar response, from similar bigots is shown here with UKIP quoting Orwell with out even a trace of irony. They are not alone, every member of the comentariat has a opionion, a flag to wave, a reason to defend liberty or demand something be done.
We often mark deaths with a minute’s silence, now though it seems we mark them with 24 hours of seeing who can shout the loudest. Last night as people were tweeting #JeSuisCharlie a different trend caught my eye #KillAllMuslims. Both could be seen to be expressions of the need to fill the silence, to shout loudly to show you exist. I am always uncomfortable with mass symbols of mourning, empty claims to feel a loss that you don’t, and so, after a couple of moments thought declined to tweet out on the #JeSuisCharlie tag. The world didn’t need to hear my voice saying killing is wrong and so I was content with the silence. This morning I discovered how lucky I had been, as people shared some of the vile racist cartoons of Charlie Hebdo. Je ne suis pas Charlie.
However do I also need to fill that silence, does the world need another white person saying, actually I am not racist? Of course you could say I am being hypocritical by writing this, adding my voice to the cacophony. I am not saying though that analysis or comment should not happen. The French experience in Algeria, the ghettos which are the Banlieus, the acceptability of racism in French politics, and yes how we respond to extremists who use terror from Boko Haram to the bombing on the NAACP should be discussed. However noise is not discussion and we currently seem to be overwhelmed by the white noise of taking a stand.