West should own up to its mistakes amid Charlie Hebdo aftermath

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
People hold placards which read "I am Charlie" during a vigil for the victims of Wednesday's shooting at the offices of weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, in Tbilisi, January 8, 2015 (Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)
The Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris was an act of cold blooded butchery that has been met with revulsion around the world.

However, it should not blind us to the hypocrisy of those voices in the West who have been fanning the flames of this barbarism in Libya, Syria, and Iraq in recent years, and are screaming loudest now that it has erupted in their own backyard.

When will they ever learn? That extremism begets extremism is a simple and empirical truth that runs like a thread throughout human history. Breaking this cycle of extremism requires that we oppose it – whether it comes in the name of Islam, or whether it is carried out under the guise of Western democracy.

What the usual chorus of anti-Muslim Western ideologues and liberal supporters of the Western hegemony conveniently forget to mention, as they vent their collective outrage over this barbaric mass murder in Paris, is that the vast majority of victims of Islamic extremism are Muslims. They also elide to mention that Muslims constitute the majority of victims of Western extremism, as well as the West's funding and support for the same barbarism in Libya and Syria, where such massacres have now been a daily occurrence for over three years. Should not the Western governments apologize for the carnage and chaos precipitated over the past decade and more – in a never-ending series of wars, occupations, and military interventions?

The French government has played an onerous role in facilitating the descent of Libya into the abyss of violence and extremism it is now drowning in. Likewise, it has been a key agent in prolonging the misery being suffered by the Syrian people, as they desperately resist the invasion of their country by thousands of extremists who are intent on turning it into a graveyard.

The British government has been guilty of the same perfidious policy, while claiming the legitimacy of democracy and civilization. But what they call democracy has long been exposed as organized hypocrisy. As Malcolm X said, “You can’t understand what’s going on in Mississippi if you don’t understand what’s going on in the Congo.”

There is an unbreakable circular relationship between Western fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism. What took place in Paris is being claimed as an attack on free speech. But free speech can also be used as a weapon, deployed as a key aspect of an ideological assault on those deemed 'the other.'

Journalists and other people hold placards reading "I am Charlie" during a minute of silence for the victims of Wednesday's shooting at the Paris offices of weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Ljubljana January 8, 2015 (Reuters / Srdjan Zivulovic)

Make no mistake, nothing but condemnation should be heaped on those responsible for this vile attack in Paris. The sooner they are brought to justice the better. Indeed, only those who have had their humanity surgically removed could have failed to be moved by the sight of the wounded police officer lying on the ground begging for his life before being brutally executed by one of the terrorists involved.

But beyond the immediate need to apprehend these mindless killers has to be recognition that the current policy vis-à-vis the Middle East being followed by the West and Western governments, with the eruption of barbarism we have seen take place, is a disastrous one.

In France it is inevitable that the Muslim community and immigrants in general will come under attack over the following weeks and months. Support will solidify and increase for the continuing rise of the far-right National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, with its anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim focus.

In fact, not only in France but all across Western Europe, the far-right is in the ascendant. Recent anti-Muslim mass demonstrations in Germany already reflected a worrying trend prior to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and now it will only get worse, acting as a diversion away from the culpability of Western governments when it comes to creating conditions for the growth and spread of Islamophobia.

Amid the hysteria that has now been unleashed, it should not be forgotten that terrorism does not carry a passport. It is not the preserve of one nationality or religion. The best and most effective resistance to it at home is to stop supporting it overseas.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.