Japanese government whitewashes war crimes, historians criticize


This video says about itself:

Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

28 January 2015

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul.

By Ben McGrath:

Historians condemn Japan’s whitewashing of war crimes

11 May 2015

Last Tuesday, 187 prominent historians from universities in the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries published an open letter criticizing the Japanese government of Shinzo Abe for continuing to whitewash past war crimes.

The statement entitled, “Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan,” takes aim at the Abe government’s stance on “comfort women,”—a euphemism for women coerced into becoming sex slaves for the Japanese army during the 1930s and 1940s. It calls for the defense of the “freedom of historical inquiry” in Japan and all countries against nationalistic distortions.

Among the signatories were notable historians such as Herbert Bix, professor emeritus at Binghamton University/State University of New York (SUNY), Ezra Vogel, professor emeritus at Harvard University, and Bruce Cumings from the University of Chicago. An earlier letter, released by 19 American historians in February, criticized Abe’s efforts to have references on comfort women altered in American university text books.

The comfort women system was established in the early 1930s. While the first women to be involved were Japanese, as the war spread throughout the Pacific, the military turned to its colonies, coercing poor women with phony promises of good jobs in factories. An estimated 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines, and other Asian nations were then taken to brothels and prevented from leaving. Many committed suicide to escape their barbaric treatment.

The open letter stated: “The undersigned scholars of Japanese studies express our unity with the many courageous historians in Japan seeking an accurate and just history of World War II in Asia.” Historians, as well as journalists in Japan, who have published information on war crimes, have been criticized and in some cases threatened with violence by right-wing nationalists, who claim that comfort women were willing prostitutes and that stating otherwise is an affront to Japanese honor.

Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a leading Japanese historian on comfort women, received phone calls and letters threatening his life after he began publishing his research on comfort women in the 1990s. One such note read, “You must die.” In 1992, Yoshimi discovered extensive documents from the 1930s in the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s library (then called the Defense Agency), showing the military’s role in establishing “comfort stations” (military brothels) throughout Asia.

In January of this year, former Asahi Shimbun journalist Takashi Uemura filed a defamation lawsuit against Bungei Shunju, a publisher, and Tsutomu Nishioka, a right-wing professor at Tokyo Christian University and denier of the crimes against comfort women. Nishioka has accused Uemura of faking the information in his articles.

Uemura stated when he filed his lawsuit: “There is a movement in Japan to stop people who want to shine a light on the dark side of history, on the parts of the war that people don’t want to mention.”

Uemura first became the target of Japanese nationalists in 1991, following two articles he wrote on Kim Hak-sun, who is considered to be the first comfort woman to come forward. Uemura was accused of faking his stories and was attacked as the journalist who “fabricated the comfort woman issue.”

Condemnation of Uemura increased last August, following the Asahi Shimbun’s retraction of a series of articles on comfort women published in the 1980s and 1990s that referenced the accounts of Seiji Yoshida, a former soldier who claimed he had rounded up women during World War II in Korea. Historians had dismissed Yoshida’s story by the early 1990s, while emphasizing the clear evidence of the military’s role in establishing comfort stations.

Neither of Uemura’s articles relied on Yoshida’s story, but the retractions further opened the door for attacks on journalists and academics by right-wing nationalists like Nishioka. Not only was Uemura’s life threatened, but Hokusei University, where he is now employed, received bomb threats. Photos of Uemura’s teenage daughter also appeared online with calls to force the girl to commit suicide.

The Abe government strengthened the nationalists’ claims by calling into doubt the 1993 Kono Statement, a formal yet limited apology for the abuse of comfort women during the war in the Pacific, released by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. In June 2014, Abe’s government released a report by five “experts” questioning whether women and young girls were coerced or forced into the military brothels.

Tuesday’s letter goes on to say, “[…] historians have unearthed numerous documents demonstrating the military’s involvement in the transfer of women and oversight of brothels. Important evidence also comes from the testimony of victims. Although their stories are diverse and affected by the inconsistencies of memory, the aggregate record they offer is compelling and supported by the official documents as well as by the accounts of soldiers and others.”

The letter also makes clear the fundamental difference between the comfort women system and justifications by Japanese nationalists that prostitution was common in other theaters of war: “Among the many instances of wartime sexual violence and military prostitution in the twentieth century, the ‘comfort women’ system was distinguished by its large scale and systematic management under the military, and by its exploitation of young, poor, and vulnerable women in areas colonized or occupied by Japan.” [emphasis added]

The open letter comes less than a week after Abe, the most right-wing Japanese prime minister in the postwar period, was warmly welcomed by Obama on a trip to the United States where the prime minister also made a speech to a joint session of Congress, the first Japanese premier to do so. The two sides agreed to new security guidelines to allow Japan to take part in the United States’ imperialist wars.

All of this is bound up with the United States’ “pivot to Asia,” designed to economically subordinate and militarily surround China. Japan has been encouraged by Washington to remilitarize and discard its postwar pacifist constitution, as well as to enflame territorial conflicts in the region. During Abe’s recent trip to the US, Obama once again promised to back Japan in a war with China over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

While the historians’ letter fails to directly tie historical revisionism to preparations for war, that is the purpose of Abe’s campaign: to whip up Japanese nationalism to condition public opinion, particularly young people, for future conflicts.

British elections and corporate media sexism


This video about the British election campaign says about itself:

Leaders’ debate: ‘Farage should be ashamed’ on HIV – Leanne Wood

2 April 2015

The leaders’ debate first clap went to Plaid Cymru‘s Leanne Wood, after she told Ukip leader Nigel Farage that he should be ashamed of himself.

Mr Farage had been talking about the treatment of immigrants with HIV on the NHS.

By Louise Raw in Britain:

Why are we so afraid of the idea of women in power?

Saturday 9th May 2015

Women have been sidelined and written out of history due to a longstanding notion of what constitutes the ‘natural order,’ writes LOUISE RAW

IN the run-up to this election, you may have noticed the mainstream media noticing something very particular — the leaders of the Green Party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru are not men. They’ve been falling backwards off their chairs.

Excitement has been considerable, with some commentators opining that feminism can now pack up its bags and go home — its work here is done.

But is that really the case? The tone of much of the commentary suggests not. We might have expected the tabloids to take more interest in the women’s hair and clothes than their gravitas — and so they did, with the odd publication ranking the women in order of attractiveness.

But consider James Ashton on Plaid’s Leanne Wood, in the Independent (even before it essentially declared for the Tory Party): “Less fierce than Nicola Sturgeon, less shrill than Natalie Bennett, Leanne Wood has emerged from three-and-a-half hours of prime-time television as the leader you’d most likely invite around for a cup of tea.”

Shrill? Fierce? Cups of tea? Can you imagine David Cameron or Ed Miliband being rated in those terms? I’ve met Bennett, and a calmer, more measured woman you’re unlikely to meet. Nor does the Sturgeon I’ve seen and heard in the media bear any resemblance to the woad-clad Braveheart, roaring and rattling her sword at the English, who is supposed to be making my blood run cold.

Such are the workings of sexism and misogyny. Women in the vicinity of power must be reduced, made manageable, diminished. And if they refuse to, as the wonderful Ngozi Adichie has it, shrink themselves, then they are a threat, and we will demonise them.

Behind it all lies the idea that women attaining power is new. If something’s a novelty, it’s not tried and tested. It could fail, be a passing phase, a mistake — could even lead to disaster. It might also be a threat to that extremely subjective concept, so infinitely malleable to such a variety of arguments — the “natural order.”

Naturally, this is a crock. As socialists, by definition somewhat at odds with the system we live under, we should find it easy to accept and challenge that kind of cant (not a typo). And yet ideas about the dodginess of women in power seep into all our consciousnesses.

How can they not, when every other billboard tells us women are here to ornament, to compete with each other for men, and at the mercy of hormones, periods and other bodily unpleasantness?

The history of women’s lives is fudged, blurred, ignored, not taught. No wonder some believe its chronology was essentially: Dawn of time; babies; cooking; cooking; nothing much… (millennia pass) … 1960s! Miniskirts! The pill! Working women (secretaries, etc)!

If you skew the facts like this, it’s easy to think nature has been usurped, and that this explains all modern social malaise. It’s feminism — boys no longer know how to be men, women feel they have to have careers and are unhappy in them, kids are neglected, you can’t even open a door for a woman without being arrested, political correctness gone mad, yada, yada.

Just as we’re messing up the environment, we are messing — at our peril — with the essential nature of men and women.

Whereas in “the old days…” This would all have been music to John Knox’s ears. The Protestant preacher and reformer pulled no punches when he titled his 1558 polemic The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstruous Regiment of Women. By “regiment” he meant “rule” — there wasn’t some 16th century marching army of uppity women, sadly. What really got Knox’s goat was Catholic queens like Mary of Guise. To rail against them, he went straight to the “it’s not natural” box (“monstruous” means “unnatural” here). “For who can denie but it repugneth to nature … that the weake, the sicke, and impotent persones (yup, that’s women) shall norishe and kepe the hole and strong, and finallie, that the foolishe, madde and phrenetike shal gouerne … and such be al women.”

Foolish, mad, frenetic — ringing some shrill, fierce bells? Like any modern Twitter troll, Knox published anonymously, but authorship quickly became known and shot Knox stupendously in the foot. That same year, Protestant Elizabeth I took to the throne. She took umbrage at Knox’s insults to female sovereigns and put a complete block on his involvement with the English Protestant cause after 1559.

But if men were arguing against women’s power in the 16th century, clearly there’s nothing new about the concept. In fact, we can go back much further — anthropologists have shown us women hunting and fully involved in “pre-historical” societies. The evidence is there, should we care to see it, for ancient Egyptian women working, including as brewers, medieval women in every trade from fine art to construction and powerful in the guilds, militant women weavers on strike in 1788 — it’s a long list, covering every historical period imaginable.

But there’s profit in “othering” women and keeping all of this quiet. If you tell people for long enough that they’re not capable, it will sink in. Though they know, intellectually, that it’s not true, some of that will be internalised.

Companies make millions telling women they are unacceptable as they are, and must constantly improve every physical aspect of themselves. Wax that body hair, be thinner, prettier, younger-looking — and then we just might treat you nicer. Black and Asian women are sold skin-bleaching products and must straighten or otherwise Westernise their hair.

Mothers are told their most important new job is getting “their body back” post childbirth (where did it go? Who is snatching the corporeal form of new mothers? We should be told).

This is women’s true life’s work, and a handy distraction from that pesky pay gap. Rape, domestic abuse, street harassment, FGM? Nothing a new pair of shoes can’t make better.

It has been capitalism’s most successful trick to make the majority of citizens of the world feel unequal to holding power — from the divine right of kings to “scientific” treatises on the inadequacies and lack of full humanity of black women and men, women generally, and the working class, it’s been done relentlessly and well.

We can’t do better than writer and theorist Bell Hooks here, who has long warned against the interconnectivity of race, capitalism and gender both creating and perpetuating systems of oppression and class domination.

But few white feminists are introduced to Hooks’s work. Even those who fight for liberation are made to feel they can only operate in their own limited spheres — class, race, religion, gender — all are absolute divides we cross at our peril, we are made to believe.

So white feminists can talk about their Muslim sisters, but not to them — they’re “naturally,” or at least culturally, anti-feminist, aren’t they? Also we’d probably offend them somehow. No wonder the marvellous Sara Khan of Inspire Muslim Women, who challenges gender discrimination in Islam, is writing a book on how the left has failed Muslim women.

All the mainstream parties, and all of us as individuals, need to utterly and publicly reject divisive thinking right now. The protests, opposition and strength under impossible duress of our sisters and brothers in Gaza, Ferguson and Baltimore and the young mothers fighting enforced homelessness in Britain cannot but impress and teach us that we must talk to Muslim women, black women, working-class women — and, yes, men — not just when we want their votes, but constantly.

As socialists — especially if we’re white — it’s incumbent upon us to do this, too. Yes, we might misunderstand, tread on cultural sensitivities, get it wrong — so we will learn, listen, fight our own privileges, and do better. We cannot be silent any longer and we must no longer allow ourselves to be divided. We need to remember that “divide and rule” carries within it an equal and opposite potential — unite and conquer.

Louise Raw is the author of Striking a Light: the Bryant & May Matchwomen and Their Place in History (Bloomsbury). The 2015 Matchwomen’s Festival is on July 4 in Canning Town. Discounted advance tickets now available at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/matchwomens-festival-2015- tickets-16082194276. Children’s tickets are free.

10-year-old raped girl forced into dangerous childbirth by Paraguayan government


This video from the USA says about itself:

Raped 10 Year Old Won’t Be Allowed An Abortion

2 May 2015

“A 10-year-old girl in Paraguay, who is five months pregnant after being raped by her stepfather, had been denied an abortion that could save her life.

The child was admitted to hospital with stomach pains and doctors later discovered she was 22-weeks pregnant after being raped by her stepfather, Amnesty International said.

The charity said despite the high risk of the pregnancy and her mother’s request, she has not been allowed to have an abortion.

Her mother’s request to abort the child was not granted by authorities in the South American country as abortion is illegal. The girl’s mother is now in custody facing charges of breaching duty of care and being an accomplice of sexual abuse.”

Read more here.

In Paraguay, there is a far Right government, based on a coup d’état against a democratically elected president.

Here is one of the horrible results of that; from daily The Guardian in Britain:

To make a 10-year-old give birth isn’t just horrifying – it’s life threatening

Jessica Valenti

A child raped by her stepfather in Paraguay is being denied an abortion, despite the high risks involved in carrying the pregnancy to term

Tuesday 5 May 2015 10.00 BST

Would anyone in their right mind think it reasonable that a 10-year-old carry a pregnancy to term? This is not a thought experiment but the horrible story of a real child in Paraguay: raped by her stepfather and now denied an abortion.

According to Amnesty International – which is leading the charge to obtain an abortion for the child – the young girl’s condition became public when she went to the hospital complaining of stomach pain and was found to be 21 weeks pregnant.

“The physical and psychological impact of forcing this young girl to continue with an unwanted pregnancy is tantamount to torture”, Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International said in a statement. (In fact, the United Nations has declared lack of access to abortion at any age a form of torture.)

Paraguay has very strict laws on abortion – the procedure is only permitted when a person’s life is at risk. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

Antonio Barrios, the Health Minister of Paraguay, said: “there is no indication that the health of the [girl] is at risk … therefore we are not, from any point of view, in favor of the termination of the pregnancy”.

There are so many levels of horror here it’s hard to know where to begin but this, perhaps, is the most baffling: in what universe is a 10-year-old delivering a child not a risk to her life?

Childbirth is a risky enterprise for a healthy grown woman – a woman of reproductive age in Paraguay for example, has a one in 310 chance of dying from from complications from labor. For a child, the risks are exponentially worse.

Children’s bodies are not meant to give birth. Dr Dalia Brahmi, the Director of Clinical Affairs at Ipas told me: “It is cruel to force a 10-year-old girl to carry her pregnancy to term”.

Dr Brahmi, who once worked at the World Health Organization in the Department of Reproductive Health and Research, told me: “very young adolescents [under 15 years old] have a high risk of eclampsia, infection, preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction” compared to adult women.

The dangers are clear – and it takes a whole lot of magical thinking or straight up denial to think otherwise. Pregnancy for a child risks not only her emotional and mental health, but her physical health and possibly even her life.

Paraguay’s decision to remain the course has nothing to do with the actual risk to the child involved, but is all about their adherence to an antiquated, tortuous law that would rather see a child’s life at risk than admit their anti-abortion policies are too strict.

If those who would see this young girl give birth are truly pro-life, whose life are they concerned about? Because it’s certainly not the ten-year-old at the center of this story who is being forced to carry her rapist’s baby to term.

This anonymous young girl – this child – has already been violated by a member of her family. Must she be violated by her country as well?

Muslim girl expelled from French high school for maxiskirt


This video from Uganda says about itself:

14 April 2014

Kilifi county assembly speaker Jimmy Kahindi has dismissed a motion set to be tabled at the county assembly that seeks to ban the wearing of miniskirts in the county. The motion has elicited mixed reactions among religious leaders and the general public. The mover of the motion, Marafa ward representative Renson Kambi has come out to defend his bill which seeks to ban the wearing of miniskirts among women and sagging of trousers, by men.

After the banning miniskirts in Hungary and elsewhere … it might look like a safe option to wear a maxiskirt? Forget it. Long or short, repressive authorities will always find stupid ways to punish women for their clothes.

By Anthony Torres in France:

Muslim girl expelled from French high school for wearing long skirt

4 May 2015

A high school girl from northeastern France was expelled for wearing a skirt that school authorities considered too long and an ostentatious sign of her religious beliefs. The affair points to the anti-Muslim atmosphere that now predominates in official circles in France.

The teenager was expelled from her high school for nine days by the principal. The ministry of education defended the decision: “In this case, it was considered that the student was carrying out religious propaganda. It is not an expulsion that was put in place, but a dialogue that has been opened up with her family. And it is noteworthy that her mother made a statement to ask for the situation to be handled calmly.”

The absurd and reactionary treatment meted out to the student reflects the sharp rightward evolution of the French political establishment over the last decade. The school expelled the student based on the 2004 law outlawing all “ostentatious” religious symbols, even though the young woman was not wearing any visible religious sign.

The high school student’s case is not isolated. Last year, 130 similar cases took place and 20 this year, according to the Collective against Islamophobia in France. The number of anti-Muslim actions has sharply risen this year, moreover, since the Kouachi brothers’ terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo.

The goal of such Islamophobic laws is to divide the working class, attack democratic rights, encourage racist and anti-immigrant sentiment, and to push through unpopular policies of austerity and war in France and across Europe. The young high school student is the victim of a sharp turn to the right that has developed over decades in Europe.

The 2004 law was voted amid rising social anger with the anti-working class policies of French President Jacques Chirac. It was part of a strategy to divert working class opposition to the social crisis and a governmental agenda of cutting pensions, attacking social services, and intensifying police repression. The law was initially put forward as teachers were on strike to defend their pensions and public education spending more broadly.

This attack against Muslims in France encouraged a series of Islamophobic attacks across Europe. Several years ago, a law was voted in Switzerland to ban the construction of minarets. Over the last year in Germany, marches were organized over several weeks by the far-right Pegida movement to oppose Islam in Europe.

For years, the ruling elite in France has encouraged collective hysteria against Islam in order to attack the working class.

In 2009, French President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a debate on “national identity” and a law against wearing the burqa. This law was part of Sarkozy’s strategy of appealing to neo-fascist voters who had voted for Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential elections.

The law against the burqa and the “national identity” debate provided political cover for the French ruling elite to legitimize the neo-fascist National Front over the ensuing years, as well as an escalating series of imperialist wars against Muslim countries. The anti-burqa law in particular encouraged hostility to resistance to NATO’s imperialist occupation of Afghanistan, which was cynically presented as a struggle to defend women’s rights.

The entire political establishment bears responsibility for Islamophobic laws in France. The law against the burqa obtained the support of Manuel Valls, the current Socialist Party (PS) prime minister …

By supporting laws targeting Muslims, these parties of the affluent middle class demonstrate their hostility to democratic rights and to the struggle to unify the working class.

The 2004 law against the veil has encouraged employers to victimize Muslim workers, such as when a Muslim worker was fired for wearing a veil at the Baby-Loup day care center.

As for the 2009 anti-burqa law, it has escalated social tensions and police repression in immigrant suburbs across France. A riot broke out in Trappes in 2013, after police violently arrested a woman wearing the veil and then beat and insulted her husband.

It is in this atrocious political atmosphere that a high school student can be expelled for no other reason than claims that her skirt is too long.

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau attacked for criticizing Islamophobic cartoons


This video from the USA says about itself:

23 December 2010

It’s been 40 years since Garry Trudeau first drew the popular comic strip “Doonesbury.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist speaks with Jeffrey Brown about a new book chronicling his decades of work

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Doonesbury cartoonist attacked for criticizing Charlie Hebdo

27 April 2015

Garry Trudeau, the creator of the Doonesbury comic strip, has come under attack from right-wing editorialists and media pundits for publicly criticizing anti-Muslim cartoons appearing in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, calling them a form of hate speech.

Trudeau’s brief remarks were delivered at Long Island University April 10, where he received the George Polk Career Award for his more than four decades of work as a cartoonist, in the course of which he has frequently had to battle censorship of his outspoken liberal views. Only three years ago, 50 newspapers refused to carry his strip during a week when he bitingly attacked Republican politicians who oppose abortion rights even in the case of rape or incest.

The central point made by Trudeau is that Charlie Hebdo was engaged, not in satirizing the powerful, but in vilifying the most oppressed section of the French population, Muslim immigrants, who face the highest levels of unemployment, poverty, police harassment and imprisonment.

Trudeau was of course horrified by the bloody massacre in January at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, when an attack by two Islamist gunmen left 12 people dead, include most of the magazine’s senior cartoonists. He contributed to an online tribute to the murdered cartoonists. His refusal to go along with the retrospective glorification of the content of the cartoons, despite the enormous wave of media propaganda that has followed, is an act of intellectual and moral courage.

For that very reason, his statement has been vilified as an attack on the victims of terrorism, in a series of columns by right-wing pundits, including David Frum of The Atlantic, Cathy Young of Reason magazine, and Ross Douthat of the New York Times.

Frum made the most sweeping attack, citing the killings at Charlie Hebdo, the related attack on a kosher bakery in Paris, and a subsequent attack in Copenhagen, Denmark, and declaring, “For this long record of death and destruction—and for many other deaths as well—Garry Trudeau blamed the people who drew and published the offending cartoons.”

The right-wing pundit claims that Trudeau applied “privilege theory” to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, justifying it because the victims were from the white elite, while the gunmen were from the immigrant Muslim underclass. “To fix the blame for the killing on the murdered journalists, rather than the gunmen, Trudeau invoked the underdog status of the latter,” Frum writes.

He goes on to claim that news organizations in the United States that reported on the anti-Islam cartoons in Charlie Hebdo did not reprint them because they were afraid of terrorist attack, drawing the conclusion, “Violence does work.”

Trudeau offered a different explanation for the non-publication of the anti-Muslim cartoons in an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he addressed the right-wing attack on his Long Island University remarks. US editors did not reprint the cartoons because they were demeaning and racist, he maintained. If similar cartoons had targeted African-Americans, they would be universally denounced and repudiated.

Douthat and Young both cite Frum’s column approvingly in their own shorter diatribes, echoing his claim that Trudeau had based his remarks on an extreme version of identity politics. These criticisms are baseless slanders, as can be easily demonstrated by looking at what Trudeau actually said. The cartoonist cited the example of the great satirists of the French Enlightenment.

“Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists such as Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it’s just mean.

“By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech…”

The same issue was raised in a perspective published on the World Socialist Web Site immediately after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. WSWS Chairman David North rejected the claim by British historian Simon Schama that the French magazine was in the tradition of the great satirists of the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, writing:

Schama places Charlie Hebdo in a tradition to which it does not belong. All the great satirists to whom Schama refers were representatives of a democratic Enlightenment who directed their scorn against the powerful and corrupt defenders of aristocratic privilege. In its relentlessly degrading portrayals of Muslims, Charlie Hebdo has mocked the poor and the powerless.

North explained that the orgy of praise for Charlie Hebdo, summed up in the slogan “I am Charlie,” raised at demonstrations in Paris, was an effort to provide an ideological justification for US and French imperialism:

The killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and editors is being proclaimed an assault on the principles of free speech that are, supposedly, held so dear in Europe and the United States. The attack on Charlie Hebdo is, thus, presented as another outrage by Muslims who cannot tolerate Western “freedoms.” From this the conclusion must be drawn that the “war on terror”—i.e., the imperialist onslaught on the Middle East, Central Asia and North and Central Africa—is an unavoidable necessity.

These efforts are doubly hypocritical, given the onslaught on democratic rights, including freedom of the press, in all the Western countries, especially the United States. The Obama administration has targeted more journalists for surveillance and more whistleblowers for prosecution than any other in US history, singling out those who have played major roles in exposing the crimes of the US government, like Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange.

Trudeau is not an avowed opponent of imperialism, but rather a liberal who apparently supports the Obama administration, albeit with some disappointment. That does not detract from the principled character of his public repudiation of the right-wing efforts to whip up anti-Muslim prejudice.

The author also recommends:

“Free speech” hypocrisy in the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo
[9 January 2015]

Six American writers and novelists have withdrawn from the annual gala of the PEN American Center in protest against the organization’s decision to award its Freedom of Expression Courage Award to the French satirical and anti-Muslim newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The newspaper’s offices were the object of a terrorist attack on January 7 in which 12 people were killed and 11 more injured: here.