Do we have freedom to offend? To belittle, to mock, to insult? Yes, we do, here in Britain, but we must accept the possible consequences of our actions.
That’s what’s happened in Paris.
I can well understand how fanatical Muslims (I was a fanatical Christian in my 20s) can burn with fury at how the whites in power have treated them as second class for so long.
For many, it dates back to the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, when we made contradictory promises to both Jews and Arabs to ‘favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people… it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine’.
This treachery still hurts today. I spoke to a couple of Palestinians at a cookery demonstration: “Have you heard of the Balfour Declaration?” They replied: “Of course! November 2 is a black day in our calendar.”
As David Clark wrote in The Guardian ten years ago: “This terror will continue until we take Arab grievances seriously… the war on terror is failing… We may capture the perpetrators but others will follow to take their place. Moreover, the actions of our leaders have made this more likely, not less. It’s time for a rethink.”
I know from childhood how hurtful humiliation can be. A psychiatrist has called it ‘the nuclear bomb of the emotions’. It was not until I was 70 that I realised I had regarded all non-white people as inevitably second class, with my unconscious attitude of white superiority. I repented, in tears, and I want to redress the balance.
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