I’m angry. I was angry when I woke up with the news of the inhuman attacks in France and I’m angrier now as I observe the reactions. Nationalists are spreading hate, fanatics are attacking Muslims, governments are capitalizing on this tragedy.
While millions verse on the streets to defend freedom of the press, world leaders join the chorus. How convenient it is to stand united for our liberties now, while not long ago our same governments were banning peaceful demonstrations, jailing whistleblowers, arresting journalists, and threatening news organisations. Free speech was not attacked just these last few days, but it has been undermined in Western societies for a long time, often by the same leaders that are now waving Je suis Charlie signs.
To seal this climate of hypocrisy, even delegations from some of the most shameless oppressors of free press joined the march in Paris yesterday. Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and others were all there chanting “freedom of speech” along with the French population, while back home bloggers and journalists are tortured, jailed and their voices are being suppressed. Disgusting.
And while the world mourns the victims of hate, the machinery of control will get in motion. We’ll hear calls for censorship, for tighter border control and we’ll see intelligence agencies mask their incompetence blaming their failures on a lack of resources. Surveillance reforms will halt, our debate on privacy will be deemed insensitive and we’ll be called irresponsible for publishing more.
This shouldn’t be a moment to give in for more control and to lose the small victories we conquered in the last years. It shouldn’t be a moment to think of retaliation. It should be a moment to demand answers on how even the authoritarian solutions of surveillance and war we accepted after 9/11 failed us again. It should be a moment of realization that fear and hysteria didn’t help us, and that we should know better. The last decade of war on terror left an entire region devastated, our liberties corroded and gave birth to even more hate and a militarized Internet. Let’s not repeat the same mistakes.
Censorship won’t stop the criminals. Ignorance won’t protect the innocents. Mass surveillance won’t save lives. War won’t bring democracy.
Liberty, however, might bring some peace.