Take for instance, the narrative threads coming out in response to the recent Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, and the resultant generation of the #jesuischarlie hashtag, which in turn became the catch cry of that weekend’s million man march in the streets of Paris. What has become apparent was the collapse of solidarity with the victims of violence with an affiliation with the contents of Charlie Hebdo, which is in turn collapsed into celebrations of European civilisation, with those participating in the counter campaign of “I am not Charlie” being lampooned as purveyors of hate or national division or being championed by some as the voice of courage winning out over the timidity of the PC-thugs. Regardless, one nonetheless feels almost pressganged into one or another position as a sign of one’s acceptability in the eyes of “the public”, with the refusal to comply with such manufactured opinions becoming synonymous with the hatred of civilisation on the one hand or cowardice on the other.
This media-facilitated collapse has all but erased the other possible responses and other narratives, such as the qualified solidarity with victims coupled with the condemnation of highly offensive material, the legacy of French imperialism in the areas from which those who perpetrated hail, the experience of reprisals in the wake of the attack, or even the recent spate of anti-Semitic attacks by the French, or even the role of the media tail in wagging the civilisational dog.
It would seem opportune at this crucial juncture to revisit Kiekegaard’s critique of the media which, though centuries old, still maintains a strange freshness. Taylor’s summary of Kierkegaard is an excellent place to start.