Leon Lemmer: Waarom terroriste nie vereer moet word nie

'n Seremonie vanjaar op 7 Januarie om die aanval op Charlie Hebdo van 7 Januarie 2015 te gedenk
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Terrorisme is ‘n gewilde hedendaagse manier waarop aktiviste, bv ANC-kamerade, op ‘n onbeskaafde manier hulle politieke ideale probeer verwesenlik. Die ideologiese gom wat sodanige groep bymekaar hou, kan marxisme wees, soos by die ANC, of dit kan religie wees, soos by Moslem-terroriste. Wat eienaardig is, is dat sulke terroriste in die geledere van linkse aktiviste hoë morele status geniet en vereer word asof hulle buitengewoon gepresteer het. Ek skryf vandag oor ‘n enkele terreuraanval, uitgevoer deur twee terroriste en die hemelskreiende skadelike gevolge wat dit vir een van die slagoffers gehad het.

Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekliks) is ‘n satiriese tydskrif wat in Parys, Frankryk, gepubliseer word (1970-1981 en 1992 tot hede). Dit is linksgesind en na bewering anti-rassisties. Die Rassemblement National (voorheen Front National), ‘n regse politieke party, is dikwels in sy visier. Die tydskrif is periodiek in hofsake betrokke, bv weens beweerde haatspraak teen Moslems. Sy verweer berus gewoonlik op die reg op vryheid van uitdrukking. In 2006 het Charlie Hebdo bv die Moslem- en Mohammed-spotprente, wat internasionaal soveel opslae gemaak het toe Jyllands-Posten, ‘n Deense koerant, hulle gepubliseer het, oorgeneem en hulle met ‘n aantal eie spotprente aangevul.

In 2011 het Moslem-aktiviste die Charlie Hebdo-kantore met brandstigting vernietig deur ‘n petrolbom daarin te gooi. Op 7 Januarie 2015 het Moslem-terroriste, twee broers van Algerynse herkoms, Said Kouachi (1980-2015) en Chérif Kouachi (1982-2015), ‘n byeenkoms van Charlie Hebdo-redaksielede binnegedring, 12 van hulle doodgeskiet en 11 gewond. Hierdie gebeure het tot groot verontwaardiging en protesoptogte gelei; nie net in Frankryk nie, maar ook in talle ander lande. “Je suis Charlie” (Ek is Charlie) het oornag internasionaal ‘n slagspreuk ter ondersteuning van vryheid van uitdrukking geword. Regses, soos Marine le Pen in Frankryk en Geert Wilders in Nederland, het hulle hiermee vereenselwig, maar Charlie Hebdo het steun uit regse geledere verwerp.

Die twee aanvallers was opgeleide terroriste met Al Kaïda-bande, wat glo ter verdediging van Mohammed opgetree het. Dit herinner aan die ANC wat sy geweldpleging en terrorisme vergoeilik het deur dit voor te stel as ‘n reaksie op die beweerde sistemiese geweld van apartheid. In werklikheid was baie van daardie geweld en terrorisme teen die Inkatha-Vryheidsparty (IVP) gemik ten einde te verseker dat die ANC die politieke mag in die 1994-verkiesing bekom. Die Kouachi-broers is twee dae ná die Charlie Hebdo-aanval deur die polisie naby die Charles de Gaulle-lughawe doodgeskiet toe hulle inhegtenisname wou ontvlug.

Philippe Lançon

Een van die oorlewendes van die 2015-aanval is die joernalis, Philippe Lançon (gebore in 1963). Van hom is die volgende boek oor die gebeure gepubliseer: Disturbance: Surviving Charlie Hebdo (New York: Europa Editions, 2019, 405p; Amazon Kindle $12,64). Die oorspronklike teks het in 2018 in Frans onder die titel, Le lambeau (The shreds/Die flenters), verskyn. Le lambeau is ook die benaming vir die chirurgiese operasie (“flap over wound”) wat op Lançon uitgevoer is. Die hooftitel van die vertaling verwys na die groot probleme wat sy beserings vir die hospitaalpersoneel, veral vir sy chirurg, Chloé, veroorsaak het. Sy het dit as ‘n steurnis (“disburbance”) ervaar as ‘n veloorplanting telkens oorgedoen en ‘n gat in sy ken meermale hertoegestop moes word. “My failure to heal annoyed her” (Kindle 5836). Op die voorkant van die boek is daar ‘n reproduksie van ‘n kunswerk, Plastic red (1964), deur Alberto Burri (1915-1995). Dit is nie net die rooi kleur van die illustrasie wat gepas is nie, maar ook die groot swart gat en die kleiner gat daarnaas, wat die beserings simboliseer wat Lançon in die aanval opgedoen het.

Lançon is ‘n joernalis wat as korrespondent tyd in Kuba en Suid-Amerika, asook in die Midde-Ooste en Asië, deurgebring het. Hy het met ‘n Kubaanse vrou getrou en praat Spaans vlot, maar hulle het 8 jaar voor die terreuraanval geskei. In 2015 het hy Gabriela as sy spesiale vriendin gehad, ‘n Chileense vrou wat in New York City woon en besig was om te skei. Sy is ‘n beroepsdanser en -afrigter. Lançon woon in ‘n woonstel in Parys en is “a culture critic for [the newspaper] Libération and a columnist for Charlie Hebdo” (424). Hy skryf: “Charlie was a skull-and-bones flag flying over the … years of postwar prosperity” (605).

Iets wat ‘n opvallende rol in die gebeure gespeel het, is die verskyning van Michel Houellebecq se roman, Soumission (Submission – Praag 20.10.2019), wat juis presies op die dag van die aanval vrygestel is (252). Lançon het egter reeds die vorige naweek ‘n resensie daaroor in Libération gepubliseer. Dit is moontlik dat voorpublikasie-publisiteit vir die boek die aanval deur Moslem-ekstremiste ontlok het. Lançon se ma “at first …thought I was the only victim, and that I had been shot because of the article on Michel Houellebecq” (1106). Houellebecq se boektitel verwys na die onderdanigheid aan Allah wat van iedere Moslem verwag word, asook dat Moslems ongelowiges, dus die aanhangers van ander gelowe, tot Islam moet bekeer, aan Allah onderdanig moet maak. Houellebecq veronderstel ‘n Islamitiese staatkundige – en dus ook sodanige religieuse – bewind teen 2022 in Frankryk. Hy bekommer hom daaroor dat die vinnig toenemende getal Moslems in Frankryk die tradisionele Franse kultuur al hoe meer ondergrawe.

Op die oggend van die aanval was die Charlie Hebdo-redaksie besig met ‘n byeenkoms. “We were there to have fun, to yell at each other, to refuse to take an appalling world seriously” (518). Daar is onder meer oor Soumission gepraat (528). “What Houellebecq was attacking almost systematically was in fact everything for which Charlie had fought during the 1970s: a libertarian, permissive, egalitarian, feminist, anti-racist society … He had been able to give form to contemporary panics” (770). Lançon vertel van wat verskeie van sy kollegas voor die aanval tydens daardie byeenkoms gesê of gedoen het.

Eers in hoofstuk 4 word die aanval beskryf. Daar was twee terroriste met klapmusse aan wat ingestorm en begin skiet het. Hulle het “Allah akbar” (God is groot) geskreeu (906). Lançon het geduik om plat op die grond te kom maar is tydens sy val deur drie koeëls getref. “The whole attack had lasted only a little more than two minutes” (927). “It was armed men, it was their bullets; it was what we hadn’t imagined, even though we were professionals in aggessive imagination, because this was simply not imaginable, not really” (950). Lançon het aanvanklik stil gelê asof hy dood is, want die aanvallers was nog besig om tussen die liggame rond te beweeg om seker te probeer maak dat almal dood is. Daarna het hy versigtig probeer kyk wat aangaan. “The rubble consisted neither of dust nor ashes, nor glass, nor plaster. It consisted of silence and blood” (961).

“The attack put lives at the heart of my own life at the very time when most of them disappeared from it” (1173). “It is the future that it destoys, the only future” (1395). Lançon sou ‘n week later, op 14 Januarie 2015, na New York City gereis het om klas aan Princeton University te gee. Die vliegkaartjie was reeds gekoop, maar hiervan sou niks kom nie. “I didn’t know how to write anything about what was happening to me. I would have to do that simply to relearn how to live” (1612). Vandaar hierdie boek. ‘n Lang verblyf in hospitale was sy voorland. Hy het gedink aan wat in Dante se Inferno staan: “Abandon all hope, you who enter here” (2418). Hy het as’t ware die doodsvallei betree, “the Kingdom of the Shades” (3767).

Lançon het in ‘n plas bloed gelê maar het geen pyn gevoel nie. Later het dit geblyk dat naas beserings aan albei hande en ‘n lang sny in sy regterarm, van die elmboog tot by sy pols, sy onderkaak weggeskiet is. “Where my chin and the right half of my lower lip should have been, there was not exactly a hole, but a crater of torn, hanging flesh” (1073). Dertien van sy tande het los in sy mond rondgemaal (2727). “I ran my tongue around my mouth and felt fragments of teeth floating everywhere” (1005). “I finally felt, understood, that something irreversible had taken place” (983). “I felt for the first time a thorough sadness … I closed my eyes one last time, as if to erase what had taken place, as if, by not seeing, all that might not have been experienced … The person I was becoming wanted to weep, but the one who wasn’t quite dead prevented him from doing so” (1005).

“If the killers were possessed, my dead companions were dispossessed. Dispossessed of their art and their violent insouciance, dispossessed of all life … We had been the victims of the most efficient censors” (1027). Lançon het nooit sy bewussyn verloor nie. ‘n Kollega wat nie die vergadering bygewoon het nie, het eerste ná die skietery opgedaag en Lançon se ma in kennis gestel. ‘n Joernalis van oorkant die straat was ook gou op die toneel. Nege maande ná die aanval het skuldgevoelens hom gedryf om aan Lançon te skryf en te bieg dat hy versuim het om hom te help: “I chose instead to help others, those who were less messed up” (1196). Lançon het geantwoord: “I sincerely think you mustn’t feel yourself to be either weak or cowardly … I can’t hold anything against you” (1219).

Nadat die polisie en ander veiligheids- en reddingspersoneel opgedaag het, is Lançon in ‘n stoel na ‘n ambulans gedra. Een van hulle “looked at me, and almost shouted: ‘That’s a war wound!'” (1312). Toe hy op ‘n draagbaar in ‘n hospitaalkamer in La Pitié-Salpêtrière aankom, het hy begin huil, maar hy is spoedig onder verdowing geplaas. Toe hy wakker word, was sy jonger broer, Arnaud, by sy bed. “This mission was to make him for several months my twin and my practical, administrative, social, and private chief of staff” (1373). “The nurse came in to check my condition and that of the drips. She gave us a small whiteboard and a blue felt-tip pen so that we could communicate” (1406). Hy kon skryf met “the three unbandaged fingers of my left hand” (1474). “For three months, in periods during which I had to be silent so that my lower lip and the area around it would have a chance to heal, my fingers constantly went back and forth over this whiteboard” (2103).

“Arnaud had arrived wondering what he would have to cope with … He found a face that was two-thirds intact. The third part, below, was covered with bandages. One could only imagine the absence of the lip and the teeth, and the hole. The operation had lasted between six and eight hours. The orthopedists waited until the stomatologists finished their work before patching up my hands and right forearm. My surgeon, Chloé, was eating lunch with a friend when she was called. ‘And do you know what we were talking about?’ she asked me two years later. ‘About Houellebecq! My friend had brought a copy of Soumission with her, and gave it to me'” (1417).

Lançon beskryf sy aanvanklike toestand soos volg: “I didn’t see well. I couldn’t open my mouth. I had drips and drains in my arms, a drain in my neck, an enormous, complex bandage on the lower third of my face, an uncomfortable stomach tube in my nose – you have to eat to live … My hands were bandaged, I could hardly touch anything. I could neither eat, nor drink, nor smile” (1668). Daarna volg “two months of being fed exclusively through a tube” (5118). “I was forbidden to speak, because of the unfenestrated tracheotomy tube that had been inserted in my neck” (1690). Naas sy broer het sy bejaarde ouers hom dikwels besoek. Sy vorige vrou, Marilyn, het hom drie keer besoek; ook sy vriendin, Gabriela, wat uit New York City gekom het. ” Libération had spontaneously paid for her trip” (1995).

Omdat daar vir sy veiligheid gevrees is, het vier polisiemanne hom dag en nag opgepas; twee voor sy kamerdeur en twee by die hyser (1781). “They were there to remind me that the killers were never far away” (2430). Die polisiemanne, soos die hospitaalpersoneel, het uit ‘n verskeidenheid rasse en etnisiteite bestaan, insluitende Arabiere, dus Moslems, en swartes. “A cleaner came in with her mob, her pail, and that marvelous, silent African silence that, in this nervous ward, calmed me” (5084). “The African cleaning lady who smelled good and laughed loudly came in. She pushed her broom around and sang” (6075). Oor ‘n verpleegster skryf hy: “Ornella, a young woman of African origin who seemed to deposit her carefree, gracious smile on my wounds, was on duty” (5744).

Charlie Hebdo het oornag wêreldbekend geword en Lançon het heldeverering te beurt geval. Die Franse president, François Hollande, het ‘n 40 minute lange besoek aan hom in die hospitaal gebring (3214, 3259). In die hospitaal “I was afforded special treatment” (2206). Soos Lançon se chirurg dit gestel het: “You’re coming out of a national event that has upset everyone’s life” (5040). “I am well aware that I have received preferential treatment and beautiful rooms” (5018).”I was now, for an indeterminate time, probably quite brief, a symbol. I received an enormous amount of mail. I read it only little by little, at random, sometimes one or two months later. Time no longer mattered, and I seldom answered: I didn’t have the energy for that” (2727). Om hom te kalmeer, het hy na Bach se musiek geluister en Kafka se boeke gelees ter “ironic submission to anxiety” (3460); ook Proust (3522).

“For some time, I’d no longer felt suited to a trade [journalism] that was panic-stricken,rightening, and required conforming to a world that was going much too fast and too savagely for me. Current events had become a hall of mirrors, filled with overheated lamps that no longer illuminated anything, and around which fluttered clouds of increasingly stupid, moralizing, self-advertising, nervous mosquitos” (2284). Mettertyd het hy, terwyl hy nog in die hospitaal was, soms bydraes vir publikasie in Charlie Hebdo en Libération geskryf op ‘n rekenaar wat sy broer gebring het. In sy skryfwerk kon hy hom nie losmaak van die toestand waarin hy verkeer nie. “It’s difficult not to take seriously your emotion and sensations when what you’ve become is reduced to them” (2565). Hy noem sy hospitaalskryfwerk gisting (“fermentation”): “I was actually speaking more to the dead than to the living, because in those days I felt closer to the dead” (2577). “I could no longer describe what I was seeing or reading without overtly connecting it with my experience. The latter became the filter, the vesicle through which everything circulated. Anything that did not effect it no longer concerned me” (5779).

Die grootste operasie was om been te onttrek en in te plant waar sy onderkaak was. ‘n Deel van die kuitbeen (“fibula”) is uit sy regterbeen verwyder en vel uit sy regterdy is daar oorgeplant (3137). Silikon is voor die operasie in sy nek ingespuit om die nekvel te vergroot (“my neck had doubled in volume” – 2875) sodat van daardie vel op sy gesig oorgeplant kon word; ook vel van sy regterkuit sodat hy ‘n mate van hare as baard buite sy onderkaak kon hê om die letsels te bedek (2863). “The operation lasts around twelve hours. It requires two surgical teams: one works on the leg, the other on the face” (3137). Hy moes hierna met oefening leer om nie kruppel te loop nie.

Teen Augustus 2017 het hy 17 operasies ondergaan (2374), “to give me back, gradually, a mouth, a chin, and a jaw” (3008). Teen April was dit steeds dat “the secondary grafts were failing one after the other and … I was constantly drooling from my lower lip” (3041). Hy het homself as ‘n “mummified Droopy” beskryf (3922). “The patient has to be patient” (4221). Later: “The patient remains with his twisted face, his scars, his handicap more or less reduced” (2774). Dit was veral ‘n geval van “a face under construction” (2485). “Life was punctuated by the discipline that reconstruction demands” (2763).

Ná 4½ maande in La Salpêtrière (2217) is hy na ‘n militêre hospitaal, Les Invalides, oorgeplaas, tot 17 Oktober 2015 (1679) toe hy ontslaan en sy polisiebeskerming teruggetrek is (6424). In laasgenoemde hospitaal is hy blootgestel aan terapie, oefeninge en ander rehabilitasie-aktiwiteite. Hy het vir 2½ jaar voortgegaan met terapie by dieselfde instruktrise (6412). Soms moes hy teruggaan na sy vorige hospitaal omdat sy lip gesplit en sy ken deur ‘n gat (“orostome”) gelek het en van die veloorplantings weer gedoen moes word. Later was daar selfs ‘n gat in sy regterwang (6313).

In Les Invalides is hy om veiligheidsredes onder die naam Monsieur Tarbes as pasiënt geregistreer (5234). “I was somebody, will be another” (6357). “Monsieur Tarbes was neither Philippe Lançon nor a pseudonym of Philippe Lançon. He was a heteronym … Monsieur Tarbes did not speak and act entirely like Philippe Lançon. He was less loquacious, slower, more distant, more attentive, more benevolent, too; probably much older, but of an age relieved of an excess of presence … He was thin, wore a big hat, could not smile, gobbled down his milky, mashed meals, never in the presence of others, to spare them the sight, plop, plop, plop, of his spills” (5257). “I drooled when I talked, when I slept, when I ate” (5325). Hy het deurgaans goeie betrekkinge met die hospitaalpersoneel probeer handhaaf. “That was the alchemy of a long-stay hospitalization” (5404).

Ná twee jaar: “I would gladly have given up writing the slightest article to be able to bite into a piece of fruit or a sandwich without pain and without spilling it all over, to drink a glass of wine without putting my tongue in it as if I were half dog, to be able to feel entirely the lips that I was kissing” (2785). In die laaste hoofstuk staan: “I could neither kiss nor smile” (6118). Ná sy ontslag uit die hospitaal is hy in die herfs terug na sy woonstel (6493). “There were still and constantly first times, for anything and everything. Some of them disturned me a lot” (6504). Mettertyd is begin om die tande te vervang wat hy verloor het. “When I complained about my absence or excess of nerve sensitivity, depending on the place, around the lip and the chin,” het hy as antwoord gekry: “That’s normal, you’re disabled!” (6493).

Lançon se politiek is in ooreenstemming met dié van Charlie Hebdo. Van die Front National sê hy: “Supporting that party could already be seen as the sign of a stupid form of despair” (127). Oor die 2011-brandstigting by Charlie Hebdo skryf hy: “We were overwhelmed by a violence that we did not fully understand, and that society, on the whole – except the far right, whose reasons and goals we could not share – refused to acknowledge” (747). ‘n Mens kan die vraag stel of sy gesindheid nie dalk ‘n voorbeeld is van wat hy “automatic morality” noem nie (447). Hy is darem nie heeltemal sonder bedenkinge oor sy mede-linkses nie: “I felt … what a gift the far left had for scorn, fury, bad faith, a lack of nuances, and degrading invective. In this regard, at least, it was in no way inferior to the far right” (758).

Oor sy jeug skryf hy: “In my family, we were on the right” (605). Van sy ouers sê hy: “Their politics were right-wing, middle class” (2034). “There was a lot of talk about racism … I was on the left, I imagine, without knowing and without worrying about it. Like many children of the white middle class, I lived in a world without Arabs, without blacks” (617). Oor ‘n foto wat Francis Wolff van ‘n jazzgroep geneem het, skryf Lançon: “All the musicians are handsome, all are absolutely classy and chic. Almost all of them are black … They are the sensible forms of distinction and dignity” (6290).

Wat is Lançon geestelik sedert die aanval? Hoe het daardie terreurdaad sy denke en gesindheid beïnvloed? “The circumstances were so new that they required a man who was, if not new, at least transformed morally, as he had been transformed physically” (1440). “How does one move from being a survivor to being a living being?” (3569). “The necessity of accepting everything [etc] … were going to lead me to make immutable the only thing that could, and had to be, immutable: my character” (1450). “I no longer have either nostalgia or regrets, the event took everything from me” (675). “Everything ordinary disappeared” (861).

Lançon was die slagoffer van “an ignorant, stupid, and bloody fanaticism” (3237). Sy reaksie hierop was: “I felt no anger toward the killers and I … did not connect them with Muslims. My ‘politically correct’ – or, one might say, ‘evangelical’ – period had begun. From the vantage point of my little hospital Golgotha I didn’t want to think ill of anyone, and since then I’ve always missed, even at the price of a certain silliness, that state of complete, inmost suspension of hostilities” (3248). Hiervolgens lyk dit asof hy wel later, ten minste in privaatheid, bedenkinge oor sy aanvanklike openbare toegeeflikheid/vergewensgesindheid gehad het. Maar hy skryf ook: “To tell the truth, I didn’t give a damn about the Kouachi brothers, just as I didn’t care about the arguments that condemned them or that, on the pretext of sociology or thought, were already trying to understand them” (3449). “We sow psychology where we understand nothing” (3943). “I find anti-Muslim rhetoric just as intolerable as pro-Muslim rhetoric” (3637).

“I tend to think that present-day society is a poison that makes people crazy, and I have no doubt regarding the mental disasters that its constant, contradictory injunctions provoke. But I can’t do social psychology with the assassins who come out of it … I still think the first principle of civilization is: ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ Nothing excuses the transgression whose result I saw and suffered. I harbor no anger against the K brothers, I know they are products of this world, but I simply can’t explain them” (3580). Maar behoort omstandighede hierdie terrorists van (alle) eie verantwoordelikheid en dus blaam te onthef? “The nerve that connected me with judgment seemed to have been cut” (4763).

Bo alles het hy rus en vrede begeer. Lançon kon die gebeure nie deurgrond nie. “There was something abject about thought when it believed that it could give immediate meaning to the event to which it was subjected. It was the fly pretending to be an eagle” (4471). Hierdie skeptisisme kom van die gelouterde joernalis, Lançon, wat ‘n groot waarheid kwytgeraak het toe hy geskryf het: “No one thinks himself cleverer than a journalist” (6085). Dink maar aan bv Max du Preez.

Teen die einde van die laaste hoofstuk verwys Lançon na woorde wat Houellebecq uit Matteus aangehaal het: “Men of violence take it by force” (6481). Dit is iets waarmee ons plaaslik goed bekend is. As beskawing, soos Lançon hier bo sê, in die eerste plek berus op die beginsel dat mense nie doodgemaak mag word nie, is terroriste ongetwyfeld uitermate onbeskaaf. ‘n Frankryk en elders in die Weste word geweld en terrorisme oor die algemeen sonder voorbehoud verwerp. In Suid-Afrika het ons die teenoorgestelde situasie: Terroriste word op die hande gedra, op allerhande maniere vereer en selfs by voorkeur in topposte aangestel. “Memory is selective, the more what weighs on it is violent, the more selective it is” (1219).

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