Monday, 16 November 2015

On Tommy Wallach's Comments After the Paris Attacks

I'm interupting Sex in Teen Lit Month II to post about the travesties that happened on Friday 13th November, and something that was stirred up in the book community, something that had me raging.

The events of last Friday were horrific. I can't even explain how devastated I was to hear how so many lost their lives in the Paris terrorist attacks. It's incomprehensible to me how anyone could do such a thing; take innocent life and cause so much pain and heartache. My thoughts are with all those in Paris, all those whose lives have been turned upside, all those injured, and all those who have lost loved ones. It's such a tragic event, and I am full of such sadness and sorrow that we live in a world where things like this happen.

However, I am also so bloody angry by the reaction to such events by YA author Tommy Wallach. On Twitter, he said the following:

He went on to explain what he meant further on his blog, here.

Before I continue with my feelings on this, I feel I should give some context as to where I'm coming from. I am an athiest. My father is an athiest, my mother is C of E. I grew up knowing both of their views on religion, but neither of them preached or tried to force their views on me, but instead brought me up to make up my own mind on where I stood when it came to religion. When I was younger, I believed in God. I made the decision to start going to Church with my Mum, and was eventually Christened C of E, by my own choice. In time, I went to a Catholic secondary school. In my late teens, my faith struggled against questions I had, until it dwindled into nothing. My whole life, I have had people on both sides of my family who are either C of E, Catholic or atheists.

So now, as an adult, I have no faith. Yet I find Wallach's comments so unbelievably disgusting and repugnant.

The tragic events in Paris on Friday was not down to religion. It was down to terrorists, extremists, who take words in a religious text, and twist them to suit their purposes. The events on Friday were not down to Muslims. Muslims and the Islamic faith are not behind those events, or any other terrorist attack you might think of. So by his very comment (and I know he's not talking about any specific faith, but the fact that the terrorists are distorting the Islamic faith is what his comment stems from), he is blaming the attack on religion and faith. This is so wrong, and just goes towards further alienating Muslims. This needs to stop.

Secondly, for some people, their faith is probably the only thing that is getting them through right now. Faith is a comfort in hard times; people have lost loved ones, and from talking to those in my family, I know having faith makes it easier to get through such traumatic events, to believe that loved ones have gone on to a better place, and that God is with them, by their side, as they grieve. I've recently seen just how important faith is to people when there is a loss of life, and for Wallach to say that more people should be athiests - which basically means he feels religious people should put aside their beliefs - he is basically saying that it would be better if an extremely difficult time should be even harder, as it would be for those with faith to be without it. And I cannot get on board with that. We lost my Nan seven months ago, and my Mum has found it really difficult. But her belief that Nan is in Heaven and no longer suffering, and that God is looking out for my mum has kept her going for the past seven months, amidst her grief. I may not believe the things my mum does, but I know she wouldn't be any better off not believing. The opposite would be the case. And I feel the same for all the others whose faith is comforting them during this difficult time. Removing all faith isn't going to make this situation any better, nor stop these attacks from happening - because faith and religion aren't the cause.

Finally, Wallach's reasons for writing his blog post are - because he feels obligated to the readers of his book/s, to speak up so teens hear these views as they are growing and working out the answers to "those incredibly difficult questions for the first time", to reject or accept as they see fit - seems acceptable enough. Until he used his blog post to patronise those of faith and make light of something that is so important to them. Even an athiest like me can see it is completely unacceptable to talk about what they believe in as "magical beliefs". It's disrespectful at best, but downright offensive at worst. No matter how you look at it, it's not ok.

And those readers he's speaking up about his views for? He refers to as "the kiddies". So he's even patronising them.

The world would not be a better place with more athiests; we don't need to get rid of faith. Religion isn't the problem, people are.

6 comments:

  1. Bravo! Honestly you've worded it exactly how I think it! I'm a Catholic, and it pained me to read that blog post. Wallach was basically grouping all the Christians together with Hitler, because Hitler was a Christian. Screw that! I don't say "all white men shoot up movie theaters!" just because ONE white man did. Wallach's thinking is EXACTLY the same mindset as those who attacked in Paris last Friday.... "You don't think like me, and you're wrong. You HAVE to think like me!". It bothers me that a man with such an influence in the community would patronize and insult those very readers who he claimed to respect. I don't think I'll be picking up another book by him again.

    Again, great post!

    Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms.

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    1. Your last point I couldn't agree with more. It you respect your readers, you wouldn't patronise them. I highly doubt I'll pick up anything by him again, either, which is sad, especially as I enjoyed We All Looked Up. But I can't support someone who is so insulting to people. IT's just wrong.

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  2. I have great difficulty with this one. I'm an atheist too and my initial, gut reaction is to blame religion. However, as you said, people do take great comfort in that so comments like Tommy Wallach's really don't help. I just want tolerance, towards and from those of all religions.

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    1. Yes, tolerance and acceptance is what we need. Extremists are screwing up the teachings of the faith they're supposedly following, so I can't blame religion. That's not what the Islamic faith teaches.

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  3. I am a muslim and this tears me up. Till recently I found it hard to tell anyone who I was. I've just finished Tommy Wallach's book 'We all looked up' and i found it so good! Theres so much wisdom in there abour not labelling people yet he has just done that. I can't believe I looked up to him.

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    1. I'm so sorry. I really am. I loved We All Looked Up, too, but now I'm just so disgusted. It's really awful, and made me so mad, I just can't support him or his books any more.

      I'm really sorry he's insulted you. *hugs*

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