This past October, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons provoked another deadly incident. After a French teacher showed cartoons of Prophet Muhammed to his class, he was beheaded by one of his students. Days later, three people were killed in front of a church in Nice. President Macron labeled the incident as an “Islamist terrorist attack.”  The recent killings have evoked widespread fear and memories of the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the November 2015, in which two Muslim gunmen broke into Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters and killed twelve people, as well as the Paris terrorist attacks. Can France construct a secure society without alienating its Muslim citizens?
Information Warfare: Social Media and the Unfreedom of Speech
The last decade has shown an increase in foreign-spread disinformation through social media, which has been especially highlighted in recent US and EU elections. In May 2018, Christopher Wylie, a whistle blower from Cambridge Analytica, told Congress, “If a foreign actor dropped propaganda leaflets by aeroplane over Florida or Michigan, that would universally be condemned a hostile act. But this is what is happening online.”  He went on to argue that information warfare should be taken seriously, but unfortunately, disinformation on social media has already deeply infected Western democracies. This is evidenced by foreign interference in recent elections of the US and the EU as well as civil unrest directly linked to foreign spread propaganda and conspiracies.
Globalized Hollywood: Good Politics Makes for Bad Art
Since the 1980s, Hollywood films have become an artistic manifestation of American economic dominance. The industry’s major distributors have been able to leverage U.S. foreign power to pave the way for a new international market in countries that have historically shielded their domestic film industry. In 2019, the international box office hit a record $42.5B with Hollywood films comprising 73% of grosses.  However, Hollywood’s global power is not without cost. To meet international film-production laws, Hollywood sacrifices artistic autonomy.
Will K-Pop Really Bring About the Downfall of the North Korean Regime? It’s Not Likely.
In a 2019 interview with Time, North Korean diplomat-turned-defector Thae Yong-Ho boldly predicted, “Materialism will one day bring change.”  Like Thae, many North Korea watchers are betting on the power of pop culture and its ability to take down a 75-year-old regime. But is North Korea’s trajectory really pointing toward collapse? And if so, does the credit for that go to Korean dramas, K-Pop, and other flows of outside information? The short answer: no, and no.
French Secularism: A Veil for Islamophobia
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. The national motto of France. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Unless, you are a Muslim.