star-Je-suis-Charlie-150Are we really Charlie Hebdo?

I must admit and I’m ashamed to admit it that I feel some Schadenfreude, about the horrifying events in Paris yesterday. If I knew the French term for enjoying your enemy’s distress I would use it, but apparently the French have also borrowed the German term. Ironic. Are they also going to bow down to groups that hold them in contempt?

The nasty side of me says that the French had it coming to them. I speculate that past the ridiculous rhetoric of recognising the Palestinian State to force negotiation (why negotiate if the world will give them more, by diktat?) or to advance peace (what’s that they say about f*cking for virginity?) there is another, domestic reason. They hoped to protect themselves against atrocities like the murders at Charlie Hebdo. Didn’t work out. But of course, proving a negative is impossible. Who knows what France’s loyal Muslim street might have done if the French had voted no.

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll post hashtags to defend your right to say it, just so long as I don’t offend someone.

paraphrasing Voltaire (died 1778 – rolling in his grave 2014)

The more reasonable side of me says that the victims were writers and artists, doing essentially what I do. The attack against them was an attack against freedom of speech. So I change my profile to a black square and post #JesuisCharlie and #IamCharlie hashtags.

Achmed & CharlieBut was it just an attack against freedom of speech? How many times do killers have to scream Allah hu Akbar for us to admit this was an attack against the West and those things, like freedom to ridicule without a death penalty that are part of that modern Western tradition.

Does this hashtag campaign remind you of something? How many Nigerian girls have come back? Can we expect a photograph of Mr. and Mrs. O with their Charlie #hashtag, soon?

Will the response be, as it was in Sydney, to turn ourselves into intellectual pretzels to distance this attack from Islam. Will there be a follow-up campaign #IllRideWithYou against a nonexistent anti Islam backlash.

Limits to Freedom of ExpressionWe have a terrorist attack (or do we have to call it a militant attack?) where the killers announced Allah hu Akbar and Mohammed has been revenged as they executed their victims. If this isn’t an Islamic problem, what is?

By the way, the regular suspects have already announced that the real culprits were the Israelis. Perhaps it’s a small reassurance that even the Israel Haters see this as an atrocity, even if they feel they have to deflect the blame.

If we are really Charlie Hebdo we honour them by honouring their work, as essential to the Western society we live in. If we are really Israel advocates we should be pointing out that Israel and France’s war are two sides of the same coin.

Action items

  • By all means, post the I am Charlie graphic and #JesuisCharlie and or #IamCharlie hashtags. Show solidarity but do more.
  • Post the ‘offensive’ Hebdo graphic below wherever and whenever you can. Allowing intimidation to stop it (as apparently have most of the MSM) is the definition of successful terrorism.
Charlie Hebdo cartoon

This cartoon is the reason the 12 people are dead In Paris today. We should post it everywhere. Click for higher resolution.

  •  Don’t allow this to be sidetracked into a we must protect majority, innocent Muslims campaign. It’s time the ‘innocent’ ‘majority’ owned up to the problem in their own community. They live in the West – freedom to ridicule and satirise are an essential part of the society they willingly entered. Besides there is no evidence that Muslims anywhere have been blamed as a group. That is not the same as blaming Islam as the driver.
  • Don’t allow this to be sidetracked into a this is really a specific lone wolf but not local problem. If you can’t name your enemy you can’t fight him.

Extra credit

Klaven was prophetic.

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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