Lliana Bird also objects to the whole “Charlie Hebdo is racist!” thing.
[O]ne thing I’ve found difficult to ignore is the growing voices of those who knew little of the cartoonists and journalists saying terrible things about them, which are quite frankly unsettling.
“Racist”, “Islamophobic” and “hypocritical” have been the most common accusations. Many seemingly educated friends and social media buddies seemed to be merely glancing at a few cherry-picked Charlie Hebdo covers without making any effort in understanding their true meaning or impetus (or often even of the French translation of the accompanying captions).
And that’s not enough, especially when the subject is people who were just murdered by two fanatical bigots for reasons that are beneath contempt.
Charlie Hedbo were leftists, some may even anarchists and punks. They printed numerous cartoons which were anti racism/xenophobia; that mocked and satirised the far right as bigots and racists. As long time reader and Frenchman, Olivier Tonneau pointed out in his excellent article, The National Front and the Le Pen family were in fact their primary targets above all others. Next came bosses, politicians and the corrupt. Finally they opposed organised religion. ALL organised religion. They didn’t hate or abuse or target any one group or religion. They did however mock ALL systems and organisations and individuals of power – from political to religious to everything in between. They were satirists, and all people, systems and organisations should be open to criticism and mockery (so long as it sticks within the laws of the land). They were democratic in their ridicule and satirisation. No one was exempt. To do otherwise would have been the hypocritical. Equal rights also means equal treatment.
I don’t agree with those last two sentences, because (among other reasons) equal rights don’t always mean equal treatment in areas other than satirical journalism. People can have equal rights but still also be stigmatized or scorned in various ways, and I do think that makes a difference to how (or if) they should be satirized. (A shorter way of saying that is to talk about punching up versus down, but I’m sick of that formula, and anyway I don’t like formulas.)
As Oliver Tonneau so beautifully writes: “Two young French Muslims of Arab descent have not assaulted the numerous extreme-right wing newspapers that exist in France (Minute, Valeurs Actuelles) who ceaselessly amalgamate Arabs, Muslims and fundamentalists, but the very newspaper that did the most to fight racism… I hope this helps you understand that if you belong to the radical left, then you lost precious friends and allies last week.”
Terrible, isn’t it?