Originally a comment by artymorty on A French style of anarchic left-wing social commentary.
There’s so much confusion and disagreement among liberals about whether CH’s cartoons are punching up (lampooning religious authority) or punching down (needlessly mocking an already marginalized group of people).
Many Muslims are marginalized in France, but Islamists and conservative Muslim leaders are not powerless. Quite the opposite: they derive a great deal of power by claiming to speak for Muslims as a whole, and they’re actively working to enrich their power by undermining secular values in the West.
They accuse those outside the religion who dare to challenge their power of intolerance, of racism, of punching down, as if criticism of any part of the dogma they’re selling is an attack on anyone who might have an investment with any other part of it.
There’s an array of people who identify as Muslim in diverse ways and to different extents; as liberals we surely agree that this is a good thing. But when liberals automatically conflate mockery of any part of Islam with “racist” attacks on Muslim people as a whole, they’re effectively letting the imams speak on behalf of everyone who happens to identify as Muslim, as if Muslimness is an unchanging, all-or-nothing, universal set of values that trumps any other part of a Muslim’s identity, be they doctor, merchant, social worker, single parent, left-handed, pescatarian, Center-Right, secularist, bicycle enthusiast, Arab, overly sarcastic, strawberry blonde, octogenarian, Type II diabetic, bisexual… whatever.
It’s that kind of thinking that contributes to the vicious cycle of marginalization.