Chris Moos draws up a catalogue of the more wrongheaded responses to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. He counts five of them:
the reflexive smearer, the moral relativist, the condescending bonhomme, the politician-cum-theologian and the winner of the competition, the Islamist abuser.
The reflexive smearer says the CH cartoonists and CH were and are racist.
As David Paxton points out, this usually came with an attempt at “root-causism“, a contextualisation of the murders in “wars against the Muslim world”, and an in-depth investigation of the alleged views, sensitivities and ‘culture’ of the murderers.
Since most British commentators have no understanding of French satire, politics, or culture, they naturally did not afford the same courtesy to Charlie Hebdo. As a result, the French publication that has done the most to fight the fascist Front National, the Catholic Church, and anti-immigrant policies is presented as a “racist” publication that “had it coming”.
But but but…Edward Said something something colonialism something subaltern something something Orientalism.
2) The moral relativist – “Publish anti-Semitic cartoons, or you are a hypocrite”
False equivalences and whataboutery were the natural favourites of the moral relativist. For this to work, they simply needed to argue that Charlie Hebdo cartoons are racist or anti-Muslim (see above), then point to hate speech laws, and jump to the conclusion that those only protect Jews, not Muslims. As Glen Greenwald has bitterly complained, “why aren’t free speech crusaders calling for publication of anti-Semitic material in solidarity?”.
Let’s see…because Charlie Hebdo was and is not comparable to Der Stürmer? I think that’s why. That’s why I’m not, certainly.
Then there’s the equating of criticism of Islam with attacking Muslims. Then there’s explaining how fabulous Islam is.
My friend Kiran Opal has even invented a new word for this phenomenon: “kuffarsplaining“, or “telling Muslims (or ex-Muslims) that you, as a Western Non-Muslim, knows what Islam ‘really says’”.
By conclusion, this means of course that the murderers were not doing what they said they were doing – murdering the Charlie Hebdo journalists to “avenge the prophet Mohammed“.
Well what would they know about it?
And then there are the Islamists themselves. There is Dilly Hussain, for instance…
[I]n the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the iERA has teamed up with Dilly Hussain from 5pillars to launch a new campaign called “Don’t hate, debate!“.
Dilly Hussain starts off the video:
“In light of recent events in Paris, which has (sic!) led to the unfortunate death of ten journalists, again Muslims find themselves at the centre of attention regarding the whole freedom of speech debate and whether the prophet Mohammed should be satirised. […] How did freedom of speech become the right to offend, or the freedom to insult? And what does that mean for the basic interactions between humans?”
Indeed, how has freedom of speech become the “freedom to insult”? Luckily, Dilly Hussain, is in the best possible position to answer that question. When he is not editing articles for 5pillars, Dilly Hussain feels free to abuse, insult, humiliate and harass those who do not share his brand of Islamism. As with all Islamists, his preferred targets are Muslim minorities, Muslims who reject Islamism, and particularly Muslim women.
In Dilly Hussain’s world, “monkeys have [a] more legitimate claim to Islam than Ahmadis“. Women who question his quest for a “caliphate”, where non-Muslims are second-class citizens and women can be stoned for adultery, are referred to as “fat cows”, “fatties”, “pissheads, drunken liberal garbage” and “coconut sellouts“.
But Dilly Hussain’s greatest outbursts of hate are reserved for Muslim women, who he calls “Muslims” in inverted commas, or simply “airheads“. On the other hand, Muslims who challenge Islamists are “Uncle Tom sell outs” (see also here), “chamchas” (ass-kissers), the racist term “coconuts” (see also here), “apostates” (which is an implicit death threat for many Muslims) or “najus” (ritually unclean).
And this is the quintessential response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Islamists ask for respect, while awarding none. They ask for historical figures to be immunised from satire, while mocking and denigrating anyone who does not share their beliefs. They humiliate anyone who opposes them, but ask for the right not to be offended.
If there is one lesson from the Charlie Hebdo attacks, it is this one: Islamists do not want to debate, they want to hate.
No amount of smearing, relativising, condescending, kuffarsplaining, or self-censorsoring will change that.
Defending the Kouachi brothers is not defending Muslims, it’s insulting them. It implies that they are connected. With friends like that, who needs enemies?