They have in their stupidity and malice allied with the wrong side

Nick Cohen – award-winning Nick Cohen – excoriates the Six Soft-heads in the Spectator.

Those who shout the loudest about respecting “diversity” and the culture of others, cannot stir themselves to respect the French enough to learn their language and understand their culture. If they did, they would know that Charlie Hebdo is a left-wing magazine, which used Boko Haram to parody  conservatives so lost in paranoia they imagined enslaved Nigerian women were threatening to come to France and steal their money.

Max Fisher of Vox tried to shake up Anglo-Saxon leftists by pointing them to a New Yorker cover showing Barack Obama as a Kenyan Muslim and Michelle Obama as a terrorist. It was a satire of the Tea Party fantasy that Obama was a foreigner, who could not stand for election, his wife was a far leftist and between them the couple married the ideologies of the Mau-Mau and the Black Panthers. No one who understood New York liberal culture could fail to see the satire. Similarly, he continued, as if he were speaking to an unusually stupid child, no one who understood Parisian culture could fail to see that Charlie Hebdo was mocking the prejudices of the French Right.

Levels, in other words; you have to recognize the levels. If you don’t, you make a shaming booboo.

Meanwhile Olivier Tonneau, a French radical, who now teaches at Cambridge, wrote an open letter to the Anglo-Saxon left, and explained

Charlie Hebdo was an opponent of all forms of organised religions, in the old-school anarchist sense: Ni Dieu, ni maître! It ridiculed the pope, orthodox Jews and Muslims in equal measure and with the same biting tone. It took ferocious stances against the bombings of Gaza. Charlie Hebdo also continuously denounced the pledge of minorities and campaigned relentlessly for all illegal immigrants to be given permanent right of stay. Even if you dislike its humour, please take my word for it: it fell well within the French tradition of satire – and after all was only intended for a French audience. I hope this helps you understand that if you belong to the radical left, you have lost precious friends and allies.

Ah but they’re French, so they don’t count. Or something.

Prose, Carey, the London Review of Books and so many others agree with Islamists’ first demand that the world should have a de facto blasphemy law enforced at gunpoint. Break it and you have only yourself to blame if the assassins you provoked kill you

They not only go along with the terrorists from the religious ultra-right but of every state that uses Islam to maintain its power. They can show no solidarity with gays in Iran, bloggers in Saudi Arabia and persecuted women and religious minorities across the Middle East, who must fight theocracy. They have no understanding that enemies of Charlie Hebdo are also the enemies of liberal Muslims and ex-Muslims in the West. In the battle between the two, they have in their stupidity and malice allied with the wrong side.

Damn right. And it’s not even as if people haven’t been trying to explain this for years.

Most glaringly they have failed to understand power. It is not fixed but fluid. It depends on where you stand. The unemployed terrorist with the gun is more powerful than the Parisian cartoonist cowering underneath his desk. The marginal cleric may well face racism and hatred – as my most liberal British Muslim friends do – but when he sits in a Sharia court imposing misogynist rules on Muslim women in the West, he is no longer a victim or potential victim but a man to be feared.

Give that man an award.


  1. says

    “Give that man an award.”

    I would have happily, over 10 years ago, but people kept saying he was an islamophobe.

    And I’m going to put this right down here at the bottom as a “just saying”…

    Some of them, both islamist and their shills, did so while commenting on his surname.

  2. says

    …cannot stir themselves to respect the French enough to learn their language and understand their culture.

    This reminds me of an anecdote from when I was 21 years old and backpacking around Europe. While in London, I encountered an older british couple at a hostel, an Anglican minister and his wife, who were both highly educated and well traveled. At one point, the husband mentioned a long trip through India, and I asked him if they had learned any of the many languages in use there, since at the time I was an avid student of the Italian language and planned to spend some months in Florence at a language school. His response, offered with something of a sneer of derision, took me aback. He answered: “No, we have no interest in heathen tongues.” I encountered that same attitude again and again in the UK over the ensuing years.

    This is not to say that I believe this sort of thinking is unique to the UK, by any means. Americans can be equally culturally ignorant (or worse). The quoted line just resonated with my memory of that man’s distaste for being receptive to another culture, which to this day remains undimmed in my mind. It’s one of the few things that I still remember vividly from that trip to London. Happily, the taste of roasted chestnuts from a street vendor on a cold, snowy december day are among the other undiminished memories.

  3. Lady Mondegreen says

    It ridiculed the pope, orthodox Jews and Muslims in equal measure and with the same biting tone.

    Actually, if the Venn diagram posted here yesterday was accurate, they ridiculed Islamists a lot less often than they ridiculed Christians.

  4. Lady Mondegreen says

    I should have written, “they ridiculed Islam,” or “they ridiculed Islamism.” To my knowledge they did not ridicule Muslims.


    Ophelia, the hyperlink on the word “explained” doesn’t go to Olivier Tonneau’s open letter. It goes instead to Francine Prose’s witless piece in the Guardian.

  5. Blanche Quizno says

    @3 Mr. Fancypants: What do you call someone who speaks 2 languages? Bilingual. What do you call someone who speaks 3 languages? Trilingual. What do you call someone who only speaks 1 language? American!

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