There’s another one. This article is much longer, and more “sophisticated” in what I think is a rather bogus way. What Rafia Zakaria says isn’t all wrong, by any means, but it’s…I don’t know what to call it. Academic, perhaps. Too sophisticated by half. Unfeeling. And, in places, just nasty.
My subject today is after all a philosophical one, dealing with my opposition to the PEN American Center’s decision to honor the French magazine Charlie Hebdo with the 2015 Freedom of Expression Courage Award. The star-studded gala, tickets to which cost more than a thousand dollars a person, took place on Tuesday evening, May 5, 2015. Thunderous standing ovations were given to the recipients. The fact that six writers and then eventually 145 others had objected to the granting of the award to a magazine that publishes Islamophobic content whetted the self-regard of the attendees. Their puffed presence at the gala stood for more than just literary renown or monetary privilege; it was a moral victory. It was they who really stood for freedom of speech, were truly sincere in their opposition to murder.
You’ll see what I mean, I think. The cold sneer is out of place. These were left-wing journalists discussing an anti-racism campaign in a shabby newspaper office; they were not her enemies. The two men who murdered them were not her friends. Her cold sneer is a sneer too many.
I believe the omission of the subjective and the sidelining of moral injury to Muslims as a result of Hebdo’s depictions of the Prophet reveal a double standard when set against examples of liberal moral outrage at certain practices found in the non-Western world. Judgment often exists at the intersection of reason and moral aversion; similar constructions by Western liberal theorists are permitted this hybrid, but not Muslims. Second, I believe that the application of this double standard and the valorization of Hebdo suggest an internationalization of the idea that freedom of expression is rooted in Western Enlightenment, and that all Muslims are opposed to the idea. Ironically, only Muslim extremists believe that Muslim authenticity lies in opposition to all that is Western.
Well I think it’s the opposite of that. I think the “valorization” of Hebdo suggests the belief that freedom of expression is a universal right and that far from all Muslims are opposed to the idea.
But I can’t do the whole thing. It’s too turgid, too long, too diffuse, too academic…much much too “sophisticated.”