In light of the refusal of the anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters to discuss or defend their claims about Charlie, let’s take another look at those claims. Let’s consider what they’re leaving out there, unexplained and unargued.
- An expression of views, however disagreeable, is certainly not to be answered by violence or murder.
- However, there is a critical difference between staunchly supporting
expression that violates the acceptable, and enthusiastically rewarding
- To the section of the French population that is already marginalized,
embattled, and victimized, a population that is shaped by the legacy of
France’s various colonial enterprises, and that contains a large percentage
of devout Muslims, Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet must be seen as
being intended to cause further humiliation and suffering.
- by bestowing the Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award on Charlie Hebdo, PEN is not simply conveying support for freedom of expression, but also valorizing selectively offensive material: material that intensifies the anti-Islamic,
anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.
- PEN America has chosen to honor the work and mission of Charlie Hebdo above
those who not only exemplify the principles of free expression, but whose
courage, even when provocative or discomfiting, has also been fastidiously
exercised for the good of humanity.
- I wondered what I would do when the crowd around me rose to its feet to applaud an award being given – in my name – to what I felt was an inappropriate recipient.
- I believe in the indivisibility of the right to free speech, regardless of what – however racist, blasphemous, or in any way disagreeable – is being said.
- As a friend wrote me: the First Amendment guarantees the right of the neo-Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois, but we don’t give them an award.
- Our job, in presenting an award, is to honor writers and journalists who are saying things that need to be said, who are working actively to tell us the truth about the world in which we live. That is important work that requires perseverance and courage. And this is not quite the same as drawing crude caricatures and mocking religion.
- The narrative of the Charlie Hebdo murders – white Europeans killed in their offices by Muslim extremists – is one that feeds neatly into the cultural prejudices that have allowed our government to make so many disastrous mistakes in the Middle East.
That’s their “narrative” and they’re sticking to it.