More provincial ignorant backstabbing from people on the left, this time Jon Wiener in the Nation replying to Katha Pollitt.
The headline is terrible, for a start.
Defend Charlie Hebdo’s Publishing Disgusting Cartoons About Muslims? Yes. Give Them an Award for It? No.
That’s probably an editor, because Wiener said “about Islam,” not Muslims. Bad editor. Bad headline.
It’s a simple distinction, but somehow it’s been overlooked by a lot of those who support the decision by PEN to give its “Freedom of Expression” award to Charlie Hebdo. Those who signed the protest against the award (I was one of them) agree that Charlie Hebdo had a right to publish cartoons about Islam, no matter how disgusting, and not be killed for doing it. The question is whether Charlie Hebdo should be given an award for publishing them.
I don’t think people did overlook that distinction. I think we understood that was what the anti-Charlie people were saying, and disagreed with them.
The issue is the cartoons. We are told we don’t understand them; Katha says they are really “indictments of the racist and anti-immigrant views of right-wing French politicians.” Others have said the cartoons “speak truth to power.”…
The Charlie Hebdo cartoons, Katha says, are really “the opposite of what they seem to American readers”; you have to be “immersed in French cartoon culture” to understand them. Maybe so—I’m certainly not.
So then maybe he should pay attention to people who are? Maybe he should stop trusting his gut reactions and listen to people who are immersed in French cartoon culture? Maybe he should grasp that the gut reactions of Americans who know nothing of French cartoon culture are not particularly useful or interesting?
No, apparently not, because he goes right ahead and insists on his own admittedly uninformed hunches.
Garry Trudeau and others criticized Charlie Hebdo for ridiculing the weak and the powerless in France today. In response, Katha argues that the cartoons in fact mock the powerful—fundamentalist Muslim authorities who oppress women. But take a look at those cartoons again; they’re not about defending Muslim women from fundamentalist imams; they are about “Mohammed” inviting anal sex. I doubt that secular or moderate French Muslim women would see these cartoons as representing their views or defending their position; I imagine it would have the opposite effect and draw them back into the fold to defend Islam.
So he apparently doesn’t even know enough about this to remember Zineb El Rhazoui. He thinks he gets to judge the cartoons without knowing anything about their context, and then surmise how “secular or moderate French Muslim women would see these cartoons” and then stab Charlie in the back based on that wild surmise.
And yes it’s true that Charlie Hebdo also ridiculed Christianity and Judaism. But they are not getting an award for ridiculing Christians—and PEN would never give them an award for having the courage to ridicule Jews.
Oh, maybe he did write that headline himself after all, given how easily and apparently unconsciously he shifts from ridiculing Christianity and Judaism to ridiculing Christians and Jews.
The left has to be able to think better than this.