Speaking of the Charlie Hebdo protests…a few days ago Joyce Carol Oates retweeted a string of remarks by Dan Therriault, then made some of her own.
Dan Therriault @dantherriault May 22
With PEN dissent, I suspect more writers would have separated themselves from Hebdo content if those few who dissented were not so vilified.
Majority viciously attacking small numbers of dissent used to stop more dissent, to threaten quiet others & maintain their majority opinion.
This devaluing of dissent in the US bleeds into everything, the media questioning authority, political parties, attacking corporate culture.
But it’s truly disheartening to see writers pulled along the cultural move to the right to attack fellow writers for their rational dissent.
That’s so annoying.
Just because it’s a minority does not mean it’s right or reasonable. Calling it dissent doesn’t make it right, or reasonable, or fair, or factually accurate.
Disagreeing with the stupid things said by the anti-Charlie people is not the same thing as devaluing dissent. Charlie Hebdo is all about dissent!
Again this just reflects ignorance of what Charlie Hebdo is – it’s hardly the voice of the oblivious comfortable majority!
Defending Charlie Hebdo is not part of “the cultural move to the right.”
Now for Oates.
Joyce Carol Oates @JoyceCarolOates May 22
@dantherriault “Move to the right” signaled by attack of dissenters as “fellow travelers” in echo of Joseph McCarthy’s crude smears.
PEN controversy might have been dealt with rationally–writer-friends Paul Auster & Russell Banks, for instance, wrote only private letters
& their (opposing) positions very clearly stated; but not made public, unfortunately. & at once, name-calling, threats, etc. poisoned scene.
It did not help that American writers/ commentators really knew little of French tradition in which Charlie Hebdo-like satire is revered.
Isolated caricatures, presented by our media to arouse/ inflame (?) reactions, were interpreted in American terms, not French terms.
It is said that poetry is what is left out when poems are translated & perhaps satire is not translatable either. We “see” only in context.
None of that is any kind of reason to kill the staff of Charlie a second time.
This whole conversation is one of those irregular verb items – we’re the rational dissenting minority, they’re the dissent-hating right-wing majority.