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Charlie Hebdo May Now Be Criticized Because It Mocked White Texans Rather Than Muslims by Glenn Greenwald THE NEWFOUND FREE SPEECH crusaders borne of the January 2015 murders of 10 Charlie Hebdo cartoonists in Paris sought to promulgate a new and quite dangerous standard. It was no longer enough to defend someone’s right to express their ideas while being free to condemn those ideas themselves — long the central tenet of the free speech movement (I defend their right to free speech even while finding them and their ideas repugnant). In the wake of the Hebdo killings, one had to go much further than that: It was a moral imperative to embrace and celebrate the ideas under attack and to glorify those who were expressing them, even to declare ourselves to be them (#JeSuisCharlie). As a result, criticizing the content of Charlie Hebdo’s often-vile cartoons became virtually blasphemous. It became common to demand that one not only defend the right of the cartoonists to publish them but also, to show “solidarity,” one had to republish those cartoons no matter how much one objected to their content — thus adopting that speech as one’s own. Opposition to lavishing these cartoonists with honors and prizes was depicted as some sort of moral failure or at least insufficient commitment to free speech rights, as evidenced by the widespread, intense scornheaped on the writers who spoke out in opposition to bestowing Charlie Hebdo with an award at a PEN America gala. A dangerous conflation was thus imposed between the right to express Idea X and one’s opinion of Idea X. Of all the articles I’ve written in the last several years, perhaps the most polarizing and anger-generating were the ones I wrote in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings: one article that rejected the demand that one must celebrate and even republish Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons by criticizing those cartoons and illustrating the results of applying this new, dangerous standard (celebrate offensive and blasphemous cartoons by republishing them) universally; and then a series of articles defending the PEN America writers who objected to the Charlie Hebdo award on the ground that one could simultaneously defend free speech while refusing to praise, honor, and glorify those whose speech rights were under attack. The most dishonest and confused commentators distorted my critique (and others) of the content of Charlie Hebdo’s speech into an opposition to free speech itself. “When Glenn Greenwald castigates the dead Charlie Hebdo cartoonists for racism,” decreed the anti-Islam high priest of New Atheism, Sam Harris, “he’s not only proving that he’s a moral imbecile; he’s participating in a global war of ideas over free speech — and he’s on the wrong side of it.” Similarly confusing these distinct concepts was Quillette’s Jamie Palmer, who, after surveying my years of work defending free speech rights for everyone both as a lawyer and a journalist, somehow concluded that “it would seem logical to suppose that Greenwald’s solidarity with the staff of Charlie Hebdo could be taken for granted.” What was clear all along, and what I argued repeatedly, was that it was not a belief in free speech that was driving these demands that Charlie Hebdo cartoonists be honored and revered and their cartoons be celebrated. Free speech was just the pretense, the costume. Indeed, most of the political leaders who led the “free speech parade” in Paris (pictured above) had long records of suppressing free speech, and few of these new free speech crusaders uttered a word as the free speech rights of Muslims have been assaulted and eroded throughout the West in the name of the war on terror. What was driving this love of Charlie Hebdo was approval of the content of its cartoons: specifically, glee that it was attacking, mocking, and angering Muslims, one of the most marginalized, vulnerable, and despised groups in the West. THE PROOF OF THIS was delivered yesterday. Charlie Hebdo published a characteristically vile cartoon depicting drowning victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston as being neo-Nazis, with the banner that declared “God Exists”: because, needless to say, white people in Texas love Hitler, and it’s thus a form of divine justice if they drown. That led to a virtually unanimous tidal wave of condemnation of Charlie Hebdo, including from many quarters that, just two years ago, were sanctifying the same magazine for its identical mockery of Muslims. Yesterday’s assault on white sensibilities also led many people to suddenly rediscover the principle that one can simultaneously defend a person’s free speech rights while expressing revulsion for the content of their speech. The examples are far too numerous to comprehensively cite; some representative samplings will have to suffice. Here was Piers Morgan in January 2015, with a beloved tweet that was re-tweeted by almost 24,000 people: View image on Twitter Twitter Ads info and privacy Here was the same Piers Morgan yesterday: View image on Twitter Twitter Ads info and privacy For the crime of mocking white Americans, vehement scorn for Charlie Hedbo was commonplace yesterday. “An evil, despicable cover,” opinedNational Review’s Tiana Lowe, who nonetheless added that “the losers at Charlie Hebdo have a God-given right to publish it.” Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson, long a fan of Charlie Hebdo’s anti-Muslim cartoons and an advocate of the duty to republish its content, yesterday announced that, actually, one may hate and denounce the cartoons while still supporting the cartoonists’ free speech rights: “The Charlie Hebdo cover is offensive & dumb, and I fully support their right to be as offensive & dumb as they like.” The right-wing actor James Woods announced: “So much for ‘Je Suis Charlie,’ I guess,” calling the cartoonists “French traitors” in a hastag he added. National Review’s Byron York, showing a picture of the new cover, was similarly candid: “Today, we are not all Charlie Hebdo.” One popular tweet, from journalist Jason Howerton of the conservative Independent Journal Review — who previously mocked news outlets for not showingthe full Charlie Hebdo anti-Islam cartoons — declared that one should not, after all, share Charlie Hebdo cartoons that one finds objectionable: “Was going to go off on Charlie Hebdo for that sick Texas cover. But then I realized that’s what they want. [Edited Out] you. I’m not sharing it.” It’s almost as if the glorification and praise for Charlie Hebdo that became morally mandatory in 2015 had nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with love of the anti-Islam content of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons. This new rule that one must not only defend Charlie Hebdo’s free speech rights but also honor and praise its work seems to have disappeared rather instantly, violently even, as soon as its targets stopped being Muslims and began being white Americans. This person put it best: Twitter Ads info and privacy What happened here is beyond obvious: Charlie Hebdo was fun, delightfully provocative, bold, and deserving of awards when it was publishing mockery of Muslims. When its cartoonists began publishing exactly the same sort of thing aimed at white Americans, they became “vile,” “evil,” “despicable,” “losers,” and “traitors.” As the author Robert Wright put it this morning: “I’m guessing PEN won’t be giving Charlie Hebdo an award this time around.” The viral 2015 Twitter hashtag campaign would have been much more honest had it read: “#JeSuisCharlie (*pour les bandes dessinées sur les musulmans”): “#IAmCharlie (*for cartoons about Muslims).” Whatever else is true, let this episode bring about the full and permanent death to the new, warped principle that to defend free speech, one must celebrate the ideas under attack and honor those expressing them. It should have never been difficult to grasp the basic yet vital distinction between defending the right of ideas to be expressed and celebrating those ideas. Now that a Charlie Hebdo cartoon has been aimed at white Americans, offending white Westerners, it seems the wisdom of this principle has been rediscovered. Top photo: Prime Minister David Cameron joined other world leaders at the start of the defiant march through Paris, France, in the wake of the terror attacks at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. Glenn Greenwaldglenn.firstname.lastname@example.org@ggreenwald
Charlie Hebdo beheads Theresa May and mocks London Bridge terror victims The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo shows a decapitated Theresa May carrying her own head. Captioned ‘English multiculturalism,’ the prime minister proclaims ‘Too much is too much’ in what seems a reference to her ‘Enough is enough’ speech. The ‘horrific’ magazine also mocks the victims of the London Bridge terror attacks, with many readers saying the satirical publication went too far with both drawings and their message. ‘Slimming advice from Isis,’ the caption reads alongside a picture of people running with Big Ben in the background, one of them still carrying his pint of beer. Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/09/charlie-hebdo-beheads-theresa-may-and-mocks-london-bridge-terror-victims-6696745/#ixzz4jvg5CMeM
As a Muslim, I'm Fed Up With the Hypocrisy of the Free Speech Fundamentalists Dear liberal pundit, You and I didn't like George W Bush. Remember his puerile declaration after 9/11 that "either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists"? Yet now, in the wake of another horrific terrorist attack, you appear to have updated Dubya's slogan: either you are with free speech... or you are against it. Either vous êtes Charlie Hebdo... or you're a freedom-hating fanatic. I'm writing to you to make a simple request: please stop. You think you're defying the terrorists when, in reality, you're playing into their bloodstained hands by dividing and demonising. Us and them. The enlightened and liberal west v the backward, barbaric Muslims. The massacre in Paris on 7 January was, you keep telling us, an attack on free speech. The conservative former French president Nicolas Sarkozy agrees, calling it "a war declared on civilisation". So, too, does the liberal-left pin-up Jon Snow, who crassly tweeted about a "clash of civilisations" and referred to "Europe's belief in freedom of expression". In the midst of all the post-Paris grief, hypocrisy and hyperbole abounds. Yes, the attack was an act of unquantifiable evil; an inexcusable and merciless murder of innocents. But was it really a "bid to assassinate" free speech (ITV's Mark Austin), to "desecrate" our ideas of "free thought" (Stephen Fry)? It was a crime - not an act of war - perpetrated by disaffected young men; radicalised not by drawings of the Prophet in Europe in 2006 or 2011, as it turns out, but by images of US torture in Iraq in 2004. Please get a grip. None of us believes in an untrammelled right to free speech. We all agree there are always going to be lines that, for the purposes of law and order, cannot be crossed; or for the purposes of taste and decency, should not be crossed. We differ only on where those lines should be drawn. Has your publication, for example, run cartoons mocking the Holocaust? No? How about caricatures of the 9/11 victims falling from the twin towers? I didn't think so (and I am glad it hasn't). Consider also the "thought experiment" offered by the Oxford philosopher Brian Klug. Imagine, he writes, if a man had joined the "unity rally" in Paris on 11 January "wearing a badge that said 'Je suis Chérif'" - the first name of one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. Suppose, Klug adds, he carried a placard with a cartoon mocking the murdered journalists. "How would the crowd have reacted?... Would they have seen this lone individual as a hero, standing up for liberty and freedom of speech? Or would they have been profoundly offended?" Do you disagree with Klug's conclusion that the man "would have been lucky to get away with his life"? Let's be clear: I agree there is no justification whatsoever for gunning down journalists or cartoonists. I disagree with your seeming view that the right to offend comes with no corresponding responsibility; and I do not believe that a right to offend automatically translates into a duty to offend. When you say "Je suis Charlie", is that an endorsement of Charlie Hebdo's depiction of the French justice minister, Christiane Taubira, who is black, drawn as a monkey? Of crude caricatures of bulbous-nosed Arabs that must make Edward Said turn in his grave? Lampooning racism by reproducing brazenly racist imagery is a pretty dubious satirical tactic. Also, as the former Charlie Hebdo journalist Olivier Cyran argued in 2013, an "Islamophobic neurosis gradually took over" the magazine after 9/11, which then effectively endorsed attacks on "members of a minority religion with no influence in the corridors of power". It's for these reasons that I can't "be", don't want to "be", Charlie - if anything, we should want to be Ahmed, the Muslim policeman who was killed while protecting the magazine's right to exist. As the novelist Teju Cole has observed, "It is possible to defend the right to obscene... speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech." And why have you been so silent on the glaring double standards? Did you not know that Charlie Hebdo sacked the veteran French cartoonist Maurice Sinet in 2008 for making an allegedly anti-Semitic remark? Were you not aware that Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published caricatures of the Prophet in 2005, reportedly rejected cartoons mocking Christ because they would "provoke an outcry" and proudly declared it would "in no circumstances... publish Holocaust cartoons"? Muslims, I guess, are expected to have thicker skins than their Christian and Jewish brethren. Context matters, too. You ask us to laugh at a cartoon of the Prophet while ignoring the vilification of Islam across the continent (have you visited Germany lately?) and the widespread discrimination against Muslims in education, employment and public life - especially in France. You ask Muslims to denounce a handful of extremists as an existential threat to free speech while turning a blind eye to the much bigger threat to it posed by our elected leaders. Does it not bother you to see Barack Obama - who demanded that Yemen keep the anti-drone journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye behind bars, after he was convicted on "terrorism-related charges" in a kangaroo court - jump on the free speech ban wagon? Weren't you sickened to see Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of a country that was responsible for the killing of seven journalists in Gaza in 2014, attend the "unity rally" in Paris? Bibi was joined by Angela Merkel, chancellor of a country where Holocaust denial is punishable by up to five years in prison, and David Cameron, who wants to ban non-violent "extremists" committed to the "overthrow of democracy" from appearing on television. Then there are your readers. Will you have a word with them, please? According to a 2011 YouGov poll, 82% of voters backed the prosecution of protesters who set fire to poppies. Apparently, it isn't just Muslims who get offended. Yours faithfully, Mehdi Mehdi Hasan is the political director of the Huffington Post UK and a contributing writer for the New Statesman, where this article is crossposted http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mehdi-hasan/charlie-hebdo-free-speech_b_6462584.html?utm_hp_ref=tw
I am Der Sturmer?On Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 Norman G. FinkelsteinThe Nazi publication Der Sturmer, edited by Julius Streicher, was notorious for its obscene anti-Semitic caricatures. Imagine if a pair of Jewish brothers, distraught at the death and destruction that had befallen the Jewish people, barged into the newspaper’s offices and murdered members of its staff. Would we hold up as martyrs and heroes those who chose to mock the deeply held beliefs of a suffering and despised people; to degrade, demean, insult and humiliate Jews in their hour of trial, when the world they had known was disintegrating around them? Imagine if a million Berliners turned out to mourn the political pornographers. Would we applaud this display of solidarity? Streicher was sentenced to death in the Nuremberg Trial. It is not reported that many in the enlightened West shed tears. http://normanfinkelstein.com/2015/01/13/ich-bin-der-sturmer/
Terrorists Killed 2,000 People in Nigeria Last Week. So Why Doesn’t the World Care? I hate to open another topic surrounding the Charlie Hebdo incident (because personally I'm getting worn out by it), but this is a slightly different perspective. http://mic.com/articles/108192/terrorists-killed-2-000-people-in-nigeria-last-week-so-why-doesn-t-the-world-care And something I took from it is that the terrorists who murdered at Charlie Hebdo are not the enemies of non-Muslims, they are the enemies of humanity. It's not a Muslim v NonMuslim thing, it's a crazy extremist faction v the world. Otherwise all of these Muslims wouldn't be getting killed, too. If non-Muslims would realize this, it would be clear to them that Muslims in general are in no way the enemy.
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