Adonis Diaries

Why I am Not Charlie Hebdo? “Je ne suis pas Charlie”

Posted on: January 17, 2015


Why I am Not Charlie Hebdo? Je ne suis pas Charlie

The weekly French cartoon magazine Charlie Hebdo mostly dealt with local French politics and policies.

1. It was against US invasion of Iraq in 2003. How’s your current position on this invasion?

2. It was against French military involvement against Gadhafi of Libya. How’s your current position on this Libyan morass and constant civil war? Many European politicians and security officers believe that it is Libya that will constitute the real menace to Europe’s security.

3. It was mostly pro Zionism/Israel and fired cartoonists who stood fast against retracting their opinions on wrong doing against human rights in Palestine.

‎الحرية والديمقراطية !!!‎

4. People may believe that Charlie Hebdo got carried away by these waves of Islamo-phobia and indulged caricaturing the Prophet Mohammad as a villain just to prove that it is not afraid of the threats and assassinations carried out against these publishers.

Actually, Charlie Hebdo habits were reminiscing of Hollywood movies of depicting “Arabs” as backward villains. Confusion over 350 millions Arabic speaking people with a few thousand Bedouins in a desert setting.

It is a huge stupidity of caricaturing religious icons that are mostly not well known, not based on good documentations and facts. Stick to what is known, factual and current you stupid cartoonists and steer away from disseminating dangerous discriminating opinions.

Aicha, the youngest and most learned wife of the Prophet, spent her life confronting and refuting the misrepresentations and out of context stories describing the behaviour and daily habits of Muhammad. These stories are called the hadith and the Moslems mostly love stories and behave as these stories says and recommend.

There is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it.

Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity.

There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

a paper bird posted this Jan. 9, 2014

To abhor what was done to the victims is not the same as to become them.

This is true on the simplest level: I cannot occupy someone else’s selfhood, share someone else’s death.

This is also true on a moral level: I cannot appropriate the dangers they faced or the suffering they underwent, I cannot colonize their experience, and it is arrogant to make out that I can. It wouldn’t be necessary to say this, except the flood of hashtags and avatars and social-media posturing proclaiming #JeSuisCharlie overwhelms distinctions and elides the point.

“We must all try to be Charlie, not just today but every day,” the New Yorker pontificates.

What the hell does that mean?

In real life, solidarity takes many forms, almost all of them hard. This kind of low-cost, risk-free, E-Z solidarity is only possible in a social-media age, where you can strike a pose and somebody sees it on their timeline for 15 seconds and then they move on and it’s forgotten except for the feeling of accomplishment it gave you.

Solidarity is hard because it isn’t about imaginary fff8 identifications, it’s about struggling across the canyon of not being someone else: it’s about recognizing, for instance, that somebody died because they were different from you, in what they did or believed or were or wore, not because they were the same.

If people who are feeling concrete loss or abstract shock or indignation take comfort in proclaiming a oneness that seems to fill the void, then it serves an emotional end. But these Cartesian credos on Facebook and Twitter — I am Charlie, therefore I am — shouldn’t be mistaken for political acts.

Among the dead at Charlie Hebdo:  Deputy chief editor Bernard Maris and cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut (aka Cabu), Stephane Charbonnier, who was also editor-in-chief, and Bernard Verlhac (aka Tignous)

Erasing differences that actually exist seems to be the purpose here: and it’s perhaps appropriate to the Charlie cartoons, which drew their force from a considered contempt for people with the temerity to be different. For the last 36 hours, everybody’s been quoting Voltaire. The same line is all over my several timelines:

From the twitter feed of @thereaIbanksy, January 7

“Those 21 words circling the globe speak louder than gunfire and represent every pen being wielded by an outstretched arm,” an Australian news site says. (Never mind that Voltaire never wrote them; one of his biographers did.)

But most people who mouth them don’t mean them. Instead, they’re subtly altering the Voltairean clarion cry: the message today is, I have to agree with what you say, in order to defend it. 

Why else the insistence that condemning the killings isn’t enough? No: we all have to endorse the cartoons, and not just that, but republish them ourselves. Thus Index on Censorship, a journal that used to oppose censorship but now is in the business of telling people what they can and cannot say, called for all newspapers to reprint the drawings: 

“We believe that only through solidarity – in showing that we truly defend all those who exercise their right to speak freely – can we defeat those who would use violence to silence free speech.” But is repeating you the same as defending you? And is it really “solidarity” when, instead of engaging across our differences, I just mindlessly parrot what you say?

But no, if you don’t copy the cartoons, you’re colluding with the killers, you’re a coward. Thus the right-wing Daily Caller posted a list of craven media minions of jihad who oppose free speech by not doing as they’re ordered. Punish these censors, till they say what we tell them to!

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January 2015

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