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Weissman writes: "The Islamist terrorists who killed twelve cartoonists and journalists of Charlie Hebdo took only their lives, which was more than horrific enough. But within days of the massacre, the French political elite and their international allies added to the crime, setting out to steal the soul of an incomparable group of free thinkers in an effort to sell new policing measures."

World leaders appear at Paris memorial event. (photo: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)
World leaders appear at Paris memorial event. (photo: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)


We Are All Charlie, Even As Political Hacks Steal Charlie's Soul

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

12 January 15

 

he Islamist terrorists who killed twelve cartoonists and journalists of Charlie Hebdo took only their lives, which was more than horrific enough. But within days of the massacre, the French political elite and their international allies added to the crime, setting out to steal the soul of an incomparable group of free thinkers in an effort to sell new policing measures.

Proudly left-wing, anti-racist, and against all forms of authoritarianism, the mischievous French anarchoids at Charlie Hebdo have long embodied the real meaning of free speech – and not some abstract notion that loses all meaning when mouthed by people who hate what the satirical weekly represents. For the 12 cartoonists and journalists who gave their lives, speech had content. They used it to protest most of what the French and global elite stand for, including the economic austerity that kills jobs and hope, builds support for racist hate groups like Marine Le Pen’s Front National, and further alienates disaffected younger people from immigrant families. Count among them the three homegrown “Fools of God” who killed the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and journalists and the four Jewish hostages at the kosher supermarket in eastern Paris.

Go beyond the heavy politics and take Charlie Hebdo’s ridicule of the Prophet Mohammed, which their killers claimed to avenge and which those in power are doing their best to wish away. The cartoons were outrageously obscene. How much more lascivious can anyone get than to publish garishly colored cartoons of a leading religious figure getting butt-fucked? The drawings, along with sly jokes about “Charia Hebdo,” obviously offended believers. The authors intended to offend them, put them on the defensive, and have fun doing it.

This is a rough way to do politics, and the dangers are obvious, especially in a week of such cold-blooded carnage. No one with any decency wants to fuel prejudice against a minority already under attack by Islamophobes, both Christian and Jewish. Many of us share the fears Teju Cole raises in The New Yorker, that cartoon images of hook-nosed Arabs or Jews, bullet-ridden Korans, and black caricatures may be hard to differentiate from “a bullyingly racist agenda.” Most of us accept Cole’s argument that “It is possible to defend the right to obscene speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech.”

But, at their best, Charlie Hebdo has taken an equally principled position, and one that defends important values. The people there, past and present, see an enormous danger in a world of clerical dictatorships, religious repression, fatwas, censorship, puritanism, and the subordination of women. Attempting to offend everyone, they aim their comic barbs and investigative journalism at the Islamophobes as well, defending an Enlightenment love of skepticism and rationalism against any and all medieval mindsets. They also understand that violence by self-proclaimed Jihadists is far from the greatest threat to liberty in Western societies, and that (in the words of Teju Cole) “violence from ‘our’ side continues unabated.”

Now, the French and their allies will escalate the violence in the name of defending against it. Make no mistake: the terrorists are real. But they are only one side of the conflict, and they see themselves defending against violence, insults, and disrespect from “our” side, whether in their ancestral homelands or in the daily discrimination and economic helplessness they face here in France, throughout Europe, and in the United States. The politicians, media, and think tanks here are discussing little or nothing that would defuse the conflict. They seek only to strengthen their ability to wage a more effective fight in what they still insist on calling “the global War on Terror.”

Without a crystal ball or high-placed source in the Ministry of the Interior, no one can know exactly what measures to expect. But the Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls, a former Interior minister and future presidential candidate, gave a clue when he declared that there would be a “before Charlie” and an after. Valls knows that he echoes the political line of the Bush administration after 9/11, and he was signaling a massive strengthening of the French security apparatus.

Valls and President Francois Hollande will do everything they can to differentiate the measures they take from the U.S. Patriot Act, which has a very bad odor here in France. But they will almost certainly strengthen security cooperation and a greater exchange of intelligence information with Washington, London, Berlin, and the smaller European nations as well. The cooperation is widely expected to include a European database with credit card and travel information down to whether the individual ordered a special kosher or halal meal inflight. Obama’s lingering attorney general is in Paris to discuss all this with French and European officials.

Though excluded from the 5-eyes agreement among the Anglos – the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – the French have their own ability to read emails and listen to phone calls. They lack only the ability to analyze all that information. Will the NSA build up their capacity? It seems highly likely, and they will do it in return for access to whatever the French spooks discover.

Also in the works, the French will almost certainly strengthen their legal authority and human resources to monitor those they suspect of Islamist sympathies and to hold them in jail for longer periods on mere suspicion. The government will also monitor Internet usage more closely, while the Interior minister has already announced he will “work with” major companies to close down Islamist websites. All this drawing a blank check from the three million or so people marching in Paris and around the country and in the name of free speech, a free press, and the love of freedom embodied by the martyrs of Charlie Hebdo.



A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold."

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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+9 # wrknight 2015-01-12 10:39
Oh, when will they ever learn?
 
 
+17 # REDPILLED 2015-01-12 10:47
For another perspective, see: Chris Hedges: A Message From the Dispossessed - Chris Hedges - Truthdig
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_message_from_the_dispossessed_20150111

For the prime perpetrators of State Terrorism to strut and pose in Paris as opponents of jihadist terrorism is the height of hypocrisy. State Terrorism is much more destructive than jihadist terrorism, and often provokes jihadist terrorism as a response. As Noam Chomsky has correctly told us, if you want to stop terrorism, stop committing it.

Obomber has bombed 7 Muslim countries since 2009. The Bush/Obomber wars have killed more than one million people, mostly Muslim civilians, maimed millions more, and made more than 4 million refugees. Israel has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians and keeps Gazans in a concentration camp while making the West Bank an apartheid area. The UK, France and other NATO nations all work with the US to commit State Terrorism against Muslims. We must work to stop ALL terrorism, but especially State Terrorism done for the Empire and its Wall St. and corporate war-profiteerin g funders.

And no, we are NOT all Charlie. Even we atheists know that mocking people's deeply held beliefs is disrespectful and provocative. As someone wrote in a comment in response to another article, if you walked into a biker bar and shouted "Harleys suck!", what would you expect as a response?
 
 
-14 # brux 2015-01-12 11:12
>> State Terrorism is much more destructive than jihadist terrorism

Thankfully so!

Why, do you wish we were all subject to this kind of murderous rampage over things you say, express, draw or whatever?

In teenagers are in prison for making a video where they danced to the song "Happy".

There is a guy who was facing excution, but now only faces almost 1000 lashed for posting anti-Islamic sentiments on the Internet. I wrote a quick article about just for people who want to be informed.

This is real, this is how they treat people in their own counties, and what they would do to all of us if they could.

So, yeah, thank goodness - State Terrorism is much more destructive than jihadist terrorism
 
 
-2 # stannadel 2015-01-12 12:00
They weren't going into a biker bar, they were at home and the bikers came into their home.
 
 
-10 # brux 2015-01-12 12:32
It doesn't seem to matter to most here ... if someone way across the world in the US shouts an insult to the prophet, they could be in for the same treatment, and 40% of Muslims across the world might not get on a plane with a gun, but they would be happy that someone would.

This is a sick toxic culture for everyone, and no, it does not deserve the same respect tolerant democracies do ... even if the tolerant democracies don't happen to be absolutely perfect.
 
 
+20 # tedrey 2015-01-12 10:58
I point to one clue to the near future in France. 10,000 security officers have been assigned to protect Jewish schools and other vulnerable spots. I think that's great. But it seems none have been assigned to protect vulnerable law-abiding Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism, and who now definitely are at risk..
 
 
-3 # stannadel 2015-01-12 12:04
I've read about attacks in France on Jews and Jewish institutions, but not Muslim ones--where's the evidence? Sabbath services were cancelled at all Paris synagogues out of safety concern, but the mosques were open and seemingly unthreatened on Friday. There are myths floating around about violent Islamophobes, but so far the Islamaphobes in France(real enough) have been all talk while the Muslim Antisemites have been murderous.
 
 
-8 # brux 2015-01-12 12:29
Good point Stannadel. There are so many indications that the articles and comments posted here on RSN are in direct support and sympathy with a very illogical point of view that also does not coincide with reality.
 
 
+9 # Radscal 2015-01-12 15:20
Yeah, the corporate media in the U.S. rarely makes much of a fuss over Western attacks on Muslims. Such attacks don't fit the narrative, so even though they've been on the increase for some time, we don't read about them often.


“Several attacks were reported on Wednesday and Thursday on Muslim mosques and facilities across France, as the country entered a new era of anti-Islam hate after Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly.”
http://hiiraan.com/news4/2015/Jan/97684/french_muslims_under_attack.aspx

“Muslim leaders and groups are warning against a rising climate of "Islamophobia" in France as the government vows to stamp out extremism in any form…. The group reported 108 such cases in the first half of the year, representing a 35 percent increase compared to last year.”
http://www.rferl.org/content/france-muslims-islamophobia/25075616.html


“Anti-Muslim attacks and insults have risen steadily in France in recent years as some politicians and media increasingly present Islam as a problem for French society,”
http://www.thelondoneveningpost.com/europe/anti-muslim-attacks-and-insults-on-increase-in-france/

“Violence against Muslims in Europe is on the rise among the handful of member states that officially record such incidents.”
https://euobserver.com/justice/120548
 
 
-5 # brux 2015-01-12 16:07
>> Yeah, the corporate media in the U.S. rarely makes much of a fuss over Western attacks on Muslims.

Bullshit, anuy of us can read about this discussion and where it is and the fact of it any day in a number of journalistic outlets from different political viewpoints.

You just want to whine and complain that you cannot force your ideas on everyone else.

I love how you will quote how when the West uses violence against Muslims, it inspires them to fight back ... and that is OK with you ... BUT, when the Muslims do something like this attack in France and Germany, and it inspires some nuts in the West to violence, that is worthy of condemnation.

Inconsistent much, Radscal ?
 
 
+6 # Radscal 2015-01-12 16:26
Stannadel observed that he/she/they/it had not read about attacks on Muslims in Europe. I agreed that few such cases are reported, and provided numerous examples of attacks against Muslims in Europe to show that it really is happening.

I've never defended Islamic violence, and have condemned it on this site many times.

Project much, brut?
 
 
+5 # Radscal 2015-01-12 17:42
I just heard on the news that there have been at least 15 attacks on Muslim sites in France since the horrendous slaughter at Charlie Hebdo. That includes grenades tossed into one mosque and firebombing another and a bomb in a Muslim restaurant.
 
 
+9 # Caliban 2015-01-12 15:34
Stannadel--Plea se don't forget that historically, in this country as well as Europe, the most destructive manifestations of Anti-Semitism have been Christian in origin.
 
 
-8 # brux 2015-01-12 16:10
Well, that is hard to say with a straight face considering the Holocaust is about the worst thing to happen to any group anywhere. And you people either do not know, understand or want to admit that many if not most of these Muslim countries were allied and in sympathy with Hitler and the Germans in WWII and the Muslims in the Palestine area led by Haj Amin Al-Hussayni were working with Hitler and ready to cooperate in the final solution.

Read about this guy and his nephew Yassir Arafat?

Many people here are just willfully ignorant because it suits their prejudices.
 
 
+8 # Radscal 2015-01-12 17:52
"Well, that is hard to say with a straight face considering the Holocaust is about the worst thing to happen to any group anywhere."

Never heard of Indians (of the Native American sort, not the India Indians)? Little wonder, since more than 90% of them were cleared from "our" land in perhaps the greatest act of genocide in human history.

The Holocaust was HORRIBLE. It was also the climax of centuries of anti-semitism (of the ACTUAL anti-semitism sort, not the criticism of Israeli State policies) in Europe and then the U.S.

Strange that we've been reading and hearing so much about the great French traditions of embracing the Jewish community. I guess Vichy has been expunged for purposes of today's narrative.
 
 
-2 # brux 2015-01-13 01:41
Lets all sidetrack the conversation down a rathole of the past. The holocaust is in living memory of some ... the genocide of native american culture is something no one can do anything about and is generally something most American agree on as regrettable and tragic, at least it is to me.

And meanwhile with the snide distracting comment you completely went by my point, that in living memory there were groups in Isalm all over the Middle East that hated Jews and joined with Hilter.

Iran got its name changed from Persia in the 1930s showing sympathic with the Reich ... Iran = Aryan.

Don't believe it, look it up.
 
 
-16 # brux 2015-01-12 11:08
>> For the 12 cartoonists and journalists who gave their lives, speech had content.

Just bear in mind these people did not GIVE their lives, they were taken, and there is no excuse for that nor its support with 40% of the world's Muslims no matter how you try to use sentiment and foofy talk to shift the focus away from the people and the group that feels it must do this kind of thing over and over again in front of the world to strike fear into all of us.
 
 
+8 # joan 2015-01-12 11:38
This is a thoughtful and carefully considered piece, precious in the sea of angry reactiveness and racism in the press and online this week (see George Packard in The New Yorker if you want to blush). But there's something here I can't follow. What is the bridge between these 2 statements: "Proudly left-wing, anti-racist, and against all forms of authoritarianis m, the mischievous French anarchoids at Charlie Hebdo have long embodied the real meaning of free speech" and "No one with any decency wants to fuel prejudice against a minority already under attack by Islamophobes, both Christian and Jewish. Many of us share the fears Teju Cole raises in The New Yorker, that cartoon images of hook-nosed Arabs or Jews, bullet-ridden Korans, and black caricatures may be hard to differentiate from 'a bullyingly racist agenda.'" How are the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists both racist and anti-racist? Is Mr. Weissman differentiating between Cabu (Jean Cabut) and the others, or what?
 
 
+7 # munley 2015-01-12 11:58
Joan makes a good point. The two statements aren't consistent with each other. I would add that there are laws in France prohibiting statements denying the Jewish Holocaust. I wonder if the same proscription applies to the Armenian Holocaust. I understand that a writer for Charlie Hebdo was fired for writing something considered to be anti-Semitic (i.e., anti-Jewish). And the second cartoon in Weissman's article was not by anyone with Charlie Hebdo. The cartoon is by the Brazilian cartoonist Carlo Latuff.
 
 
-7 # brux 2015-01-12 12:25
France also has a law that says it is illegal to deny the Armenian genocide.

I "believe" that it is the opposite in Turkey too, that if you write or discuss about the Armenian genocide of study it you are committing a crime against the country.

Why do you always look for a double standard instead of seeing a long historic attempt, that is not perfect, or the West to define and rationalize human rights ... but then you completely ignore the hideous breaches of human rights in Islamic countries?

WOW .. you folks are really something!
 
 
-3 # brux 2015-01-12 12:27
Ah ... yes ... found it ...

Article 301 is a controversial article of the Turkish Penal Code making it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish nation, or Turkish government institutions. It took effect on June 1, 2005, and was introduced as part of a package of penal-law reform in the process preceding the opening of negotiations for Turkish membership of the European Union (EU), in order to bring Turkey up to the Union standards.

In 2006, the well-known Armenian-Turkis h journalist Hrant Dink was prosecuted under the Article 301 for insulting Turkishness, and received a six-month suspended sentence. He was subsequently assassinated by radical nationalists.
 
 
+8 # munley 2015-01-12 13:43
Wow, you're really something yourself! I've been railing for years about the US's toleration of Saudi human rights abuses. The US has tolerated abuses in other Arab countries too. It's all of a piece with US super-support of Israel, another human rights abuser in the region.

As far as I can tell, France does not have a law making it illegal to deny the Armenian genocide. Sarkozy got one passed, but the court struck it down. Hollande promised to get one passed, but the EU court objected. Maybe something is on the books now, but not that I know of.
 
 
-6 # brux 2015-01-12 16:04
No, I think the US support of Saudi is the pragmatic way and more peaceful way to control the marginal supply of oil so that we cannot be warred on or have our economy destroyed by a blockade of the Straits of Hormuz.

You may think it is Imperial of the US to do this, but all major powers need to ensure their security. That is the way the world works - if you can think of another way that satisfies the same needs for security, I'm sure everyone would like to hear it.

And - I hope you piss and moan equally about the USSR taking over Eastern Europe, or China taking over Tibet and threatening Taiwan. Or Turkey refusing to allow the Kurds to have an indepenedent Kurdistan.

The point about the genocide law is that there is an attempt to make it fair and balanced ( no reference to FOX News) which was the point you made like it was somehow unfair.

The Holocaust happened in France partially. The Armenian genocide not.

Taken as a whole you comments really show you have an incoherent political view that is aimed at satisfying your prejudices as opposed to applying fair and sane human rights law for all.
 
 
-12 # brux 2015-01-12 12:09
It does not matter what the cartoons are, or whether you like them or don't like them, support them or don't support them.

The motivation behind the cartoons may be a separate issue, but it is not THE issue here, THE issue is terrorism, murder, violence and a religion that says it is OK to really do anything as long as you somehow couch it in terms of the glory of Allah or some such nonsense.

The issue is not whether someone's fear or dislike of Islam is based on prejudice or a more intellectual fear of losing Western freedoms ... all of these arguments are weird contortions of the supporters of Islam to make the West feel bad and guilty about standing up for itself.

The bottom line is that there are 25% (50 out of 200) countries in the world that are Islamic, and they do things like execute people for saying things, or thinking things. Can the West respect and coexist with this ... or will these Muslims countries not at some point want to change the West.

How is it that these 25% of countries that could hardly be called democratic get to function in a democratic body called the UN? How is it that these countries make a mockery of the idea of human rights and diversity and no one questions it.

However you see it, it is a clash of cultures, and to me, prejudice or noble intentions aside, I want to see the West sustain and evolve to be better, and Islam either reformed or destroyed.
 
 
+5 # DaveEwoldt 2015-01-12 14:22
Brux, you need to get over it. There's a couple of facts you're conveniently ignoring in your bigotry. One is that Islam has specific injunctions against the use of violence and the majority of Muslims are as peaceable as the majority of Christians. The other is that the majority of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil have been carried out by right-wing Christian nationalists--O klahoma City, abortion clinics, etc. Violence is neither unique to or integral with Islam any more than any other religion based on dominator hierarchies the way the three Abrahamic religions are.

Just because many Muslims would like to see Western imperialism come to an end doesn't make them evil. It is a highly rational viewpoint to hold. Religion, in fact, is little more than a distraction in this case.
 
 
-5 # brux 2015-01-12 22:55
>> One is that Islam has specific injunctions against the use of violence

Dave, maybe it's you who need to do a reality check?

40% of those peaceful Muslims say it is OK for others to use violence in defense of the faith.

> Just because many Muslims would like to see Western imperialism come to an end doesn't make them evil.

Great idea, make up your own ridiculous argument
and then argue against it ... brilliant.

No, what makes them evil is their rotten intolerant worldwide terrorist system and their intolerance of anyone else's beliefs, including Muslims that are of other sects.

You are wrong also on the over-exaggerati ng Christian terrorism as well as not making the same apologies for Christians that you make for Muslims, that the vast majority of them are peaceful.

You want everything you way ... no wonder you are so in sympathy with Islam, maybe you should join up if you have not already.
 
 
-3 # brux 2015-01-13 01:40
When was the OK city bombing ... and how many have there been since then ... remind me again place? Get up to date and try again telling me I need to get over it.
 
 
0 # tedrey 2015-01-17 12:10
Brux writes "The bottom line is that there are 25% (50 out of 200) countries in the world that are Islamic, and they do things like execute people for saying things, or thinking things."

A quick look at Wikipedia shows that more than half of these Islamic countries have actually outlawed capital punishment. The United States has not done so.

Yet you onstantly accuse others of inaccuracy and bias and prejudice.

You're wasting our time.
 
 
-12 # brux 2015-01-12 12:17
>> "No one with any decency wants to fuel prejudice
>> against a minority already under attack by
>> Islamophobes, both Christian and Jewish."

This is hilarious if it were not so sad.

It assumes and frames the whole issue in a way that is
really puts the guilt and blame on the Christians and
Jews ... HA!

What about the many millions of "SECULAR" people
who are fearful of Islam ... but not Islamophobes.

Because the very word Islamophobe has now been
morphed into being like homophobe, meant to denote
people who hate gays.

Can I remind you that "phobia" means fear. Lots of
people come by their fears and feelings in very honest
ways, it does not mean they decided to hate Muslims
because they look different, or wear different clothes,
there are honest reasons to dislike and fear what the
majority of the Muslims in the world support.

That is if you study what happens in their countries,
and what they believe, it is against the freedom and
human rights in the West. PERIOD.
END OF DISCUSSION.

The vast majority of these articles and comments
that are spun as being concerned about Muslims'
rights in the Western world and their sovereignty
in their countries are in order to enable these people
or their governments to continue with their anti-human
rights agenda and demand the respect of the West
for it.

That's just wrong.
 
 
+11 # DaveEwoldt 2015-01-12 14:18
I agree with Weissman's points on free speech and that this incident will be used to further entrench police-state oppression. But conversations with a few European friends point to a reason why few outside of France had heard of Charlie Hebdo.

They sucked.

Now, the response to what they published was over the top--it was, in fact, a horrific criminal attack by the deranged. But let's be careful about martyring Charlie Hebdo or using them as an exemplar for the free-speech movement.

There's a difference between satire and bigotry, and Charlie Hebdo catered to the crowd who can't distinguish the subtleties between who's a radical and who's an extremist. This is where the cartoonists who focused on fear and hate hung out--the homophobes, the misogynists, the xenophobes--whe n they could find no other venue. Occasionally they would feature a fire-bomb throwing anarchist (which should have been a major hint to their perspective) to rationalize the "legitimacy" they held with the left-wing of the free speech crowd.

Again, that some of the cartoonists were fundamentalist nutcases themselves doesn't excuse the criminal acts of their killers. It is but one more example that points to the deeper need of addressing the underlying social ills (like the lack of basic mutual human respect) that create extremists on both sides of issues, and further battening down the hatches isn't going to help anyone but defense/securit y industry shareholders.
 
 
+2 # tapelt 2015-01-12 22:41
If there is anything that can be learned from this, it is that violence only results in more violence. If you use violence to fight back against those who oppress you, they will only use even more violence against you in retaliation, and justify it because of your use of violence.

For those who are offended by Charlie Hebdo, my recommendation is start your own version of it and make your own political cartoons. I think that you will find this to be a more effective tactic than guns and bombs.
 
 
-3 # brux 2015-01-13 01:38
> violence only results in more violence.

Whatever ... human beings are violent stupid creatures ... trying to make sense of human behavior with a simple slogan is useless. Peace begets violence too. making some mad too. having something someone wants begets violence too,

Humans are violent for the most part ... just watch kids ... they are selfish violent little monsters until they are civilized, it is our natures.
 
 
+3 # Activista 2015-01-13 12:55
"Humans are violent for the most part ... just watch kids ... they are selfish violent little monsters until they are civilized ..."
and there are many "kids" on this forum who need to be civilized ...
try to develop altruism ... people to people contact ... learn from bees and ants .. we are social animals ... not neurotic killers ...
 

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