The horrific murders of the journalists and two policemen at the offices of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo have unleashed yet another round of Muslim bashing in the media. I mention the two policemen who were also victims, as one of them was a Muslim, who as part of his job was trying to defend the Charlie staff. Yet the murder of this particular Muslim seems to have been almost erased from the public view.
Instead not only have we to show solidarity with the white journalists, we are supposed to endorse the magazine itself through the hashtag Je suis Charlie. All, apparently, in the name of free speech. Yet as is now becoming clear, not everything in the Charlie Hebdo stable is perhaps worth supporting. The magazine has a history, and not all of it deserves our praise. As Jacob Canfield notes in a thoughtful piece, “the cartoons they publish are intentionally anti-Islam, and frequently sexist and homophobic.” The full article, which can be accessed here, is well worth reading.
Scott Long, on his blog, a paper bird, has penned another thoughtful article, in which he explains why he is not Charlie, which you can read here. I took the title for this post unashamedly from that post. In both of these the most important point is that we should not be forced into uncritically accepting Charlie Hebdo at face value. We can unreservedly condemn the murders and recognize the right of the magazine to publish what it wants. At the same time we have the right to condemn the content of particular cartoons.