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Charlie Hebdo: The literary indulgence of murder

29 April 2015

3:59 PM

29 April 2015

3:59 PM

I suppose it is asking too much of a writer called Francine Prose that she write prose anyone would want to read. But on the principle you can only track down terrible ideas by wading through terrible writing you have to endure Prose’s prose.

She attempted to deploy her prosaic talent to explain why PEN, an organisation dedicated to protecting the free speech of writers, should not honour the writers and artists of Charlie Hebdo – murdered by Islamists for exercising their right to free speech.

The narrative of the Charlie Hebdo murders – white Europeans killed in their offices by Muslim extremists – is one that feeds neatly into the cultural prejudices that have allowed our government to make so many disastrous mistakes in the Middle East. And the idea that one is either “for us or against us” in such matters not only precludes rational and careful thinking, but also has a chilling effect on the exercise of our right to free expression and free speech that all of us – and all the people at PEN – are working so tirelessly to guarantee.

Note the dehumanisation. She turns a murder into a “narrative” – so she can stop seeing it as a crime. Note the sleight of hand.  Prose judges the murder of her fellow artists by its political implications. She feels that if a free speech organisation honours the victims of the most brutal form of censorship it will “feed neatly into the cultural prejudices” which start wars. If it did not, presumably she would be more generous to the dead.

Note her racial obsessions. She objects to PEN honouring “white Europeans killed in their office by Muslim extremists”. Note that she is so sloppy and so indifferent to the fate of her colleagues she could not find the time to Google the names of the dead before emptying the contents of her mind. Had she done so, she would have discovered that among them was Hebdo’s copy editor Mustapha Ourrad. He would be surprised to hear Prose call him white – assuming, that is, he could have risen from his grave in Père-Lachaise to hear her at all.

Note, finally, the inevitable appeal to victimhood. Honouring Hebdo would impose a “chilling effect on the exercise of our right to free expression and free speech”. Eh? “Our right?” Journalists and cartoonists lost their right to life because they satirised a 7th century prophet. But the writer, you must think about and worry, whose prose will be “chilled” is Prose, who isn’t threatened by anyone or anything – and from the evidence of her piece in the Guardian would run a mile if she were.

The temptation here is to drag up  the old line that some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them. But the authors who broke with PEN are not just stupid but mendacious.

They repeated the lie that Charlie Hebdo was a cowardly publication, which “hit down” on poor and excluded immigrants.

A hideous crime was committed,” said Peter Carey, as he boycotted the PEN award, “but was it a freedom-of-speech issue for PEN America to be self-righteous about?” Perhaps realising on second thoughts that it may be Carey, who has not one but two Booker Prizes, added that Pen was blind “to the cultural arrogance of the French nation, which does not recognise its moral obligation to a large and disempowered segment of their population”.

[Alt-Text]


As France has a Socialist government which is trying its best to maintain a generous welfare state in hard times, he must mean that the disempowerment comes from mocking Islam in general and Muhammed in particular. Teju Cole appeared to thinks so. He told the New York Times that Hebdo “has gone specifically for racist and Islamophobic provocations”. The London Review of Books, which was once a home for intelligent writing and now reads like Socialist Worker without the rapists, spelt out the charge in an error-ridden denunciation.

“For a bunch of white guys [in fact they weren’t all white, or all guys] in a Catholic country [the French church and state have been separated for 110 years] making fun of the pope [a capital “P” for Pope is traditional] is not the same as categorising a beleaguered minority in that country as moronic towel-heads.”

The lie is on two levels. I’ll deal with the racism charge first.

It is the worst of crimes on the intellectual left. When confronted with extreme and murderous theocratic reactionaries, they would rather not face, the most moronic – to borrow the LRB‘s insult – among them explain terror away in the only language they understand. Racism must have made the killer do it. It’s the only explanation that makes sense. Why Charlie Hebdo even showed pregnant Boko Haram sex slaves shouting, “Don’t touch our welfare!” That’s it. That’s why they died.

Those who shout the loudest about respecting “diversity” and the culture of others, cannot stir themselves to respect the French enough to learn their language and understand their culture. If they did, they would know that Charlie Hebdo is a left-wing magazine, which used Boko Haram to parody conservatives so lost in paranoia they imagined enslaved Nigerian women were threatening to come to France and steal their money.

Max Fisher of Vox tried to shake up Anglo-Saxon leftists by pointing them to a New Yorker cover showing Barack Obama as a Kenyan Muslim and Michelle Obama as a terrorist. It was a satire of the Tea Party fantasy that Obama was a foreigner, who could not stand for election, his wife was a far leftist and between them the couple married the ideologies of the Mau-Mau and the Black Panthers. No one who understood New York liberal culture could fail to see that the New Yorker was not really saying the Obamas were actual terrorists. Similarly, he continued, as if he were speaking to an unusually stupid child, no one who understood Parisian culture could fail to see that Charlie Hebdo was mocking the prejudices of the French Right.

original

Meanwhile Olivier Tonneau, a French radical, who now teaches at Cambridge, wrote an open letter to the Anglo-Saxon left, and explained

Charlie Hebdo was an opponent of all forms of organised religions, in the old-school anarchist sense: Ni Dieu, ni maître! It ridiculed the pope, orthodox Jews and Muslims in equal measure and with the same biting tone. It took ferocious stances against the bombings of Gaza. Charlie Hebdo also continuously denounced the pledge of minorities and campaigned relentlessly for all illegal immigrants to be given permanent right of stay. Even if you dislike its humour, please take my word for it: it fell well within the French tradition of satire – and after all was only intended for a French audience. I hope this helps you understand that if you belong to the radical left, you have lost precious friends and allies.

Tonneau did not realise that many will never allow themselves to understand, because their little world would fall apart if they made the effort.

Let me dispense with their bullshit about biting your tongues out of respect for marginalised and excluded. If this were true, left intellectuals and media would watch what they said about the working class supporters of the Tea Party, French NF and Ukip. If the followers of Marine le Pen had gunned down the staff of Charlie Hebdo, Carey et al would have blamed the murders on the Hebdo‘s “arrogant” attacks on the ideology of ordinary French men and women.

They do not and would not because they oppose racial prejudice. (Or at least some racial prejudice. Not one mentioned that the gang that killed the Hebdo staff were authentic racist killers, as they proved when they went on to slaughter Parisian Jews in a supermarket for no other reason than that they were Jewish.) But they cannot oppose religious prejudice – and in their failure they live a lie far greater and more grotesque than their lies about the dead of Charlie Hebdo.

Prose, Carey, the London Review of Books and so many others agree with Islamists first demand that the world should have a de facto blasphemy law enforced at gunpoint. Break it and you have only yourself to blame if the assassins you provoked kill you

They not only go along with the terrorists from the religious ultra-right but with every state that uses Islam to maintain its power. They can show no solidarity with gays in Iran, bloggers in Saudi Arabia and persecuted women and religious minorities across the Middle East, who must fight theocracy. They have no understanding that enemies of Charlie Hebdo are also the enemies of liberal Muslims and ex-Muslims in the West. In the battle between the two, they have in their stupidity and malice allied with the wrong side.

Most glaringly they have failed to understand power. It is not fixed but fluid. It depends on where you stand. The unemployed terrorist with the gun is more powerful than the Parisian cartoonist cowering underneath his desk. The marginal cleric may well face racism and hatred – as my most liberal British Muslim friends do – but when he sits in a Sharia court imposing misogynist rules on Muslim women in the West, he is no longer a victim or potential victim but a man to be feared.

When I read the literary attacks on PEN’s award to Hebdo, I wondered whether it was worth staying on the middle-class left. Prose’s piece on its own was enough to make me leave in disgust. It seems a corrupted, cowardly, lying and selfish movement bereft on any spirit of camaraderie; and dishonest to its bones.

But then I recollected that PEN stood firm. It politely thanked its various luminaries for their protests and then said it would ignore them.

PEN welcomes new supporters. You can join here.

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Show comments
  • Wobbly Ashes

    The left is right, n’est-ce pas? But it’s amazing how often we get it wrong, and that PEN boycott’s fellow-traveling righteous idiocy was right up there with apologies for Stalinist show trials shamefully dishonoring the murder victims. God. Damn… I share your disgust and thank you for getting it right.

  • capitilsimrunamok

    “The London Review of Books, which was once a home for intelligent writing”, but no more

    that’s true as well

  • Neurotic Knight

    Leftist authors often tend to be idiots, in many senses. Muslims are not oppressed, for centuries they have colonized Africa and Asia, they have conducted genocide and they have had plenty of slaves. All criticisms of Christianity apply more to Islam. If people actually learnt history. They would know , you don’t have to be white to have been oppressive.

  • belsha .

    So well said, thank you. I felt disgusted, ashamed and terribly sad when I read that writers I admire such as Russell Banks and Joyce Carol Oates fell for this nonsense.

  • Martha Rigby

    Excellent article Nick, particularly

    “..They do not and would not because they oppose racial prejudice. (Or at
    least some racial prejudice. Not one mentioned that the gang that killed
    the Hebdo staff were authentic racist killers, as they proved
    when they went on to slaughter Parisian Jews in a supermarket for no
    other reason than that they were Jewish.) But they cannot oppose
    religious prejudice – and in their failure they live a lie far greater
    and more grotesque than their lies about the dead of Charlie Hebdo..”

    Hypocrites all and in the grip of such severe cognitive dissonance that they do not realise it.

  • Goldo00

    Robert McLiam Wilson is a must-read on this issue, not only because he’s the only English-speaker actually working for Charlie Hedbo, but also because his own style wondefully conveys the general tone and spirit of Charlie, in the English language.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/04/if-you-don-t-speak-french-how-can-you-judge-if-charlie-hebdo-racist

  • Abracadabra

    Great stuff Nick! People only see what they want to see.

  • neversink

    “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Stop kowtowing to these criminals.

    • Martha Rigby

      Successive UK and European and other Western governments are kowtowing to Arab money which facilitates and enables the criminality.

  • neversink

    The citizens of the UK need to stand up for freedom of speech. Currently, your government refuses to allow Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller of the USA into the UK to truthfully discuss jihadists and radical Islam. At the same time, your government allows all sorts of radical mullahs into the UK demandinding shariah law be instated, and demanding that Muslims are afforded more rights and protections than other citizens in the UK. Learn about “taquiyya” and the rule of abrogation in Islam.
    And ask of your government why they refused to not only identify the Muslim rape gangs in your country, but didn’t even protect the victims of these crimes., let alone break up the gangs.

    • Martha Rigby

      Do you honestly believe that we do not know that or as you imply do not protest against it? I was and still am appalled by the banning by a cowardly UK government of Spencer and Geller and I lost no time in making my views known along with many people I know.

      You are in no position to lecture the UK about its enabling of Islamism given the US’ own problems with it.

      We are at the cusp, I hope, of a general election which will shake the complacency of the major parties to their roots. Hold back on your judgementalism until you have an idea of how that will affect official attitudes to privileging Islam.

      I devoutly hope that Islamism’s free ride is drawing to an end.

  • Ronovitch

    Every cartoon which stigmatises and humiliates Muslims should now come with a long, pompous, justificatory ‘explanation’ by Cohen and Pamela Geller. Charming pair.

    • http://pbs.twimg.com/media/B7Q9qQ8CQAAFEtT.jpg Santiago Matamoros

      Oh do shut up, you pompous, turgid, stupid appeaser.

      And stop upvoting yourself with your second account you pathetic loser.

      • Ronovitch

        Love the way you anonymous “free speech” keyboard warriors worry about the up votes. Paranoid cowardly little **** much?

        • http://pbs.twimg.com/media/B7Q9qQ8CQAAFEtT.jpg Santiago Matamoros

          I don’t “worry “at all, you laughable tool. I simply stated that you are a pathetic person for doing it.

    • Martha Rigby

      Are you as quick to criticise the cartoons from Muslims and their attitudes to non-Muslims?

      Good for Cohen and Geller. I hope we hear much much more from them.

  • MacPap

    First and most important–How many commentators have actually read Charlie Hebdo’s articles and caricatures? Apparently, almost none. I know for a fact Michael Ondaatje for one does not understand French. Ondaatje & co are wrong, that’s all, and Rushdie is right. First, the self-righteous and famous line themselves up with Charlie, then belatedly, apparently after reading superficial second-hand “criticism” of the paper, they back-pedal. Charlie has always been against extremism of any kind (see the latest on Le Pen), and ONLY extremism, NEVER Islam itself. Even the controversial cover of Mahomet lamenting the terrorists takes great pains to make that clear.

    In fact, it pays an indirect compliment to the Prophet.

    Their journalism is among the very best, too, but those who speak out of sheer ignorance wouldn’t know that. (For those who have clearly never read the paper, I highly recommend this introductory video in English: http://www.vox.com/2015/1/8/75.)

    These pop-up pomposities would probably also condemn Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” for ironically suggesting cannibalism as a cure for unemployment and the “Irish problem”.

    We already teach a censored version of “Gulliver’s Travels” that is purged of its social critique.

    We are so pinched and tight-*** in the West, we’re afraid of everything. We badly need someone who will “go too far” to suit our neo-puritan Establishment.

    There seems to be an abundance of vague generalization by people who clearly have not read the controversy about the “Mahomet” cover, the subsequent trial and the fire-bombing afew years ago.

    This pre-judging in total ignorance is the very definition of the word “prejudice”.

    When one talks without bothering to get the facts, one risks “foot-in-mouth disease”, which invariably forces one to talk out of another cavity instead.

    American Puritanism is alive and well in the West.

    • MacPap

      The people who call Charlie islamophobic only do so because they can’t tell the difference between a Muslim and a terrorist/extremist.
      Now who’s the bigot?

    • Martha Rigby

      I have and I admit that some of them make me uncomfortable, but none of them merits the bloodletting from Muslims cranked up to mindless rage.

      (Why have you capitalised the first letter of “prophet”? If he existed he doesn’t deserve such respect given the antics of his slaves in his name).

      Islam is not entitled to demand the sort of respect it deliberately refuses to others.

  • MacPap

    First and most important–How many commentators have actually read Charlie Hebdo’s articles and caricatures? Apparently, almost none. I know for a fact Michael Ondaatje fort one does not understand French. Ondaatje & co are wrong, that’s all, and Rushdie is right. First, the self-righteous and famous line themselves up with Charlie, then belatedly, apparently after reading superficial second-hand “criticism” of the paper, they back-pedal. Charlie has always been against extremism of any kind (see the latest on Le Pen), and ONLY extremism, NEVER Islam itself. Even the controversial cover of Mahomet lamenting the terrorists takes great pains to make that clear.

    In fact, it pays an indirect compliment to the Prophet.

    Their journalism is among the very best, too, but those who speak out of sheer ignorance wouldn’t know that. (For those who have clearly never read the paper, I highly recommend this introductory video in English: http://www.vox.com/2015/1/8/75.)

    These pop-up pomposities would probably also condemn Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” for ironically suggesting cannibalism as a cure for unemployment and the “Irish problem”.

    We already teach a censored version of “Gulliver’s Travels” that is purged of its social critique.

    We are so pinched and tight-*** in the West, we’re afraid of everything. We badly need someone who will “go too far” to suit our neo-puritan Establishment.

    There seems to be an abundance of vague generalization by people who clearly have not read the controversy about the “Mahomet” cover, the subsequent trial and the fire-bombing afew years ago.

    This pre-judging in total ignorance is the very definition of the word “prejudice”.

    When one talks without bothering to get the facts, one risks “foot-in-mouth disease”, which invariably forces one to talk out of another cavity instead.

    American Puritanism is alive and well in the West.

  • Viking.

    This erosion of free speech has only one cause and that is Islam. The logical and reasonable response would be to ban Islam, not free speech. Freedom of expression was doing fine before Islam intruded itself upon us. It’s not tempting to fight for free speech when you know that your punishment for speaking freely is to be locked up in prison together with islamists. The Muslim attitude to freedom of expression is to kill anyone that disagrees with them. We are getting raped in every way imaginable by Islam.

  • Larry

    Firstly these disgusting inhumane lot they groom young white girls want white women but they cover up their woman so no white man can even look at them, they come to Europe uninvited & then further abuse hospitality making unreasonable demands & murdering their hosts I am a Jew 3rd generation born here & 3 more have followed I except as do the majority of us that we live in a Christian country so did my great grandparents & grandparents one of my grandfathers was injured in the 1st WW & succumbed to his injuries thus denying me of even knowing him. VOTE UKIP.

  • Liberanos

    It’s only murder in our eyes. The great bearded wizard in the sky says it’s a virtuous and necessary response to islamaphobia.

    • Martha Rigby

      What IS “islamophobia” except a nonsensical term?

  • Satin Is Real

    This siding of these laughable PEN-award protesting clowns with the goals, if not the means, of the Muslims terrorists who murdered CH cartoonists because they refused to submit to their internal Muslim blasphemy code is relevant for the UK too.

    This is only the first step in the terrorist plan, and UK for example has already submitted. UK media and museums do not show Mohammed images in public – not even medieval Muslim manuscript art showing the so-called prophet – because of their fear of Muslim reprisals, and some are even removing mentions of objects showing him from their websites; BBC had until January the editorial guideline which stated that “The prophet Mohammed must not be represented in any shape or form”; we don’t have to mention the scandalous, cowardly refusal to reprint CH cartoons after the Paris atrocity – not even under the pretext of “newsworthiness”.

    “No sacred images of Muhammad are on public display in the UK.”

    http://www.theguardiaN.COm/world/2015/jan/10/drawing-prophet-islam-muhammad-images

    That means that UK is already sharia-compliant.

  • Diviani

    Thank you so much for your article. I was rather depressed reading about Prose & co., but you have raised my spirits, having expressed, with such sharp eloquence, exactly what I think . When Miliband announces that he will outlaw ‘Islamaphobia’, you know that the middle-class Left’ has lost the plot. Still, the vast majority of American PEN supported the award to Charlie Hebdo, which is worth remembering. And the LibDem MP for Bradford East, David Ward, who on the day of the Paris demonstration in solidarity with the murdered, tweeted ‘Je suis Palastinian’, will lose his seat. Good riddance.

    • Satin Is Real

      Francine Prose will now forever be remembered for this:

      ““Charlie Hebdo’s work is not important,” Francine Prose told me, over the phone. “It’s not interesting.” She said she was offended by Charlie’s crude cartoons of the Prophet and mockery of the religion of France’s marginalized Muslim community: “It’s a racist publication. Let’s not beat about the bush.” She compared the magazine’s Muslim caricatures to Goebbels’s anti-Semitic propaganda. “I don’t see a difference, really. It’s the same big noses and thick lips.””

      http://www.thenation.com/blog/205897/charlie-hebdo-deserves-its-award-courage-free-expression-heres-why

    • Satin Is Real

      .

    • Martha Rigby

      Miliband is an idiot who is desperate for the Muslim bloc vote. He never had the plot. You can’t ban a phobia, even where it exists.

      I, too, hope that David Ward will sink without trace.

  • Ronovitch

    Sad to break it to the pompous and hateful keyboard warriors, but the reality is that Charlie Hebdo has now given up stigmatizing and humiliating Muslims. It’s now as limp, unfunny and badly drawn as it ever was, minus the bile. There are no stupid black man or Jew stereotypes either. These are facts – not a vote for terrorism.

    • Satin Is Real

      “Charlie Hebdo has now given up stigmatizing and humiliating Muslims. ”

      Nonsense. That is not what Luz said, at all. The issue is drawing the so-called prophet

      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32520563

      And by the way, nice – if utterly despicable and disingenuous – try, but the attempt to claim that they ever were “stigmatizing and humiliating” Muslims in general is utterly baseless. They ridiculed radical, totalitarian Islam, the one whose adherents finally did manage to murder them. And they weren’t murdered for supposedly being racist or offensive to Muslims in general, but specifically for refusing to submit to a demand to stop portraying the so-called prophet of Islam.

      Let me repeat: they were sentenced to death and ultimately murdered by radical Islamists for the supposed crime of *blasphemy*. These terrorists want to impose the internal Muslim ideas about what should and should not be portrayed on the entire free world.

      But, of course, this sort of slander and innuendo is par for the course for someone of your ilk.

      • Martha Rigby

        Mark Twain had it exactly right about blasphemy. His view encapsulated the deep-seated insecurity of the religion of peace in the face of advancement of every other civilisation but theirs:

        “Blasphemy? No, it is not blasphemy. If God is as vast as that, he is above blasphemy; if He is as little as that, He is beneath it.”

    • Martha Rigby

      Sez you, and who exactly are you?

  • little islander

    Mr Massie did nothing to clear matter up. You did. You are a credit to the ‘middle class left’. Yet you left.

  • Lydia Robinson

    Hi Nick, a comment of mine about the last time books were burned and artists and writers under threat and murdered in N a z i Germany was censored and deleted by the moderators on this site. Very curious.

  • MacGuffin

    I hear that the Twitter is an ideal medium for abusing idiotic strangers. What is Miss Prose’s twitter thingy, please?

    • Satin Is Real

      Please don’t. She’ll just use it to play the victim card, like she did with Rushdie’s tweet. Rushdie regrets it because he immediately realized how Prose and her odious fellow jihadi travelers would use it, willfully misunderstand it, and try to deflect from the real issue here.

      I am still glad he used the term,though : it is an added bonus to see how a mind like Prose’s works, in all its laughably transparent dishonesty.

      • Martha Rigby

        She seems to have gone native then, so enmeshed is she with the religion of permanent offence to whom belligerent self-pity is a powerful default value.

  • MacGuffin

    I phoned and emailed round to dozens of my well-read friends and acquaintances to ask if we should burn all of our Prose prose in protest.

    Not one of them had any of her books, nor had they ever heard of her.

    • Satin Is Real

      Her article in The Guardian is all the proof you need that she is *absolutely worthless*, not only as a thinker – only a moron could compare CH to Goebbels, and bluntly state contrary to all available evidence “It’s a racist publication. Let’s not beat about the bush” – but also as a word-smith.

      • Martha Rigby

        Ah, the Guardian.
        Says it all, really.

  • Annie

    “Charlie Hebdo also continuously denounced the pledge of minorities and campaigned relentlessly for all illegal immigrants to be given permanent right of stay.”
    So, they got what they wanted and a casket to lie in. Too many of France’s immigrants, illegal or otherwise, are not assimilating and leftists have no problem with more. When France becomes a muslim country, with the relentless approval of even Hebdo leftists, publications such as theirs will cease to exist. What will Prose do with her time then?

    • Martha Rigby

      If Charlie Hebdo did that it was guilty only of naivete about the insidious nature of Islam which, even when it gets what it thinks it wants, wants more and more and more and bleats if no-one obliges.

      If France becomes a Muslim country, said Muslims will probably silence Prose, because she’s a woman and because they have a nasty habit of biting the hand that feeds them.

  • Satin Is Real

    Relevant: head of SOS Racisme, French anti-racist NGO, makes an impassioned defense of Charlie Hebdo against the slander coming from mindless people accusing it of racism:

    http://www.europe1.fr/mediacenter/emissions/europe-midi-votre-journal-wendy-bouchard/videos/charlie-hebdo-est-le-plus-grand-hebdomadaire-anti-raciste-2341899

    Translation:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CD7V5WzUgAA9Q8p.jpg

    Salman Rushdie is on the right side of history in this matter.

    And not to be missed, leaders of the PEN American Center explain the decision to honour CH with their award in today’s NYT:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/02/opinion/why-were-honoring-charlie-hebdo.html

    Alain Mabanckou will be giving the award: https://twitter.com/amabanckou

    Neil Gaiman will be there:

    https://twitter.com/neilhimself/status/594254764797493249

    And some other big names voiced their support:

    https://twitter.com/SalmanRushdie/status/594343703583576068

    Good to see that the vast majority rejected this cowardly protest.

    • Ronovitch

      You, an anonymous troll who appears to spend his life attacking people on message boards, describe your enemies as “mindless” and “cowardly” – you’re a hypocritical, dogmatic bigot, just like so many other members of the tribally aggressive “free speech” brigade.

      • Satin Is Real

        That’s because you really have to be mindless to continue slandering people murdered by Muslim terrorists because they drew cartoons of their so-called prophet with an accusation about “racism” even after it is clear that it is a false one – not even these PEN clowns included it in the final version of their letter because they realized it couldn’t be actually substantiated.

        And thanks for the “free speech brigade” remark. Coming from an anonymous member of the jihadi fellow traveler brigade, it’s a compliment.

      • Martha Rigby

        But you’re anonymous! Who are you anyway?

  • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

    “Charlie Hebdo: The literary indulgence of murder”

    The worst Marxist false flag ever, where the police, in a cruiser, are caught on CCTV allowing the fake terrorists to escape! But before the police cruiser escapade, we had a period of 20 minutes where the fake terrorists are shooting up the area, yet the thousands of armed police in Paris are taking a late breakfast, since not even the area is cordoned off!

    Whoever writes these scripts should be shot.

    See my Disqus comment history for the purpose of these periodic glimpses into the minds of Marxist sociopaths, where also my blog can be found.

    Ah, 167 years of Marxist subterfuge down the drain…

    The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848 thought Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly, so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions.

  • holygoat

    Ah yes, the poor, marginalized Muslim extremists. Seriously, if you believe this, then you are willfully blinding yourself to reality. This is not about politics, it’s about a worldwide movement to do away with democracy and liberty and replace it with religious fascism. And they are in no way marginalized.

  • Quixote

    Given PEN’s stance on Charlie Hebdo, one must wonder why the organization has remained silent about the criminalizing, right in the intellectual capital of America, of inappropriately deadpan email parodies, documented at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    For what is documented there is indeed a prosecution for criminal satire. Consider, for example, the trial judge’s explicit declaration that the defendant’s “criminal intent brought you a parody over the line,” or the prosecution’s declaration that the defendant is a “menace” because he “knows how to twist language, stir up controversy.” In addition, consider the eloquent words in the dissenting opinion of the chief judge of New York’s highest court, warning us that the case will “penalize and chill speech that the constitution protects,” and that the amateurish exercise in legal interpretation that allowed the case to go forward “amounts to an atavism at odds with the First Amendment and the free and uninhibited exchange of ideas it is meant to foster.”

    So again, one must wonder: why not a word from PEN about a case confronting us with the limits of parody and having such obvious consequences for thousands of sharp-witted Internet combatants? Does PEN believe that “intellectual provocateurs” should be imprisoned under whatever tawdry pretexts prosecutors and criminal court judges can invent? It’s easy to defend the grand principle of the right to mock while discreetly ignoring what’s happening in New York, where the organization’s headquarters are located.

  • CacheLaPoudre
  • Rolleyessmiley

    Thank you.

  • embala

    You speak for so many of us who have been vomiting repeatedly in our mouths over this, sir. The ignorance and victim-blaming from certain segments of the American left has been nothing short of nauseating. Charb, Cabu, Tignous, Elsa, Mustapha, Wolinski, Maris, Honore, Michel Renaud, Charb’s bodyguard Franck Brinsolaro, Frédéric Boisseau, and Ahmed Merabet – these hand-wringing pantywaists will never have half their courage.

    Vive Charlie!

  • wince

    This reaches to the fundamental difference between Nick Cohen, his writing and thinking, and that of much of the Left: Nick is a rational liberal of the Left; a person of whom it could once be said preponderated on the Left. Alas, this may no longer be the case.

    The sad truth, as Nick will be no doubt be aware (ditto Rod Liddle, et al), is that the irrational crackpot propaganda and agenda of the progressives now reside comfortably at the very heart of the mainstream Left and directly influence policy there (as they now reside in ‘liberal’ media such as the Guardian – a newspaper which has, for quite some time, had no business calling itself the ‘leading Liberal voice’). The progressives and its spear-carrying Epsilons, the SJWs, find ultimate expression in such as the Greens who, thankfully at this time, remain on the crackpot fringe. However, it is small comfort since the pervasive politics of progressive dogma has, through social programming, etc., already profoundly changed our democratic societies, in some cases irretrievably (such as Sweden).

    The resistance shown by PEN against pressure by progressives to vilify and delegitimise CH is heartening, but looks not unlike a rearward defensive action in the civil war that’s taking place in the Left; a war which none on the Right can have cause to lightly rejoice in since, pending outcomes, it is a war which may have fatal consequences for our democratic societies of the West we have taken for granted.

  • Viking.

    We are getting side-tracked here about literary merit. The point is that speech and freedom of expression has to be protected whether it is good or bad writing, comment or drawing.

    • MacGuffin

      In that spirit, I would like to direct everyone’s attention to the world’s smallest picture of the prophet Mohammed dressed in frilly pink undergarments and fellating a goat.

      Here it is .

  • cartimandua

    It is necessary not to collude with the psychotic and concrete thinkers who think a person or symbol can be harmed by any criticism.

    • Martha Rigby

      True, cartimandua, even when they are holding a knife to your throat or funding your universities and other institutions.

      • cartimandua

        Who is “funding our Universities”? Islamists are not. Fundamentalists cannot symbolize. They are stupid or psychotic or often it seems both.
        The line in the sand is behaviour. People are entirely free to believe in flying horses or stones as long as to paraphrase Wafa Sultan they don’t throw those stones .

        • Martha Rigby

          Saudi and other Arab countries are funding our universities and along with that they are being allowed to build mosques and to send in extremist imams to preach in them. Of course successive governments have turned a blind eye.

          As for the rest of your post, I quite agree. The capability to symbolise requires the capacity for abstract thought and a good enough theory of mind to realise that others may well not believe as you do or as strongly and, most importantly, to let that sit comfortably rather than act to obliterate the other.

          • cartimandua

            When people say Mohammed IS the same as a cartoon or the hijab IS piety or modesty they are not capable of abstract thought.
            Globalism has globalised stupidity .Multiculturalism is patronizing and doesn’t expect intelligence or require it from brown people.
            Abstract thinking is necessary to western civilization.

  • deprofundis

    I am an atheist myself but I don’t see the point of satirizing, provoking or ridiculing religious fanatics. In fact, I see a point of not doing so.

    • Genie Balham

      Its often not necessary, seeing as the religious fanatics are so good at ridiculing themselves….

    • anotherjoeblogs

      According to islam, everyone is born muslim and if you consider yourself to be an atheist, it means that you have committed apostacy and it carries a penalty and in some cases – death. There are many parts of the world where proclaiming atheism would be considered provoking religious fanatics and some would see a point of not doing so.

      • deprofundis

        True. So, do you hope to secure the right of atheists to proclaim their creed with “preemptive” action? Is this a Crusade of sorts?

        • Martha Rigby

          Now you’re being silly.

    • Damaris Tighe

      In that case you’re not free.

      • deprofundis

        Provoking or satirizing someone unstable is not an essential part of freedom.

        • Damaris Tighe

          In the face of religious fanaticism (returning to the point of your original post) it’s essential to pr*ck* their self-righteous balloons & not be cowed – if we want to retain any freedom whatsoever. Whether we have the courage to do so is another matter.

          The whole concept of ‘provocation’ is a red herring. Would you say that a woman in a short skirt ‘provoked’ her ‘unstable’ r*pist?

          * this word was censored by disqus!

          • deprofundis

            I would not say that a woman in a short skirt ‘provokes’ her ‘unstable’ r*pist but I would certainly say that the West has self-righteously been “raping” the Middle East ever since the Crusades, especially in the last 100 years and often in the name of “freedom”.
            Your use of the word “to pr*ck*” is not coincidental, it’s in the same, presumptuous and counterproductive crusading spirit.

          • Martha Rigby

            It certainly is in the case of Islam:

            In the days of the muslim prophet the band of robbers he led attacked and plundered because they set up pretexts for doing so, and these pretexts were manipulated by their prophet.

            Muslims are commanded to emulate their prophet’s behaviour towards non-muslims, which, of course, requires setting up pretexts for taking offence even where a normal person would not perceive any, which in turn gives them the right (in their disordered reality) to get their retaliation in first.

            And unless they are put strongly in their place whenever they do this, the result is as we see.

        • Martha Rigby

          It is necessary because if the focus of your satire is unstable, to collude with its overblown sense of its own rectitude will make its mental condition worse.

          Pussyfooting around it, instead of showing it firm boundaries, increases its madness and inner chaos.

          • deprofundis

            This is a groundless fantasy. Given that tying an armed madman on the loose into a straitjacket is an unfeasible option, would you imagine a psychiatrist recommending satire to manage the problem? Would that be your firm boundary?

  • Satin Is Real

    Look at what sort of people, and with what sort of grasp of the situation, are among the 140+ who signed this protest letter – a letter containing serious allegations against Charlie Hebdo victims – so far:

    https://twitter.com/keithgessen/status/593219149066686464

    David Rankin @davidrankin Apr 28
    @keithgessen Serious question: have you even once flipped through an issue of Charlie Hebdo?

    Keith Gessen @keithgessen
    @davidrankin No. Nor would my French be up to it if I did. This is more about PEN than it is about Charlie, and I know lots abt PEN. 🙂

  • MJ

    Best piece on *anything* I’ve read in a while. And he absolutely nailed it. Couldn’t agree more.

  • Julie Blackadder

    “The London Review of Books, which was once a home for intelligent writing and now reads like Socialist Worker without the rapists,”
    Martin Smith has never been charged with rape, never mind been convicted. Whatever you think of SWP, that is cheap journalism.

  • Satin Is Real

    Look at this on the BBC:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32520563

    “Pictorial depictions of Muhammad are considered forbidden by most Muslims.”

    They fail to make clear that this prohibition is only bounding *for Muslims*. Muslims can’t have any reasonable expectation that the rest of the world should follow their internal blasphemy code. So to have BBC making an implicit claim for the universal validity of sharia law is astonishing.

    Also observe how they use the capital P when referencing the so-called prophet, as if they were a devout Muslim news service.

    But hey, no wonder: BBC had, until January, this as the editorial guideline:

    “The prophet Mohammed must not be represented in any shape or form.”

    http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2015/01/bbc-restrictions-on-depicting-mohammed-must-be-abolished-says-nss1

    • madge hirsch

      This prohibition applies to non Muslims as well in every place where Muslims are powerful enough to wield the Sharia stick over nonMuslims. As does the prohibition on saying anything critical about Islam, Mo, the companions of Mo, the wives of Mo, the Koran Sharia etc etc. We have to stand firm against any efforts to make us to toe the Sharia line.

    • Martha Rigby

      Al-Beeb has been infiltrated, Its head of religious broadcasting is Muslim. Go figure.

  • Lina R

    The Left keep turning a bind eye and apologising/excusing Islamic extremism because it’s being carried out mainly by brown/black people. The Left feel very relaxed at demonising far-right extremist groups here which – to my memory – have never resulted in beheadings/shootings/being burnt alive, than the barbarity being carried out in the thousands every month by extremist followers of Islam.

    • Damaris Tighe

      I’m afraid far right groups have – just within living memory – done all these things & more in Europe.

      • AverageGuyInTheStreet

        The Nazis were far-Left I think you’ll find.

  • cartimandua

    I think Lefties are deeply insecure men who are attracted to Islamism because it keeps those scary wimmin in their place. They are endlessly willing to overlook the abuse of women and girls.
    There is also a concept called primary guilt which leads people to endlessly placate and defend supposed victims. But what that is really about is making the Lefty feel awfully awfully nice.

    • Damaris Tighe

      Ok Carti, but what about the wimmin (like the foreign correspondent & Cheri Blair’s sister) who convert to Islam? Do they want to be kept in their place? What’s that all about?

      • madge hirsch

        Masochists who haven’t the sense just to sign up to a BDSM club.

      • AverageGuyInTheStreet

        Sadly it is a clear manifestation of mental illness.

      • Martha Rigby

        I suspect that there’s a powerful element of masochism in a woman who willingly converts to Islam. In Lauren Booth’s case, we can’t say “knowingly.”

  • Satin Is Real

    “I’ve gotten so sick of the goddamn ‘but’ brigade” @SalmanRushdie on free expression & free conscience

    https://t.co/Ph3R9Bnhli

  • Ed Green

    white, middle class socialists such as the dimwit author whose vile piece this article refers to simply do not regard members of other social, racial and cultural groups as capable of civilised behaviour – their bigotry is almost as sickening as that of the filth who committed the Charlie Hebdo murders.

    • cartimandua

      They don’t sign up to it since Muslims are obliged to be offended if a dead man or an idea is challenged.

      • Ed Green

        aren’t they just plain obliged to be offended? Certainly seems that way

        • Martha Rigby

          Yes. See my post above. Their prophet got offended often and they are supposed to emulate his behaviour.

  • Satin Is Real

    Read this by Dorian Lynskey:

    https://33revolutionsperminute.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/charlie-hebdo-pen-and-the-wrong-kind-of-free-speech/

    ” My question for the six boycotters is this: if you cannot physically bear to sit in a room and show solidarity with people who have been murdered for drawing cartoons — murder being the most terminal form of censorship — then what is the point of belonging to PEN at all?”

    • NobblyStick

      Dorian hit the nail right on the head.

  • Lagos1

    Nick is quite right in much of his analysis of the left wing justifications for not honouring Charlie Hebdo.

    However there are other good reasons not to honour them. They were crass and silly. And frankly a lot of what they published should have been against the law.

    I would rather there was more honour given to the Muslim policeman who was gunned down whilst trying to uphold the rule of law.

    • Satin Is Real

      “frankly a lot of what they published should have been against the law.”

      Examples?

      • Lagos1

        I just posted an example but the Spectator has put it in “pending”.

    • cartimandua

      Crass and silly is not a good reason for being murdered. You just don’t buy stuff you don’t like simples.

      • Lagos1

        The discussion is about whether they should receive a special honour. Not whether they should have been murdered.

        This is the problem with the Charlie Hebdo thing. If you don’t say how wonderful they were and how great their work was, you get this “its not a good reason for being murdered” retort.

        • lmda

          The special honour was for their courage in keep on publishing despite death threats (and actual death) not an endorsement of everything they write/draw/believe. Did you think that the Conservative government that protected Salman Rushdie approved of his left-wing anti-British views or had any any opinion one way or the other re Mohammed? No. They just wanted to defend his right to say and write stuff that is legal to say and write in the UK.

          • Lagos1

            Indeed, they carried on publishing knowing full well that it would lead to deaths in places like Chad and would continue to gratuitously offend members of the family of the police officer who was also killed.

            Charlie Hebdo is a shameful publication and there is nothing honourable about it.

            • Martha Rigby

              The Muslim war manual is a shameful publication which has nothing honourable in it, and yet no-one is killed for reading from it or enacting the commands in it.

        • Martha Rigby

          No one is saying that they were wonderful or even that their work was great. It was offensive but they didn’t deserve to be murdered for it.

    • Martha Rigby

      Why should more honour be given to the Muslim policeman? Because he was a Muslim? Did they deserve to die because you think they were crass and silly?

  • NobblyStick

    Lovely article Nick. I’m glad that I am on your side.

    Is there any reason why you didn’t publish this in The Guardian, home of the ‘Progressive left’?

    • Martha Rigby

      Probably because it would’ve given al-Groan a sick headache?

  • James Jones

    Is The Left madly in love with islamic jihad because it sees an islamic revolution in Europe as a proxy for the Marxist revolution that they failed to create?

    Do the Left hate the rest of us so much that they are prepared to suffer the aftermath of an islamic Europe just to get rid of us no matter the consequences to themselves? That looks like insanity to me.

    There is not much time available to start to resist. They are winning.

  • gregusmeus

    Don’t recall the left complaining much about that Jew-basher Steve Bell’s anti-Semitic cartoons, or anything in the Arab press. Oh well, probably because the Joos are all rich capitalists (even the poor socialist ones).

  • arrotoxieta

    “The point the jihadists indirectly scored is to remark that French courts shall have no jurisdiction on matters regulated by Islamic norms and jurisprudence. They have enforced the authority of Islamic norms over the French state, whose legitimacy they cannot recognise, as it is not derived by the source of Islamic law and by their divine nature. What is conquest if not the forced reformulation of the hierarchy in the
    sources of law? European intellectuals should also finally realise that conflict is not about ideas, but much more fundamentally, about land and sovereignty. If this does not appear visible just observing the time horizon of the next electoral cycle, imagining the situation of Europe in 2050, as the jihadists are certainly doing, will provide a more fruitful perspective. In the current context, jihadists are winning and will continue to win.”
    http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/eurocrisispress/2015/01/20/europes-future-and-jihad/

  • Blazeaway

    I’m pleased to report that I have no respect whatsoever for people who kill their opponents, wish to end free speech and practise FGM.

    How soon the pretended support for free speech from the left has evaporated.

    Already we see both Labour and Conservative promising new ‘islamophobia’ laws to jail people who question religion.

    How soon people forget!

    Just don’t vote for them. Don’t tolerate them. Have nothing to do with them.

    • Noa

      The real question facing the legacy parties is:
      Will they be taken over by extreme Islamist militants, or will and when their supporting Islamic cadres desert them for a new British Islamic Party? I suspect the latter, when the muslim vote will be able to provide a Parliamentary representation of SNP proportions.

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