Okay, so can we finally stop with the idiotic, divisive, and destructive efforts by “majority sections” of Western nations to bait Muslim members with petulant, futile demonstrations that “they” aren’t going to tell “us” what can and can’t be done in free societies? Because not only are such Islamophobic antics futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy in the name of common good. What common good is served by creating more division and anger, and by tempting belligerent reaction?
The difficulty in answering that question is also what’s making it hard to have much sympathy for the French satirical newspaper firebombed this morning, after it published another stupid and totally unnecessary edition mocking Islam… Predictably, the strike unleashed a torrent of unqualified condemnation from French politicians, many of whom called the burning of the notoriously impertinent paper as “an attack on democracy by its enemies.”
We, by contrast, have another reaction to the firebombing: Sorry for your loss, Charlie, and there’s no justification of such an illegitimate response to your current edition. But do you still think the price you paid for printing an offensive, shameful, and singularly humor-deficient parody on the logic of “because we can” was so worthwhile? If so, good luck with those charcoal drawings your pages will now be featuring.
That a veteran journalist charged with managing a bureau of an international magazine thinks like this is appalling. There is no “difficulty in answering that question” of what good is served by Charlie Hebdo‘s exercise of free speech: In a free society, you do not have the right to not be offended, and if we tacitly agree to carve out an exception for speech that offends groups that are willing to respond violently, we are rewarding and encouraging violence. As Michael Brendan Dougherty puts it:
Of course Crumley’s comments are disgusting, they are also a blunder and an incitement.
By siding against the free criticism of religion, Crumley encourages radical Muslims to continually lower the bar for what constitutes an outrageous offense against their faith. Can’t draw cartoons about Muhammad today? Well, tomorrow you can’t do critical scholarship of the Koran either.
That anyone standing in the same nation that birthed Voltaire and Baudelaire could say this just makes us sad.
It should make us not just sad, but outraged. As long as this reprehensible coward is running Time‘s Paris bureau, it’s impossible to imagine that they won’t exhibit a bias in favor of groups willing to use violence, and against groups petitioning society by peaceful and democratic means. If Crumley isn’t fired immediately, Time (at least in its coverage of Europe) has no credibility as a journalistic enterpise.
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