A wave of media-induced mass hysteria swept France following the gruesome massacre of Charlie Hebdo staff workers last week. Emotions were swiftly channeled into a single 'Je Suis Charlie' (I Am Charlie) slogan. An ocean of identical 'Je Suis Charlie' posters flooded the streets almost immediately, so fast as to raise eyebrows. The white letters printed on black background strangely matched the black and white Daesh/IS/ISIS/ flag.
Thousands took to the street at the request of the Socialist Party in power. Most
had no idea what the publication was all about. They marched, they said, to defend freedom of expression and religious tolerance.
For the 'satirical' weekly was far from the cartoonists' claim of keeping with the supposed French tradition of 'laughing at everything'. Their incendiary drawings consistently intended to hurt, provoke, insult and inflame. More shock jocks than anything else, the cartoonists reserved for themselves the 'right' to blasphemy, their targets being predominantly Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, the religion of the mostly dispossessed immigrant-based population, the millions largely neglected by the State for decades.
Charlie was not limited to a deep and questionable hatred of Islam. Women were systematic targeted. The Catholic Church was high on the list as were, to a much lesser degree, Jewish and Buddhist figures. To convey 'messages', the drawings consisted usually of graphic sexual body parts, acts of sodomy, pedophilia and bodily functions.
The cartoonists knew what they were doing. 'A drawing is a shotgun' would say 'Cabu', one of the murdered. Editor 'Charb', also murdered, would claim with abandon that 'Muhammad isn't sacred to me', a dangerously 'après moi le déluge' disconnect for someone with such responsibility.
Dulles NOW activists failed to see humor in the routine debasing of always naked women depicted in gross pornographic positions. We did not find any fun in seeing French Justice Minister Taubira, a black woman, painted as a monkey, nor in the captured Boko Haram teen slaves caricatured as pregnant 'welfare queens'. We missed the hilarity in the image of a naked white woman tied to a pole carried by two African men returning from a hunt in the jungle. Having the Virgin Mary smeared in human waste or seeing small girls gleefully 'attend' naked aroused men did not unleash cascades of laughter in us.
All Dulles NOW members are, and have been, staunch freedom of speech defenders. In spite of relentless neoconservative efforts to weaken the First Amendment to silence critics of their political agenda, the US remains the world's undisputed free speech champion. Yet, most Americans also know and agree that free speech does have limits and that tolerance in the beliefs of others is an indispensable feature of a true democracy.
Charlie Hebdo didn't. It was not 'irreverent' as sometimes described. It was willfully nasty, bigoted and dishonest, reflecting France long racist and sexist history. If cartooning initially appeared as a mean to lampoon kings and elite, the weekly did just the reverse in bashing the masses. Not only did they have a political agenda but they had full behind-the-scene support of the Right (UMP), the Center (MoDem) and of course the Socialist Party, their 1992 creator when Mitterand funded the group with secret Elysees funds.
In the end, it was the Financial Times that resumed it best when Tony Barber wrote that Charlie Hebdo and Denmark's Jyllands-Posten ' which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.' Being stupid and/or bigoted is no reason for anyone to be killed however. That said, criticizing media contents is a very basic freedom of speech.
The French were then quickly enrolled into a farcical government-led 'republican march for unity' from which leading French presidential contender Marine Le Pen's powerful party was immediately excluded. Tens of world leaders attended in utter disgrace, a fair amount of them plain criminals starting with the consistently shameless Netanyahu, soaked in Palestinian blood.
Individual liberties and freedom of expression in France are already the least free in Western Europe. This happening will most likely result in additional repressive measures and open the door to more wars.
Dulles NOW is definitely NOT Charlie.