Parisians apparently turned out en masse to honor the Charlie Hebdo murder victims. It’s too late to wonder whether these weeping Parisians could have prevented this massacre if, over the years, they’d shown the same courage as the Charlie Hebdo editor, cartoonists, and staff. Perhaps if they’d stood up for their culture, these Islamists wouldn’t have taken the bit in their teeth. That’s water under the bridge, though, not to mention the fact that, with a president who promises that the future doesn’t belong to the Charlie Hebdos of the world, a serious case of the pot calling the kettle black.
What I know for sure, however, is that, for all the tears and the “Je Suis Charlie” signs people are displaying and tweeting, what seems to be lacking from the gatherings is any effort to pick up where Charlie Hebdo left off. In all the pictures of the Paris crowds that I’ve examined, the only Mohamed pictures that show up are the rare sightings of those in the hands of people holding actual copies of Charlie Hebdo. See for yourselves:
[UPDATE: Apropos this last-linked article, Wolf Howling described the so-called “defian ce” on display in Europe as follows: “None of that is ‘defiance.’ It’s the herding of sheep who feel the breath of the wolf pack on their necks.”]
You can also check out the Twitter feed for #JeSuisCharlie to see pictures of the Parisian crowds — and still no Mohamed images. Mostly what people are doing is hand holding, crying , holding up candles and luminous smart phones, “Je suis Charlie” signs, and a few, very few, “liberte” signs — but no Mohamed.
“Je suis Charlie” is a nice statement of sympathy, holding hands makes us feel less alone, tears are cathartic, lighted candles and phones are pretty, but none of these things is the same as taking up the weapon and banner of a fallen comrade. In this case, both Charlie Hebdo‘s weapon and banner were the same thing: a willingness to treat Mohamed and Islam in precisely the same way Charlie Hebdo treated any other faith and its prophets: satirically and disrespectfully. This means that what would carry on the fight for Charlie Hebdo‘s dead, and would at least give their deaths some meaning beyond a big, tearful rally, is to show images of Mohamed.
I’m therefore taking a page from Zombie’s book and hoping to be the start of a wave flooding the world with images — good, bad, ugly — of Mohamed. After all, je (meaning Bookworm) suis Charlie only if, like Charlie, I refuse to be silenced. Let me hand the mic to Zombie:
Today’s terror attack on Charlie Hedbo, the irreverent French satirical magazine that was one of the few media outlets in France to publish the original “Mohammed cartoons,” is an attempt by Islamic fundamentalists to enforce shari’a worldwide, even on non-Muslims.
We must not let them succeed.
Self-censoring out of fear means self-imposition of shari’a (Islamic law).
Self-censoring out of “respect” (actually just a euphemism for fear) means you are submitting to the terrorists’ worldview.
The way to overcome them in this instance is to overwhelm them with disrespect and mockery.
They can silence one magazine, but they can’t silence the entire Internet.
Every blogger, of every political stripe, be it left, right, and everywhere in between, needs to realize that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are the two keystones of your ideology, whatever it may be. You need to make a stand. You need to make these terrorists lose the ideological battle.
And the way to do that is to republish the Mohammed cartoons yourselves. Today. Right now.
Fill the world with images of Mohammed so that the terrorists realize they can never expunge them all.
Okay, Zombie, you got it!
All but the Charlie Hebdo pictures are courtesy of Zombie’s comprehensive collection of Mohamed images: