Charlie Hebdo Massacre

While White Westerners Bellyache Over Offensive Satire, Satirists in the Middle East Push the Envelope to Challenge Radical Islam


Cover showing ISIS decapitating Mohammed
Charlie Hebdo

Yesterday's massacre at the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo by suspected Islamists was likely triggered by the satirical newspapers irreverent engagement of religion and, specifically, depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, something some Muslims believe their religion prohibits. In the aftermath there was an outpouring of support for the newspaper from around the world, by people who expressed solidarity by declaring "Je Suis Charlie" but maybe didn't actually take part in depicting the Prophet Mohammed or mocking radical Islam.

That led to a curious but sadly unsurprising backlash from mostly-white Western commentators decrying the "white males" of Charlie Hebdo as "racist assholes" for their depiction of radical Islam. It wasn't "Right" to murder them in response, these commentators say, but speech has consequences, sometimes unpleasant ones, and so the massacre was "understandable" because the murderers were "provoked." If it sounds like victim blaming to you, that's because it is. These commentators may think they can get away with it by defining the victims by their whiteness and maleness but in the process, unsurprisingly, they're whitewashing the situation.

Satirizing radical Islam is not the exclusive domain of white Western Europeans. There may not be a whole lot of satire of radical Islam in the United States, but in the U.S. the problem of radical Islam is not really a domestic one. The Middle East, on the other hand, is brimming with satire aimed at radical Islam. And since the rise of the bloody and murderous Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, that satire has not shied away from mocking forces that would behead the satirist and actively work to try to do so.

The Globe and Mail explains:

TV shows across the Middle East have dedicated a sketch or two to the group's hypocrisies in adopting modern methods, such as Twitter and Facebook campaigns, to demand the return of medieval Islam. The popular Lebanese show Ktir Salbe showed a skit where a taxi driver picks up an Islamic State fighter who asks that the radio be turned off because this technology did not exist in the early days of Islam. When the driver suggests turning off the air conditioning because it did not exist in the early days of Islam, the fighter refuses and then starts talking on his cell phone, at which point the driver kicks him out and tells him to wait for a camel instead.

Even IS's practice of gunning down innocents is apparently not off limits for comedic fodder: Palestine's Al-Falastiniya TV broadcast a skit featuring three Islamic State fighters who reminisce about partying with Beirut's beautiful women before shooting a Lebanese driver for not answering correctly a trick question about the number of times to kneel during prayers and upon entering a mosque.

Can you count the micro-aggressions? The contrarian desire to try to blame the victims of yesterday's massacre isn't just insensitive to the families of the victims and dangerous to the value of free expression in the West; it helps justify the completely unjustifiable crosshairs in which satirists not just in France but across the Middle East and the world find themselves for poking fun at the radical elements of the "religion of peace."

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  1. “Racist assholes”

    Islam is a race?

    1. The racism accusation isn’t about the race of the supposed victims of the racism. It’s about the race of the supposed perpetrators.

      It’s white people depicting people of other races. It’s not that the Muslims are of any one race–it’s that the perpetrators of the supposed racism are white.

      For a lot of people on the left, racism is something that white people do from a position of privilege–and it’s wrong because it’s from a position of privilege.

      The race of the supposed victims of racism isn’t the important issue. You guys are thinking like privileged white people. You should be ashamed of yourselves!

      1. Well there is the cultural definition of race they have as well ie black republicans aren’t really black as well as the difference between slave descendents and African immigrants.

    2. From the Hooded Utilitarian comments:

      Russ, I think there is a common confusion about Muslims and race. Race isn’t real; it’s a social category, not a biological fact. “Race” can be defined in lots of ways, not just by skin color or ethnic background. Generally it’s defined by a range of things; Jews, when they’re defined as an ethnic group, are defined through both hereditary background and religion, for example.

      In other words, no true Scotsman/every true Scotsman.

      1. Like I said, from their perspective, racism is about the privileged race of the racist as well as the race of victim of racism.

    3. Precisely.

      Fuck, I miss Hitchens.

  2. Islam isn’t a race. Not only are they sickening cowards, they’re falling down stupid, too.

    Allah forbid we expect grown ups to either not read stuff that offends them or better yet, learn to control their emotiosn when they do.

    1. Maybe when moron Westerners talk about “micro aggressions” and the “right to not be offended”, the Muslims who live in the West are listening to them and taking the advice to heart?

      I think the Western Left bears a lot of the blame for the current strain of radical Islam. It is the Western Left that feeds the sense of victimhood and entitlement that underlies radical Islamic ideology.

      1. I don’t suppose the Islamists outside of the UK and US pay much attention to it. They’ve got plenty of unchecked rage to go on as it is.

        1. It’s like bringing sand to the bea…desert.

        2. Look at who the actual radicals are. They are mostly from the middle class and educated. People like Muhammad Atta got a steady diet of Western self loathing anti-Imperialism for their entire education.

          Think about what the Western Left has been telling the Muslim World for the last 60 years. They are victims of Western Imperialism. Their culture is oppressed and disrespected by Western Capitalism. That western values and morality are nothing but oppressive hypocritical structures designed to oppress people. That all native cultures are of equal value and oppressed by Western Imperialism.

          Radical Islam is nothing but the Islamic version of the other Leftist liberation struggles that occurred post World War II.

      2. I don’t disagree. I wonder how many liberal pundits talking about free speech now were previously screeching about Palin’s culpability in the guiffords shooting? Or the pastor in Florida who threatened to burn the Koran? Of course, that also crosses over into the principals over principles issue.

        The right is guilty at times, too. Blaming DiBlasio for the recent NYPD deaths.

        1. True. Though in fairness, I think a lot of people in the Right don’t so much blame DiBlasio as they are just out of spite applying the same bullshit standards DiBlasio and his ilk apply to others.

        2. They’re fellow travelers and useful idiots – both demanding the right to NOT be offended and telling unbelievers (or white men, if you prefer) to STFU.

          I’m looking forward to the islamists use of the word micro-aggression in describing their victimized treatment in Western countries. Not setting up a preyer room will become a micro-aggression.

          The irony being, of course, the islamist would murder the Western leftists if given the chance for their liberal social values (female equality, gay rights….).

          Now, though, the victims are from a social background pundits, journalists and academics truly sympathize with (their own), so we can expect loud protests in the media.

          1. Not setting up a preyer room

            Simple misspelling, or intentional to fully demonstrate how the barbarous murderers are really the victims here?

            1. I wish it were intentional. I’m not that clever. 😉

      3. Whenever anyone bitches about a “micro aggression”, I write them off as a sniveling little crybaby.


    2. “Islam isn’t a race.”

      Just for the record, when I stand up for free speech, I stand up for the right of stupid people to say stupid shit, too.

      The First Amendment protects stupid speech, stupid religions, etc. It protects the rights of stupid racist bigots, too.

      Some people need a big-eyed bunny to feel sorry for in order to stand up for free speech, but I don’t feel that way at all.

      Just becasue I stand up for the right of this paper to print stuff that’s critical of Islam doesn’t mean I condone anything they wrote–or think that isn’t racist or bigoted.

      Libertarians stand up for the right of child molesters not to be forced to testify against themselves, we stand up for the Fourth Amendment rights of child molesters, too. We support their right to a trial, their right to not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, etc.

      Why wouldn’t stand up for the free speech rights of bigots, too? I’m not standing up for bigotry (or child molesters), but I’ll stand up for their rights. Yeah, bigots have rights, too, and if the whole staff of this paper was white, racist, and bigoted, that doesn’t change a damn thing.

      So if someone accuses them of racism, what difference does that make? The reaction to that shouldn’t be to defend these guys against the charge of racism. The reaction should be to point out that it’s a red herring. Bigots have rights, too.

      1. Just for the record, when I stand up for free speech, I stand up for the right of stupid people to say stupid shit, too.

        Admit it, you only support Skokie, IL Nazis because you too are a Nazi!

  3. Just like only Nixon could go to China, only Muslims can satire their religion. Oh, wait…

  4. Paying ANY amount of attention to anything thehoodedutilitarian or kittystryker say is literally worse than ten Hitlers.

  5. Can someone explain to me why Noah Berlatsky writes for Reason? That Hooded Utilitarian website is partially run by Noah, published that atrocious piece about how criticizing the tenets of Islam is apparently racist, and then Berlatsky said shit like this in the comments:

    “Ah, S. Larea, your amusing impersonation of a naively cynical free speech idealist realist is spot on. The self-congatulatory denunciation of self-congratulation; the “you’re another” reverse racism canard, deftly clinging to identity politics while claiming they’re irrelevant; the sneering reference to “thought-police” as you duplicitously suggest that Jacob’s dangerous post has led some to applaud the attacks; it’s all there, in so, so clever dollops. Superb trolling!

    Seriously, could you cut the condescending bullshit? Folks are for the most part here having a civil discussion. You’re welcome to join us, if you can stop patting yourself on the back for a second.”

    Fuck you, Berlatsky. You’re the one whose site published an article idiotically claiming that a cartoonist for Charlie Hebdo was a racist because he said he didn’t want to live under Koranic law. Apparently it’s okay to impugn a dead man as a racist for arguing against theocracy, but when someone criticizes the drooling moron you chose to publish, they’re being condescending.

    1. But he gets invites to all the best cocktail parties.

      1. What’s especially wonderful is that he published the most condescending, patronizing comment imaginable and smugly declared that the person he was arguing with was being condescending.

        Quite the lack of self-awareness on that one, isn’t there?

    2. Berlatsky’s actually employed by the magazine/ website?


      1. He is an occasional contributor.

    3. Forget it JakeIrish, it’s Cosmotown.

    4. Berlatsky, from his brief appearance in the comments here, comes off as extremely arrogant as a cover for his shitty debate skills. This is the guy who Godwinned a thread about sex work.

    5. Does he write for Reason, or has Reason occasionally published stuff he wrote? I think the distinction is important. I have no problem with a magazine like Reason publishing differing points of view, even by people with some odious beliefs (like that guy who defended Apartheid).

  6. Time to update the tally!
    Victim Blaming
    – Okay for: death by cop, death by angry muslim
    – Not Okay for: sexual assault

  7. This are the exact same people who desacrate Christianity at every opportunity. The facebook posts about God and Jesus and Christians by people who rant about inclusiveness and diversity is pretty amazing. I’m an atheist so whatever but its still amazes me.

    1. There rational is that Christians are fair game because of their intolerance to gays. As opposed to Islamic tolerence to gays I guess. Or is it another one of those they’re too stupid to know any better. Cause that’s not racist at all.

    2. That’s all fine and good, because Christians are expected to behave. Those expectations don’t carry over to certain groups.

    3. It is because they don’t believe in any kind of principles beyond crude material results in the world. Christians in their view, are in the real world oppressors and Muslims the oppressed. Therefore it is always okay to insult and degrade Christianity and in fact laudable to do so and never okay to do the same to Islam.

      It is similar to the “no black man can be a racist” bullshit they put out. These people are completely insane and detached from reality.

      1. Christendom is primarily considered white and Western (in spite of the reality that Christianity is likely more prevelent in North Africa and parts of the Middle East than it is in modern Europe and the coastal U.S.). That’s all you need know.

      2. Depends on the Christians, too. The old mainline Protestants are mostly on the lefty side of things at this point. And third world Catholics preaching “Liberation Theology” are probably OK too as long as they don’t talk about gays or abortion.

  8. “It wasn’t “Right” to murder them in response, these commentators say, but speech has consequences, sometimes unpleasant ones, and so the massacre was “understandable” because the murderers were “provoked.” If it sounds like victim blaming to you that’s because it is.”

    That’s exactly right.

    This is the equivalent of blaming a rape victim for the way she’s dressed.

    Did anybody else catch Tony denying he was doing exactly that yesterday?

    What kind of odds can I get that he’ll start doing exactly that starting today?

  9. Wait, a second. This isn’t possible. I’ve been told by many people that moderate Muslims don’t exist, and if they do exist, they never speak out against extremists and therefore they all deserve to die in Uncle Sam’s righteous hellfire or something.

  10. “and so the massacre was “understandable” because the murderers were “provoked.””

    By this logic, backlash against Islam is understandable, because the French were provoked. Somehow, I don’t think the genius who wrote that sentence thought it all the way through.

    1. Somehow, I don’t think the genius who wrote that sentence thought it all the way through.


  11. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

  12. Anjem Choudary obviously feels quite strongly about the 12 people murdered at Charlie Hebdo. How else to explain defending the murderers by saying Islam sanctions murder via divine inspiration? He portrays Muslims as mind numbed robots, in thrall to an interpretation of the supernatural unchanged since the 7th century, and which can apparently justify any imaginable atrocity.

    How can Muslims be expected to behave about a drawing? Well, badly, but that is their duty. And, anyway, it’s France’s fault.


  13. Am I mis-remembering the Danish cartoon fiasco a few years ago? I thought that those cartoons were widely duplicated and spread around by Muslims themselves in order to foment resistance.

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