Je ne suis pas Charlie/ I am not Charlie.

And before I get into this, I want to be first extremely and explicitly clear: I don’t condone the massacre. I don’t think the cartoonists and writers deserved to lose their lives. There’s just no way to logically defend their deaths without ignorance and/or hate.

But I’m not Charlie though. And I’m not Charlie for several reasons: Charlie Hebdo for many people of color in France, particularly in Paris, that don’t benefit from mixed or proximity-to-White French- privilege is extremely racist. It’s a particular brand of French racism and xenophobia sheltered under the grey tent of “satire”. It’s belittingly. It’s demeaning. And it’s a larger, published example of the explicit forms of aggression that many people of color in Paris live with, daily. The irony is that I haven’t been returned to the States for even a week from Paris when this happened, after spending more than a week meeting and interviewing people of color in Paris about their experiences with racism, exociticsm, discrimation and the aggressions of living in Paris while colored. Because to put those experiences and Charlie Hebdo into context, these are some of the images and “freedom of speech” that’s being defended.

racist charlie hebdo

un peu raciste, non?

mind you, the woman depicted is an elected official.

mind you, the woman depicted is an elected official.

"The Koran is shit; it doesn't stop bullets."

“The Koran is shit; it doesn’t stop bullets.”

This is the “freedom of speech” that #JeSuisCharlie represents for so many people of color in Paris. These aren’t isolated editions. This is the humor that many White Frenchmen and Frenchwomen find funny and even consider to be political commentary. And at what point, will we draw the lines between “freedom of speech” and “hate speech”? At what point do mainstream media outlets, which are largely controlled and written by White people, stop racializing Islam and stop creating humor based on the humiliation of people of color and their culture and faiths? At what point do White people have that moment of self-reflection, without the threat of terrorism to do so?

“Don’t be afraid, calm down, I won’t kill you,” the gunman told her in a steady voice, with a calm look in his eyes, she recalled. “You are a woman. But think about what you’re doing. It’s not right.” 

je susi charlie paris

Solidarity in Paris

The “Je Suis Charlie” hashtag and the cries across the world of the infringements on freedom of speech have shades of grey in common with the demands to release the “The Interview”, which for many represented the entitlement of “bros” to laugh and disrespect anyone in the name of humor and free speech. And again, it’s interesting and telling to see informally and (unscientifically) who feels that #JeSuisCharlie is about defending the right to say anything, at whomever’s expense. As with “The Interview”, I see mostly White people that feel this is an attack on freedom of speech, specifically, their freedom of speech.  From the commentary I’ve seen from people of color, the attacks are not about freedom of speech but extreme measures taken in the face of continued humiliation and White privilege and White supremacy in the degradation of people of color.As Asghar Bukari wrote about Charlie Hebdo, “White people don’t like to admit it, but those cartoons upheld their prejudice, their racism, their political supremacy, and cut it how you will — images like that upheld a political order built on discrimination.” What’s funny about two privileged White American bros trolling North Korea and the human rights violations there? What’s funny about the White writers of Charlie Hebdo depicting sex slaves as welfare queens? It’s not a “controversy.” It’s racist. It’s hateful. And history has taught us that more often times than not, hate is met not with tolerant compassion and civil discourse, but hate that ups the ante. Hate almost always ensues that more hate will follow.

"The sex slaves of Boko Haram are angry: "Don't touch my allocations!"

“The sex slaves of Boko Haram are angry: “Don’t touch our benefits!”

A Charlie Hebdo journalist, Laurent Léger said in a 2012 interview, “And if some people are not happy with this, they can sue us and we can defend ourselves. That’s democracy. You don’t throw bombs, you discuss, you debate.” But how do you debate hate that is protected as civil discourse and freedom of speech? How does a person of color debate in court their rights and the violations of such when France doesn’t even keep racial demographic statistics? How do you address these fanatical issues of racism and White supremacy (i.e., that 200 girls stolen from school are welfare queens) which are considered to be “discourse”, “debates” or even intelligently assembled? To elaborate on Ta-Nehisi Coates, it’s the privilege and weakness of Whiteness: to live in a world of myth(s) built upon unchallenged and uniformed thought, often of one’s own creation and be confident in the assumption and expectation that you should – and will – be taken seriously. It’s the privilege of French Whiteness to mourn the loss or perceived loss of the privilege to demean French minorities, lest they have to be considerate and rigorous in their assertions. It’s the privilege of Whiteness around the world to fear this fear for French Whiteness, lest they suffer the same fate in their own racially stratified countries.

I spoke with a woman yesterday that I interviewed for an upcoming article that I’m writing, ironically, on racism in Paris. It was a tense day for her. Surrounded by grieving, mostly White people at her job, Céline* stepped outside to whisper into her cellphone. “The White people are all mourning and I am too, but I look at this differently. Charlie Hebdo has done nothing but make fun of Black people, Islam, Algerians,” she said, rushing through her words. “This needs a nuanced look because my humanity is under assault everyday, in the French system and this press which thinks that they have to make political statements by humiliating Black people and North Africans.”

And I can’t help but to think of the people that I interviewed, in 2006 and 2014, that feel so completely shut out of French society and how this only speaks to their invisibility. In an effort to combat this pervasive feeling, a the hashtag, #JeSuisAhmed is gaining ground, named after Ahmed Merabet, the North African police officer that was killed point-blank by one of the gunmen during the rampage.

Je ne suis pas Charlie

je ne suis pas charlie copy

Some hope that it will to help stem the tide of anti-Muslim violence that people are expecting in the wake of this attack and also recognize that a Muslim man was a victim as well, killed for protecting the right of the writers of Charlie Hebdo to diminish, devalue and mock him. Those fears are not unfounded, as several mosques in France have been attacked in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack. And continuing the trend of ignorance, in the video below, Don Lemon asks a Muslim human rights lawyer if he supported ISIS after his repeated denouncements of all forms of religious extremism, including Christianity’s: (at the 4:50 mark)

Muslims around the world, on social media and in news outlets are being burdened with the responsibility of denouncing the attacks of Brown Muslims in Paris. Newsweek declares, “Moderate Muslims must speak out.” Why should a minority of people be burdened with speaking for over one billion people that are at this moment, making sandwiches, praying or doing whatever else mundane things make up life, lived daily? Yet, White Christians are not expected to speak to the atrocities and ideologies of the KKK, the Crusades, the “discovery of the Americas”, the American Tea Party and other entities that speak and commit violence in the name of God?


Because no matter how insipid or egregious the offense, White privilege can and often is invoked to disassociate one’s White self from the White collective. The individual is invoked and dispatched like an airlift out of the messy reflection on the ramifications of Whiteness. Thus it’s possible to have the world rallying to protect Charlie Hebdo and stand in solidarity with the magazine and not have a conversation about how to change it for the better, so that it can actually represent free speech and spirited discourse that does not rely on humiliating religious, racial and sexual minorities. Charlie Hebdo, with the help of Google, French newspapers and a few other unnamed media companies, will run next week. Of course the edition will sell out. Of course it will be characterized as defiance in the face of tyranny, which it is in some ways and I respect them for that, refusing to be silenced by extremism. But unless a real conversation takes place about the rampant racism and hate in French society and Charlie Hebdo‘s role in perpetuating such, Charlie Hebdo continues to live in a world of myth, of unchallenged racial, religious and cultural assumptions and tyranny which asks French minorities to sacrifice their dignity and equality for a good rire. Because freedom of (widely distributed hate) speech.

*obviously not homegirl’s name

Correction: An earlier draft had “suis” misspelled as “sais”, which is equally clever, but an accident made in haste. My apologies for the confusion. My response to the comments can be found in the follow up article, “A Confederacy of Colorblinds: Charlie Hebdo and French Racism“.


  1. Can’t even begin explaining how retarded your arguments are…. Just import more poor, unprevilaged muslims so they can behead everyone who insults Islam, the true religion of peace

    1. All they wanted to do was distorting the image of Islam. Do you know what Islam really is? You surely don’t. Don’t be nothing but an ignorant that goes with the flow. Use your brain for sometime. Dehumanized, selfish creatures.
      Freedom of SPEECH is Not the freedom to OFFEND. Muslims and Islam were disrespected. The dignity and respect of Muslims were touched, and thus, their existence. What’s human in that?
      No one deserved to die, but they should’ve stopped this. They are responsible for what they started.

      1. I feel uncomfortable saying that they are responsible for this. Rather, I’d rather like to wonder if people are truly responsible enough and for what “freedom of speech” really means. Because freedom of speech also means that people have the freedom of will to get angry and respond.

      2. Really you are right. Every mother, every teacher knows it. You cannot have a home or a classroom, or a society, where forms of speech that are meant to be a torment are permitted. It is not impossible to apply a rubric, a standard, for the difference between unacceptable and acceptable criticism. But in some madness of hatred, no standard was applied.

        I have been reading comments all evening and have not found one except this one which said what I had to say: why didn’t France stop this publication? Did they want this to happen? Human beings simply cannot be pushed to this degree! I think of the three young men who avenged the belief they loved who are now dead. No trial, no chance to tell the world how horrible it is to daily be baited and goaded for the things you hold most sacred. That too was a form of censorship. Kill them right off. France allows free speech when it disrespects religion but not when that religion is defended.

        I am not Muslim. I am Catholic. I mourn that my own church permitted this perversion of ‘free speech’ to attack our God and our Church, too, and I must count it gratefully that at least someone stood up to it as should have been done in a firm, forceful, but non-violent way much earlier on. We, those people with common sense and common respect, should all stand up much earlier on and this kind of violence would not have happened.

      3. Freedom of speech is indeed freedom to offend, and you might want to recognize this. I am disgusted by the antisemitic diatribes on, Stormfront, but I defend their right to publish stuff like this even though I am Jewish. You are defnding murderers.


      4. Of course it was disrespectful!!! But killing is not the way to respond and THAT is what is distorting the Muslim image and the whole image of the Middle East!!!!!!!!! Honayyyyy

      5. Absolutely! Racism, inciting to hate, xenophobia are all forms of crime which the law prohibits. And the French government has done nothing to stop it.

      1. I thought Charlie hebdo dirty and injurious drawings and articles were egoistic provocators that put in danger the life of french diplomats in middle east countries, in even of policeman in front of their building. I mourn the dead and pray for the victims and the killers. But I’m not Charlie, I’ll never ridiculize or insult any prophet or god revered by believers. You can use your freedom without going to that extend. Insulting drawings don’t help mutual comprehension or sharing common values, on the contrary.
        Too pathetic.

      2. I employ the same principle of a schoolyard bully that relentlessly teases children in the schoolyard. If one of the children fights back, can you say that the bully was not responsible in some way? It is sad that life was lost and especially the innocent life of the janitor. But you reap what you sow. Words can hurt and freedom of speech must be used responsibly otherwise you invite chaos.

      3. “You reap what you sow”? Very similar to what rape victims who “dressed provocatively” are frequently told.

    2. The argument made in this article is very eye opening, it resonates with me and i thank the writer for a very well laid out argument, and it is in the face of lack of a coherent rebuttal that you have done nothing but made the point that this article was making, and that is that foreigners, muslims, and non whites in France are perceived as…” poor, unprevilaged muslims so they can behead everyone who insults Islam, the true religion of peace” I am not muslim, but i am an American and i do see the point, until we put an end to the covert racism that exist in our society, we will continue to see these crime continue to be perpetrated.

      1. Hi, I’m French and i live in the UK. The shooting in Paris isn’t going to end satirical cartoons; it is already fuelling them.
        You know terrorists are getting pretty desperate when they start targeting cartoonists. As if they could scare the Western press into giving up it’s freedom of speech. Furthermore the point isn’t the religion , it’s power. Terrorists (of any religion) commit acts of terror in order to scare others into living by their rules.The Charlie Hebdo shooting was a handful of Islamists trying to scare the Western world into respecting their prophet. It could just have easily been a bunch of Catholic extremists gunning down an abortion clinic. And to let you France lets people create a life in this wonderful country, now forget colour, race, if you are not happy with what is going on in the press/media just ignore it and move on. The french government helps socially deprived people whom are mostly north african people of all religions with financial help, plus we give them a home, some refuse then tough shit, not our problem. Education is offered, a future is handed to these people. The two brothers who killed 12 innocent people doing their job, were brought up in France, we offered them a future. Did the take the offer, no they rebelled. And to let you know blaming the whites is a joke, so far in the streets in Paris i have witnessed with my own eyes all colours religions joining together because these arent people but citizens of this nation who made france their home. JESUISCHARLIE

    3. You’re really ignorant if you think they’re “importing Muslims”. Muslims have lived in France for many years. The Muslims that are affected are second and third generation FRENCH citizens, born and raised, people who have nothing to do with a bunch of delusional extremists on a crazy hunt. You should be ashamed about your disgusting comment about beheading.Let go of your hate, you’ll feel better when you see the big picture.

    4. when a person uses a derogatory term for folx with metal/physical impairments, you know their argument is a real winner! 10 bucks says dasds is a white guy!

    5. I’m afraid the arguments are valid sir. If you fail to grasp them, then your cognitive skills are impaired or developmentally disabled. Seek help immediately. Excellent article and I will be discussing this with my students! Note to the author, Do you lecture in the US? I would love to attend if so!

      1. Hopefully your students will realize that the views in this article are heavily biased! Again, all cartoons here are taken out of context. You need to known about French culture, history and politics to understand them. Despite what the author claims, Charlie Hebdo certainly does not prone racism.

      2. Nicolas Stransky, I think it is important now for the world to also examine the very message the slogan is named after. There are different interpretations of what kind of message Charlie Hebdo voices; yet, at best, serious people understand this message to be a weak form of promoting understanding and real discussion. One can quibble about whether the magazine’s message is racist, xenophobic, or hate speech, but there’s little quibbling that its message has done little to create progress in what is ultimately the real problem: France has a massive underlying issue of racial and religious tensions that has existed for quite a while, and most alarmingly, the trajectory is unsustainable (one look at the ghettos in Paris that are growing each day tells you that). You are right in that the history of the society needs to be examined. But has it been effectively examined by the magazine? From day one, the slogan Je Suis Charlie was troubling. Reasonable people support free speech, condemn terrorism, and have had their conscience shocked by the violence. Reasonable people also understand that we can do better than Charlie Hebdo’s message, however it is interpreted.

      3. this is a great response. at the end of the day, what will France do and say about its reluctance to own its colonial past, it’s racist present and probably racist future? My concern is how does Charlie Hebdo make the living conditions of French citizens of color better, in any way? I didn’t talk about this on my newest post, but maybe for a next one.

      4. I do lecture actually – I will be at Williams College in two weeks and am planning to speak at a few other colleges later this year. If I do, I will also announce them here when I do!

      5. LetTruthBTold, do you tell your students that “If you fail to grasp them, then your cognitive skills are impaired or developmentally disabled”? I see the potential for you to do a great presentation but kill it totally by intimidating your students or having them rebel against it because they detect a counter-argument. And look, I have managed a couple of sentences here even though I have cognitive dysfunction (HAND specifically). Tell your students that I often sound stupid, I often forget things and get the answer wrong but hey, Swiss cheese still wins awards even though it has holes in it – it is about the cheese, not its holes.

  2. That’s it. Anglo saxon liberals are officially insane.
    You, sir, are insane. Not even a slight attempt at understanding the drawings’ context, only “caricature depicting a colored person drawn by a white, must brand racist and coerce”. I’m not even going to try and argue, you’re beyond hope. Please refrain from writing anything more, and go check your “white privilege” where you cannot infect simple minds with your toxic ideology.
    People like you do not belong in a free country, actually they do not belong anywhere since the people you’re so eager to defend will be the first to stab you in the back once you’re finished empowering them.

    1. After merely reading your horrific remarks on this article, it only places you in a similar category like that of the perpetrators of Charlie Hedbo, because you like them, cannot constructively take an opposing opinion.

    2. i do hope you know that the world isn’t just conservative and liberal. if fact, the majority of libturds are supporting (as always) white supremacy (not just slurs but a global system that values the lives of those identified as part of the white caste at the expense of everyone else) and that stupid white supremacist rag right along with conservatives. i’m an atheist and i hate that shit, not because it’s “blasphemous” which i have absolutely no problems with, but because it uses the same kind of racial stereotypes (dirty, hook nosed, always irrationally angry) that the nazi’s used against the jews. good satire punches up, not down, and if you don’t get that it’s probably because you’re a well off white person who’s never had to think about what life would be like living at the bottom of these so-called “free countries”. the same free countries that have their riches from committing genocide, enslaving people, and enacting horrific amounts of violence to continue resource extraction to this day. but then thinking that makes me a libturd to you, doesn’t it, even though i don’t believe in private property, free trade, or “rights” (if it requires a government or another armed force to maintain said “rights” then they are illusory privileges and can be taken away at any time)…

    3. I have no stake in this discussion, but I find it offensive that your writing is replete with one ad hominem reference after another. Attacking the (perceived) character of another is not relevant to the truth or falsity of that person’s thoughts. Describing another as “insane” says more about you than about your intellectual opponent. And the bald assertion that this person “belongs nowhere” does not forward the content of your ideas; it only suggests the paucity of your ideas if you substitute slurs and character assassination for them. You need to learn how to argue ideas, not just spew ugliness. In all candor, I’d be embarrassed to display the tirade you unleashed here.

  3. As someone who is not a reader of Charlie can I please ask you to show some intellectual integrity? Since you’re writing in English for an audience I therefore imagine is not necessarily aware of the context in which these pictures were published. I think it’s your duty to provide context. Humor particularly is all about context.

    The first picture for instance is not of a black guy taking something up the a**. It’s a depiction of Dieudonné who used to be a comedian but has started to popularise some questionable ideas using questionable means and who happens to be mixed raced. The quenelle is a French culinary delicacy but also an allegedly “anti-system” (some would argue antisemitic) gesture popularised by Dieudonné in 2014 and that was the subject of a lot of political and mediatic fuss. So what this cartoon is saying is maybe “D. you know where you can put your quenelle” or “2015 is the year when the quenelle is gonna bite you in the a**” But there is absolutely no racial innuendo there whatsoever.

    The second one depicts Christiane Taubira, the French Attorney General (who happens to be from French Guyana) as a monkey. Yes BUT anyone aware of French current affairs
    1) recognises the logo at the left bottom corner as the Front National (French far right nationalist (some would say racist) party) logo
    2) knows that Rassemblement Bleu Marine (Navy blue gathering/ Blue (=French) gathering around Marine (Le Pen)) was their motto at the last presidential election.
    3) knows that a member of that party compared Mrs Taubira to a monkey and was condemned publicly and in court for that.
    So this cartoon is not saying our Black Attorney General is a monkey it’s saying don’t be fooled, though FN did try to polish up appearances, the Taubira incident shows it IS a racist political party.

    Irreverence and satire are really a French tradition that Charlie Hebdo is carrying on in its own way, political correctness is not. You don’t have to like their work but you can understand where it’s coming from and what they’re trying to achieve. Of course you can also question their work but is now really the time to do so?

    As a French Black Woman living in a Parisian suburb (and not a priviledge one!) I do believe France has many battles against racism to fight but Charlie Hebdo is definitely not one of the enemies.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. The fact that I disagree with you doesn’t mean that I don’t speak with intellectual integrity. I think whether you agree with my opinion or not, it comes from a researched and informed place filtered through critical thought. That process is never finished, but that’s those are the fundamentals of intellectual integrity, which have been met.

      I know that the woman that wrote the article likening Christiane Taubira to a monkey was fined in court. That still doesn’t erase the fact that it is racist – even if it was in response to a racist image – and should have never been printed in the first place. Freedom of speech also allows for people to feel that images and words that are offensive, irrespective of their “intent”, are in fact offensive.

      Satire is an attempt to reflect our society in the hope that we might do and be better. How does comparing Boko Haram’s kidnapped sex slaves to welfare queens do this? And in a country which is notorious for not acknowledging race, even officially, it’s a very hard argument to make, given the history of inequalities and discrimination that were based on race, that these images of men and women as monkeys, as the Prophet Muhammad with his genitals exposed, etc are satire. How is that satire when the racism isn’t addressed? I understand and respect your opinion, but I also believe that you are wrong. But that is also my opinion.

      1. You should read this:
        But it’s a never ending debate, French and Anglo-Saxon (american) people have very different points of view despite our similar cultures. For example, we consider you as extremely racist for using the word “race” in official papers and for classifying human beings in different races. We learn there is a single race called “humans”, as we can’t be compared to dogs. What’s even funnier, is that if only one of your grand parent is black, you would be counted as “black” by your system, which actually reminds of some past systems where only one grand-parent being a Jew would have you wear a yellow star on your chest.
        Keep your Godwin point.

      2. I forgot to add that the late Charlie Hebdo cartoonists had activities outside of Charlie Hebdo defending minorities.

      3. Acknowledging that you know and understand the context of these images, and still think that Charlie Hebdo is racist, proves your intellectual dishonesty. Sadly, many people will take the headline of your article face value and not realize that they are fooled.

      4. Hi. The Taubira cover is a deliberately racist depiction for the very reason you mention in your comment above: it is “an attempt to reflect our society in the hope that we might do and be better.” You may have seen the cover of the Front National’s La Minute from which the CH version is inspired. If not, it is worth seeking it out. That Charlie Hebdo “dévoile” the FN’s insidious presentation of Madame Taubira by recasting it as the crude racism it is; and then find their method attacked as racist in itself is lamentably ironic. Have they really not ‘addressed’ the racism?

        Any prima facie analysis of such images – including the Boko Haram cover – that pays only lip service to the context does itself a disservice. There is racism in France. Certainly there is political consensus on that although some prefer to call it a problem of ‘integration’. But arguing about how it is combated – and bearing in mind that freedom of speech is by definition offensive – or refusing admission of the ‘intent’ you cite will result in the misjudgement that CH are ‘extremely racist’.

    2. Thank you for explaining and deciphering the first two cartoons covers, I would be interested in your explanation for the last and third cartoon of the kidnapped girls depicted in such an angry, ugly and pregant (supposedly by forced sex) way. How do you feel this image could effect their loved ones?

    3. You have my gratitude for providing a context in which to understand the images earlier claimed to be racist. Often background shows alternative interpretations. Your comments are thoughtful, informed, persuasive and their tone provides an excellent prototype for the type of discourse one hopes to find here. Thank you for elevating the level of exchange of ideas.

  4. Tl;Dr:

    ” I don’t condone the massacre. I don’t think the cartoonists and writers deserved to lose their lives. This said, let me tell you that they had it coming, the racist, godless pigs.”

    1. Absolutely not what I said. What I said was is that you can not move forward with Charlie Hebdo without examining the extremely hateful and divisive role it has in French society. But if you didn’t read, as you stated, you should probably refrain from having a public opinion.

  5. I need to correct this: Charlie Hebdo is a leftist paper, not racist. The cartoon you show are denouncing racism: the first one represents Dieudonné, not black people, who is spreading antisemitic ideas and invented a hand sign called “quenelle” hence the drawing saying he can f… himself with his ideas. The second one represents what the “front national” (extreme right political party) is defending, a girl called our former minister a monkey and that political party supported it.
    I understand people who do not like Charlie Hebdo as they make fun of anything and everything, not specifically Muslims, but all religions and ideas can be targetted. I do not read this paper but it has a right to exist.

  6. Suggesting Charlie Hebdo was openly racist is shocking, and shows a clear lack of discernation and understanding of the whole topic. Or the intellectual dishonesty of looking at this matter through a single and very biaised lens.

    What you conveniently forget to mention is that Charlie Hebdo has never treated islamic fundamentalism in a worse way than any other type of fundamentalism. The Catholic Church and its followers (portrayed mostly with White people – btw) has also had its fair share of offensive cartoons. And the same goes with the Front National, France’s nationalistic and most openly racist political movement, or with Eric Zemmour, whose semi-disguised racist views are also well documented.

    By the way, one of the cartoons you publish in this blog shows a mocking stance on Dieudonné’s Quenelle. He happens to be black, but that is not the point. The reason why he is depicted on that cover in a particularly offensive way are his anti-semite views. Not the colour of his skin.

    Charlie Hebdo is not an elegant form of humour, I totally give you that. And just like other satyric forms of humour, it’s not to everyone’s taste. Think: South Park.

    But what Charlie Hebdo is all about is being openly provocative and aggressive against all forms of “-isms”. This includes religious fundamentalism (catholic, islamic or jewish), but also fascism and of course racism in any form.

    Conclusion: Your fight was their fight… and you are Charlie after all.

    1. Dieudonné’s anti-Semitism views also doesn’t grant a (responsible) publication the right to create an image of a Black man, crouching like a monkey, with what can be assumed is a banana going up his ass. And please save the argument that it’s a “quenelle.” Because it is not.

      Charlie Hebdo is more than inelegant. It’s racist and hate-mongering and it’s time for the French to have an honest conversation about that.

      1. How can we have an honest conversation when your are making up things. Google up quenelle and see for yourself what a quenelle is. Dont see a banana when it’s just a quenelle up in his ass.
        How can you comment on Charlie Hebdo humour if you are missing the context. It’s like analyzing a joke without telling the set up of that joke.

      2. Why does this have to be a banana – have you seen a quenelle (the food not the salute)? Were this a Chinese/White/other race man depicted would they still be “crouching like a monkey” in that posture rather than bent over to receive for what is arguably the Nazi derived salute the quenelle is derived from?

    2. Charlie Hebdo never added any clarity, progress, understanding to the very topics they ridiculed. It’s still satire. It’s just substandard stuff. I think most serious people agree on that. But you don’t need to exactly agree on that to realize that Je suis Charlie is a weak form of support for the events that occurred; the events and it’s implications deserve a better monicker than the name-sake of a substandard magazine. This is about free speech. This is about terrorism. This is about outrage for killing others.

    1. This still is racist Joe. Why? Because satire’s ultimate aim is to encourage us to aim higher, morally. By depicting kidnapped Nigerian girls as welfare queens, what are you trying to say exactly? Are you advocating for their return? Again, humor should not need all of these crutches and explanations. And when people of color don’t find this work humourous, it’s not, unless you find oppression and ridicule of vulnerable members of our society humourous.

    2. If you need explanation after explanation, perhaps this magazine is doing a poor job of anything? And this interpretation amongst serious folks are looking at the magazine’s stance and sentiments in the best light. The worse light? Pretty damn bad. Come up with a better slogan than Je suis Charlie is what many are saying. Do the events justice.

    1. Thank you Leo! I think that’s only fair and I think that it’s important to remember and think about the experiences that represent “Je suis Ahmed” and their experiences in Paris and France.

  7. Great article that demonstrates how the public, fueled by the prevalent propaganda-like media, is masking hate and racism with freedom of expression, which only reflects White privilege especially in France, a country that not only banned the wear of the burqa in public areas, but also banned pro-Gaza demonstrations in the summer of 2014.

    For those who are requesting more evidence of the mistreatment of Muslims & minorities in France, here are a few articles:

    There are plenty more online.

    Lastly, I recommend this article for the author to read, as its similar to the sentiments you argued above:

    1. Really?? Muslims suffering in Europe? You don’t like it, then go to the middle east. No one adked you to come here. White Europeans are the native inhabitants of Europe and are on the vetge of losing their identity with the huge amounts of arabs and muslims coming over illegally by boats and refugees and many more.

      1. White Europeans are living on wealth, most recently oil wealth, stolen from Africa and the Middle East, not to mention Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Our governments have bombed and invaded and sacked countries in those regions, murdering men, women, children, young and old, driving millions from their homes and turning entire populations into refugees. Labor of Muslim immigrants and other People of Color sustains our economies, whether in the form of corporate profits or taxes. I would say Muslims and other People of Color have more than “paid the rent.” That always seems to happen with slumlords… maybe it’s time for our societies to pay reparations. We could start with respect. In any case, if you’re so worried about losing your identity, I would worry more about the corporations and banks, the EU and the Euro, which are actively imposing an “identity,” called consumer culture, rather than those who are simply trying to make a living.

  8. I also do not condone the terrorist murders.

    Thank you for articulating what I have tried to express. I know some will blindly go for the juglar, without even hearing your point. I get it and agree that freedom of speech is imperative…but at whose expense? There is something to be said for tact and respect of others’ beliefs that are held true within their hearts. And there are many ways of challenging different opinions. I can also imagine that your honest opinion may spark underlying hatred in some that could bring threats and possible danger to you…and possibly others like myself…who are bringing yet another perspective and dimension to consider in the aftermath of the recent events.

    Again…I do not condone the terrorist murders. But I do live in this world as a non-white person and live my life without the privileges of the dominant race. And the view from where I stand can be quite challenging. Be safe.

    1. “but at whose expense”

      I guess at the expense of violent, terroristic thugs.

      But we SJWs need to help make sure that someone isn’t offended to the point that they become a crazy lunatic!

  9. Thank you for your intelligent and well thought out blog. I think it’s vital that we take an objective look at the events surrounding the shootings. It’s horrific what happened and my sympathies go to the families of the victims, but it’s important to continue to discuss why this event happened. I appreciate your bravery in taking a different stance from the mainstream. After all, is that not what freedom of speech is?

  10. Good article. It’s always nice to hear different views presented in a resonable way. I’ve never read Charlie Hebdo, and I don’t live in france, so I’ll abstain from commenting on the nature of their drawings, and simply conclude, based on the various comments here, that there seems to be an obvious difference between how people interpret the satirical drawings. At face value, some of the drawings can obviously offend, but equally obvious, they can also be seen as commenting on different events. So which way is the “right” way to interpret them? Do I become a racist because I can laugh at a clever joke that someone else find offensive? Some people laugh at farts. I don’t find them funny. Does that mean farts are funny or not? Hopefully you understand what I mean.
    Rgd. your comment about how muslims in general shouldn’t have to speak out against this atrocity, I partly agree with you. However, given the light Islam is portrayed in in the west, and given that it’s typically the extremists that get the media time, I would think that it would be obvious why a large public muslim outcry against the massacre at Charlie Hebdo would send a positive message.
    You comment that noone expects white Christians to appologize for/speak out against the actions of the KKK or the crusades or other (semi-)violent (partly religious) groups. Let me just say that pulling out decades or more old events is silly. There is no point in appologizing for actions of long gone generations. And frankly, you have and have had plenty of white Christians vocally oppose the actions of both the KKK and the Tea Party movement etc.

    1. You partly had me until you took offense to the comment about White Christians. Just because White Christians come out, occassionally and denounce the Tea Party or the KKK doesn’t mean that they are expected to, that an onus is put upon them the same way that is explicitly put upon the Muslim community. Two, just because people that are White and also happen to be Christian denounce them doesn’t mean that they are doing so, officially, publicly and with the expectation as “White Christians.” I have yet to see Southern Methodist or Southern Baptist preachers denounce the latest NAACP bombing the way Muslim religious leaders are expected to.
      The KKK is still active and in 2015, NAACP buildings are still being bombed. History is always relived. And even so, 50 years is hardly a “long ago generation.” Again, that’s a figment of the imagination of living in White myth – and the expectation that something that ludicrous should and will be taken as fact.

  11. Thank you for posting this article. I saw this posted elsewhere, but thought it would be worth repeating here:

    I would only add that in a society that uses racism to delineate who’s worthy of life and protection and who’s worthy of exclusion, heightened policing and invasions, it’s impossible to frame expressions of “free speech” that targets specific demographics for violent misfortune as “peaceful” or “innocuous.” There’s a level of interrelation between racist violence and reproducing/creating the logic that justifies racist violence that gets ignored when we offer blanket denunciations of people who see the consequences of oppressive framing against themselves and against their people/culture and respond in kind.

    While I’m not prepared to offer a specific defense for these people (since I don’t know them and may not agree with their motives), I do want to leave both the rhetorical and empathetic door open for a perspective on racism that internalizes the need for a collective self-defense that responds appropriately to oppression and chooses its targets accordingly.

    Arguments are not meaningfully changing minds or saving lives here. Empathy is not operative for the demographics suffering. The presumption of shared humanity isn’t being equally granted and in places like France, aren’t likely to be. Right now, there’s an incredible, swift and predominately white mobilization around a conception of the west that’s not just actively hostile to Muslims, but that sees their presence as inimical to its existence/definition of “civilized.” Furthermore, concepts like “free speech” and “freedom of expression” are being used in ways that both show how power is concentrated spread and show who’s supposed to be crushed by that concentration. It’s not adequate to say that the status quo is just racist and mean when the logic of everything that’s going on is leading straight to a President Le Pen.

    That’s a violent conclusion that’s being engaged in democratically, foreshadowed democratically and expressed democratically and I’m not sure “drawing cartoons” should be divorced from what drawing these cartoons cements in the consciousness of a west where such practices have concrete consequences for those tasked with grinning and bearing them. The violence did not start today, and the onus is not on Muslims to seek peace or to internalize definitions of “acceptable violence” that speaks to white/western conditions and consequences instead of their own.

  12. Excellent piece! Those who disingenuously demand that we condemn the atrocious murders AND defend Charlie’s racist depictions on the grounds of “context,” themselves ignore the context: a society in which race and ethnicity are interwoven with class to determine your opportunities for employment, wages, education, health/mortality, incarceration, etc. There is no even playing field. In such a context, racist depictions serve to reinforce oppressive social structures.

    In the U.S., such depictions as “young, male, African American “thugs” or women as “welfare queens” have played an important role in justifying “broken-window policing,” which has led to the deaths of so many young and innocent young Black men. Consequently, sometimes the most egregious of such racist imagery meets with mass protest on the part of the respective communities, sometimes strong enough to force retraction.

    In turn, it is ridiculous to reduce the issue to one of “freedom of expression”: freedom of expression for who? Those same oppressive social relations determine that “minorities” (even majoritarian ones, like African Americans and Latinos in the U.S.) do not have equal access to the media, nor the voice to contend with ideologies spewing forth from dominant institutions.

    1. Excellent response. In France they talk about freedom of speech yet six months ago they banned the black comedian Dieudonne from showcasing his stand up routine. This was in response to his growing popularity in ethnic communities. They claimed he was spreading anti-Semetic ideas, they even banned a french soccer player in England for displaying the Quenelle wich is claimed to be a inverted Nazi Salute. Now real question is who controls the context within freedom of speech. Charlie Ebdo cartoons are seen as harmless satire and social critique, yet a comedian who invents a sign similar to the black panther black power fist salute is condemned as racist. This is merely because he is black and overtly sticks two fingers up at the French establishment. Within their ideology of freedom speech he will not and cannot be tolerated and they will use any means necessary to silence his message. The same does not apply to Charlie Ebdo.

      Ask yourself one question why ?

  13. Humor is incredibly difficult to translate both linguistically and culturally. It is mind blowingly brazen…. aka… so damn American, that this writer thinks they can stop by France and understand what’s going on in those cartoons… By most accounts that Ive read, the paper was actually left wing in a “South Park” kind of way and actually ridiculing both fundamentalists of all strokes and the French Right Wing Party.
    And regardless, I stand with Charlie for the same reason I stand with Michael Brown and his family whether Michael Brown was a saint and model child or thug who stole a cigar and beat up an old man. And here in America, where my linguistic and cultural translation skills are very high… I understand perfectly well that introducing the question of Michael Browns character is an attempt to justify his murder. And that’s what this writer is doing here… giving credence to the idea that Hebdo, after all, was “asking for it”.
    “And history has taught us that more often times than not, hate is met not with tolerant compassion and civil discourse….. Hate almost always ensues that more hate will follow.”
    The author actually posits that terrorism is a positive force, helping to force white people to reflect on their white privilege.
    “At what point do White people have that moment of self-reflection, without the threat of terrorism to do so?”
    As to the use of #je suis ahmed… that’s brilliant and beautiful and powerful. Not because the other 12 guys deserved to die, but because it appropriately honors the man and it reminds us of our commonality… It reminds us that it is not a fight against Islam, it is a fight against jihadist extremist.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Actually, I was doing more than “stopping by.” I’ve lived in Paris, studied French and French colonialism, have worked on research projects about racism in French society and am an African-American of French Creole descent. I don’t have the privilege of speaking for everyone’s experience, but I can speak for mine and my perspective and observations filtered through critical thought, which is what I did here.
      I’m not in any way positing that terrorism is a positive force. That’s a weak pole to prop an argument when I’m basically asking a question, “at what point do White people reflect?” That’s a very far and illogical reach that you are making.
      You’re making false and totally unrelated parallels to young Black man that was killed by the state and his killer went free and….a magazine. Not even correlative. I think that’s White privilege – to make these parallels of victimhood to show “sameness”, while divorcing the power dynamics inherent. Charlie Hebdo speaks with a backing, representation and authority of an institution and also a representation of (White) Frenchness that a minority of the state does not, especially a Black man hunted by the police.
      I think the issue is here that the French want to put comics into “context”. I understand this, but if you need to explain how pictures of human beings as monkeys aren’t racist, you need new humor and new comics, not new “context”. It’s a comic and should stand on its own. That’s like saying that you need a manual guide for a comic strip.


  14. What a shameless liar you make. My girlfriend is an afro american woman living in Seattle, and she understood everything about the event. How the drawers were anti racist and how the wrong guys were killed. You just dont want to check things up and put things in their context. What a shame. You are spreading hate about a pacifist and anti racist media. This is how you create worldwide intolerance. Props to you.

    1. Hello Loic. Your other comments have not been published because you are abusive and are belligerent because I do not agree with you. Being in accord with my opinion is not a prerequisite for your comments being published here, but respect. This is why you and the rest of your comments will not be published here. If you feel this strongly about the matter, I highly encourage you to write your own blog. I will not be commenting any more on this, or you.

  15. I like this. I grew up in London in the 70’s and never really understood the love of “Mad” magazine. I was also brought up not to ridicule, harass or embarrass another human being so when people raved about “Mad” it looked like they were just jumping on the popular bandwagon. I have never felt enjoyment at another person’s pain. In the 80’s I published a motor sports magazine and made sure the girls featured in it were not too risque. Publishers have a responsibility. Last week I read that the Japanese are defending their right to publish cartoons featuring children in sex acts and even incest. I abhor such vile unthinking damaging smut. I live in a Muslim country so am always mindful of the need to be respectful and tolerant of all other religions and races. I most certainly am NOT Charlie Hebdo. And I wish there were more people like me.

  16. hi friend

    Your post was right on the money and do not let the ignorant comments get you down too much. We are living in a world full of ignorance and hate and it can be a hard thing to bear witness to.

    Kudos to your strength and courage to write the article. This reminds me of George Orwells quote….. “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act”

    All the best

  17. I don’t think white people all over the world would have been this mad about the death of these so called journalists if the perpetrators were white French is somewhat a ” how date these men of Arab descent ” kill white men type of sentiment. No I am not Charlie. Do they care about the 2000 Nigerians killed by Boko Haram or are they gonna “satirize” them too?

    1. I think it is a stain on the conscience of France to even tolerate such a large hateful voice to begin with. The media coverage in countries outside of the US is weak. I think part of the problem is that not only do people in countries like France not really care about their own problems like pervasive racism and xenophobia, but they don’t hear enough about it because their media is busy criticizing countries like the US which has a relatively healthy media coverage of injustices. There’s hardly enough discussion, articles, and media coverage surrounding all the ethnic problems in France. Ferguson got covered 1000 times more than similar events in France and other countries. So French people sit on their high stools and deride American life for all it’s problems while failing to see they’ve had the same problem for many more centuries. Funny how many of these problems are coming to light (like <20% Muslim population with 60-70% of people in jail being Muslim, I don't remember the exact stats) not because of French media and self-criticism but from journalism from other countries.

  18. I agree with the author. Hate speech should not be protected. But those of white privilege don’t even acknowledge how harmful this is to people… Satire is amusing, irreverently funny, Charlie is neither. It is racism and it is vile.
    The artists did not deserve to die, but if you kick a hornet’s nest, expect to get stung! I say good riddance to that crap of a paper. And shame on the French and everyone who stands with Charlie. Now, how about a placard proclaiming, “I am the KKK”?

  19. I think if I read correctly, the paper only had a circulation of 50 thousand and was going bankrupt, so part of me wonders if your brilliant analysis was something many French people (of all backgrounds) understood about the publication, even if it was never discussed openly. Unfortunately the paper will probably see its circulation number jumps dramatically for the foreseeable future and the conversation about race and satire will never happen. Yes, it heartwarming to see a country come together for free speech and anti-extremism, but on whose backs are they standing on for the freedom of speech?

    1. I wonder if subscription and circulation numbers speak to the how loud of a voice the magazine held. Many newspapers and magazines, even the large ones (Post, NYTimes, etc) are struggling with readership numbers. I’d like to think that the better angels of people simply see Je Suis Charlie as a rallying cry for all things good; the realist in me sees that a tidal wave of all things bad are hiding under the veil of a slogan, one that could have been better chosen.

  20. You’ve pretty thoroughly miss interpreted Charlie Hebdo there. There are correct interpretations for many cartoons here :

    And more here :

    In particular :

    – Christiane Taubira was very supportive of Charlie Hebdo on her twitter, in part because that cover actually defended her by calling out the Front National as a bunch of racists. If anything, Charlie Hebdo’s cover helped contribute to the Front National activist who originally drew the Taubira-monkey analogy actually doing jail time.

    – The Boko Haram cover attacks the Front National for enabling evil like Boko Haram by forming a ridiculous pastiche of the Front National’s different beliefs.

    As written, you’re argument here asserts that Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and the New Yorker are racists for this :,,20228603_1,00.html In fact, this sort of thing is Stephen Colbert’s entire career. Is he a right-wing racist? No he’s not. And neither is Charlie Hebdo.

    At a larger scale, all good editorial cartoonists do this sort of satire, including the reductio ad absurdum of the New Yorker or Boko Haram covers. If you’ve only one image to ridicule dumb ideology, then you often do so by stitching together the worst parts in a way that exposes the stupidity.

    Also, there is a sense in which the left has a huge advantage in jokes that push a political angle, well basically the left has a lot more stupidity on the right to mock because by definition the right isn’t thinking about their intellectual position quite as hard.

    In fact, there is *no* television news source in the U.S. with left-wing sympathies that does not depend upon this sort of satire. All our corporate media like NBC, CNN, etc. depend too much upon keeping their corporate masters happy and maintaining access to approved government sources. Anyone undermining that control depends upon making people laugh to keep their paychecks. If you say “sorry no satire” then you’ve said “sorry no left-wing news”.

    tl;dr Please do read up on the context because CH does exactly what Stephen Colbert does. And take care when attacking comedians because they win more converts for the left wing than anybody else.

    1. I’ll just use a shortener for that New Yorker cover url with commas :

      As an aside, you’ll find another interesting take here :

      Another commenter’s paraphrasing :

      Farid Benyettou, previously ‘spiritual guide’ of the Buttes-Chaumont group (the ones who were recruiting and sending volunteers to Syria in 2006 to fight against Assad) and who was also previously a mentor of the Brothers Kouachi. Benyettou was sentenced to six years in prison in 2008 and released in 2011. Benyettou has since been undertaking training to become a hospital nurse…

      “My intervention is not to proclaim my innocence. My innocence is not in doubt. My intervention is to condemn what has been done. Some people who cite my name, if I do not answer, they will think I endorse what’s happened. Islam condemns all that was done, all those acts, and all, be it loose and monstrous murder of the journalists, the policemen who were killed, the members of the Jewish community. I’m here to say that all this should not be attributed to Islam. If you do this, if you are murderers, that’s your business. Do not believe that Islam legitimates your actions. On the contrary, it condemns.”

      He also notes that “Certain people think France oppresses muslims. I am proof of the opposite. I have a prison record that’s difficult to live with. I was condemned for terrorism, it’s the worst of cases. Despite that, I’ve not been discriminated against. On the contrary, I’ve been helped. People continue to believe in me.”

      1. That’s not to say Muslims aren’t miss-treated in France. They are. I think Farid Benyettou comes from a different background. It’s just a significant perspective if you’re trying to get a handle on what French people are talking about.

        And of course Jews are seriously miss-treated in France too, by both the traditional French right-wing and the Islamic right-wing, but we’ve no shortage of sources point that out now.

  21. I think this article as a whole was sadly racist. The author so full of her own perceived race that she is unable to think outside it. Ignorant white people not able to see the plights of all those who have come to Europe receiving sanctuary and in many cases living of benefits should be more or less grateful for having their heads shot off by rampaging islamists. At the very least those “noble” gunmen should have been taken alive to give witness to the opression and the evils they have suffered (while their victims lie rotting in their graves) Everything is somehow depicted in the colours of ones skin (Islam=good=black and Christianity=bad=white). What a truly ignorant and despicable world outlook. Maybe it never occured to you that racism is still racism no matter which direction you turn it.

    Yes Charlie Hedbo is a satirical magazine. Such magazines sometimes hurt people´s feelings and shake their beliefs. But no satirical image is funny without at least a hint of something deeper behind it.

    With so many violent muslim sects about murdering “infidels”, the IS, Boko Haram, Al Qaida etc, and with so many young muslims being attracted to their messages of violence and murder, is it really wrong to ask the supposedly non-violent majority of muslims to take a larger responsibility in dealing with the extremism? And in light of the fact that even from a historical point of view, the IS is not entirely wrong in claiming that Muhammed led armies to war, had opponents beheaded and that the early caliphates gave infidels about to be conquered the same choices they do (convert, become a second rate citizen living in constant humiliation or else die by our swords). In the light of all this is it not time that some of the more rosy pictures of Islam that exist today be questioned.

    Accepting the violence, the oppression of non-muslims, the domestication of women (even the taking of sex slaves like IS and Boko Haram does) etc merely on the bases that as a cultural or religious expression this is beyond criticism (in fact that it should be racist to criticize) , is not a viable way forwards.

    Humour and satire though may bring the dirt into the light and hopefully aid muslims and non-muslims both to a more serious debate about many of the problems within contemporary muslim practices.

  22. How wonderfully gracious of you to not “condone” the massacre of these racist white people. Seems to me that the one crying “racist ” the loudest is, in this case, the racist. But, after all, what right do I have? After all, I’m just a privileged white person.. Never had to work for anything.
    Oh, and by the way, sorry about the crusades.

  23. As a long time reader of Charlie, I can tell you that this newspaper is NOT RACIST, it’s exactly the opposite of racist, it’s against racism, religious extremism, political corruption, and all forms of stupidity. It really is. To do so, the cartoonists are using a powerful satire and are mocking the very people listed above.

    The images in the article are not hateful: they are taken OUT OF CONTEXT and with the proper historical and political references, their interpretation is the exact opposite. For example, the cover with the red background depicts ‘Dieudonné’, a so-called comedian who is also famously anti-semite and delivers a hateful speech under the cover of humour. There’s been tremendous debate about this guy in France over the past few years. It would be long to explain but the white ‘quenelle’ coming out of his butt is also the name of a gesture he supposedly invented, and that symbolizes his racist anti-semite ideas. That’s what the cartoon is mocking.

    More importantly, the cartoon of the monkey is that of Christiane Taubira: a Ministry of Justice in France. The far right, racist party ‘Front National’ had depicted her and mocked her for her skin color. The legend of the picture, ‘Rassemblement Bleu Racist’ is a pun on the motto of Front National, ‘Rassemblement bleu marine’, and the pun calls them racists. The cartoon needs this context. It mocks the stupidity of these people, and does this is a shocking, satirical way.

    The cartoonists and authors of Charlie Hebdo are absolutely against racism, and they gave their lives fighting for their values.

  24. This is a very powerful piece written by a courageous person. Ordinarily, it might seem an objective route to say if French law permits Charlie Hebdo sketches, then it’s okay, as any immigrant is bound by existing laws.

    However, it’s been stated up there by a commenter that most of the immigrants and minorities in question are third and fourth generation French citizens. Hence that places them on the same pedestal as any other Frenchman or woman. More so, if you consider the fact that it was France that chose to indulge in colonialism in the first place, and that was the policy that co-opted the forebears of most of these minorities into becoming French citizens. So, they shouldn’t be made to suffer any status indignities today.


  25. This is a very powerful piece written by a courageous person. Ordinarily, it might seem an objective route to say if French law permits Charlie Hebdo sketches, then it’s okay, as any immigrant is bound by existing laws.

    However, it’s been stated up there by a commenter that most of the immigrants and minorities in question are third and fourth generation French citizens. Hence that places them on the same pedestal as any other Frenchman or woman. More so, if you consider the fact that it was France that chose to indulge in colonialism in the first place, and that was the policy that co-opted the forebears of most of these minorities into becoming French citizens. So, they shouldn’t be made to suffer any status indignities today.

    In spite of the foregoing, there cannot be found anywhere, even a scintilla of justification for the crude and gruesome assassination of people under the guise of a vengeful grouse. It’s as savage as it’s preposterous, and wantonly fails to find any hedge under the law of proportionality.

    Methinks minorities and our blackfolks everywhere should strive to always match wit with wit, and intellect for intellect. What stops a minority setting up his or her own “Afro Hebdo” to repa the privileged white French in kind? That’s what the NAACP does in America, and it’s already yielding fruit.

    I love the response the writer gave to one Loic up there. It kinda shares the same root with my position.

  26. My opinion: The level of ‘freedom of speech’ allowable is already determined by ‘courts of law’. When comments/articles criticising general life (corporations, entities etc)/people (individuals) are made (lawfully) and the recipient(s) of such criticism(s) feel(s) aggrieved/terribly pained about what is said, they can either write back or speak strongly against what has been said about them…Thats why we mostly joined debate clubs in Primary and Secondary schools. To me; this is not the time to write articles about racism; this or that because it distracts from the most severe issue of ‘murder by extremists/extremism’ yet again. Funny enough, most of the cartoonists were themselves not ‘rich white French’ but ‘plain talented cartoonists’ with children etc killed for what they said/believed. For example, if you were blindfolded and made to listen to Chris Rock deal with societal issues in his usual ‘audacious satirical manner’ and no one told you it was Chris Rock; you would probably say the guy hates Michael Jackson; sometimes black people or white people (depending on the parts of his show you listened to)…See ‘Never Scared’. The simple fact – in my opinion – is Chris Rock only cares about being satirical and making people laugh. However, if he ever crossed the line in the U.S. as part of his delivery of ‘audacious satirical content’ I’m sure he would probably get sued and not shot! If you can learn to operate a submachine gun, you can learn to write!

  27. Has anyone considered humans are not ready evolutionarily to globalise and multi-culturalize? That our pursuit over hundreds of years of creating technologies that allow us mobility and communication, now around the world, has not prepared us as a species for the amount of diversity we now confront? A diversity of cultures, habits, thoughts, beliefs that for most are slow to change. We are taught to look out into the world, outside ourselves at: various deities, religions, governments, jobs/careers, family, children, consumerism/materialism to find meaning and community. And we wonder why so many have their beliefs and faiths insulted. The respect and balance we seek doesn’t lie out in the world and we are to go find it. It already lay in our of Self–the duality of a physical animal, and a non-physical soul–one human being. The true Self can’t be insulted by religious zealots or secular satirists. Look within and work to balance and respect your own personality, ego, and free will. The chaos of the world only lessens as each of us balances our own chaos within.

  28. Hi there,
    Very thought provoking & commendable.
    For me, I think you’ve achieved the same objectives of what Charlie Hebdo also wants to achieve: to excersize your right to freedom of speech. They express their views through cartoons and you expressed yours through this blog – They criticize everybody to point out what they think is wrong just as you are doing in this blog; both your intentions are to get people to talk about global issues.

    Of course having rights to freedom of speech comes responsibilities & limitations.
    What is considered ‘limitations’ is subjective in accordance to different people. Some think some of Charlie Hebdo’s comics are disrespectful, racist and amount to hate speech. Just as people that commented may feel that way about your blog.
    The difference though is – they are not going to kill you for simply disagreeing with your views (@least I hope they won’t). The slain Islamists had no right to kill Charlie Hedbo’s staff just because they didn’t agree/like the views expressed in their cartoons.
    No one has a right to take another’s life.
    Thank you again for this interesting blog.

    1. This is precisely the problem with most of the discussion; you seem to confuse veneration of the magazine’s message with limiting it’s right to free speech. If this is the logic that prevails the day, we are all lost.

  29. The use of Je suis to suggest competing prophet Jesus, ups the antagonism nonspecifically against Muslims and it tends to claim a Christian value around the solidarity and of Charlie Hebdo. These generalisations are stigma that create the environment for discrimination and terrorism. People can’t resist the tag because it looks cute and everyone else is doing it.

  30. Absolute trash, the argument that is put forward here is that the Charlie hebdo paper was racist. However every screen shot of the tweets and FB posts says that the paper insulted their culture and religion, not one of those aggrieved people ever mentioned skin colour, race or country of origin! Religions, ideas and ideologies do not have feelings, they do not have the right to not be offended by someone who sees through their Bronze Age teachings and evil directives. If people from whichever country or background care more about having their imaginary friend insulted than about actual flesh and blood humans then we have reached a very sad and very dangerous point in our evolution.

  31. I have to disagree on your whole:
    “Europeans/ Christians & Whites never have to apologize.” thing

    1) ever heard of the term white guilt? come to south africa for example – it won’t matter what nationality you are.. as long as you are white.. you are guilty by default too

    2) try being young German and NOT be constantly held responsible for the death of millions (of Jews and others) + WW2

    3) be an atheist and still get accused of christian barbarism hundredths of years ago, when you try to argue modern, enlightened REASON with a religious non-christian

    as for your CH cover examples – a bit lazy of you to not have researched the actual background and content of what is seen. You needed your commenters to do that for you. Are you not aware of your own cultural predjudice and lack of knoweldge?

  32. I suspect the early decades of the 21st Century will be remembered a as the era in which claims of “white privilege” were deemed a sufficient logical response to virtually any event or issue that arose in global news coverage.

    Toward the end, the author points out that Muslims are expected to condemn atrocities committed by their extremists, but Christians are not. That is simply untrue. Civilized, free societies expect their Christians to do the same, and many of them do just that. And if the author is suggesting that because some Christian leaders don’t speak up to condemn violence, then society shouldn’t expect Muslims to do so, then the author 8s guilty of a common logical fallacy called “two wrongs make a right.” Sometimes truth, freedom, and justice are, in fact, absolute, and people of all races and religions in France should speak out in part to emphasize their right to do so in a free society. They also have the right not to speak, but it’s worth remembering that in many parts of the Arab world they would not have either right afforded to them if it were deemed a threat by the religious leaders in power. In its purest forms, freedom is worth exercising by members of all races and religions as well as defending despite some cracks in the system. Ultimately, this editorial misses the mark by merely criticizing the views of some pundits without offering any constructive mode of action to replace the one being criticized.

  33. I’m a French immigrant to the US, have been here for 10 years now. I agree with a lot of your arguments; France has a real problem with its “color-blindness”. It is a society that is working really hard to be homogeneous, and doesn’t realize how much it is alienating its non-white population. I am an atheist, I strongly believe religion should never be a reason for a law to pass or not, but I find France’s interpretation of secularism (“laicite”) completely insensitive and biased (official Christian holidays all over the calendar), and I do not understand why women can’t wear a hijab if they want to.

    That being said, the examples you picked completely miss the point the Charlie Hebdo staff was making. Insisting that the first drawing is representing a “black man with a banana up his a**” shows exactly why Charlie Hebdo does not work outside of France. It is clear that it is a “quenelle” that’s drawn there, and that the message is that Dieudonne can take his anti-semitic hate speech and shove it where the sun never shines. Other people have already pointed out that the monkey one is showing how outrageously racist the National Front is, and that the “Welfare Queens” is an illustration of how the far-right will always accuse any non-white of taking advantage of the system, even when it is clear that they are victims.

    CH is satire pushed to the extreme, and I have never read anything here in the US that came close to it. I am a huge fan of Stephen Colbert, have watched South Park in my youth, and love The Onion. Charlie Hebdo is all that x100.

    Yes, French people fail to see how racist some of the things they say and do are, and there is no denying that Charlie Hebdo has had its share of insidiously racist episodes, but I do believe that Charlie Hebdo has been grossly misrepresented in the US.

  34. I will say that this article has for the most part, encouraged very intelligent discourse on issues that many hold dear. These are the types of discussions (logical, respectful) that educated adults with opposing views should be able to carry without any school yard name calling and offensive language. I respectfully thank the majority of you who have commented with class!

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