Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 13, 2015

Charlie Hebdo ‘not racist’? If you say so

Filed under: Islamophobia — louisproyect @ 2:11 pm

TUESDAY, JANUARY 13, 2015

Charlie Hebdo ‘not racist’? If you say so. posted by Richard Seymour

I’m going to publish a number of English language translations of French articles on the background to Charlie Hebdo controversies for those who wish to follow it.  The first few are from the publication Les Mots Sont Importants.  Thanks immensely to Daphne Lawless for the translations.

Charlie Hebdo”, not racist? If you say so…

Thursday 5 December 2013

by Olivier Cyran

translated by Daphne Lawless

He worked there from 1992 to 2001, before walking out, angered by “the dictatorial behaviour and corrupt promotion practices” of a certain Philippe Val [former CH editor – trans.] Since then, Olivier Cyran has been an observer from a distance, outside the walls, of the evolution of Charlie Hebdo and its growing obsession with Islam. He went over this long-term drift on the occasion of an opinion piece in Le Monde, signed by Charb [Stéphane Charbonnier, one of the cartoonists murdered in January 2015 – trans.] and Fabrice Nicolino.

Postscript 11 January 2015: to all those who think that this article was validation in advance of the shameful terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo (that they were asking for it), the editorial team of Article 11 would like to give a hearty middle finger to such vultures. To make things absolutely clear, please see this text.

*

Dear Charb and Fabrice Nicolino,

“We hope that those who claim, and will claim tomorrow, that Charlie is racist, will at least have the courage to say it out loud and under their real name. We’ll know how to respond.” Reading this rant at the end of your opinion piece in Le Monde[1], as if to say “come say it to our face if you’re a real man”, I felt something rising within me, like a craving to go back to fighting in the school playground. Yet it wasn’t me being called out. Which upright citizens you hope to convince, moreover, is a mystery. For a good long while, many people have been saying “out loud” and “under their real name” what they think about your magazine and the effluent flowing out of it, without any one of you being bothered to answer them or to shake their little fists.

And so Le Monde has charitably opened their laundry service to you, for an express steam-cleaning of your rumpled honour. To hear you talk, it was urgent: you couldn’t even go out in Paris without a taxi driver treating you like racists and leaving you helpless on the footpath. I understand your annoyance, but why did you have to go give yourself another black eye in a different publication than your own? Don’t Charlie Hebdo, its website and its publishing house give you space to express yourself to your heart’s content? You invoke “Charlie’s” glorious heritage of the 60s and 70s, when it was political censorship and not haunting disrepute that gave your magazine something to worry about. But I doubt that, at the time, writers like Cavanna or Choron would have asked for help from the posh press to make themselves respectable.

If it also occurred to me, in the past, to scribble out some furious lines in reaction to some of your exploits, I never dwelled on the subject. Doubtless I would not have had the patience or the stoutness of heart to follow, week after week, the distressing transformation which took over your team after the events of September 11, 2001. I was no longer part of Charlie Hebdo when the suicide planes made their impact on your editorial line, but the Islamophobic neurosis which bit by bit took over your pages from that day on affected me personally, as it ruined the memory of the good moments I spent on the magazine during the 1990s. The devastating laughter of “Charlie” which I had loved to hear now sounded in my ears like the laugh of a happy idiot getting his cock out at the checkout counter, or of a pig rolling in its own shit. And yet, I never called your magazine racist. But since today you are proclaiming, high and loud, your stainless and irreproachable anti-racism, maybe it’s now the right moment to seriously consider the question.

Racist? Charlie Hebdo was certainly no such thing at the time when I worked there. In any case, the idea that the mag would expose itself to such an accusation would have never occurred to me. There had, of course been some Francocentrism, as well as the editorials of Philippe Val. These latter were subject to a disturbing fixation, which worsened over the years, on the “Arabic-Muslimworld”. This was depicted as an ocean of barbarism threatening, at any moment, to submerge the little island of high culture and democratic refinement that was, for him, Israel. But the boss’s obsessions remained confined to his column on page 3, and overflowed only rarely into the heart of the journal which, in those years, it seemed me, throbbed with reasonably well-oxygenated blood.

Scarcely had I walked out, wearied by the dictatorial behaviour and corrupt promotion practices of the employer, than the Twin Towers fell and Caroline Fourest arrived in your editorial team. This double catastrophe set off a process of ideological reformatting which would drive off your former readers and attract new ones – a cleaner readership, more interested in a light-hearted version of the “war on terror”  than the soft anarchy of [cartoonist] Gébé. Little by little, the wholesale denunciation of “beards”, veiled women and their imaginary accomplices became a central axis of your journalistic and satirical production. “Investigations” began to appear which accepted the wildest rumours as fact, like the so-called infiltration of the League of Human Rights (LDH) or European Social Forum (FSE) by a horde of bloodthirsty Salafists[2]. The new impulse underway required the magazine to renounce the unruly attitude which had been its backbone up to then, and to form alliances with the most corrupt figures of the intellectual jet-set, such as Bernard-Henri Lévy or Antoine Sfeir, cosignatories in Charlie Hebdo of a grotesque “Manifesto of the Twelve against the New Islamic Totalitarianism”[3]. Whoever could not see themselves in a worldview which opposed the civilized (Europeans) to obscurantists (Muslims) saw themselves quickly slapped with the label of “useful idiots” or “Islamoleftists”.

read full article at Lenin’s Tomb

43 Comments »

  1. Making the rounds on Twitter today: French court bans clothing advertisement based upon DaVinci’s “The Last Supper”: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4337031.stm

    Much tamer than what has appeared in Charlie Hebdo. So “freedom of speech” in France appears to be the freedom to malign Muslims and Islam.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 13, 2015 @ 7:24 pm

  2. Richard Seymour is still recovering from the smackdown he got when he wrote his subpar piece on Jacobin saying that Charlie Hebdo was racist and if you didn’t think so “well, go read some Edward Said and an introductory text on Islamophobia and come back to the conversation” (pretty much verbatim).

    It sounds intellectually dishonest to try to cover his back with these kind of texts. He already had the conclusion, and he presented it in a patronizing tone that stank of elitism, self-righteousness and white guilt. When he saw the outrage of leftists refusing to be treated like dumb children that needed to be tutored, he started researching the topic a bit more.

    Also, before taking any lessons from him, remember that this is the guy who got into an Internet beef because he defended the use of a racist chair in “racial S&M sex play”. You know, the main issue a majority of working class people face everyday.

    Comment by destruyey — January 13, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

  3. I would say, yes, freedom of speech does include the right to malign Muslims and Islam – and Christianity for that matter. And it includes the right to be sexist, racist and generally vulgar. In a situation where the working-class exercises state power, as in Cuba, the answer might be different, depending on the relationship of forces and the progress a revolutionary regime has made in raising the consciousness of the population. But in France and elsewhere the working-class does not have state power. Part of defending a democratic right such as this (including the right not to be murdered), vital for the working-class and oppressed as it presses it’s separate interests, is defending those who’s views we find odious. After all, there are plenty of people who think publications produced by the socialist organizations, trade unions or Planned Parenthood are odious too.

    Comment by Dave — January 13, 2015 @ 7:50 pm

  4. Dave wrote:

    “After all, there are plenty of people who think publications produced by the socialist organizations, trade unions or Planned Parenthood are odious too.”

    With some exceptions for some trade unions some of the time, these orgs don’t punch down. Big difference from Hebdo, Jyllands-Posten, or Der Sturmer.

    You want to defend the right of some klansmen to burn a cross on some property they own across the street from some non-white families? Or maybe just the right of their being able to purchase some ad space in a local paper to showcase a coming lynching? How very white of you . . . .

    Comment by Todd — January 13, 2015 @ 7:58 pm

  5. “Part of defending a democratic right such as this (including the right not to be murdered), vital for the working-class and oppressed as it presses it’s separate interests, is defending those who’s views we find odious. After all, there are plenty of people who think publications produced by the socialist organizations, trade unions or Planned Parenthood are odious too.”

    Yes, and I can say that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons are racist crap, too. That’s my freedom of speech. And I can also say that people should refuse to repost these cartoons in support of Charlie Hebdo for this reason as well. In other words, I can express my abhorrence of the attack upon Charlie Hebdo without embracing the content of the publication, which is the current political demand of those who want to exploit the attack in support of Zionism, Islamophobia and the war on terror.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 13, 2015 @ 7:59 pm

  6. Racist views need to be addressed politically Todd, not by censorship, but by counter-mobilization, which in turn requires democratic rights, including democratic rights accorded by bourgeois democracy. Laws enacted purportedly to address chauvinistic views are never used against ideologues of capitalism, but always against the workers movement. Burning a cross on someone’s lawn, on the other hand, would be a crime, which would require organizations such as the unions to demand a prosecution.

    Comment by Dave — January 13, 2015 @ 8:10 pm

  7. “I would say, yes, freedom of speech does include the right to malign Muslims and Islam – and Christianity for that matter”

    As Richard Estes says, if we accept this premise then we should be vocal critics when ‘freedom of speech’ is used in this way. It would be a dereliction of duty (from a left point of view) to allow Muslims to be maligned, given the fact they are the most targeted group in Europe by racists and far right groups. It isn’t that long ago when in the right to malign led to mass extermination.

    I charge some on the left with being soft on racism – in France left wing Muslim bashing had become quite the fashion. Now the left are outraged by this ‘attack on freedom of speech’, which is a simplistic view of the situation to put it mildly.

    I think it appropriate that leftists come out against the persistent racism of Charlie Hebdo, not only will this send out a clear message that the left is not soft on racism but it will also show the left are not afraid to exercise their right to free speech even under awkward circumstances.

    Dave – Will you denounce Charlie Hebdo’s persistent racism?

    Comment by Simon Provertier — January 13, 2015 @ 9:17 pm

  8. What I have seen of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, I don’t like, for the reason that Todd observed, that is, I don’t thinking picking on the oppressed is particularly funny. well, I don’t think it is funny at all. Family Guy on steroids if you ask me. But I do not think these kinds of sentiments can be wished away and I do not, under any circumstances, believe power should be ceded to the capitalist class to make decisions as to what can and cannot be published. I also think it is important to remember that this attack ended with a racist assault against shoppers at a kosher grocery.

    Comment by Dave — January 13, 2015 @ 9:40 pm

  9. Dave I agree with most of that, but

    Will you denounce Charlie Hebdo’s persistent racism? I don’t regard saying it isn’t funny as denouncing, more mild criticism.

    Comment by Simon Provertier — January 13, 2015 @ 9:46 pm

  10. The most serious consequence of this reactionary attack is that imperialism has been given an opening to ramp up the war machine.

    Comment by Dave — January 13, 2015 @ 9:47 pm

  11. Simon – I chose my words carefully and I said what I wanted to say.

    Comment by Dave — January 13, 2015 @ 9:54 pm

  12. “But I do not think these kinds of sentiments can be wished away and I do not, under any circumstances, believe power should be ceded to the capitalist class to make decisions as to what can and cannot be published.”

    Two things: (1) no one has said that the state should censor Charlie Hebdo; and (2) the capitalist class is already making decisions about what can and cannot be published. It is doing so through global media consolidation, and state suppression of speech it doesn’t like. See, for example, the link in the 2nd comment here, or the French government suppression of pro-Gaza protests during the summer.

    Freedom of speech is a relative concept, with Charlie Hebdo at one end of the spectrum and Muslims, anti-Zionists and leftists on the other. When an anarchist or anti-Zionist publication is attacked, and millions of French turn out and say, “I am Durruti” or “I am Gaza”, and respond to criticisms over the publication’s content by emphasizing the universality of freedom of speech, I would start to these protests seriously But, of course, that hasn’t happened, and won’t happen, because the liberty so enthusiastically advocated is subject to the Eurocentric limitations of the Enlightenment, meaning that “freedom of speech” is for primarily for colonizers and their allies, like Charlie Hebdo.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 13, 2015 @ 11:24 pm

  13. Dave wrote:

    “Racist views need to be addressed politically Todd, not by censorship”

    I’m not talking about racist “views”; I’m talking about pictures and/or words communicated publically in a context that indicates what direction they’re punching. I’m afraid I don’t have your fondness for abstraction.

    And I’m afraid that censorship is entirely political, by its very nature. The people in charge make the rules and/or set the tone that says what will and won’t be censored.

    “but by counter-mobilization, which in turn requires democratic rights, including democratic rights accorded by bourgeois democracy.”

    Well, that’s very nice. How long has Charlie et al been spewing their bile with no (effective) counter-mobilization on the horizon in such a bourgeois democratic state as France, where the active and passive allies of Charlie and its ilk decide what gets censored?

    “I do not, under any circumstances, believe power should be ceded to the capitalist class to make decisions as to what can and cannot be published.”

    Since this has actually been the case for some time now, I have to ask: how do you like visiting planet Earth?

    Comment by Todd — January 13, 2015 @ 11:48 pm

  14. Freedom of speech is essential for the working-class in particular and the forward motion of humanity in general, especially in the lands oppressed by imperialism. There are plenty of workers and farmers in the Near and Middle-East and Africa today who are fighting AND dying in order to have the democratic right to express themselves. Check out the struggle of the Kurds. Check out the female, internationalist and secular fighting units which are under female command. I realize this may not be as sexy as discussing “white privilege” and what-not, but it’s far more – what’s the word…. Enlightening.

    Comment by Dave — January 13, 2015 @ 11:56 pm

  15. “I do not, under any circumstances, believe power should be ceded to the capitalist class to make decisions as to what can and cannot be published.”

    Since this has actually been the case for some time now, I have to ask: how do you like visiting planet Earth?

    You’re kidding, right?

    Comment by Dave — January 13, 2015 @ 11:58 pm

  16. Todd: let me spell it out to you. power should not be conceded without a fight, much less handed to them as some on the left, whatever that means these days, is coming alarmingly close to advocating.

    Comment by Dave — January 14, 2015 @ 12:41 am

  17. “power should not be conceded without a fight”

    Just who do you think is conceding what power to whom?

    Comment by Todd — January 14, 2015 @ 1:06 am

  18. Putting Charlie in the context of French politics: They have been at the forefront against the racist Front Nationale. Maybe the english speakers need to take a primer on the satire and humour as it unfolds day after day. ALot of their cartoonish drawings are being grossly misunderstood by outsiders. Here are two examples commonly cited as racist: the “immigrant welfare queens” and the black govt minister drawn as a monkey.

    http://www.quora.com/What-was-the-context-of-Charlie-Hebdos-cartoon-depicting-Boko-Haram-sex-slaves-as-welfare-queens

    As far as their depictions of Muhammed, I have no defense of such a editorial decision to publish dead prophets, to generally insult religious beliefs without any particular political criticism. I would prefer for them to lampoon personalities like conservative clerics who are living and whose politics seem no different than that of the party of Le Pen.

    The hearts and minds of Muslims, like all people, are not monopolised by their religious “leaders”.

    Comment by seaspan — January 14, 2015 @ 1:24 am

  19. Ah, you _did_ read the piece by Olivier Cyran, right, seaspan? Cyran, the French guy who worked for the mag then left but still followed it, right? Do you think he’s an “outsider” who doesn’t “really understand French politics”?

    Comment by Todd — January 14, 2015 @ 2:07 am

  20. Yes, Todd, I have and am still reading Cyran’s piece from Dec 5. His opinion is important but it reeks of a personality conflict between an ex employee and his former colleagues. I could be wrong, and I have an open mind which is why I presented a defence of Charlie from all the doubts on their “leftists” credentials. My link presents that defence…

    Comment by seaspan — January 14, 2015 @ 2:42 am

  21. “ALot of their cartoonish drawings are being grossly misunderstood by outsiders. Here are two examples commonly cited as racist: the “immigrant welfare queens” and the black govt minister drawn as a monkey.”

    Yeah, right:

    “You’ve pointed out the targets, but you wouldn’t want some poor guy to attack them for real, because you’re against violence and against racism. As are, most certainly, your readers. They have no prejudice against Muslims. It’s just that they break out in whole-hearted laughter at that Charb cartoon where an Arab with a big moustache stops in front of a prostitute, while a bearded preacher sermonizes: “Brother! Why would you pay 40 euros for a single shag when for the same price you could buy a wife!” In the 1930s, the same gag – with Jews instead of Muslims – would have gone down a treat, except that, at the time, its teller would surely not have had the idea to wave around a certificate of anti-racism.”

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 14, 2015 @ 2:52 am

  22. Also it is worth noting who is also vehemently criticising the politics of Charlie Hebdo: the unquestiobaly racist Fronte Nationale. And while I am not familiar of the Islamic clerics in Paris, I am not convinced that all of them are defensive or are against Charlie’s contributions in French political discourse — but in fact welcome it. The link I presented makes that clear why I would think that’s the case…

    Comment by seaspan — January 14, 2015 @ 3:00 am

  23. Yes Richard, on its face it doesnt look well on the magazine. But I had the same view as you only yesterday until I was presented with a good explanation of the 2 most cited examples of the magazines racism, which clarified that it wasnt racist at all but were attacks on the FN. My other point, and it may be relevant, is we shouldnt be assume conservative clerics who involve themselves in politics are above the fray of political criticism simply because of their religious position.

    Comment by seaspan — January 14, 2015 @ 3:14 am

  24. Read John Rees’s piece in which he compares these AQ butcfhers to anti-fascists no-platforming CH by shutting them up for good. This is where bogus anti-imperialism or neo-Stalinism takes you:

    http://www.counterfire.org/articles/analysis/17606-charlie-hebdo-killings-and-the-limits-of-liberalism

    Comment by davidellis987 — January 14, 2015 @ 9:32 am

  25. I don’t think the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists deserved to be shot or physically harmed in any way. It’s disgusting. But as to their “edgy” humor, there is a problem, after a certain point, with aspiring to be “edgy” in the first place–a hipsterish delusion that can lead directly to reactionary social positions, at least in the minds of one’s readers. You can only take irony so far before it collapses into a grotesque form of seriousness.

    This is, IMHO, a separate problem from the problem of assassination as a political tactic, and the assassination of these relatively harmless assholes in particular.

    As to the shooters, I think they were deeply confused and in some way–as representatives of the working class in France–legitimately desperate, but that they could and should have chosen not to do what they seem to have done. When one compares their desperation to that of e.g. Somali refugees in Yemen, there’s no contest. These were not the Wretched of the Earth who (how often have we heard this crap) “have no other way to fight.” In any case, the evidence still suggests that they operated in a vacuum of leadership, not under direction from some super-potent Other.

    I suspect that the phrase “no other way to fight” is only ever uttered by “Western” bourgeois radicals who are under no obligation to fight at all.

    All this, however, is moot. In the U.S.–because after all, isn’t this always about us and the fiends who want to keep us from shopping?–the official media are now pushing the implausible story that all this was set up by Awlaki before we snuffed him–or that the same people who just last week were claiming to represent ISIL were actually the creatures of the ISIL antagonist al Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula, as claimed by that also-ran Zawahiri.

    It’s incredible. Imagine–these (per the French school authorities)–deeply “stupid” people conspiring with sinister effectiveness to carry out just this particular action after a “sleeper” lapse of four years. What fiendish brilliance!

    Innocent people will die because of this.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — January 14, 2015 @ 4:29 pm

  26. {25.Read John Rees’s piece in which he compares these AQ butcfhers to anti-fascists no-platforming CH by shutting them up for good. This is where bogus anti-imperialism or neo-Stalinism takes you:

    http://www.counterfire.org/articles/analysis/17606-charlie-hebdo-killings-and-the-limits-of-liberalism%5D

    This is a mischaracterization of the article, which does nothing of the sort, as it instead focuses upon the plight of European Muslims abandoned by liberals and the limited scope of freedom of speech in Europe.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 14, 2015 @ 5:37 pm

  27. It may be the assailants were “deeply confused”, at least from a Marxist point of view, but so were a lot of workers who joined the German Nazi Party and the KKK in the United States. The fact is, their actions were deeply reactionary, fascist-like murders carried out to avenge a perceived “honor” that was offended. Again, let’s not forget that this terrorist attack also included the racist murder of four Jews, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The real hero here was the Muslim worker who hid some of the patrons in the freezer. We should do our best, in light of the opening this has afforded imperialism, to oppose their moves towards war, and to defend immigrant workers everywhere in the world.

    Comment by Dave — January 14, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

  28. I think we can dispense with the notion that the protests in France were about freedom of speech:

    (snip)

    “France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and those glorifying terrorism and announced Wednesday it was sending an aircraft carrier to the Mideast to work more closely with the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants.

    Authorities said 54 people had been arrested for hate speech and defending terrorism since terror attacks killed 20 people in Paris last week, including three gunmen.”

    (snip)

    “In its message to prosecutors and judges, France’s Interior Ministry said it was issuing the crackdown on hate speech order to protect freedom of expression from comments that could incite violence or hatred. It said no one should be allowed to use their religion to justify hate speech.”

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/Charlie-Hebdo-sells-out-before-dawn-with-6013985.php

    Yes, the state is needed to protect freedom of speech from itself, to ensure that it doesn’t threaten imperial prerogatives. Another variation of the campus civility code. And the same kind of people in both instances decide, Of course, there’s no problem with speech in France by people who advocate for US, French and military attacks upon countries around the world. That doesn’t incite “violence or hatred” and, hence, doesn’t qualify as “hate speech” in France, or anyone else, for that matter.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 14, 2015 @ 6:38 pm

  29. More, the absurdity of the arrest of the anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne for “justifying terrorism”, leaving aside the political expediency of the suppression of such speech: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/whos-charlie-france-cracks-down-free-speech-order-defend-it

    So, will there now be millions marching saying “I am Dieudonne”? After all, we were told that the content of Charlie Hebdo was irrelevant, it was the principle of “freedom of speech” that required a public defense.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 14, 2015 @ 6:56 pm

  30. “They have been at the forefront against the racist Front Nationale.”

    This is the typical and default position of the anti Muslim left and liberal chauvinism in particular. They want to be racist but want to be seen to be fighting for liberal values. It is easy to attack the Front Nationale and equally easy to spew out anti Muslim bile.

    “Vouloir le beurre et l’argent du beurre”

    Dave – I will take that as you won’t denounce. You seems to have a problem with the idea of supporting free speech but not being able to speak out against its misuse.

    Comment by Simon Provertier — January 14, 2015 @ 7:13 pm

  31. “Dave.” Whatever your real name is.

    There was no ‘nazi-like’ organization behind these boys at all. Nichts. Nada. The stories about ISIl, al Qaeda, and the alleged vampire-like resurrection of al-Awlaki as backer of the attack are mutually contradictory, implausible on the face of it, and can’t be credited. The alleged “guru” of the attack had had nothing to do with Islamist politics since 1978, and was working harmlessly as a nurse at the time of the murders.

    So no, the Kouachis weren’t Nazis–there was no party for them to join, as there was in the case of the German working class in the 1930s, just a few scavengers scarfing up bits of corpse after the deed.

    Anyway, nothing I wrote could possibly be construed as defending the assassinations, so your attack is not only stupid but pointless.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — January 14, 2015 @ 7:27 pm

  32. Correction: alleged “guru” had nothing to do with Islamist militancy since 2008.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — January 14, 2015 @ 7:31 pm

  33. Further note–I linked to a source on this yesterday, can’t find the post. But it’s interesting that The Authorities have had to gin up a dead man,* al Awlaki, as the mastermind of the attacks since it became obvious that the original “guru” wouldn
    ‘t fly as a scapegoat.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — January 14, 2015 @ 7:46 pm

  34. Note–the “gunman” citing al Awlaki was talking crap–not revealing a hidden conspiracy, but bullshitting to make himself seem more important. What’s amazing is that all of a sudden the Western Powers have decided to take this seriously.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — January 14, 2015 @ 7:49 pm

  35. Peter, I didn’t say there was a “Nazi-like” organization behind them, and I certainly didn’t say you defended the assassinations, although they did sympathize with the brutish, reactionary and anti-working-class ISIS, which has a certain political methodology and practice in common with fascism. What I said is that the actions of the assailants in assassinating the journalists were reminiscent of “fascist-like” honor killings. And then to top it all off, the third member of the trio concluded the day’s activities with a good, old-fashioned racist massacre at the kosher grocery store. Regardless of the anti-working-class nature of the attack, we still must defend free-speech, regardless of the odious nature of the cartoons, and we must do our best to defend immigrant workers against racist and chauvinist abuse, and counter the war drive now strengthened by this assault.

    Comment by Dave — January 14, 2015 @ 8:14 pm

  36. “They have been at the forefront against the racist Front Nationale.”
    This is the typical and default position of the anti Muslim left and liberal chauvinism in particular. They want to be racist but want to be seen to be fighting for liberal values. — Simon

    You could very well be right. Those were my words, but not knowing CH’s history I was more playing the devil’s advocate to get more of a discussion going. Up to my post it was too one-sided. On reflection and listening and participating in exchanges with “liberals” and the “extreme right wing”, I can see no utility in defending CH if there is a bigger battle to be fought fighting true blue racists. And the whole incident is coalescing into an articulated message of “free speech” with that of the loony rightwing as CH sells millions of copy at inflated prices — all to pretend that insulting the followers of some dead prophet is a progressive act, advancing us to a better place. I dont think so…

    Comment by seaspan — January 15, 2015 @ 6:05 am

  37. ~Another neo-Stalinist justification for the slaughter:

    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art/39751/Terrorism+is+no+answer+to+horrors+of+imperialism+and+capitalism

    Comment by davidellis987 — January 15, 2015 @ 11:31 am

  38. seapan – you make a good point when you say

    “all to pretend that insulting the followers of some dead prophet is a progressive act, advancing us to a better place. I dont think so”

    This is important for people to remember, while you can be an advocate of ‘free speech’, you should recognise that ‘free speech’ can be used to push extreme reactionary positions. So there is a complication when people say that ‘free speech’ is progressive, because in reality it can aid reaction.

    And in our society it is basically a vehicle to champion the system. So there must come a point when bourgeois freedom of speech becomes something concretely reactionary, that must be fought against.

    (It may be an ultra left position but I reject the idea we have free speech anyway).

    Comment by Simon Provertier — January 15, 2015 @ 5:45 pm

  39. They were racists, they deserved it, it was no-platforming, they were asking for it, free speech is over-rated. The UK SWP and all its many fragments are playing a neo-Stalinist blinder on this one. They are dragging the banner of socialism through the muck like the AQ goons dragged the banner of Islam. Why is it they always end up on the side of the counter-revolution in the name of anti-imperialism? From Putin’s annexation of Ukraine and his support for fascist militias in the East to Assad’s butchery and now this Islamist filth. The Hitler-Stalin pact was tragic but this neo-Stalinist dalliance with sectarian fascist Islamists is farcical.

    Comment by davidellis987 — January 16, 2015 @ 1:20 pm

  40. Ellis – Your ability to change the meaning of what people say is as stark as it is laughable. I had to chuckle when you wrote that Stalinist’s justify slaughter and I looked at the title and it said “Terrorism is no answer to imperialism’

    I can only ask Ellis, are you able to read something in a sober manner while bypassing your insane central processing unit? You need a software upgrade I think.

    But as you clearly are not the sharpest tool in the box, I will state it clearly, THEY DID NOT DESERVE IT.

    Comment by Simon Provertier — January 16, 2015 @ 5:19 pm

  41. They did not deserve it but they were racist right so it’s understandable and is this the right way to fight imperialism which is of course what these heroic working class lads were doing . . . . . . . . . NOT.

    Comment by davidellis987 — January 17, 2015 @ 11:22 am

  42. Making the rounds on Twitter today: French court bans clothing advertisement based upon DaVinci’s “The Last Supper”: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4337031.stm

    A bit late, but this struck down the following year, much like the complaint brought against Hebdo (on virtually identical grounds) in 2007.

    Comment by Jean-Michel — January 18, 2015 @ 7:07 am


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