News of the horrific massacre perpetrated on the employees of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo has brought out the usual self-congratulatory rhetoric from white people everywhere. We are now treated to another episode in which all Muslims must collectively condemn and disassociate themselves from violence in a way whites are never required to following white supremacist and other various far-right terrorist attacks. The value of free speech and satire in Western societies is lectured on at great length.
We are never informed of the context in which France is a country where racism and Islamophobia runs rampant. Where the national variant of the Jewish Defense League fully endorses Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of 29 Palestinian civilians and its members engage in acts of terrorism and thuggery against critics of Israel. Where were these self-proclaimed champions of “free speech” when the French Interior Minister banned pro-Palestine rallies during the previous summer?
If one delves into the legal history of satirical cartoons in Europe, one might find a less hospitable environment for offensive speech–depending, of course, on who it offends. In Greece, for example, a cartoonist was once charged with “blasphemy” for drawing a “playful look at the life of Jesus.” In Spain, a magazine with a cartoon mocking the royal family was raided by authorities and had its copies seized. In neither of these cases did any of the today’s heroic provocateurs give a damn about “free speech” being trampled by the sensibilities of Christianity or Western royal families.
Finally, there’s the fact that today’s martyrs for the cause very clearly believed that the unarmed Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood protesters who were gunned down by the Sisi regime in the hundreds (possibly over one thousand) had it coming.
So, there really is no reason that Muslims should be singled out and demonized for supposedly being uniquely intolerant of free expression.