In the wake of the murder of 12 people over the publishing of a Mohammad cartoon last week, a lot was said in various media outlets. Most of it was the usual rhetoric from all sides: Islam is bad, Muslims are mad, Muslim immigration to Europe is bad, etc. Unlike when four Jews and three non-Jews were killed in France by an Islamist, this time the attack got wall to wall media coverage and many expressions of solidarity. The attack was impossible to ignore: even Palestinian governmental groups lined up to condemn an act extremely similar to what their own soldiers have done many times over. And of course there were the usual hashtag trends and so forth on social media.
This time, there was a small group of people who couldn’t simply stand by and condemn the murder of cartoonists for the crime of drawing a religious figure. They had to use the opportunity to push their own agenda, and their agenda consisted of one statement alone: “You can’t make fun of Jews in the West the way you can make fun of Muslims! Wah!”
Let’s count how many Muslims and Muslim apologists said exactly that. We’ll start with Mehdi Hasan, political director of the Huffington Post UK, who wrote:
“Why have you been so silent on the glaring double standards? Did you not know that Charlie Hebdo sacked the veteran French cartoonist Maurice Sinet in 2008 for making an allegedly anti-Semitic remark? Weren't you sickened to see Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of a country that was responsible for the killing of seven journalists in Gaza in 2014, attend the "unity rally" in Paris?...Muslims, I guess, are expected to have thicker skins than their Christian and Jewish brethren. Context matters, too. You ask us to laugh at a cartoon of the Prophet while ignoring the vilification of Islam across the continent…”
Next up, Faisal Kapadia, also writing at the Huffington Post, who compared the Mohammad cartoons to child pornography:
“We as a world need to understand and question exactly how a country's barometer for "freedom" is fair when the right of a Muslim woman to wear hijab is not sacrosanct but the publishing of hate cartoons is? Where anti-Semitism is a crime but anti-Muslim is not?”
Apparently in Kapadia’s world, not obeying the demands of Islamist radicals and Muslim religious leaders is “anti-Muslim.” Let’s keep that in mind the next time someone criticizes Israeli policy, shall we?
Among the far left, we have Glenn Greenwald, who declared that “the numerous cases of jobs being lost or careers destroyed for expressing criticism of Israel or (much more dangerously and rarely) Judaism” before posting numerous anti-Semitic cartoons that he claimed were merely “blasphemous.” We invite you to click on the article and see for yourself that Greenwald considers an example of anti-Judaism “blasphemy” to be a picture of hook-nosed Jews controlling the US court system. Apparently neither Greenwald nor his editor own a dictionary. William Saletan claimed that Europeans are hypocrites for having laws that protect minorities from things like Holocaust denial while standing up for Charlie Hebdo’s freedom of speech. Mondoweiss took the claim that “Israel targets journalists” out of mothballs for the occasion, because no opportunity to accuse Israel of war crimes should go by unused.
Moving into the visual realm and back to the Muslim side of the tracks, Palestinian cartoonist Joe Sacco created a cartoon that is impressive in just how blatantly he missed the point of the Charlie Hedbo solidarity marches, and included a shot at Jews as well. Like Greenwald, Sacco decided that he would “show solidarity” with cartoonists murdered for ridiculing Islam by racistly depicting Jews and black people, because everyone knows a picture of Mohammed is just as offensive as a black man eating a banana and falling out of a tree. And finally, we have anti-Semitic cartoonist Carlos Latuff, whose cartoons collected at Greenwald’s link above demonstrates Latuff’s view that despite appearances to the contrary, Jews and “Islamophobes” are the real bad guys here and Muslims are the real victims. Here’s one of the tamer examples:
In fact Latuff only made one cartoon that was even close to critical of the attackers before returning to his favorite punching bags of the West and the Jews oops I mean Israel. Notice the message here that the attack wasn’t bad for its own sake, but because it would come back to hurt Muslims later (and to remind everyone that the attack 'has another victim', no points for guessing who):
Zach and I think it’s darn interesting how so many people from so many different places all come out with the same message at roughly the same time: “Look at the Jews instead.” If one were conspiracy minded, one might almost think that some kind of higher power was telling them to all put forward the same argument. But it’s far more likely that in their efforts to defend the indefensible, they just returned to the targets they are so accustomed to firing at.
All of these arguments fail because they all miss the point, which is rather typical among apologists for terror. Charlie Hebdo isn’t a particularly good paper. They are pretty offensive to a whole bunch of different groups. Jews and Israel have not exactly been spared their attentions. But this wasn’t an attack on Charlie Hebdo, it was an attack on free speech and the rule of law. This was not a government legislature deciding for themselves that based on the ugly history of anti-Semitism in their country, Holocaust denial would be considered “crossing the line” and is therefore unacceptable. Nor was it a company or news organization deciding for themselves that Octavia Nasr or Helen Thomas were no longer welcome in their company because of certain extremist views. And it wasn’t, as Mehdi Hasan reminds us, Charlie Hebdon choosing for themselves not to publish a cartoon because they considered it to be anti-Semitic. This was a case of AK-47s wielding psychopaths forcing other people to obey Islamist rules regarding what they can and cannot say or print. It’s an attack on all of us, the message was to all of us: do what Muslims want or else, because Western rule of law is now taking a back seat to Islamist justice. That’s why expressions of solidarity are necessary, to show the attackers that their tactics will not work.
If France had come together and stood against radical Islam back in 2013, this might have been prevented. If Muslims had decided to protest the Mohammad cartoons in a legal manner like boycotts or protests, then far fewer people would come out to defend Charlie Hebdo’s freedom of speech. Why? Because those Muslims would also be using their freedom of speech to express their opinions, just like many other people (including Jews) have done before and since. If anything, in the newly political correct Europe, they probably could have gotten some Westerners to support them, as many people in the West don't seek to offend people just for the sake of offending people. But some of the Muslims who were offended chose to use horrific violence instead, so here we are.
But I gotta say, the irony that dozens of people who literally make their living criticizing Jews are now currently whining that “you can’t criticize Jews and get away with” never fails to crack me up.