Charlie Hebdo in its own Words: Translation of ‘Tout est pardonné’ Leader.
There is a mountain of commentary about Charlie Hebdo. Few, particularly the most hostile to the Weekly, take the trouble to look at more than the Front Page, let alone the articles. Despite some excellent pieces explaining what Charlie is about and where it stands on the French left, the content of the magazine gets skimmed over.
The degree of ignorance this absence fosters is perhaps best indicated by Socialist Workers’ claim that, “Charlie Hebdo is a strange combination—a left wing paper that’s become notorious for its racist attacks on Muslims. Its murdered editor, cartoonist Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier, considered himself a progressive, anti-establishment figure. Yet the paper is steeped in a “republican” tradition that sees the state as progressive and everything from minority languages to religion as its enemy.” (Socialist Worker). SW even directly smeared the paper talking of the toke it “has played in the legitimisation of racism in France.”Galloway and the Stop the War Coalition have made similar declarations, asserting that Charlie is Islamophobic.
They appear not to have the courage – or perhaps the ability, or (more probably the honesty) – to read what Charlie actually says. It is not in the least bit ‘strange’. Indeed French leftists find the British left’s failure to confront Islamist religious bigotry and state sponsored religious authority less than ‘progressive’. Not to mention Socialist Worker’s decision to publish material claiming that the overseas jihadists fighting with the genociders of ISIS could be compared with volunteers for the Republic in the Spanish civil war. Some – as in the comments box here – claim that it represented “imperialism and Zionism”.
This, the Leader of the famous Tout est pardonné issue, makes it brilliantly clear what Charlie’s secularism is about – something very different to these distorted charges.
I have rendered the syntax and idioms into colloquial English rather than give a literal translation.
People will be able to make their own judgements – free from the prissy censors of oh so British liberals and the ‘left’ enemies of Charlie.
Est-ce qu’il y aura encore des “oui mais”?
Are there still the “Yes buts?”
For a week, Charlie, an atheist paper, has achieved more miracles than all the saints and the prophets together. This is the one of which we are the proudest, that you have in your hands the weekly which we have always produced, by the group who have always produced it. The thing that made us laugh the most is that the bells of Notre-Dame rang out in our honour…
For a week, as portrayed so wonderfully by Willem, Charlie has moved, across the world, more than mountains. Charlie has masses of new friends: people without a name, world celebrities, the lowest and the most privileged, sinners and religious dignitaries, the sincere and the Jesuitical, those who’ll be with us for life, and those who are only here for a short time.
At present we accept all of these people and haven’t the will or the time to distinguish amongst them. Not that we are fooled for a moment. But we gives our heartfelt thanks to those, the millions, whether they’re ordinary citizens or those who are part of the established institutions, who are genuinely on our side, who have found each other here, who “are Charlie”. And we say to those who couldn’t give a toss: fuck off!
One question, nevertheless, vexes us: is the denigrating expression, “secularist intellectual” (laïcard intellectuel) going to be dropped from the political vocabulary? Are we finally going to stop finding learned circumlocutions to put murderers and their victims in the same basket?
Over the last years we’ve felt rather alone, trying with our cartoons to push back the muck and intellectual trickery that has been thrown against our friends who’ve staunchly defended secularism (laïcité). That we’re Islamophobes, Christianophobes, provocateurs, irresponsible, throwing fuel on the fire, racists, and ….you got what’s coming to you. Yes, we condemn terrorism, but. Yes, threatening cartoonists with death is not good, but. Yes, burning down a paper isn’t right, but.
We’ve heard all that, and our friends have too. We’ve often tried to laugh it off – that is, after all what we do best. And yet, it’s begun again. The blood of Cabu, Charb, Honoré, Tignous, Wolinski, Elsa Cayat, Bernard Maris, Mustapha Ourrad, Michel Renaud, Franck Brinsolaro, Frédéric Boisseua, Ahmed Merabet, Clarissa Jean-Philippe, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, François-Michel Saada, had not even dried before Thierry Mayssan had explained to his Facebook fans that this was, obviously, a Jewish-American-Western plot.
We already hear, after Sunday’s demonstrations, from those who turned up their noses at the march. Their lips slavering, they’ve come out with the old arguments that justify, overtly or covertly, religious fascism. They are enraged at the praise given to the ‘SS’ Police.
No – in this massacre there is no death less worthy than any other. Franck, who died in Charlie’s offices, and all his colleagues murdered during the week of barbarism, met their deaths defending ideas which are, perhaps, not their own.
We are going to try, regardless, to be optimistic, even if it’s not at present the fashion. We will hope that, from the 7th of January onwards, everybody will firmly defend secularism. That it will not be accepted, as a pose, or out of electoral considerations, or by cowardice, to legitimate, or even tolerate, communalism and cultural relativism. This only opens the way to one thing: religious totalitarianism.
Yes, the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a reality, Yes geopolitics are a series of manoeuvres and low blows, yes social conditions for those called “people of Muslim origin” in France are deeply unfair, Yes, we must never stop fighting racism and discrimination. There are, fortunately, many means to deal with these serious problems. But every one of them is ineffective without one: secularism (laïcité). Not ‘positive’ secularism, not ‘inclusive’ secularism, but secularism – full stop.
Only this, because it’s based on universal rights, can bring about equality, liberty, fraternity and sorority. Only this allows full freedom of thought, a liberty that, more or less openly, according to their marketing position, every religion rejects as soon as it leaves private life, and enters into political territory. Only this allows, ironically, believers to live undisturbed. All of those who claim to defend Muslims, and who accept a totalitarian religious discourse, defend in effect their own butchers. The first victims of Islamic fascism are Muslims.
The millions of anonymous people, all the official institutions, all the heads of government, all the political, intellectual and media personalities, all the religious dignitaries who, during this week, have proclaimed “Je suis Charlie” should know ‘I am Secularism’ – Je suis la laïcité‘. We are convinced that, for the majority of those who’ve supported us, this goes without saying. We will let the others deal with their own shit.
There is one final important thing. We’d like to send a message to Pope Francis, who’s been this week himself a Je suis Charlie. We’ll accept that the bells of Notre Dame ring out in our honour when it’s Femen who pull them.
Written by Andrew Coates
January 24, 2015 at 12:04 pm
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