Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Charlie Hebdo. Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists. Charb. Review Article.

with 21 comments

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 Posthumous Bolt of Light.

Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists. Charb. Les Échappés. 2015.

“This text was completed on the 5th of January 2015, two days before the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo, during which Charb lost his life.”

The Lettre addresses the reader, “If you think that criticism of religions is the expression of racism” “If you think that ‘Islam’ is the name of a people.” “If you think that punishing blasphemers will open the gates of heaven for you.” “If you think that left-wing atheists play into the hands of fascists and xenophobes” “If you think that it is essential to classify citizens according to their religion” “If you think that one can laugh at everything except whatever is sacred to you.” “If you think that popularising the concept of Islamophobia is the best way of defending Islam” ………..

“So, dear reader, this letter has been written for you”

Charb (Stephane Charbonnier) would not learn of the response of those he spoke to on the first pages of the Lettre. He was absent after those seeking paradise murdered him, eleven of his colleagues at Charlie Hebdo, a police officer and four customers of the Vincennes Hyper-Cacher.

In France, and across the world, millions expressed their solidarity and love for Charlie and all the victims of the atrocities. But there remained those who responded according to the 19 ready-made ideas about Islam Charb listed. Liberals and those claiming to stand on the left, marked by every single one of them, were prominent amongst those who contributed to a torrent of abuse whose echoes still resonate.

Mark Maguire, on the Stop the War Coalition’s site, stated that Charlie was “a rather unpleasant French magazine” that published “anti-Islamic cartoons”. Others pitched in. It was ‘Zionist’ and ‘neo-conservative’, with the imprint of former Editor Phillipe Val who is said to have promoted these views. It was – it would be an easy task to cite thousands of articles – ‘Islamophobic’. It was vulgar and racist. It specialised in the pornographic mocking of sacred beliefs, above all of Muslims.

The Weekly, as the Socialist Workers Party template set out, was known for its “provocative and racist attacks on Islam”. Norman Finkelstein tried to create an industry out of this holocaust. He declared that the paper was not satire but “sadism” and compared it to the anti-Semitic Nazi Der Stürmer. An apparently anti-racist alliance, Unite Against Fascism (UAF), held a special session at their AGM on why “je ne suis pas Charlie.”

This hostility has not died down. ‘Rules’ for satirists appeared – which Charlie had apparently broken. It should have targeted the “powerful.” Will Self judged that satire ought to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted”. Literary critics, enforcing these new Aristotlean unities of satirical style – breached no doubt by Rabelais, Hogath’s drawings, and the plebeian Viz comic, not to mention early Soviet anti-religious propaganda – have tried to establish their decree. (1) We could call it ‘satirical realism’. Even cartoonists joined the would-be Zhdanovs of correct caricature. As have authors.

A few weeks ago a group of writers criticised PEN for honouring Charlie, “To the section of the French population that is already marginalised, embattled, and victimized, a population that is shaped by the legacy of France’s various colonial enterprises, and that contains a large percentage of devout Muslims, Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet must be seen as being intended to cause further humiliation and suffering.”

Charb, supporter of the Front de Gauche and the Parti Communiste Français, was editor of Charlie Hebdo since 2009, after the rightward moving Phillipe Val had departed for France-Inter (with President Sarkozy’s blessing). His Lettre – a 92-page pamphlet – looks at political and social context to the word, Islamophobia (Islamophobie – identical to the English one, in meaning, if not in use): the most important of the, many, charges against Charlie. He explores its ambiguities, and the false politics that it is embedded in. If he is polemical, then the booklet is a polemic. If it is heartfelt, we can appreciate the emotion all too well today.

Racist and xenophobic sentiment is common in France today, as it is in every European country. Charb describes how racist reactions had been unleashed in France by President Sarkozy’s ‘debate’ on national identity launched in the first decade of the 21st century. There had been an “explosion” of prejudice in the country. His had taken not just the form of hostility and discrimination but also violence.

But how should we protest against those who insult and assault Muslims? If a veiled woman is attacked should she not be defended as a citizen, as a person who is a Moslem, not as an “instrument of God” – that is of the Religion?

The Charlie Hebdo editor observes that being afraid of Islam may be “cretinous” but it is not a crime. In the same way you can be afraid of Christianity of Judaism. One can equally dislike religions – this is the foundation of all religions: ecumenical minorities apart. Many people who are not fond of, or indeed loathe, other faiths, stick to their own like limpets. Since a religion only exists for believers they are free to make it of what they will. The danger, Charb claims, can arise that people will take the Qur’an or the Bible as an instruction manual, resembling an IKEA kit to assemble bookshelves. If we take this approach a “bain de sang” (blood bath) against the unbelievers can all to easily come about.

As these arguments are expanded one suspects that one of the reasons for the difference between the Anglophone concept of tolerance that derives from John Locke’s A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) and Voltaire’s Le Traité sur la tolérance 1763. The former was concerned with spiritual salvation and the toleration of all personal (spiritual) beliefs, to the exclusion of the Catholic Church which was seen as an external repressive power. The latter also promoted freedom of individual belief, and opposed fanaticism. But Voltaire was not content to simply promote negative freedom. He actively campaigned the abuse of religious power. His famous motto, “écrasez l’infâme” incarnates this goal.

In modern terms, and all the social and ideological complexities borne in mind, there is an opposition between the liberalism of ‘anything goes’, incarnated in one – largely English speaking – form of multiculturalism, and the Voltarian approach. The heirs of Voltaire also promote tolerance towards different beliefs and cultures, but refuse to accept abuses – religious or political. Charlie’s approach to Islamism – a world-wide problem – is that it is a misuse of power. It should therefore be open to criticism, not repression, and actively, democratically, fought. Charlie is a committed voice. It is not simply satire. Apart from the famous cartoons (which Charb defends tooth and nail), there are columnists who write a range of subjects, of which Islam, and religious intolerance, oppression and exploitation jostle amongst many. It is no coincidence that France’s far-right, and Christian – Catholic – fundamentalists,  are ferocious opponents of the free-thinking contributors of Charlie. Not to mention a raft of authority figures., from government downwards.

Blasphemy and the Manufacture of Outrage.

The wider problem with Islamophobia is that it makes all those who fail to respect “sacred” texts into potential blasphemers. That it has the constant potential to confuse criticism with pathological hatred. Yet a non-believer cannot blaspheme – the premise that something is holy is not accepted.

The Lettre charges the media with fuelling religious outage. Charlie, by publishing its own Mohammed caricatures in 2006 – following the Jllyands-Posten cartoons – was denounced as provocative. Charb – rather airily – dismisses this by saying that people should not expect all Muslims to be stupid enough to be provoked. Yet, “la télé decide que c’est une provocation, il y a toujours une bande d’abrutis pour s’estimer provoqués.” If the telly decides it’s a provocation, there’s always a bunch of idiots who’ll decide that they’ve been provoked. (Page 32) One could remark that this, part of the function of modern media in many areas, is not going to go away. Another factor is that religious figures will play this game to their advantage, by stirring up fears that their deepest beliefs are under attack.

Perhaps more culpable are politicians. They may nourish religious identification by fishing for votes in these religious “communities”. In Britain we see this appearing even more starkly in elections. The ‘left’ Respect Party won and lost in Bradford with its focus Muslims. The Conservatives, applied with more with success a strategy in the General Election designed to woo the votes of the Hindi and Sikh ‘communities’.

The pretensions of those who demand “respect” for Islam arouse Charb’s deepest ire. Whatever the status of some French Muslims, not at all, “marginalised, embattled, and victimised, it is the second largest faith in the world. Countries, some very wealthy, many of them dictatorships based on Sharia law, propagate Islam. Sharia law’, based on inequality between men and women, between believer and nonbeliever, and its cruel punishments, is itself a form of totalitarian oppression of daily life. The tyrants of the Islamist fringe now have a ‘country’, ISIL. Ridicule is one, only one, weapon against them.

Charb uses many arguments familiar to British readers of Kenan Malik and left-wing secularist groups in the UK. Accusations of Islamophobia are used to shore up the authority of religious figures – with the effect of bolstering the perception of society divided into two groups. The result of dividing the world into these camps is to strengthen the hand of the prejudiced. Spilling over into politics it promotes ‘communalism’ (putting people into religious and ethnic boxes) and prevents anti-racist policies, based on equality, from emerging.

Cartoons

Charb charges Islamists and self-styled anti-racists of wilfully distorting the sense of Charlie Hebdo cartoons. The accusation that they are racist is rebutted. He cites the famous case of the caricature of Justice Minister Taubira as a monkey (female of le singe, la guenon), wheeled out by the enemies of Charlie to this day. This picture was clearly labelled, “Rassemblement Blue Raciste” – the Front National’s Rassemblement. In other words, it was a caricature of a FN poster!

In the wake of the January slaughter it has been necessary to repeat this exercise for over a dozen of Charlie’s ‘Unes’ – to no visible effect on the more obtuse.

There are those, the murdered Editor remarks, who scream racism as soon as Charlie prints a picture of an Islamist terrorist. “Ils laissent entendre qu’en caricturant un terrorist islamiste le dessinateur a voulu symboliser tous les musulmans.” – they let it be known that by drawing an Islamist terrorist the artist wanted to symbolise all Muslims. (Page 58) By this logic, we could add, that it would be perhaps better not to be rude about the Islamic State. It is, after all, called Islamic.

To those who continue to make the claim that Charlie is racist Charb is brief and to the point. They defend the immigrants’ right to vote, making ‘legal’ illegal migrants, anti-racist laws….. The claim that Charlie is a kind of Der Stürmer, paying special attention to Muslims in a climate of hatred not unlike the anti-Jewish atmosphere in Germany at the start of the1930s, is equally absurd. Were there Jewish Jihadists in 1931? Did they demand the equivalent of the Sharia? Did they carry out anything resembling 9/11? There are no valid parallels between anti-Semitism – which remains an ‘old’ reality. There is equally an ‘old’ racism, of which the Muslim populations in Europe, amongst others, but above all, Roms, are the victims.

‘Anti-republican blasphemy’.

The Lettre ends by warning about the tendency to introduce a new form of blasphemy, anti-republican blasphemy. All crimes of blasphemy, against flag or country, holy book, Prophets and gods, should be thrown out.

Charb was not an enthusiast for what is misleadingly called France’s ‘new secularism’, “arrogant” and Orientalist. He declares, “Il n’y a pas de blasphème anti-républican” there is no such thing as anti-republican blasphemy. (Page 77).

The Lettre touches on efforts to prosecute people for acts such as burning the Tricolor. One imagines that the last thing Charlie’s editor would have wanted was the wave of hysteria that tried to force support for the irreverent Weekly down people’s throats, right down to the youngest primary school pupil. It is even harder to see that he would have supported laws permitting intense surveillance of France’s population.

There have been protests against plans to catalogue even potential support for violent Islamism and imprison on suspicion. The political forces Charb backed, in the Front de Gauche have backed opposition to these assaults on freedom (Un projet de loi ouvrirait la voie vers une société de la surveillance).

In its first issue after the January horrors Charlie’s editorial observed that Muslims are the first victims of violent Islamist fascism. Charb would have felt joy that that the brave Kurdish fighters and the voters of Turkey’s HDP – the majority of them Muslims – are building secular and democratic ramparts against Islamist intolerance and battling the genociders of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. It is, as Charlie said

The Lettre ends with an urgent reminder: atheists are persecuted across the world. Since January our beloved Bangladeshi comrades – free-thinking atheist bloggers – have been cut down in the street. As I write, secularist blogger Raif Badwai languishes in the gaols of Saudi Arabia awaiting another lashing.

Partisans de la ligne de Charlie, mobilisez-vous!

(1) Hogarth’s Gin Lane.

The central figure of Hogarth’s Gin Lane is a crazed, half-naked prostitute

21 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on Desiring Progress and commented:
    A vital review article of the final writing by Charb, editor of Charlie Hebdo, before he was murdered in January. Coates is amongst the vital but increasingly beleaguered voices on the Marxist left who continues to fight for the possibility of real critique, satire and freedom of speech in the face of many neo-Stalinists who seek to censor anything which upsets their fragile, reified, and class-free identity politics.

    Ian Pace

    June 12, 2015 at 1:41 pm

  2. neo stalinists? thats being unfair to Stalin.

    troy

    June 12, 2015 at 2:00 pm

  3. Thanks Ian, though judging from my 918 Facebook friends, and my comrades locally, I would not say that we are “beleaguered”.

    This hysterical article in International Socialism (no 146, April 2015) Islamophobia: the othering of Europe’s
    Hassan Mahamdallie, says the following,

    “One of preoccupations of the right (and their new fellow travellers of the former left) has been the very term “Islamophobia”, which they have sought to delegitimise. The term is anathema to both groups. They argue that even recognising that Islamophobia exists is tantamount to surrendering ground to the enemy.

    The right to vilify and denigrate the religious beliefs of a minority group has perversely come to symbolise the dividing line between democracy and totalitarianism. As Voltaire, decrying the French state’s violent persecution of the minority Protestant religion at the end of the 18th century, asked, “What I want to know is, on which side is the horror of fanaticism?””

    “Significant sections of the left and anti-racist groups have convinced themselves through a variety of baleful political misjudgements that the fundamental dividing line in Western society is between secularism and religious obscurantism. They believe that the principal enemy of the values emerging from the Enlightenment is not war, neoliberalism, austerity and the far-right, but Islam and its followers. This has led to the “othering” of Europe’s Muslims, and its corollary—the “comfort” of belonging to a (supposedly) superior group defined by shared beliefs, values and culture.”

    Ha, bloody ha……

    http://isj.org.uk/islamophobia-the-othering-of-europes-muslims/

    Andrew Coates

    June 12, 2015 at 4:19 pm

  4. “One of preoccupations of the right (and their new fellow travellers of the former left) ”

    i guess the ‘new fellow travellers of the former left’ refers to this blog, the AWL, Hitchens etc.
    former left.
    its impossible to be a leftist and not accept Islamophobia.
    the person who denies being an islamophobe, or claims there is no islamophobia, is himself an islamophobe.

    You have a phobia toward Islam. admit it, seek some therapy, and get over it.

    troy

    June 12, 2015 at 7:00 pm

  5. “its impossible to be a leftist and not accept Islamophobia.
    the person who denies being an islamophobe, or claims there is no islamophobia, is himself an islamophobe.”

    Golly gosh. I wasn’t down the pub last night but it seems I was after all. Thanks for clearing that up,Troy.

    pinkie

    June 13, 2015 at 12:36 am

  6. There’s only one person with psychological ‘issues’ here… Counsellor Tory.

    Andrew Coates

    June 13, 2015 at 10:22 am

  7. Good stuff Coatsey

  8. Something I feel very strongly about.

    I owe a lot to the writers and cartoonists of Charlie.

    As do tens of thousands of other French speaking leftists.

    Andrew Coates

    June 13, 2015 at 3:41 pm

  9. We don’t have enough people writing about what’s happening in Europe. As demonstrated by the gobsmacking ignorance of most comment on Charlie!

    So thank you, and have a laugh on me :]

    Paul Canning

    June 13, 2015 at 3:59 pm

  10. **Facepalm**

    Paul Canning

    June 13, 2015 at 5:06 pm

  11. Freedom Socialist Party: Charlie Hebdo: we got it wrong


    EDITORIAL
    Charlie Hebdo: we got it wrong
    Freedom Socialist editorial board
    June 2015

    In the previous issue of the Freedom Socialist, we carried a story called “The Charlie Hebdo furor: when free speech collides with defense of the persecuted” (Vol. 36, No. 2). Unfortunately, in a rush to judgment, we seized the completely wrong end of the stick.

    Our big factual error was our characterization of Charlie Hebdo, which colored the whole article. We called the publication’s politics reactionary and anti-Muslim, charged it with aiming its satire at the oppressed and not the ruling class, and compared some of its cartoons to Nazi caricatures of Jews and Ku Klux Klan portrayals of African Americans.

    In reality, the satirical weekly is far from a racist rag. It has no political line as such, but its main targets are establishment figures, especially religious ones — of many denominations. The last issue of the magazine before the murders of the staff members featured a page of cartoons against Catholicism. And on the cover of that edition was a cartoon lampooning not Islam, but an Islamophobic French novelist.

    Charlie’s contributors are a diverse bunch; many consider themselves progressives or leftists. One of the 12 people murdered, Stéphane Charbonnier, Charlie’s editor, was close to the Communist Party, and the socialist anthem “The International” played at his funeral.

    We made the mistake we did partly due to what we were reading in the sources in English available to us as we researched the article. These featured widespread condemnation of some of Charlie’s cartoons as Islamophobic.

    But the truth even of this is hotly debated, with some French writers asserting that people criticizing the cartoons don’t actually understand them — especially people outside France and people who don’t speak French. Context is key to understanding any social phenomenon, and the FS didn’t have a real understanding of the cartoons’ context.

    An ingrained sympathy for the victims of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim attacks also influenced us. Here, too, however, we were seeing only part of the social context.

    True, in the wake of the murders of the Charlie staff and the murders of four Jewish men at the Hyper Cacher grocery store, assaults on Muslim people and mosques followed. The government predictably grabbed the opportunity to whip up support for the war on terror, with at least one high official calling for the return of the death penalty.

    On the other hand, though, it’s precisely Muslims and Arabs who suffer most from the repression of reactionary Islamic regimes and the violence of terrorists operating in the name of Islam, like ISIS. Especially suffering are secularists and women.

    This was pointed out by Zineb El Rhazoui in an article called “If Charlie Hebdo is racist, then so am I.” Rhazoui is a female Charlie contributor and proud “militant atheist,” originally from Morocco, who was forced into exile by the monarchist dictatorship there. In her piece, she asks, “Why the hell should I respect Islam? Does it respect me?”

    The voices raised in support of the “heretics” at Charlie Hebdo include those of secular Arabs who see the magazine as on their side, and as a positive contribution in the French anti-clerical tradition. They view Charlie’s blasphemy not as racism, but as a weapon against Islamic theocrats — fanatical Muslims who can be fascist-like in their use of terror against those they perceive as infidels or who oppose them.

    Life is complicated, and in the case of the Charlie Hebdo article, the FS failed to appreciate the complexities. By mischaracterizing the magazine, we in essence blamed the victims, which we deeply regret.

    The anti-immigrant ruling class of France deserves all the anger that its oppressed and exploited Muslim and Arab population feels. But the 16 people who died in the attacks on Charlie and the kosher grocery are not responsible for the actions of their government. Terrorists, sadly, are not rational.

    At the FS, though, we strive to be. We are printing this retraction because we owe it to the truth and because we want the Freedom Socialist to be a periodical that people continue to trust. Next time we decide to tackle a complicated issue we’re not familiar with, we pledge to stop and look both ways before picking up our pens.

    entdinglichung

    June 15, 2015 at 9:12 am

  12. They “were reading in the sources in English” just about says it all……

    Andrew Coates

    June 15, 2015 at 11:56 am

  13. There were plenty of people writing in English defending Charlie, even unto Les Yanks. Bullshit excuse for lazy politics. If I had to guess I would guess that those they saw defending Charlie were the wrong sort of white men and hence they were dismissed/ignored. If it were anyone else treated this way than the French then far stronger words would be used to describe how Americans, Australians and Brits have treated them. But better late than never.

    Paul Canning

    June 15, 2015 at 12:16 pm

  14. I am impressed by Freedom Socialist Party’s honesty retraction. It does not swerve around acknowledging one of the main faults of the ‘Je ne suis pas Charlie; left:

    “We made the mistake we did partly due to what we were reading in the sources in English available to us as we researched the article. These featured widespread condemnation of some of Charlie’s cartoons as Islamophobic.”

    i.e. most of those doing the condemning can’t actually speak or understand French, let alone the social and political context of contemporary French satire. Keith Gessen was one, and he laughingly shrugged it off as it was irrelevant!

    Glenn Greenwald was (predictably)another of those who delivered ‘expert’ commentary on the racism and all-round nastiness of Charlie Hebdo – and was duly applauded for it. And Greenwald’s credentials?

    Here is an interview on France24 with Glenn Greenwald from May 2014.

    http://www.france24.com/en/interview/20140528-interview-nsa-leaks-obviously-very-gratifying-snowden

    The interviewer is speaking English here, so at first I guessed that the reason Glenn wasn’t speaking French was that the interview for was made for some section of watchers of France24 who can’t, er, speak French.

    Then I found this version of the ‘same’ interview.

    Note that here the interviewer speaks in French and addresses Glenn in French, at which point Glenn nods, a little uneasily I thought, but I told myself he was just getting ready to reply in French, which he may be competent but not fluent in (fair enough). And his reply is…

    Taken from the first version, i.e. he replies in English, but now with subtitles. They have spliced Glenn’s English responses to English questions with the same questions put again in French for those viewers of France24 who can, er, actually speak French.

    So there we have proof: Greenwald can’t actually speak French, indeed he can’t even understand it, yet he has touted himself as an expert on contemporary French satire and irony. What a pompous bullshitter he is.

    He provenly doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about with regard to Charlie Hebdo – and still he gets applauded for his boilerplate ‘insight’ by the kind of person who thinks everyone else are ‘sheeple’. You couldn’t make it up – but Glenn and co did, and their loving audiences are too linguistically ignorant know any better.

    My own credentials? Eleven years of studying French, but it is so rusty I would not trust myself to have more than a halting conversation in French. I can understand spoken French pretty well, though, and read it almost perfectly. And I would not presume to comment on contemporary French satire or the comedy of Charlie Hebdo because, guess what, I just don’t know enough about it. I am not in the league of Coatesy and possibly other posters here. But I’d lay a pound to a penny I’m still far better able to follow and informedly comment on it than supposed ‘expert’ Glenn ‘can’t-speak-French’ Greenwald and the vast bulk of his fellow apologists.

    Lamia

    June 15, 2015 at 1:06 pm

  15. French is not difficult, but Charlie really has a lot to do with some pretty deep cultural stuff.

    As I have indicated, repeatedly, and repeatedly, if not repeatedly, if not to repeat myself: I have followed these cartoonists for around 35 years. I have their ‘albums’

    They are part of my very bones.

    This is the position for plenty of other people – not just French citizens.

    There were a number of very good articles in English after the events explaining what Charlie’s satire is all about.

    One even went to the trouble of explaining every single controversial front page cartoon (the ‘une’ as they call it).

    There is not excuse for misinterpreting them – though I suspect in the SWP/UAF etc case there is a strong element of willful ignorance and a strong dose of inherent ill-will.

    Andrew Coates

    June 15, 2015 at 3:57 pm

  16. Can we get trigger warnings every time Le Greenwad’s smug face is to appear please?

    Since it is relevant to a/ explaining why I hate the f**** b/ news what happened at the weekend, I will repost this two year old post of mine demolishing his ‘journalism’ and b**ch slapping the Grauniad too http://paulocanning.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-left-must-challenge-greenwald.html

    More recent evidence of Greenwald a**hattery can be found at http://littlegreenfootballs.com/ and http://thedailybanter.com/

    @Lamia – France24 is the French international news operation, like BBC World service, hence an English and French version >> http://www.france24.com/en/

    Paul Canning

    June 15, 2015 at 4:31 pm

  17. At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, here is a great piece on how the wheels are falling off the Greenwald golden egg, aka the Snowden Operation http://20committee.com/2015/06/15/the-snowden-story-slowly-unravelsc/

    I think the entire episode has been damning of journalism with very few people prepared to question the hysteria. As I also argued two years ago I think it has been intensely political, being driven by Libertarians who want to destroy trust in government and, in the end, democracy. There are plenty of legitimate questions about government surveillance and the operations of secret services – and there have been plenty of people writing about and arguing for change before the screeching Greenwald and his fanboys came along.

    If socialists want any part of power we must recognise that that includes stuff like managing M16 and GCHQ and stop pretending that we can treat it like a dog turd stuck to our shoes. Want to support the Peshmerga? Think that does not involve security services? How about having services which stop foreign powers, like Russia or, gulp, the US, from undermining a left wing government.

    i should stop there because the whole thing makes me angry.

  18. There’s no little sense of smugness to be enjoyed when those given to calling anyone who disagrees with them ‘eurocentric’ prove themselve to be entirely anglocentric (or anglosphere-centric).

  19. Very true, and I love rubbing it in!

    Andrew Coates

    June 16, 2015 at 11:29 am

  20. For a creep like Greenwald to think he can comment with any authority on Charlie when he apparently neither speaks nor even understands French is typical of his smug arrogance. Knowing the context of the cartoons is very important. I have now lived in France for nearly 14years,speak good enough French to have French people ask me what part of France I come from as they don’t recognise my accent or automatically assume because of my German name I come from Alsace, watch the news on France 2 and 3 nearly every day and still come across cartoons in Charlie most weeks where I have to make a Google search to find the context. Like the cartoons a fortnight ago about Nutella. I do think that there was more than a whiff of xenophobic French bashing in all the bile that was directed at Charlie by the angophone so called left after the attacks.

    Madge Hirsch

    July 1, 2015 at 5:25 pm

  21. I sometimes get people who think I have a slight German accent in French as well and I don’t have exactly a German name!

    Odd – I think it’s a certain flatness in speech which you get when you’ve dropped the English up and down intonation.

    Madge, on Charlie, I wholly agree.

    There’s a lot of us around, which makes it all the more annoying that people without any knowledge and feeling for Charlie had such an initial media voice in the Anglophone media.

    It was incredibly incredibly annoying.

    You will still find that some people cite the case I indicated to ‘prove’ Charlie’s racism:

    “He cites the famous case of the caricature of Justice Minister Taubira as a monkey (female of le singe, la guenon), wheeled out by the enemies of Charlie to this day. This picture was clearly labelled, “Rassemblement Blue Raciste” – the Front National’s Rassemblement. In other words, it was a caricature of a FN poster!”

    Needless to say Lee Jasper is one of many who fails to point this sentence’s meaning.
    http://www.obv.org.uk/news-blogs/charlie-hebdo-and-europe-s-rampant-racism

    Andrew Coates

    July 1, 2015 at 5:51 pm


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