Over the past couple of days there has been an huge outpouring of support for the ten murdered journalists of Charlie Hebdo and the two police officers who died defending then. #JeSuisCharlie and #JeSuisAhmed have both been very popular hashtags on Twitter.
But sadly there has also been some unpleasant mealy-mouthed victim-blaming. Some comes from the usual suspects on the religious right, both reactionary Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants. But there’s also some coming the culture warriors of the left, and this repellent piece by Arthur Chu is one of the worst. If you’ve never heard of him, Arthur Chu is a one-time game show contestant who has more recently become “internet famous” in the back of his public opposition to GamerGate. His line on Charlie Hebdo is “Murder is terrible, but…” using the conjunctive in the same way as the infamous “I’m not racist, but…”. It’s classic victim-blaming in the same way as “She shouldn’t have worn that skirt if she didn’t want to get raped”.
I’m hearing a lot of accusations of racism directed towards Charlie Hebdo from self-appointed experts who are quick to judge but understand little of French culture or French politics. Most of these people are American, and many of those seem ignorant of much beyond the American suburbs. They give the impression they understand French culture about as well as Post-9/11 warbloggers understood Arab culture. The idea that you can’t judge any cartoon without understanding its context seems to escape them.
The BBC obituaries of the twelve who died paints a very different picture, and doesn’t leave you with the impression that the victims were in any way racist or right-wing.
Satire is supposed to mock the powerful, the pompous and the self-important, so we shouldn’t be surprised when social authoritarians of the right ot the left have a problem with it. But if you really think mocking violent extremism is “punching down”, you moral compass urgently needs recalibrating.