Forgiveness. Charlie Hebdo.

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“All is forgiven. I am Charlie.” I’ve been mulling about this post for weeks now. To post or not to post. Forgive? Forget? And who am I to… judge? Besides being French I had no personal connection to Charlie Hebdo’s people, nor the cops shot in cold blood, or the hostages at the Kosher market in Paris. Should I go back to my more “mundane” posts? Well, I couldn’t. And to-morrow will be a month exactly since the… massacre. No need for blood-dripping adjectives. Nouns will suffice.

So here’s the post. And my opinion: Charlie Hebdo’s surviving journalists, cartoonists, staff – and no doubt family and close friends – have taken a most commendable editorial decision: Forgiveness. A tough and brave decision. Killing is so easy. Pencils don’t stand a chance against rage and machine-guns. It is so easy to behead or torch an unharmed prisoner. Revenge? Easier still. Just bomb a few dozens, hundreds, thousand people. That’s easy.

But Forgiveness? That is difficult. And brave, I insist. Luz, the cartoonist said in an interview: “I wrote: ‘all is forgiven’ and I cried. And I knew we had the bloody front page”. Luz is a spanish word, not a common surname, maybe Luz is the descendant of spanish immigrants, I don’t know. I confess I didn’t have the… courage to Google him. Too mundane. But “Luz” in spanish means “Light”. And Forgiveness was the right decision. an honourable one. (Some have hinted that there is a hidden dick and balls – pardon my french – in the drawing. Anyone saying that ought to have his/her head examined: Freud would have said ‘sometimes a turban is just a turban’)

Now, as a contribution to understanding what Charlie Hebdo was, is, let me post a few covers. Just to show that Charlie was and is not a racist, anti-arab/moslem but rather an “equal-opportunity” satirical journal. Caution # 1: some of the covers are crude, shocking at times. That’s their style. Caution # 2: I was not personally a big fan of theirs. Too crude. But necessary. Caution # 3: my posting the following does not mean I approve it. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. My business. I just want to show the broad range of Charlie’s sarcasm.

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The right divided by gay marriage. De Gaulle come back! The bubble refers to De Gaulle speech in August ’44 about Paris Free!

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Michael Jackson finally white!

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Vatican: Another rigged election…(Let me down, I want to vote…)

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They threaten France: the Islamic state, the Sarkozyk state

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Valérie Trierweiler (President Hollande’s former companion) is better.

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The jerks’ dinner. (A very popular french play and movie. Nothing to do with religion)

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1 million discount in exchange for Palestine.

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The Pope goes too far. (And this is my body)

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Jesus is coming back. (Me too…)

In 1766, (not so long ago) François-Jean Lefebvre, Chevalier de la Barre, a 20 year-old french nobleman was convicted of blasphemy. His alleged crime? Sword cuts on a crucifix in Abbeville and dumping garbage on a representation of Christ in a cemetery. Like many young men of “good family” he was known for singing disrespectful songs in the street and was reported to have not taken his hat off during a procession. OMG! Guilty as charged. He was tortured, condemned to have his tongue torn out and be decapitated. His body was burned along with a copy of Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionnaire nailed on his torso. A statue of the Chevalier de la Barre is in Montmartre, down below the Sacré-Coeur, to the right in the gardens.

What do the Chevalier de la Barre and Voltaire have in common with Charlie Hebdo? Everything. No matter how shocked you, dear reader, may be, with one or the other images presented here, such satire is indispensable. And the tragic irony of it all is that Charlie Hebdo was on the brink of death by bankruptcy, barely selling 60,000 copies at a time. They have now sold 7 million! So they will continue to provoke and challenge all self-appointed powers-that-be.

Vive Charlie Hebdo!

And…You have the right to be offended. You have the right to disagree. Feel free to comment. That is what those people died for. And that is what this post is all about.

7 thoughts on “Forgiveness. Charlie Hebdo.

  1. there are those incapable or unwilling to reason…They only know the blow of the boot, there motive is unknown to me, other than to rule the world. until this is rectified ( and I see no end in sight) the world will suffer their revenge for anything that is not to their “liking”. My heart breaks for the innocents who have fallen at the hands of these radical fanatics.

    • Hi Hollie (?) Thank you for your comment. There’s going to be hard work to do! 🙂
      Not the first radical fanatics act. You may recall that WWI started because a Serbo-Croat fighting for independence against Austri killed an Archduke.
      10-20 million dead later… everybody was happily preparing WWII. 60-80 million dead?
      Ye be good naw ye hear?
      (Don’t know why i switched to mah sudern mode!)

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Brian! We live in rough times, at least that’s how I feel. It is sad to see how many people have come up with some sort of self-censorship as a form of protection in their own democratic states. Much sadder though, the people who accuse Charlie Hebdo of going too far and defending slaughter.
    Aggresive dogs who bite and attack humans are being put to sleep. The same should go for any of the killers. But wait, we live in a liberal world. We have to try to understand Muslims. Meanwhile the IS broadcasts videos with the words: “it’s not a matter if but when we get to Europe”.
    I admire the French for their courage.

    Just my two cents…

    • Bitte schön Suze! For commenting. For defending. As for our courage… 🙂 well, we’ll see. And we will all need courage.
      There may be a tiny glimmer of hope. I’ve been reading Arturo Escobar the anthropologist, (a gift of my daughter) and though I disagree with many of Escobar’s points, he said something about recognizing difference, not to enhance differences but to build bridges! That last word is the greatest contribution I’ve read in 30 years to a major, major issue Europe is facing. Recognize differences. Ok. Respect differences. Ok. Then build bridges. Like NOW! (Still don’t know how to build the bridges, haven’t finished the book…)
      Tschüss freundin!

  3. Thanks Brian, for reminding us that the freedom to disagree is a much overlooked human right, and that the desire to forgive braver than the desire to hate. Sadly, too many Europeans (from all countries) have responded with a vicious Islamophobia dressed up in the language of respect for European values. Forgiveness doesn’t get much of a chance in that discourse. These are times to feel conflicted about our liberal, democratic values. We’ve been here before and, I think, I hope, the lesson of history is that those values are worth struggling for against the forces of reaction…a timely reminder.

    • Thanks to you Paul, both for stopping by and commenting.
      These are difficult times when common place responses from left to right are not working.
      Maybe the solution is in Escobar’s “building bridges” (see my response below to Suze!)
      Tot ziens my friend!

  4. I think we all have full right to criticize our own country, religion etc (I do it all the time) but before adding others we should think twice! Human beings are quite complex creatures, honestly they see red over dumb things and ignore really serious issues!

    the province to which I belong, Bengal is notorious for cracking jokes on every poor Hindu thing, including deities ever since English was introduced but we are very proud of our culture too 😉

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