I have tried to avoid retweeting anything with the ‘JesuisCharlie’ hashtag. I have not used it because I just can’t bring myself to respresent myself as a magazine that produced what I regarded, and still regard, as racist cartoons.
I looked at them again after the shooting, and I still feel I was right the first time in my reaction – they’re racist and xenophobic. I refuse to have them on my twitter feed or associated with me.
I have used the #JesuisAhmed one though. A lot, and quoted Voltaire, a lot. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – actually I don’t think that is Voltaire, I think that’s someone writing about him but even so. Ahmed Merabet was one of the policemen who was shot the other day, he was doing his job, a frenchman, a policeman defending the laws of his country. But I’m paying attention to him more than Franck Brinsolaro because he was a Muslim. The religious intolerance across Europe, which seems to be on the rise scares me, we live in such religiously diverse countries and yet despite the #voyageavecmoi movement the anti-Islam sentiments are right there and they’re tied up horribly with basic racism it seems to me.
Satire is about making fun of power. If you’re not making fun of the powerful, or if you use a satire on Saudi Arabia to excuse your racism against the followers of Islam in a country where they have little power and you, as a secularist or a Christian do, then it stops being satire.
There is an imbalance across Europe, that I think is common to those who have power or privelege, it comes from seeing difference and diversity as threatening and it overstates difference. It doesn’t realise that it is powerful and it doesn’t always critically engage with nuanced situations. Then it gets exploited by men with guns seeking to create more excuses for their having guns.
If I were to change my stance on the cartoons, as many people have, then that would be granting power to the men with guns. And they are trying to take all the nuances out of the world and if I stand for anything it is for the right of people to be different and nuanced in their take on life. I’m anti-simplification and I’m pro-free speech and I’m angry that these men shot those artists and created more people who believe in the way they simplistically divide the world.