Thursday, January 8, 2015

Charlie Hebdo

When I was a kid I used to read Hara-Kiri, a French magazine as irreverent as its name implied. Hara Kiri became Charlie Hebdo, a French newspaper slyly named after Charles de Gaulle, the French president whom it lambasted mercilessly.
Over several decades, the newspaper kept the French either laughing, or complaining bitterly against the publication’s blatant tastelessness, but it kept them reading.
By now, most everyone knows that the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo were attacked yesterday by terrorists who killed 12 people, mostly reporters and cartoonists.
The staff of Charlie Hebdo made it their business to lampoon everyone–politicians, religious leaders of any stripe, capitalists, the military, the bourgeoisie, movie stars and TV idols, but their editorial knives were especially sharp when it came to the politics and
behaviors of radical Islamic leaders. There’s little sense of humor to be found among terrorists and fanatics, so the attack wasn’t all that surprising. Morons with guns are a sad staple of society, and whether these espouse white supremacy or Islamic fundamentalism, morons are morons and, sadly, guns allow morons to do horrible things.
It’s paradoxical; France has long been the land that welcomed refugees and exiled leaders.  Ayatollah Khomeini lived in France for decades. Ho Chi Min was a waiter in Paris. White Russians came by the thousands when tsarism ended. Armenians and Kurds share neighborhoods in major French cities.  There are five million Muslims in France right now and most will decry the outrage committed against a satirical newspaper by three deluded would-be soldiers.  
The killers will be caught—they are, after all, morons, and Charlie Hebdo will keep publishing and skewering and lampooning because this is what it does. And once again, it
will be proven that the pen is mightier than the moron and the sword or gun he might be wielding.

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