The “Je suis Charlie” campaign is the first important meme of 2015. The desire to show solidarity with journalists of Charlie Hebdo, the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris, has filled the world far and wide, from members of different NGOs to artists and from teenagers to Heads of States. You can see nowadays “Je suis Charlie” everywhere – at TV, in newspapers, on Facebook and Twitter, at demonstrations held by tens of thousands of people.
I prefer to abstain from such associations and self-labeling. I have at least 5 reasons for it:
1. I do condemn the abominable crime that jihadist terrorists have committed, but I can’t submit to the venomous irony that the caricatures of journalists from Charlie Hebdo promoted. I’m an agnostic, but I do know how to honor the ideological and religious options of other people. I do understand the Christians’ piety for Jesus Christ, just as I do understand the Muslems’ for Mohammed. Yes, I am ready to criticize religion and bigotry, to argue for the inconsistency of religious views and to denounce fanaticism, but I am not going to willfully insult symbols that are considered to be holy. Hereto, those from Charlie Hebdo have overstepped the bounds of moral sense and have vulgarly offended millions of religious people through their caricatures. And I’m afraid I can’t show my solidarity with what they did. I am not Charlie.
2. A couple of years ago I participated as a speaker at a series of conferences about freedom of speech and about the importance it has for the construction of a modern society. I know very well that freedom of speech is a kind of sine qua non condition for democracy. But I also understood that there is a limit in everywhere and in everything, there is a limit after which common sense ceases to exist. The speech that makes use of its freedom only to hurt and humiliate – the speech that feeds on maliciousness – is likely to transform itself from a constructive and progressive one into a destructive and retrogressive one. No one deserves getting a bullet in his head just because he writes jeering things, however bad they may be; probably he doesn’t deserve even a punch in the face. The things that happened with the journalists from Charlie Hebdo seems to be one of the most horrible and inexcusable crimes of the century. I am sorry for them, but I still can’t identify myself with the freedom they took to humiliate purposefully and on a regular basis. I do condemn the crime, but I also disapprove the affronts that generate the crime.
3. I wrote a lot of articles about the threat for Europe that comes from Islamization. It’s also a threat for the racial identity of Europeans, for their Christian religion and for the European socio-economic stability. Paradoxically, the Europeans have been taken by surprise by the consequences of immigration and multiculturalism, an event that they encouraged for a couple of centuries now. Now, when they winded out with millions of Muslems in their homes, they hysterically try to do something in order to get rid of the “guests.” Taking into consideration the high probability of ethno-racial and religious conflicts in Europe, it’s a big mistake to think that you could solve problems of immigration by promoting the hate speech and the dehumanization of the opponents. It is no doubt that the caricatures and the message of people from Charlie Hebdo contain elements of dehumanization. After the 20th century has showed us how easily conflicts can arise, or even genocides and ethnic cleansings, they being caused by hate speech and the tactic of dehumanization, I think that it is a controversial move to openly show your solidarity, in the 21th century, with such things.
4. I have seen a couple of caricatures created by the Charlie Hebdo and I think they are a sample of obscenity, bad taste and infamy. I wonder how adult and serious people who are considered to be artists on an international scale have permitted themselves such vileness. Maybe I understand the art of polemic and visual and conceptual esthetic of caricatures differently, somehow incorrect or anachronistically. Nonetheless, I would rather stick to my way of understanding the polemics and the esthetics than to associate myself and to show solidarity to a bunch of vulgarities that are considered to be a form of “audacious journalism.” Sometimes audacity also means rudeness. ”Je ne suis pas Charlie”.
5. “Je suis Charlie” has quickly evolved into some kind of a trend. It’s cool to show your solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attack. Solidarity is something good, it’s wonderful, it’s humane, but only if it’s not a hidden type of hypocrisy and narcissism. Or, as with a huge number of influential and not really politicians happens, if it’s not an abject (also perfect) platform for launching messages and for image polishing. It is well-known that PR in times of plague is a common event on the national and international politic arenas. The Charlie Hebdo case is not an exception. It’s easy now to yell “Je suis Charlie” along with tens of millions of people. These “courageous” manifestations are somehow theatrical and has infinitesimal risks. The Jihadists can’t organize one terrorist act for each person that bears the ribbon. Let us give the journalists from Charlie Hebdo what’s theirs: they had had an enormous courage, maybe it was even foolhardiness, by doing what they did. There are not so many people who can be like them. And there is no need to be like them. They are Charlie and they went through the mill for it. Let us not take credits for acts of courage that do not belong to us.
The terrorist attack on journalists from Charlie Hebdo is a harsh lesson for all of us. Everybody learns from it in his way. For me, the lesson is that we should try and keep the equilibrium in this extremely fragile world. And every time we condemn an extreme, let us not do it by getting over the barricades of another extreme. In this case, the truth is somewhere in between, up until the contrary evidence.