Many have repeated the “I am Charlie” cry following the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks. Rallies have been held across France. The Simpsons recently gave tribute to the idea during its credits. During the Golden Globes, several celebrities held up a sign with the slogan “Je Suis Charlie” showing solidarity. While it was a nice gesture, one thing was conspicuously absent from their support – a drawing of the prophet Mohammed.
Which is why I am not going to say that I am Charlie. I am a coward. I am not drawing and posting a picture of the prophet Mohammed, mostly because if I do violent Muslim terrorists will want to kill me – and that rightfully terrifies me.
The people at Charlie Hebdo were far braver than I for posting their satire even after terror plots targeted them, and the bravery they showed in posting yet another Mohammed cartoon after this recent massacre should make us all feel like the wussy kid at a sleep over who asks to be taken home at 9:45 pm.
Because comparatively we are all wusses. I’m so much of a wuss I call him the prophet Mohammed even though that is not my belief – because I fear any and all retribution for “insulting the prophet.” But notice I still call the perpetrators violent Muslim terrorists, because that’s not an insult to them – it’s what they actually like to be called. If Muslim terrorists were sorority girls they would have “violent Islamic killers” stenciled onto the ass of their sweatpants.
So while Al-Jazeera may go through mental gymnastics in order to say this attack was not about Islam but instead “colonialism“, most of us understand that four Muslims attacking a magazine for drawing Islam’s prophet probably has something to do with Islam. It’s not like the Fort Hood shooting, which many do not consider a terrorist attack despite the shooter plotting the attack with a terrorist, shouting “allahu akbar” during the attack, and saying it was terrorism after the attack. But really, who is he to judge whether or not his attack was terrorism?
I am not the only one to question who is and isn’t truly “Charlie.” John Stewart correctly lampooned the fact that many of the countries at the Charlie march, like Russia, Israel, and Saudi Arabia regularly jail and censor journalists and just recently flogged a blogger for posting about Islam.
In the New York Times, columnist David Brooks pointed out that even the United States should not be calling itself Charlie:
Public reaction to the attack in Paris has revealed that there are a lot of people who are quick to lionize those who offend the views of Islamist terrorists in France but who are a lot less tolerant toward those who offend their own views at home.
Just look at all the people who have overreacted to campus micro-aggressions. The University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality. The University of Kansas suspended a professor for writing a harsh tweet against the N.R.A. Vanderbilt University derecognized a Christian group that insisted that it be led by Christians.
So when it comes down to it, I’m not Charlie, America isn’t Charlie, and the rest of the world isn’t Charlie either. There was only one Charlie – which is part of the reason they met such a tragic fate. While we may not be brave enough to emulate their cartoons, let us all have the courage to remember and acknowledge which of their cartoons caused the attack and why.