Commentary Below the Line
The cartoon at this site shows images of high-level functionaries from various governments who attended the big Paris rally in support of freedom press. They are from countries which have jailed and abused journalists for reporting on politically inconvenient truths:
The link below specifies what each country – whose functionaries appear in cartoon in link above – of those who attended the rally did to repress journalists:
1) King Abdullah of Jordan, which last year sentenced a Palestinian journalist to 15 years in prison with hard labour http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Jordanian-Palestinian-who-writes-for-Post-sentenced-in-Jordan-to-life-with-hard-labor-341596 …
2) Prime Minister of Davutoglu of Turkey, which imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2013/dec/18/journalist-safety-turkey …
3) Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, whose forced killed 7 journalists in Gaza last yr (second highest after Syria) http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-barometer-journalists-killed.html?annee=2014 …
4) Foreign Minister Shoukry of Egypt, which as well as AJ staff has detained journalist Shawkan for around 500 days http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/12/20/photojournalist-shawkan-describes-endless-nightmare-behind-bars/ …
5) Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia, which last year jailed a journalist for “insulting a government servant” http://en.rsf.org/russie-journalist-arrested-after-17-09-2014,46974.html …
Greenwald provides the best account I have seen on the double standard for free speech practiced in the West in connection to the intent or message of the Paris rally:
“When I first began to see these demands to publish these anti-Muslim cartoons, the cynic in me thought perhaps this was really just about sanctioning some types of offensive speech against some religions and their adherents, while shielding more favored groups. In particular, the west has spent years bombing, invading and occupying Muslim countries and killing, torturing and lawlessly imprisoning innocent Muslims, and anti-Muslim speech has been a vital driver in sustaining support for those policies. So it’s the opposite of surprising to see large numbers of westerners celebrating anti-Muslim cartoons – not on free speech grounds but due to approval of the content. Defending free speech is always easy when you like the content of the ideas being targeted, or aren’t part of (or actively dislike) the group being maligned. Indeed, it is self-evident that if a writer who specialized in overtly anti-black or anti-Semitic screeds had been murdered for their ideas, there would be no widespread calls to republish their trash in “solidarity” with their free speech rights.”
“With all due respect to the great cartoonist Ann Telnaes, it is simply not the case that Charlie Hebdo “were equal opportunity offenders.” Like Bill Maher, Sam Harris and other anti-Islam obsessives, mocking Judaism, Jews and/or Israel is something they will rarely (if ever) do. If forced, they can point to rare and isolated cases where they uttered some criticism of Judaism or Jews, but the vast bulk of their attacks are reserved for Islam and Muslims, not Judaism and Jews. Parody, free speech and secular atheism are the pretexts; anti-Muslim messaging is the primary goal and the outcome. And this messaging – this special affection for offensive anti-Islam speech – just so happens to coincide with, to feed, the militaristic foreign policy agenda of their governments and culture.
To see how true that is, consider the fact that Charlie Hebdo – the “equal opportunity” offenders and defenders of all types of offensive speech – fired one of their writers in 2009 for writing a sentence some said was anti-Semitic (the writer was then charged with a hate crime offense, and won a judgment against the magazine for unfair termination). Does that sound like “equal opportunity” offending?
Nor is it the case that threatening violence in response to offensive ideas is the exclusive province of extremists claiming to act in the name of Islam. Terrence McNally’s 1998 play “Corpus Christi,” depicting Jesus as gay, was repeatedly cancelled by theaters due to bomb threats. Larry Flynt was paralyzed by an evangelical white supremacist who objected to Hustler‘s pornographic depiction of inter-racial couples. The Dixie Chicks were deluged with death threats and needed massive security after they publicly criticized George Bush for the Iraq War, which finally forced them to apologize out of fear. Violence spurred by Jewish and Christian fanaticism is legion, from abortion doctors being murdered to gay bars being bombed to a 45-year-old brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza due in part to the religious belief (common in both the U.S. and Israel) that God decreed they shall own all the land. And that’s all independent of the systematic state violence in the west sustained, at least in part, by religious sectarianism. The New York Times‘ David Brooks today claims that anti-Christian bias is so widespread in America – which has never elected a non-Christian president – that “the University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality.” He forgot to mention that the very same university just terminated its tenure contract with Professor Steven Salaita over tweets he posted during the Israeli attack on Gaza that the university judged to be excessively vituperative of Jewish leaders, and that the journalist Chris Hedges was just disinvited to speak at the University of Pennsylvania for the Thought Crime of drawing similarities between Israel and ISIS.
That is a real taboo – a repressed idea – as powerful and absolute as any in the United States, so much so that Brooks won’t even acknowledge its existence. It’s certainly more of a taboo in the U.S. than criticizing Muslims and Islam, criticism which is so frequently heard in mainstream circles – including the U.S. Congress – that one barely notices it any more.”