Mark Steyn: Charlie Hebdo was a target only because the rest of the media wouldn’t share the risk

posted at 11:31 am on January 8, 2015 by Allahpundit

A necessary corrective to the well-meaning but impotent “Je suis Charlie” cris de coeur. Yesterday that was a social media phenonemon, hashtag solidarity in the spirit of the “Bring Back Our Girls” phrase that circulated months ago after the Boko Haram kidnappings. Months later, the girls still aren’t back. And we — particularly our major media outlets — are most emphatically not Charlie. As Matt Welch said, “few of us are that good, and none of us are that brave.” If you doubt him, pay close attention to the many, many cartoon tributes to Charlie Hebdo appearing today in newspaper op-ed pages or being favorited on Twitter and Facebook. Most are variations on “the pen is mightier than the sword,” which is nice but hollow in this case for the simple reason that virtually none of these tributes takes the bold extra step of featuring Mohammed in the cartoon. The trend is towards stronger anti-blasphemy norms, not vice versa. Let’s keep what’s left of our dignity by acknowledging that, at least.

Steyn’s point, amid the “Je suis Charlie” cacophony, is that if more of us really were like Charlie, the Hebdo staff probably wouldn’t be dead. They assumed the entirety of the risk in defying Islamic taboos because their bigger, stronger, better funded brothers and sisters in western media declined to share it by publishing the images themselves. Even now, with blood on the floor in Paris, many of them are still blacking out the cartoons. (The Washington Post is a notable exception.) How do you censor the images those men died defending and then say “Je suis Charlie” with a straight face? And more to the point, how do you do it when those images are at the center of a major international news event? Steyn makes the same point here as Ross Douthat did yesterday. It’s one thing to reject a cartoon of Mohammed on grounds of poor taste or poor skill. That’s an op-ed decision. It’s another thing entirely to refuse to publish it when it’s part of the lead story in every paper in the western-speaking world. Douthat:

[T]he kind of blasphemy that Charlie Hebdo engaged in had deadly consequences, as everyone knew it could … and that kind of blasphemy is precisely the kind that needs to be defended, because it’s the kind that clearly serves a free society’s greater good. If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more. Again, liberalism doesn’t depend on everyone offending everyone else all the time, and it’s okay to prefer a society where offense for its own sake is limited rather than pervasive. But when offenses are policed by murder, that’s when we need more of them, not less, because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.

But their strategy did succeed. They machine-gunned a roomful of satirists, daring western media to defy them by printing the cartoons themselves, and most declined. The pen is mightier than the sword only if you’re willing to use it. Where does that leave liberal civilization?

All I ask here is honesty about what’s happening. It’s easy to tell someone who works for CNN, “you be the guy to put your life on the line by showing the cartoons.” There’s a reason there are so few Charlies. If self-censorship is the future, though, let’s be honest about why it’s happening. That’s why I part ways with Steyn in his criticism of this image:

He’s right that it’s disgraceful for a western paper to censor Charlie Hebdo cartoons, particularly on the very day that the man in that photo died for his right to display that image. I’m glad, though, that they only pixellated Mohammed and left the Jewish caricature alone. There’s honesty in that: “Sensitivity” would require that both images be blurred, but this isn’t about “sensitivity” and never was. This is about fear and no one fears a group of Hasidim descending on the Daily News offices with AKs. The clearer the double standard is, and it’s awfully clear here, the more you force people to confront it. That’s a small comfort in our censorious age.


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objective media refers to outlets to the editorial Right of MSNBC and left of Fox News, so CBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, etc

Townhall, NRO, Hotair, etc are Conserva-media

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:04 PM

Why does the Right use this instance to focus on the things that divide us, rather than on the pain and sorrow that unites us?

Is it because hate and fear sell better than hope?

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 1:41 PM

Why does the left use the statement of the murderer that he saw something on TV that motivated him to divide us by saying this event is the direct result of President Bush?

Brian1972 on January 8, 2015 at 2:04 PM

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 1:41 PM

So you’re watching wall to wall Fox and reading all the right leaning media?

Cindy Munford on January 8, 2015 at 2:12 PM

Brian1972 on January 8, 2015 at 2:04 PM

Yep, said incident that the New York Times ran on page one for 32 days in a row.

Cindy Munford on January 8, 2015 at 2:13 PM

*~@:{(>

Seven Percent Solution on January 8, 2015 at 2:15 PM

There is little to be learned from only reading people that you agree with. My liberal convictions and logical arguments are much stronger after reading conservative authors.

So you’re watching wall to wall Fox and reading all the right leaning media?

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:17 PM

I disagree with this conclusion

Why does Chicago Way use this instance to focus on the things that divide us, rather than on the pain and sorrow that unites us?

Is it because inanity and projection sell troll better than hope reasoned argument and common sense?

questionmark on January 8, 2015 at 2:02 PM

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:19 PM

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:17 PM

Actually I am watching HGTV but then I am not the one making claims that “the Right” is trying to divide us. Or the Left for that matter.

Cindy Munford on January 8, 2015 at 2:19 PM

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:19 PM

I’ll just bet you do disagree with that.

Cindy Munford on January 8, 2015 at 2:20 PM

objective media refers to outlets to the editorial Right of MSNBC and left of Fox News, so CBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, etc

Townhall, NRO, Hotair, etc are Conserva-media

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:04 PM

I retract my previous statement!

You are obviously a master of sarcasm and understatement.

You certainly got ME!

Objective media!
Well done, sir. Well done!

questionmark on January 8, 2015 at 2:21 PM

Is it because hate and fear sell better than hope?

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 1:41 PM

It isn’t about fear to divide us.

It is because cowering in fear of saying the wrong thing is getting people murdered and by not calling murderers what they are and who they are, those not doing so are cowards who refuse to stand up to for the rights of all men. By not doing so that is attempting to appease those who murder and that never, ever works.

That self-created division done by those who fear reprisals is already there and those pointing out that division are NOT creating it.

You want hope? Stand up for the freedom of speech of all mankind and then call those seeking to murder those who merely disagree with them, mock them, or just use harsh language for the intolerant people they are. Show what they are upset about, their reason for murdering those who speak their mind through words, pictures, animations and videos.

You do not gain hope via cowardice.

You do not gain hope through fear of showing what is done.

You do not gain hope by giving into those saying that they will murder you just because you will NOT conform to their way of thought.

And you do not gain hope by IGNORING those who have a platform who do not do report the actual actions being taken: they deserve long, deep and hard criticism for their cowardice and fear.

Hope is many things. It is not, however, a strategy and it is an awful tactic. You build hope, and that requires standing up against those who threaten to kill you for merely being different and being no direct or even indirect threat to them. When there are savage killings point out who the savages are, what makes them savages and do not shy away from showing that savagery. Because the moment you do, you are admitting that you put savagery higher than being civilized and understanding the threat to civilization from savage attacks. And on that path lies barbarism and the end of civilization as it is not the natural state of anything in this universe and must be worked at to be preserved. To get hope it is necessary and a duty to show savagery just as it is, without varnish, without excuses and without saying that it is justified via a damned cartoon.

ajacksonian on January 8, 2015 at 2:21 PM

Boko Haram kills 2000. And the Right keeps dividing us. Although I hope the BBC link is sufficiently neutral for Chicago Way.

Cindy Munford on January 8, 2015 at 2:26 PM

objective media refers to outlets to the editorial Right of MSNBC and left of Fox News, so CBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, etc

Townhall, NRO, Hotair, etc are Conserva-media

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:04 PM

I do not see how any of those outlets you mentioned are any less left than MSDNC is. Maybe they try to be a bit more subtle about it, but their editorial choices and the manner in which they frame the stories they choose (or not choose) are clearly, indisputably oriented to a left wing perspective.

There are reams of empirical data demonstrating this fact.

Brian1972 on January 8, 2015 at 2:30 PM

My liberal convictions and logical arguments are much stronger after reading conservative authors.

So you’re watching wall to wall Fox and reading all the right leaning media?

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:17 PM

First, their are few “logical” left arguments, you have to normally resort to name calling.

Maddow made an excellent example the other night talking about “Gitmo”…she went on and on about 2,000 workers, and how much fewer prisonors so now they will be 3-4 million a year to care for them and on and on…never once conceding, or indicating that “Gitmo” is a small part of the 45 square miles of Guantanamo Bay. That we have had that lease since around 1900, and we pay Cuba for that lease. Prison or no prison we would have “2,000” soldiers and advisors there, in Cuba, and have had since 1900…She could have divided the number of cooks on the base…yes, its a “Base”, with a prison within.

So my point is, she had to distort, lie, to try to make a foolish point. I imagine most liberals only think of “Gitmo” as a prison.

So there is a case of “logical argument”, that sounded logical to one of your spokespersons…but was so ignorant.

I won’t even get into the global warming and the “97%” of scientists who agree…more “logic”?

It is logical to you, because that is all you see and hear….and when you do hear “right”, it is to dismantle, not learn.

right2bright on January 8, 2015 at 2:34 PM

Boko Haram has as much to do with Islam, as Ku Klax Klan and Westboro Baptist Church have to do with Christianity.

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:34 PM

i disagree that things are as grave as you prescribe, but thank you for sharing your thoughts

ajacksonian on January 8, 2015 at 2:21 PM

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:36 PM

objective media refers to outlets to the editorial Right of MSNBC and left of Fox News, so CBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, etc

Townhall, NRO, Hotair, etc are Conserva-media

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:04 PM

Heh, Bishop has another cousin.

The nom should have told a few of you that this is not a troll.

Schadenfreude on January 8, 2015 at 2:38 PM

See the first one, top/left. Salem is a RINO rats’ nest.

They own Townhall and HotAir.

Schadenfreude on January 8, 2015 at 2:39 PM

Time for munching, CW. Yer net is getting loaded :)

Schadenfreude on January 8, 2015 at 2:40 PM

objective media refers to outlets to the editorial Right of MSNBC and left of Fox News, so CBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, etc

Townhall, NRO, Hotair, etc are Conserva-media

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:04 PM

Pal, you better look at the line up again at Fox.

O’Reilly, hardly “conservative”, and for every conservative, he brings on a liberal…Greta is hardly a “conservative”, she is a liberal, always has been, from her days at CNN, and prior, she is a feminist activist in youth, Hannity, no doubt a conservative. Kelly, conservative, Smith, a liberal…now go down the CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, etc. and try to find the conservative…what Fox gives is news that the others do not provide, it’s that simple…so the news is slanted to the right, because, (by your logic) that is what is missing in the other news media.

Once again your “logical thoughts” are not so logical are they?

Please, list the conservative on CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC…

right2bright on January 8, 2015 at 2:40 PM

Boko Haram has as much to do with Islam, as Ku Klax Klan and Westboro Baptist Church have to do with Christianity.

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:34 PM

Now that is sheer stupidity, and insulting as heck to all Christians to boot.

You clearly do not know what you are talking about in the slightest.

Where do you find, for example, the Pope issuing Catholic fatwas calling for the death of some individual who has offended his view of the Scripture?

This happens all the time in Islam, both Sunni and Shia.

There is absolutely no equivalence whatsoever.

Christians give zero credibility or credence to those Westboro idiots. None at all.

The most influential Islamic scholars in Cairo and Saudi Arabia routinely issue savagely murderous sexist, anti-gay, anti-everything death sentences to anyone who even slightly defy their version of morality.

The comparison carries no weight in any objective sense, and you discredit yourself immensely by forwarding such idiotic nonsense.

Brian1972 on January 8, 2015 at 2:44 PM

Schadenfreude on January 8, 2015 at 2:38 PM

That’s okay, I like to play.

Cindy Munford on January 8, 2015 at 2:53 PM

Make millions of copies of the cartoons. Translate the best into Arabic and Farsi and air drop them into every country of the U.N. Islamic conference (Obama’s real 57 states).

Annar on January 8, 2015 at 2:54 PM

*~@:{(>

Seven Percent Solution on January 8, 2015 at 2:15 PM

*~@}:~{>

FIFY (You have an upside down eyebrow in place of the nose.)

profitsbeard on January 8, 2015 at 2:55 PM

Annar on January 8, 2015 at 2:54 PM

Can they printed in pigs blood?

Cindy Munford on January 8, 2015 at 3:02 PM

Boko Haram has as much to do with Islam, as Ku Klax Klan and Westboro Baptist Church have to do with Christianity.

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:34 PM

Admittedly, I haven’t read a bunch of your other comments, but that has to be the stupidest thing you’ve said. Please show me where the 90% of islam rejects Boko Haram’s principles? Maybe a press release from CAIR, or a bunch of imams releasing fatwas against them? Anything?

GWB on January 8, 2015 at 3:06 PM

Boko Haram has as much to do with Islam, as Ku Klax Klan and Westboro Baptist Church have to do with Christianity.

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:34 PM

Tell that to the Imams. Seriously, this is a stupid and dangerous statement. Stupid because it’s not true. Islam closed itself off to intellectual arguments centuries ago and today’s expansionist, violent, strain is merely believers who really and truly believe. There are those who don’t commit violence, but don’t really have problems with those who do because the violent ones are ‘holier’ than they are.

And your statement and belief is dangerous because it’s only when the theocrats of Islam realize that Islam itself is being harmed, will they even consider doing anything about it.

Claiming the abhorrent and violent acts are not Islam is playing right into the hands of those who don’t think reform is necessary.

MaggiePoo on January 8, 2015 at 3:11 PM

Admittedly, I haven’t read a bunch of your other comments, but that has to be the stupidest thing you’ve said. Please show me where the 90% of islam rejects Boko Haram’s principles? Maybe a press release from CAIR, or a bunch of imams releasing fatwas against them? Anything?

GWB on January 8, 2015 at 3:06 PM

Your beef is with the millions of Muslims who condone the worst offenses of radical Islam. All I am asking of you is to not project the same flaws onto millions of of others who do not approve of these attacks.

Christianity managed to whittle down her extremists to a tiny minority today. Great! People of the Muslim faith are capable of the same.

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 3:21 PM

Your beef is with the millions of Muslims who condone the worst offenses of radical Islam. All I am asking of you is to not project the same flaws onto millions of of others who do not approve of these attacks.

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 3:21 PM

Any muslims who clearly demonstrate that they are AGAINST the murder of infidels may be spared.

dentarthurdent on January 8, 2015 at 3:39 PM

Christianity managed to whittle down her extremists to a tiny minority today. Great! People of the Muslim faith are capable of the same.

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 3:21 PM

What do you base this theory on and how long do you expect this to take? And how about an estimate of lives lost in the process?

Cindy Munford on January 8, 2015 at 3:40 PM

Your beef is with the millions of Muslims who condone the worst offenses of radical Islam.

No! My beef is with ISLAM! *IT* says that these atrocities are not only fine, but it ENCOURAGES them!

Please, show me these millions who do not approve! Show me all these people pleading with the “extremists” to stop their terror! Show me the observant muslims who work against this!

All I am asking of you is to not project the same flaws onto millions of of others who do not approve of these attacks.

I’m NOT projecting. I’m READING – the Koran and the Hadith. I find it filled with calls to war on the unbeliever that NO ONE in the muslim religious “leadership” has ever bothered to say was specific to a certain time or to a certain place, and inapplicable today (without then saying something else entirely in Arabic).

Christianity managed to whittle down her extremists to a tiny minority today.

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 3:21 PM

What extremists? Where in Scripture does it demand that we – Christians today, not a nation in existence 3,000 years ago – go out and slaughter the infidel? Please direct me to that passage.

You’re a leftist, an anti-Christian (redundant, I know), and a tool for those who would destroy civilization.

An Astaslem!

GWB on January 8, 2015 at 3:56 PM

I’m glad, though, that they only pixellated Mohammed and left the Jewish caricature alone. There’s honesty in that: “Sensitivity” would require that both images be blurred, but this isn’t about “sensitivity” and never was. This is about fear and no one fears a group of Hasidim descending on the Daily News offices with AKs.

You’re wrong, Allahpundit. This is about sensitivity to a PC protected religion. Far more people refuse to publish the cartoon because they fear criticism for insulting islam than because they fear for their safety.

blink on January 8, 2015 at 3:36 PM

It’s a two-fer.

AesopFan on January 8, 2015 at 3:58 PM

Jeffrey Goldberg: We are Not All Charlie.

We see a blue “Je Suis Charlie” sign on a lamppost. Very nice. But the sentiment is partially a conceit. We are not all Charlie. Much of Europe, which, as a political entity, is not fully grappling with the totalitarian madness of Islamism, is not Charlie. Certainly much of journalism is not Charlie. Any outlet that censors Charlie Hebdo cartoons out of fear of Islamist reprisal is not Charlie. To publish the cartoons now is a necessary, but only moderately brave, act. Please remember: Even after Charlie Hebdo was firebombed in 2011, it continued to publish rude and funny satires mocking the essential ridiculousness of the Islamist worldview. That represented a genuine display of bravery. CNN, the Associated Press, and the many other media organizations that are cowering before the threat of totalitarian violence represent something other than bravery.

AesopFan on January 8, 2015 at 4:17 PM

Christianity managed to whittle down her extremists to a tiny minority today. Great! People of the Muslim faith are capable of the same.
Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 3:21 PM

A statement made by someone who clearly misunderstands both Christianity and Islam.

Cleombrotus on January 8, 2015 at 4:31 PM

“the pen is mightier than the sword,”

The guy who said that didn’t have a sword! He couldn’t pass the background check.

DFCtomm on January 8, 2015 at 4:41 PM

And Hot Air will be publishing the cartoons in 3…2…1…

jnelchef on January 8, 2015 at 4:49 PM

Chicago way…”liberal convictions and logical arguments????? Now i KNOW you are an idiot. You are dismissed.

elvis lives on January 8, 2015 at 5:01 PM

And Hot Air will be publishing the cartoons in 3…2…1…

jnelchef on January 8, 2015 at 4:49 PM

While waiting look here.
https://creepingsharia.wordpress.com/mohammed-cartoon-collection/

Annar on January 8, 2015 at 5:02 PM

Chicago way is probably a druid…..he worships trees.

elvis lives on January 8, 2015 at 5:04 PM

I worship my family, friends, nature. All the meaning in life can be found there

Chicago way is probably a druid…..he worships trees.

elvis lives on January 8, 2015 at 5:04 PM

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 5:15 PM

Christianity managed to whittle down her extremists to a tiny minority today. Great! People of the Muslim faith are capable of the same.
Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 3:21 PM

Islam is going through a reformation right now, and that’s the problem. The difference is that Christians were doing a lot of things that weren’t in the bible(new testament), and so reformation was a help. The problem with Islam getting back to it’s roots is the Koran itself.

I watched an interview a few years ago that illustrated the point beautifully. It had a segment with an Egyptian, I think, family and they were all sitting around the table. The mother was a middle aged woman with a business suit type outfit and middle aged woman hair style. You wouldn’t look at her twice in the states, but her daughters were sitting there covered head to toe in Islam garb. Reform is a very bad thing when it concerns Islam.

DFCtomm on January 8, 2015 at 5:26 PM

Go suck on a pine cone then.

elvis lives on January 8, 2015 at 5:38 PM

Go suck on a pine cone then.

elvis lives on January 8, 2015 at 5:38 PM

i got a feeling that you are not a fan of my work

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 5:49 PM

DFCtomm on January 8, 2015 at 5:26 PM

you can use this example and the events in Paris as indicative of a trend. I think that these examples do not account for the good in people (regardless of faith).

I mean shucks, the dead policeman was a Muslim who died defending the magazine’s right to offend.

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 5:53 PM

Interesting irony here that Christians, Jews and others (non-Muslim, non-Liberal) may be upset, decry,etc., things that ridicule their “gods/beliefs” but they don’t threaten to kill them as a general practice.

And let’s remember that conservatives and Christians own a big old pile of guns. If they were as bad as is claimed by by Liberals then there would be a lot more dead liberals.

But then, conservatives and Christians aren’t like Liberals or Muslims. They may not agree with you; may oppose your behavior vehemently, but they won’t, as a rule, murder you.

But then again, nothing prohibits conservatives and Christians from killing people who try to kill them. Other than failed liberal policies, that is.

One day a few more people will read the Declaration of Independence and realize who similar today’s climate is to the time it was written. That the charges against the King could be similar to what could be stated today against our federal government.

ProfShadow on January 8, 2015 at 5:57 PM

Dont flatter yourself. You have to matter first

elvis lives on January 8, 2015 at 6:04 PM

Townhall, NRO, Hotair, etc are Conserva- primarily Establishment Republican media

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 2:04 PM

Fixed it for you.

bw222 on January 8, 2015 at 7:46 PM

Why does the Right use this instance to focus on the things that divide us….

Chicago Way on January 8, 2015 at 1:41 PM

Substantiate the claim and we can have a debate.
What are you basing the above claim on?

Mimzey on January 8, 2015 at 8:10 PM

What is Megyn doing to have the face of a 25 year old?

ConstantineXI on January 8, 2015 at 9:23 PM

Testing.
I’m getting some odd 403 messages (Website forbidden) when I try to post on these particular threads.

onlineanalyst on January 8, 2015 at 9:28 PM

Constantine….its called make-up. :-)

elvis lives on January 11, 2015 at 5:17 PM

Gee… I just discohas been out of business for over 15 years.
Too bad. they could have done a good job on the Prophet, Muhammad.
Maybe MAD Magazine will step in.

Snowshooze on January 12, 2015 at 2:46 AM