Michael Steele: If Charlie Hebdo were published in the U.S., evangelicals would "raise up mightily"

Via NRO, I’ve watched this three times and still don’t see the point of the question or the answer. It seems to be a half-baked version of a tu quoque. Sure, says Chuck Todd, we laugh at French Muslims for being angry when Mohammed is mocked, but how would America’s Christians feel if there were a U.S. version of Charlie Hebdo goofing on their idols every week? Pretty darned offended, Steele concedes. There would be protests! Okay … and? It’s true, religious believers do tend to get grumpy when you dump on figures they venerate. One way to express that grumpiness is protest; another way is to grab an AK-47. Conceding that Christians would go the first route after the Kouachi boys, with moral support from millions, went the second undercuts the point here. How did this go from a debate about whether cartoonists should be machine-gunned to a debate about whether religious believers should criticize those who satirize their faith?

I don’t think Steele’s right even on the merits. An American Charlie Hebdo devoted exclusively to goofing on Christians would draw some sort of protest, but if you think a Family Research Council boycott qualifies as evangelicals “raising up mightily,” your definition of “mightily” is different from mine. Christians are used to feeling belittled by mass media; Guy Benson, reading a draft of this post, e-mailed with this recent clip from “Family Guy” about Peter Griffin trying to help Jesus lose his virginity. A magazine that’s a bit more crass in its mockery would be water off a duck’s back for most of them. Besides, a true American analog to Charlie Hebdo wouldn’t stop at Christians because Hebdo itself doesn’t. It would have to satirize Muslim sacred cows too, and I think Christians are more likely to cut a satirist some slack when they see that he really is an equal-opportunity offender. Partly that’s because choosing a variety of targets suggests no special animus for Christians and partly, I think, it’s because many Christians respect the bravery of someone who’s willing to risk jihadi blowback by goofing on Mohammed. If a U.S. Charlie Hebdo was threatened with Islamist terrorism, I suspect most evangelicals would sympathize with the staff, their own irritation at Christian mockery notwithstanding.

Anyway. According to a new poll, despite the slaughter of the Hebdo editors, 42 percent of French respondents said cartoons that made Muslims feel injured or threatened should be avoided. What’ll that number be in 20 years, when France is more Islamic than it is now?

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