So what if Charlie Hebdo was courageous, Eisenberg asks. Its journalists wasted their courage on “a parochial, irrelevant, misconceived, misdirected, relatively trivial, and more or less obsolete campaign against clericalism.” What they did was like jumping from a roof, or having sex with a wild boar.
These acts, though, are utterly pointless. Charlie Hebdo had a clear, specific rationale — refusing to submit to rules of expression set out by illiberal fanatics. If Charlie Hebdo’s “campaign” were truly so obsolete, all of its journalists would be alive today to hear the morally obtuse scolding from Deborah Eisenberg and her compatriots.
Eisenberg has it easy. No one will ever come try to kill her over “The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor,” “Revenge of the Dinosaurs,” or any of her other stories. She gets to compare Charlie Hebdo to Der Stürmer from a nice perch at the School of Arts at Columbia University, where the most courage anyone will ever have to demonstrate is reading fiction without the appropriate trigger warnings.