Why aren’t we Charlie this time?

November 3, 2020 • 9:00 am

When the Charlie Hebdo murders occurred in 2015, there were a lot of people who posted or held up signs saying “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”), touting solidarity with the French and their free-speech policy. We don’t see anything like that with the recent murders in Paris and Nice. Instead, as I’ve mentioned, there are a lot of articles implying that the French, with their strict laïcité policy and supposedly brutal oppression of Muslims, have brought this on themselves (see here and here, for instance).

But there’s at least one website that indicted the media and the cowards for refusing to call out Islamist terrorism in France. As you might expect, it’s not an organ of the mainstream liberal media, but Spiked, a libertarian organ edited by Brendan O’Neill. O’Neill himself wrote the op-ed on France, which you can see by clicking on the screenshot below.

I have nothing to add to what he says, but I wish I’d see more of this in the press.  Nobody, and no religion, is above criticism in a democracy. And if any religion should be criticized often and strongly for its oppressive policies and tenets that lead to violence, it’s Islam. (I’ve also called out other Abrahamic religions, but we don’t see their advocates committing mass murder these days.)

Quotes from the Spiked piece:

Unique among all forms of violent extremism, Islamist terrorism is always viewed as a response to a provocation. If Charlie Hebdo hadn’t published those cartoons, the massacre wouldn’t have happened. If Samuel Paty hadn’t shown kids a picture of Muhammad’s arse, he wouldn’t have become a target for attack. This is as morally degenerate as it would be to say that the Muslims massacred in Christchurch by the racist terrorist Brenton Tarrant brought it upon themselves by attending mosque – don’t they know that’s offensive to white-nationalist extremists? What will the unprincipled excuse-makers for Islamist violence, these people who genuinely believe that France’s ‘Islamophobia’ is a key reason 250 of its citizens have been slaughtered over the past five years, say after Nice? That an old woman going to a Christian church is a provocation? That such public displays of fealty to Christianity are bound to upset Islamists and therefore people should stop doing it? That would be the logical conclusion to the depraved victim-blaming they have engaged in following the Charlie Hebdo, Paty and other atrocities.

The failure of too many liberals to take a stand against the Islamist threat to life and liberty in France makes it harder for us to confront these violent regressive forces. Worse, their criticism of the victims – whether it was famous novelists criticising American PEN’s decision to give a bravery award to Charlie Hebdo or people responding to the beheading of Samuel Paty by talking about the problem of the caricatures – plays into the censorious extremism and violent cult of victimhood that are key aspects of the radical Islamist worldview. Indeed, one of the most worrying trends of our time is the interplay between the woke elites of the West and the ISIS-inspired extremists carrying out barbarous assaults in France and elsewhere: both believe that criticising Islam is wicked and punishable. One side calls it ‘Islamophobia’ and wants to No Platform it, the other calls it blasphemy and wants to execute its practitioners.

. . . Anyone who has so much as hinted at the possibility that the victims of terrorism in France brought their fate on themselves – by speaking or behaving in a particular way – has abandoned the cause of freedom and thrown his lot in with the extremist view that violence is an inevitable, if not understandable, response to those who would dare, whether wittingly or unwittingly, to upset Islamist sensitivities. That’s the question now: will we stand with the French Republic against its internal foe of radical Islam, or will we not? The silence and apologism of too many in the West suggests they’ve made their choice: they have chosen to abandon France when it needs us most.

I don’t often read comments on my infrequent Twitter posts—and never answer them—but when I tweeted out this article, two comments appeared, both by the same person, that exemplify the problem. The response is so obvious that I needn’t give it.

69 thoughts on “Why aren’t we Charlie this time?

  1. Why aren’t we Charlie this time? Because, since 2015 we’ve gone Woke.

    And, under Woke ideology, white people are always oppressors and always in the wrong, whereas brown and black people are always oppressed and always in the right.

    France is mostly white; Muslims are mostly brown, therefore France is wrong and Muslims are right. It’s that simple.

    1. A majority of Muslims in France are white. The woke are mistaken. Doubly so because the premise that white=oppressor, non-white=oppressed is wrong.
      Note, among the greatest oppressors in History were the Islamic Arabs.

    2. Yes, the American response to events in Europe been classic American Self-Absorption. Americans are projecting onto Europe their own racial problems and demanding they be solved American-style. I hope the Europeans will realize that the Woke American approach is counter-productive.

      1. I can’t remember which US military leader said this (and I paraphrase): “We fought the first two world wars in Europe, and if you fools let us we’ll fight the next one there, too”. Trump hasn’t been alone in taking a cynical “America First” view of global situations.

    3. The likes of Hemant “Friendly Atheist” Mehta have recently began to castigate ex-Muslims, progressives, liberals, and humanists who are more vocal in their calling out of Islam and Islamists.

      He wants people to focus on US-centric Christian preachers and Ark Encounter.

      He, of course, can wind his neck in and jog on.

  2. Doubtful the West will ever be “Charlie” again.

    Put simply, the values of media/academia/the overclass regarding speech and freedom of expression vis a vis Islam now align more with the terrorists than not.

    And those values will align far more with militant Islam than other religions……..

    Instead, likely you will see more of this (and this is in France):


          1. That doesn’t really help.

            Why would French Muslims hunt French Armenians? Even if you link it back to the Armenian genocide of WW1, it doesn’t make any sense to me. It should e the Armenians that have gudge against the Turks.

              1. I asked a question. If you don’t want to answer it, that’s fine, but if you do, please feel free to answer the question.

                And, before you start whining, please consider how you wold explain the connection between a region of Azerbaijan and Turks and Armenians who live in France.

              2. I didn’t want to answer your question. I am under no obligation to explain myself to you but I was busy, it’s in the news and all you had to do was google Nagorno-Karabakh.

                Oh, and… I never whine. At least not here.

            1. In Nagorno_Karabach Christian Armenia is fighting with Muslim Azerbaijan. Turkey is helping Azerbaijan not only with arms but also by sending fighters. To complicated matters, these fighters are mostly Syrians. French Muslims (Turks among them) support Azerbaijan and hate French Christian Armenians. This is not the only conflict transfered from the Middle East to Europe. Shia-Sunni confict is here as well, not to mention persecution of Ahmadi, Jezydi, Hindu and other minorities from the Middle East now with European citizenship by Muslims who in their countries of origin are in majority. Sorry for not answering you earlier but it was deep night in Europe.

              1. There was an interesting disagreement between “Young Turks” Cenk and Ana Kasparian over the Nagorno Karabach situation.

                No surprises for guessing what Cenk’s view was. He ain’t the progressive that many idiots believe he is.

    1. It was in Lyons about the Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict:


      “On Wednesday morning, the Armenian protesters had closed off the highway leading to Valence and Vienne, expressing their protest against the aggression of Azerbaijan and Turkey against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). During this demonstration, however, a group of Turks had attacked—with hammers and knives—these Armenian protesters, and as a result, more than ten people—including a child—were injured.”

  3. I think the lack of response to these attacks here in the US, if not in France, is partly because we are so consumed with an existential crisis, which comes to a head today, that we just aren’t paying attention. It isn’t impossible that many others, even in France, are distracted too.

    But I think dd has got it right above. I fear that war is lost; as a result, France will see repeated attacks until they succumb and abandon lacitie as we know it. The US has never really had that separation (though we liked to pretend we did) but it will get worse here too and for the same reasons.

    1. “I think the lack of response to these attacks here in the US, if not in France, is partly because we are so consumed with an existential crisis, which comes to a head today, that we just aren’t paying attention.”

      Yes, this lack of attention-paying is most remarkable, considering that we Amuricuns are renowned for our intellectual curiosity about and knowledge of the rest of the world.

      Checked the NY Times online just now. The Vienna atrocity is reported in “In Other News.” Everything above that is IMHO exigent American self-absorption. How much more horrific must the Vienna atrocity have been to be worthy of being posted alongside “When Do Polls Close”?

      1. The Vienna incident is certainly important news but, frankly, the US election affects way more people. When you look at the whole world, there’s an incident like Vienna’s every month or so, perhaps even more often.

        1. “The Vienna incident is certainly important news but, frankly, the US election affects way more people. When you look at the whole world, there’s an incident like Vienna’s every month or so, perhaps even more often.”

          I suppose it should not surprise one that an increased frequency of murders would tend to desensitize one to them, apparently more so than with the tsunami of media blather about polls and speculation and every other imaginable angle, political or otherwise.

          What time the polls close is not more important than the Vienna murders. Good on the NY Times one more time to remind voters, but, how many neurons does it take to independently inquire about poll hours, especially online? (Considering how many have already voted, apparently not all that many.) That article should be in “In Other News.” From the Times’s past performance, it’s not unreasonable to hold that the Times would be sure to post, on election day, above the digital fold, such news were it an Austrian white nationalist murdering Muslims, regardless of the frequency with which such murders had occurred.

          1. I am NOT desensitized to it. That’s unfair. How sensitive should one be? How do you measure sensitivity? Is it the number of bodies? There was an incident in Afghanistan recently where 22 were killed? Shouldn’t that be even more important? I don’t really don’t see what it gets us arguing over which thing we should pay attention to.

            1. “I don’t really don’t see what it gets us arguing over which thing we should pay attention to.”

              Commenting on this website – or anywhere else – seems to inescapably involve paying attention to something, and, opinionating. Fine. Let’s not argue or opine about anything, dispute/differ/disagree with anyone, on this website or anywhere else. Without exception, if respond at all, respond in agreement so as to conform with anothers view, and to Keep The Peace.

              (“Another’s” [“an (one?) others”?] per WordPress, although it’s apparently OK with “ones” and “others,” as in “others views.”)

  4. I love that second comment in all the worst ways. “…your belief that Islam is somehow prone to violence in a way that is distinct from that of Judaism and Christianity is just plain bigoted when viewed over time” (emphasis mine).

    What, are we supposed to compare the Islam of the modern age to Christianity during The Inquisition? And I don’t even know when Judaism was ever violent in the way Islam is now. The comment is so intellectually dishonest and accidentally admits that, yes, Islam today produces far more violence than these other religions because you’d need to go back in time several centuries to find anything similar.

    As for why more people and media in particular aren’t supporting the freedom of others to express themselves in the face of religious violence, I think there are several reasons, but the biggest is that, in the last five years, the Woke crowd has seriously increased its cultural power in institutions like the media and academia. The Spiked article hits the nail on the head with this quote:

    “Indeed, one of the most worrying trends of our time is the interplay between the woke elites of the West and the ISIS-inspired extremists carrying out barbarous assaults in France and elsewhere: both believe that criticising Islam is wicked and punishable. One side calls it ‘Islamophobia’ and wants to No Platform it, the other calls it blasphemy and wants to execute its practitioners.”

    We see this in the constant double standards for Islam and others. While Saudi Arabia and its allies kill and displaces far more civilians in their war against Yemen in the last year than Israel has in its entire history, Israel tries to live peacefully and has repeatedly tried to offer every concession in negotiations to create a two-state solution, but Israel gets all of the world and Woke’s opprobrium. Where Palestine and the countries that support it kill apostates, blasphemers, LGBT people, etc., Israel has a democracy where people of all faiths, orientations, and ethnicities are welcome to participate, but Israel is the only one that receives the world and the Woke’s opprobrium. While the Western media and many of its governments turn a blind eye to Islamic nations’ support for worldwide terrorism, Israel is criticized for even a single death that occurs when it defends itself, once again bearing the world and Woke’s opprobrium.

    It seems simple at this point: Islam is considered to be high on the Woke Oppression Hierarchy and so can do whatever it likes, and the attempts of other entities to stop or even criticize it is what must be criticized because, no matter what happens, it can never be Islam’s fault and must always be the fault of others who are lower on the Woke Oppression Hierarchy.

    This is how identity politics destroys critical thinking and fairness. Just as with white supremacists of old, who judged black people by different standards than white people, the Woke judge Islam by different standards than groups considered not sufficiently oppressed.

    1. I might be worried about the Holy Inquisition, except that there is zero chance of my waking up tomorrow in 16th century Europe.

      Even so, what was the Inquisition a reaction to? Or the Crusades, for that matter.
      Even if you ignore Europe, Islamic interaction with Christian north Africa entails slaughter and suffering on an absurd scale.
      If you disregard even that, and just look at Islamic incursions into India, almost nothing in world history compares.

      1. Almost nothing,very correct. If we have to think about slaughters that are worse, we think of Genghis Khan, the An Lushan Revolt and that’s about it.

        1. I had the steppe tribes in the back of my mind when I wrote “almost”.
          I think the Islamic folks probably win for longest sustained campaign of horror. They play the long game.

      2. “I might be worried about the Holy Inquisition, except that there is zero chance …” – nobody expects the Inquisition, Max!

    2. To be fair, when viewed over time, both France and Vienna are seriously Islamophobic – Charles Martel in 732 and Vienna in 1529 and 1683 resisted the righteous path of Islam and cruelly martyred followers of the religion of peace. Obviously, these continuing injustices must be rectified.

    3. When someone uses the ‘well what about what Christians did 600 years ago?” bit of whataboutery I always thank them for the history lesson and remind them that the topic is current affairs.

  5. Since the most recent ISIS-inspired in Europe took place in Vienna last night, where there has been no alleged “provocation” a la France, I think we can safely say that Islamic extremists resorting to violence are opportunists looking for any excuse (and none) to murder innocent civilians. Charlie Hebdo/i> and the French policy of laïcité are simply convenient pegs for them to hang their atrocities on.

    1. Austria even (and notoriously) prosecuted someone for suggesting in a private indoor meeting that Mohammed’s marrying of Aisha (consummated when she was 9, according to traditional accounts) amounted to paedophilia.

      Even worse, the ECHR then supported the prosecution, inventing (out of thin air) the utterly ludicrous doctrine that this statement prevented Muslims from enjoying freedom of religion.

  6. One of the interesting things about that tweet is that it doesn’t use the words “Islam” or “Muslim”, it says “religious wellsprings”. However, everybody knows (or assumes) you meant “Islam” and that is because Islam is the source of a lot of religious violence.

  7. Isn’t “Je suis Charlie” identity politics in its purest form? Just kidding.

    Actually, I think people just haven’t come up with a phrase that fits the occasion like “Je suis Charlie”. I suspect many regular non-woke people share the sentiment this time around as well.

  8. Why criticize Islam more than, say Christianity? Islam CAN be a religion of peace, but like Christianity it CAN be a cause of terrorism. Right now, Islam is the source of more terrorism. Christianity was, for centuries. However, there’s nothing we can do about the Inquisition at this point.

  9. Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame was not Charlie in 2015. He claimed this was “punching down” and “little better than graffiti”.

  10. Uhhh! So obvious! Western Liberals are soft on Islam because they are afraid of physical harm. Period. Nobody thinks a French citizen is going to blow them up, behead them, or even punch them. They are afraid for themselves (as students often are), for their families, or for civil order in general. People remember targeted murders, random bombs and stabbings, and wholesale murder. This is inevitable and understandable, even laudable. Those who respond with bigoted belligerence make things worse for everyone — sometimes everyone but themselves.

  11. Since 2015, I have had a copy of the cover of the offending issue of Charlie Hebdo on my office door. After reading Jerry’s piece, I checked my door, and moved around some later door postings, to make sure Charlie was readily visible in the middle. Encore une fois, je suis Charlie.


  12. The “all religions have their crazed fanatics” cliché refers, no doubt, to such familiar phenomena as Buddhist decapitators, Unitarian fanatics running amok with machetes, and Amish suicide bombers. Unfortunately, the woke attitude it reflects is not merely comic, but can be dangerous.

    A guard at the Manchester Arianna Grande concert thought that the bomber, the pious Salman Ramadan Abedi who was carrying a large rucksack containing his bomb (all praise and thanks be to Allah), looked suspicious. But the guard refrained from interrogating Mr. Abedi for fear of being thought a deplorable racist. See: http://www.danielpipes.org/19918/the-fatal-fear-of-being-accused-of-racism

    1. “Buddhist decapitators,”

      Buddhists supposedly were quite brutal to the Miyanmar Rohingya (who themselves were probably not as innnocent as in the spin our media and Soros’ international crisis center gave the story).

  13. Maybe Wokism was just a way for white liberals with gelatin for spines to have it both ways.

    Meaning, how do you stand up for liberal values when you are also, personally, a bit of a wimp?


    You redefine true defense of liberal principles (i.e. standing up to bullies of all colors and creeds) as “oppression.”

    Then, you elevate low risk actions, such as tweeting your support of BLM, as high moral acts.

    Basically, you suppress the true heroes for making you look bad.

  14. Let us not be discouraged: recent events in France have elicited a demonstration (or, in French, une manifestation) in NYC, as described below:

    “Nearly 1,000 New Yorkers showed up to protest #FrenchIslamophobia in front of the French embassy despite the rain! Wonderful show of solidarity. #MacronApologizeToMuslims #BoycottFrance pic.twitter.com/TvBBmqBfEI”
    — Islamic Leadership Council of New York (@ShuraNewYork) November 2, 2020 “

  15. Yes,it is fear that makes liberal Americans cowards, plus their normal virtue-signaling with regard to race and gender issues. Also disturbing is how many American agnostics (not atheists) think religion is exempt from criticism. American liberals have a fluctuating moral compass when they have any at all, as view the PEN directors who resigned after PEN awarded Charlie Hebdo its commendation. A count of murders committed by Muslims in the name of Islam is in the hundreds of thousands…not to mention honor killings including many in this country, Canada and Europe. As someone did, let’s tell the truth about Islam: religion OR peace.
    As for the silent innocent Muslims, they are too afraid to speak out, fearing their death if they are seen as apostates. What other religion today kills its own people for expressing dissent or criticism?

    1. “liberal Americans”

      “American liberals”

      No. These are the Woke people we’re talking about. I’m a liberal. Professor Coyne is a liberal. Most of the people here who oppose this crap are liberals. Don’t try to lump us in with them.

  16. First, there is never an excuse for these atrocities and the perpetrators need to be condemned, stopped and prosecuted. The “liberals” apologists are pathetic.

    However, I think it a little more complicated than Islam. Buddhists in Myanmar continue to be responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. The worst massacre of civilians in the middle east was the Sabra and Shatila massacres perpetuated by Lebanese Christians.
    In India, Hindus massacred of thousands of Sikhs after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The list goes on with Srebinica, Rwanda, etc.

    Certain religious and ethnic leaders promote atrocities. Currently, it is much more common by Islamic leaders but it is not exclusive to them.

    1. “Certain religious and ethnic leaders promote atrocities. Currently, it is much more common by Islamic leaders but it is not exclusive to them.”

      I do not believe anyone has suggested otherwise.

      1. Perhaps I should have only replied to Jon Gallant comment #13 where he certainly implied that it was a problem with Muslims not Buddhists or Christians. That was what triggered my post.

        I thought I heard it in other peoples’ remarks but it might have been my imagination.

    2. (hit post too soon)
      It’s a weird thing to say, too. It’s like telling someone who is being attacked by a pack of dogs that your sister was once bitten by a moose.

      1. Oops, I meant to say “by civilians” meaning not national governments. The killers were a militia so perhaps even “by civilians” would not be accurate.

  17. Unfortunately, orange man was not that far off the mark when speaking about the problems of additional mass Muslim imnmigration for Europe in 2016. The refugees that all of the liberal media said it was a duty to take and that Germany took so many of were mostly young men from countries where a majority of the population is Islamist (in the sense of fundamentalist belief and seeing the sharia as an ideal system).
    Speaking from a country with a very large and very diverse Muslim population, I can tell you that all of the cluster bombs the west send to Afghanistan, Irak, Libya, IS Mossul and Raqqa, all of the weapons it sent to Islamists beginning from the Afghanistan mujaheddin to the Syrian rebels, make it a lot more difficult to convince moderate Muslims they should rally behind their host states whose talk about human rights and non-violence seems disingenuous to them. They don’t like the attacks, but they feel this is not about principles, this is about group loyalties. Diversity is not a strength. Also, they often and not wholly without reason suspect that the west’s secret services orchestrate the attacks. For example, Anis Amri of Berlin Breitscheidtplatz fame was a known danger, a criminal, could and should have been jailed prior to deportation, instead the authorities just watched him plan hios attack and let him do it. A police spy even drove him to Berlin. Same with the terrorist of Dresden (a few weeks ago, a Syrian refugee stabbed two random Germans for IS).

    Sorry for rambling. These are not easy times.

    1. To avoid a misunderstanding, I myself don’t think the attacks are state-orchestrated. I think the authorities are just atrociously incompetent and reluctant to take decisive action against refugees.

  18. Two reasons:

    Terrorism has become normalized. Everyone still complies with old rituals like bag searches, airport security, massive surveillance programs and the like. At the same time, measures that would be effective (like deporting Islamist and/or felonious refugees) are deliberately not taken. Apparently, a fear of racial profiling has contributed to the Manchester Bombing (as it was during 9/11).

    The left is only concerned about terrorism because it might encourage voters to vote for right-wing politicians like Le Pen. They are perceived to be little better than ISIS. But why surrender to these right-wingers when you can suppress them through control of the culture, e.g. by educating children and prosecuting adults to think the proper way?

  19. The Sabra and Shatila camp massacres of Palestinian Arabs by Lebanese Christian Arabs bring us back to the issue of honor culture, and perhaps other aspects of Middle-Eastern cultures that synergize, so to speak, with religion in uncomfortable ways. Could it be that there are attitudes embedded in whole cultures that tend in unhealthy directions?
    Perish the thought! Except, of course, for the terrible white European culture which the elect among us are striving to “decolonize”.

  20. The new “kinda” defense, same as the old “but” defense.

    But there’s at least one website that indicted the media and the cowards for refusing to call out Islamist terrorism in France.

    The local press has similar opinion pieces:

    Terrorism and Islamist extremism must not be swept into rhetoric about respect for religion.

    [ https://www.sydsvenskan.se/2020-11-01/terrorism-och-islamistisk-extremism-far-inte-svepas-in-i-retorik-om-respekt-for-religion ]

    A Danish nationalist party got blocked from using the Muhammad Cartoons in ads by Charlie Hebdo [!] as the latter don’t share the party’s views [ https://www.svt.se/kultur/charlie-hebdo-later-inte-danskt-parti-visa-satirteckningar ].

  21. Despite having strong historical links to France, Canada has been embarrassed once again by Trudeau throwing the most important principle of the enlightenment under the nearest bus: ‘…last Friday, the Prime Minister said citizens in pluralistic societies need to be aware of the impact of their words, particularly regarding “communities and populations who still experience enormous discrimination.”’

  22. I was okay with the coverage. As long as the news (pace editorial) outlets cover the event in a reasonable matter (and, IMO, they did – at least I didn’t notice any victim-blaming in the regular press pieces), I don’t really need to see a lot of editorials devoted to the issue to feel that the press has done their main job.

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