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Other messages besides “Je Suis Charlie”

I understand why NickM, for instance, complains about all the people waving Je Suis Charlie signs at the recent Charlie Hebdo demos just over a week ago. But at least there were demos (Hebdemos?), and big ones. Whatever the finer points of the relationship between Islam and the rest of us, thousands upon thousands of people, in France millions, disapproved of cartoonists being killed, no matter how offensive anyone might think they had been, just because of various cartoons they had done. I agree that disapproval is not much. Ooh, they disapprove. But it’s a start. I mean, would you rather that all those millions of demonstrators had just shrugged their shoulders, stayed indoors and forgotten all about it?

And yes, there was plenty of hypocrisy involved, on the part of public personages who, only weeks or days before the attacks, had been saying more like: “Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie”, and who will be saying much the same as that in a few days or weeks time. But I prefer hypocrisy and inconsistency to brazen wickedness. If you demand consistency from public figures, you are liable to get consistent stupidity and consistent wickedness. The public attitudes that public people feel they need to strike, even if they strike them very insincerely or in a way that contradicts other things they have earlier said and done and will later say and do, still count for something.

I attended the demo in London’s Trafalgar Square, and I made a point of photoing signs that said other things besides Je Suis Charlie, of which this was my favourite:

CHABasLaTyrannieDeLOffense

For the benefit of those with no French, that means (unless my French is letting me down badly) something along the lines of: “Down With The Tyranny of The Offended”. Good one. See also the earlier posting here, in which our Prime Minister is reported as standing up for the same idea. And, see my paragraph above (which I had already written before that earlier posting had appeared) about how the public attitudes of public people do matter, however occasionally and inconsistently they may be expressed.

This next sign might have been my favourite. But, that T for Team looks too twiddly, and not clear enough and assertive enough. It’s like the guy who wrote the sign was just taking dictation and didn’t really mean it.

CHTeamCivilization

Or, it could just mean that here were some people demonstrating who had not done any such thing before. Because, this was not your usual demo, the sort of demo perpetrated by the demonstrating classes, so to speak. Which was another big plus, from where I was standing, photographing everything I could see.

You can view other photos that I took of signs that afternoon here.

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16 comments to Other messages besides “Je Suis Charlie”

  • Nick (Natural Genius) Gray

    Have a thought for a mentally-challenged Royal! “I am Charlie”, is probably the only slogan Prince Charles can say with absolute confidence!

  • Douglas2

    “Team Civilization” is an edit of “I am Civilization”, with the “I” being the cartoonists’ pen.

  • Fred the Fourth

    “this was not your usual demo, the sort of demo perpetrated by the demonstrating classes”
    Yes. This is how to tell if a demo is worth paying serious intellectual attention to. Do you see huge puppets, mass-produced signs, and a plethora of fringe hangers-on? You may safely return to your morning reading.

  • Patrick

    An unsquareable circle has clearly emerged: Western civilisation will not give up its right to free speech, including the right to offend religious sensibilities and Muslim civilisation will not give up its determination to attack violently those who exercise such a right against Islam (wherever in the world they do it – a sort of Muslim extraterritoriality).

    Which means violent fundamentalist Muslim acts of terror will carry on and on and we’ll hear loads more shit about ‘nothing to do with Islam’ while the man in the street steadily loses patience and any remaining respect for Islam generally.

    It will only end when Islam itself tires of violence (or the practical consequences western reaction has on their living standards). There is the odd sign of this – for example the speech by Sisi in Egypt – but sadly all too little from the Muslim masses. They’re loving it, as the anti-Charlie demos around the world show all too clearly.

    This shit will run and run.

  • Alastair

    There is another way it could end. Eventually the islamists do something really big eg dirty bomb and the West decides to wage real war in a dresden, hiroshima, nagasaki way. I find that a very alarming prospect, but unfortunately a more likely one than that militant Islam will give up

  • Paul Marks

    Yes what matters is how many people do not just disapprove of killing cartoonists – but also oppose using “the law” (i.e. LEGISLATION – not really “the law” as Bruno Leoni pointed out in his “Freedom and the Law”) to restrict freedom of speech.

  • Mr Ed

    There is another way it could end. Eventually the islamists do something really big eg dirty bomb and the West decides to

    blame UKIP, the Front Nationale, the Jews, cartoonists, men with blazers, underage girls in Rotherham, anything but resile from the ruling classes current position.

  • Sadly, I think Alistair is right. Or worse, they get their global Caliphate.

  • (Which is the logical conclusion of Mr Ed ‘s comment)

  • Russ in TX

    Yup. “You cannot say this because it offends me” is enshrining the Heckler’s Veto as a moral good.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Just wanted to say that i strongly agree with Brian on this.
    It was sad to hear people on “our” side complaining about this being only a show, while other people also on our side complain about Obama not showing up for the show. Both sets of people are probably right, but this post strikes a balance which i don’t remember seeing elsewhere.

  • George Orwell

    Je Suis Infidele?

  • George Orwell

    I much prefer Je Suis Bomber Harris to Je Suis Dhimmi.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    The trouble with things that are ‘good starts’ is that they usually turn out to be the whole thing.

  • Eric Tavenner

    My favorite is “je ne suis Charlie Hebdo, je suis arme”, another good one is “je suis Charlie Martel”

  • […] Micklethwait reminds us that there are other messages besides Je suis […]