Monday, March 2, 2015

Charlie Hebdo Returns to Weekly Publication

Charlie Hebdo returned to weekly publication with the February 25th issue. "Here we go again!" declared the cover, as Marine Le Pen, Nicolas Sarkozy, the Pope, a Jihadist and a representative of BFM, the French TV channel all gallop as frenzied dogs to catch the poor pooch in possession of a copy.

Though the second issue since the attack will not be printed in as many copies as the immediate post attack issue, the number--at least 1,000,000--is still way up compared to what it was two months ago--perhaps 60,000.

In addition, the paper now literally has more funding than it knows what to do with, having received €1,000,000 from the French government and close to that from various private sources. Profits from the first post-attack issue went to the families of the victims.

But in my view, the old Charlie, for better or worse is no more.


Well, first of all, the bulk of the staff identified with its previous tone was murdered.

Second, that tone was equal-opportunity leftist satire. That's not a criticism. They were commendably equal-opportunity in a political environment where much of the rest of the left had self-censored themselves against certain untouchable groups and subjects--such as Islam. God bless Charlie for that. But even that attitude has been eclipsed by events. The French military is guarding Jewish schools and synagogues against Muslim attackers--not against attackers from Le Pen's National Front or the Pope. Increasingly the Left will fracture into two groups--those allied with the march of Islam and those opposed to it. Or those against what they see as the values of humanist Western civilization and those who see those values as things that ought to be preserved. Snarks against a Gaullist ex-president will be seen as increasingly irrelevant.

Third, even after what could be described as France's 9/11, attitudes in France are already starting to resemble American attitudes a few months after the original 9/11. By that I mean, after the marches and the speeches, the "Je suis Charlie"'s and candle light vigils, a kind of apathy and blindness seems to have returned. From a recent news story on the Voice of America website:

(Laure) Perucho (a Frenchwoman interviewed by VOA near a newsstand) said that more than a month after the Paris attacks, it's almost as if they never took place. Nobody talks about them any more. Just a few people on Facebook, including herself, are still behind the "I am Charlie" slogan. 
And maybe that's Charlie Hebdo's biggest challenge. Not anger at its satire, but indifference and a sense the attacks are yesterday's news.

But isn't that good, for us and Charlie Hebdo? Shouldn't things return to normal?

Of course.

But they won't and they can't.

Europe is living in a dream. It's a good dream (well, okay, it's sort of a good dream). Secular liberalism perfected. Wine and cheese, quaint monuments and eight-week vacations for all. Just a few details to iron out, some surviving reactionaries to identify and shame, tax codes to be fine-tuned, etc. and then it will be smooth sailing. The end of history and all that.

If only.

You think atheists only get it when they stick their necks out? Then censor yourself.

You can't be bothered to save your Jewish neighbors? It will be you next.

You've forgotten how to pray? Go back to church and learn.

And/or buy a gun.

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