Fragments of Charlie
Fragments of Charlie
By Travis Mushett / blunderbussmag.com
Jan 15, 2015

I am not Charlie Hebdo. I am with Charlie Hebdo.

Since the Charlie Hebdo murders:

  • The severed head and entrails of a boar were left outside of an Islamic prayer center in Corsica. A note read: “Next time it will be one of your heads.”
  • Shots were fired into an empty mosque in Port-la-Nouvelle.
  • A bomb exploded at a kebab shop in Villefranche-sur-Saone.
  • Three grenades were hurled at a mosque in Le Mans.
  • A teenager of North African descent was beaten by a gang that hurled racist slurs at him.

France’s xenophobic right wing is happy to hear this. The more France turns against its minorities, the better the National Front party does at the polls.

Islamist militants are happy to hear this. The worse things get for European Muslims, the more fertile their recruiting ground.


Franck Brinsolaro

Charlie ruthlessly mocks the racistauthoritarian National FrontCharlie has been sued more than a dozen times by Catholic groups who don’t like the way it criticizes the Church’s dogmacrimes, and hypocrisiesCharlie took Israel to task for its disregard for the lives of Palestinian civiliansCharlie ran a column by a serious leftist economist right up until some jihadists assassinated him. Charlieuses racist imagery, giving huge hooked noses to Jews and ArabsCharlie stands up for immigrantsCharlie publishes cartoons that offend many immigrantsCharliepunches upCharlie punches downCharlie is funny. Charlie is revolting. Charliecontains multitudes.


Jean “Cabu” Cabut

The images swirl through Twitter like leaves snapped from their branches.

Take this Charlie Hebdo cover: A white couple is on a walk. One of them holds a leash. At the end of the leash is a crawling black woman. The racism looks self-evident.

Translate the text: “Surrogate motherhood is two parents and a slave.”

Research the background: Some wealthy European couples are paying women in poor countries to carry their babies to term.

Consider the intended message: Commercial surrogacy is a form of racist exploitation.

This information is important, indispensable in forming an opinion about the cartoon. It makes the image look quite different. It’s context.

But it’s not the only context to consider.

Maybe the use of such imagery, even for anti-racist ends, does more to reinforce racism than to subvert it. Maybe this kind of art lets a white audience enjoy a racist stereotype without feeling racist. Maybe in a country like France–a country where the deck is stacked in favor of people with one skin color and against those with another–being an equal opportunity offender doesn’t prevent the damage you do from being unequally distributed. Maybe the cartoon is just not funny.

Let’s take a breath. Let’s learn all the context we can. Let’s talk. Let’s not let the conversation die.

 

Read the rest of this excellent piece at Blunderbuss Magazine. Some of the best parts were left out of this excerpt. >>

 

Travis Mushett is the editor-in-chief of Blunderbuss Magazine, a writer of fiction and non-fiction, and a PhD candidate in communications at the Columbia University School of Journalism. He currently feels the wind in his hair as he hurtles toward 30, and has decided that he’s pretty all right with the breeze. Check out his tweets at @CurriculumVeto.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
On the Wildness of Children: The Revolution Will Not Take Place In The Classroom
Carol Black15,079 views today ·
Paramedic's Response to "Burger Flippers" Making an Equal $15/Hour is Beautiful
Craig Carilli8,290 views today ·
We Need Ecstasy and Opium in Place of Prozac and Xanax
Marc Lewis and Shaun Shelly5,887 views today ·
Caitlin Moran's Posthumous Advice for Her Daughter
Caitlin Moran4,486 views today ·
I Promise, It's Not Lame to Ask a Woman for Permission
Dave Booda3,360 views today ·
Argentina: The Country That Monsanto Poisoned
Michael Warren and Natacha Pisarenko2,871 views today ·
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action2,755 views today ·
Getting Assange: the Untold Story
John Pilger1,812 views today ·
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad1,658 views today ·
Load More
What's Next
Sharp Left Turn for the Media Reform Movement: Toward a Post-Capitalist Democracy
Robert W. McChesney
Jackson Katz: A Paradigm-Shifting Perspective On The Violence That Harms Both Women and Men
19 min
Miss Representation (2011)
90 min
Like us on Facebook?
Fragments of Charlie