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Very well, alone. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Very well, alone.

Here is a depiction of Moses, or Musa.

Here is another, by Buonarotti.

(The first is in the US Congress.)

Both are three-dimensional. They ‘Cast a Shadow’. And there is nothing like the plastic arts, when representing a human form, to get the gentry now in the news, bent wholly out of shape, as they say. And to Muslims, Moses – Musa – is a Big Deal, and a prophet.

Here is Jesus: a very naughty boy to Jews who yet await Moshiach; the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, the Son of God, Christ Jesus, to orthodox Christians; to Muslims, as ‘Isa’, a prophet ranking just behind Muhammad.

And here he is again.

And here are two representations, made by Muslims for Muslims, of Muhammad.
Maome2 386px-Muhammad_15142

And one – also Muslim – showing all three.

And here, as it is, after all, news, is a Charlie Hebdo cover.

The last four images – not merely the last – are rarely shown by craven journos and publishers, even in scholarly works, even in news reports turning upon just such images.

This is not surprising. Cowardice has ceased to surprise. There’s always a ‘reason’ – for which, read, ‘excuse’ – for ignoble pusillanimity. ‘Politesse’ is one commonly advanced.

Sod that.

A few journos are at least being honest, and one can appreciate their position. Dan Hodges in the Torygraph has admitted he is too afraid now to republish any image of Our Mo. The Jyllands-Posten has said openly that after nine years in the firing line, it is not inclined to provoke the murderous barbarians yet again: ‘We have lived with the fear of a terrorist attack for nine years, and yes, that is the explanation why we do not reprint the cartoons, whether it be our own or Charlie Hebdo’s. We are also aware that we therefore bow to violence and intimidation.’

Understandable enough. After all, for nine years that newspaper, like Charlie, stood almost alone, just as Sir Salman had done for rather longer, with cowardly peers refusing support, blaming them for provoking the crimes committed and threatened against them, keeping their heads below the parapet, feeding the croc in hopes of being eaten last. Unforgivably, governments were equally invertebrate, gelded, and appeasing.

Had that not been the case in the Rushdie affair, the J-P should likely never have been put in such existential fear. Had the abject cowards of the press and politics stood with Sir Salman and the J-P, and Taken Steps, there’s a good chance Charlie were today unmolested. A dear friend of ours in Fleet Street and whatever Rue Fleuve is the French equivalent, might not be mourning friends and colleagues.

But that should have taken courage. So of course it didn’t happen.

By publishing the above images, we here shall have been found, by our Jewish friends, slightly tedious, perhaps. We shall hardly have ruffled the Laodicean placidity of the modern Christian. But we have given a certain small but numerous minority who profess to follow Islam a sufficient excuse – and should have done had we merely posted an image of Moses; or breathed; or existed without submitting to them – to seek to kill us.

Well, they may try. Mr Wemyss’ view is that The Craven is part of the amalgamated Hunt now known as the Vine & Craven, and not otherwise a group to be joined; and suggests that Islamist jihadis seeking him out and wanting directions may enquire down the local or at the parish church. He can promise them, to quote Harold king, six feet of English earth, or more if they are tall men. As for Mr Pyle, he merely notes he lives in Texas, where even the little old blue-haired church ladies are packing heat and have marksmanship badges, so....

And after all,

To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods.

Oh – and, finally: Ceterum censeo Islamismum esse delendam.

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21 comments or Leave a comment
incandescent From: incandescent Date: January 11th, 2015 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Out of interest, how do you feel about the racism present in some of Hebdo's images?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 11th, 2015 03:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

That bit of whataboutery is – in more senses than one – not the question. (1/2)

A proper question were, Is ‘racism’ in fact ‘present in some of [Charlie]’s images?’, and, if so, What consequence should that have on my – indeed, the dear old firm’s – position and views? (I have, as we are discussing what are the views of the firm, taken the time to exchange views with MSP before replying, although this reply is formally mine only.)

Charb insisted quite lucidly and compellingly that his mag. was not only not racist, but was anti-racist (http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2013/11/20/non-charlie-hebdo-n-est-pas-raciste_3516646_3232.html). Then again, we live in a world in which Twain’s searing indictment of racism is often denounced as racist, so one tries not to expect too much.... But azdak has said it better and more fully than can I: http://azdak.livejournal.com/179385.html.

We also live in a world in which people actually seem to think – well, to hold: I can hardly accuse them of thought – that any criticism of Islam or its adherents constitutes ‘racism’. That is absurd – and indeed disingenuous at best and deliberate, derailing mendacity at worst. Islam is a religion, one which makes universal claims, which (to say the least) proselytises vigorously, and which since its inception, and certainly since its expansion into, say, the Balkans, and China, and – rather early on – sub-Saharan Africa, has had adherents of every race and ethnicity it could find (often, at certain historical periods, admittedly the surviving members of the race or ethnicity it had most recently encountered and granted the option of death or conversion...). I understand that the US Congress have now, and of quite recent vintage, one or two Muslim members. The first Muslim member of Parliament sat in the House of Lords. From 1869 to 1903. (Lord Stanley of Alderley had converted in religion in 1862, and succeeded his father in 1869.) Whether or not one believes it wrong to mock a religion, a religion is not a race.

So I am not altogether certain your suppressed or implied premiss is correct, for starters: because it is ambiguous, and I don’t quite know what you mean. (A better line of attack – I don’t say, A successful or tenable one, mind you – might have been the suggestion that Charlie is sometimes redolent of a whiff of reprehensible anti-Semitism, by which I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, Jew-hatred; then again, that sort of thing is in the DNA of the French and the DNA of the Left, and the publication is a French, Leftist publication: precisely the sort of chaps I am not commonly inclined to have a good word for.)

Finally there is the point that, as with Twain, it doesn’t do to assume the satirist shares the opinion of the character in which he satirises, any more than he does the opinions of those he satirises: it is a subtle art, satire, as Swift swiftly learnt (nowadays the good Dean should be accused not only of being anti-Irish but of being racist towards Native Americans). (I pause to note that it is a real threat to people’s taking the problem of racism seriously, when not only religions – well: one religion, always – are conflated with races for that purpose, but in addition the peoples of the Home Nations, the Northern Irish and the Scots and the Welsh and, in the Celtic Fringe, the English, actually have the neck to seek legal protections from one another’s mockery by contending that they constitute different races. It will be amusing, in a mournful sort of way, if this crosses the Atlantic, and Californians and Texans, say, begin reacting to one another’s disparagement by charging the disparager with racism.)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 11th, 2015 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

That bit of whataboutery is – in more senses than one – not the question. (2/2)

But let us assume that some or all of the publication’s images were, under some rational definition, racist. Does that change my – I should say, our – analysis?

Not one whit. In fact, it strengthens it. If one supports freedom of speech and of publication only for views with which one agrees or at most for those which are not repugnant, one does not in fact support freedom of speech and of publication, and it is a lie to claim that one does. I don’t much like the French as a whole, although there are some Frenchmen and Frenchwomen of whom I am very fond indeed. I quite dislike Leftists, quâ Leftists, as a group, although, again, some of them individually are very dear to me. I nonetheless am constrained to support their right, to the outermost limit of the principle (defined in my preceding post), of freedom of speech and of publication, and especially when I despise every last word they are saying. They must be allowed to publish and speak, if only so that I can then refute their quite pitiable arguments.

The same were true of racists. They must be free – to the outermost limits of the right, as I have given out above – to gibber their rubbish and publish their utter, swivel-eyed balls so that it can be confronted and, by argument, destroyed.

Mr Pyle, rising from his slow (but I trust steady) recovery, has exerted himself to pass on to me an instructive analogy from the American side. If one in fact believes in civil liberties, one defends the right of neo-Nazis to march through Skokie. Similarly, a true commitment to freedom of speech and of the press requires the defence of any number of distasteful things: again, even if only to bring them out of ambush, fix them, pin them down, and plot the barrage on their position.
incandescent From: incandescent Date: January 12th, 2015 02:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Indeed, for I was taking the conversation in a slightly different direction.

I was actually not referencing Hebdo's cartoons of Mohammed in my question, but rather some various cartoons that have presumably come from his publication and which utilize racial stereotypes to offend and make a point. Whether Hebdo was racist or not, his use of imagery that perpetuates a skewed view of oft-maligned groups (woman, Muslims, etc), is something that I feel is racist because it benefits from and supports a system of prejudice that focuses on a particular group of people. Now, such racism may serve to counter racism by drawing attention to racism, but a double blind may not always be the most effective way to accomplish one's purpose, seeing as many viewers are not patient/discerning enough to press on through the layers of meaning to discover the true purpose of the piece.

I appreciate your answer, as I knew you would give me a quite thorough one, and I always enjoy engaging with you. I do wonder, though... Hebdo is celebrated at the moment as a champion of free speech despite the indelicacies of his work when he was alive. Yet if, say, a member of the KKK (who might use racist cartoons to poke fun at certain racial groups), were to be killed, many would simply shrug, or even rejoice. I'm not sure that many would celebrate that person's use of free speech to malign and spread racist thought. (And yes, there is the problem of intent, but to many readers the intent is meaningless - they make their own meaning despite the creator's true purpose.) Hebdo poked fun at Islam, and in his death he is matyred, made into a hero of a kind for free speech. Because he went after a group whom many perceive to be the 'enemy', rather than one which we 'like'? I wonder.

I certainly believe in free speech. But this single-minded reaction that the world is having to Hebdo's (admittedly horrifying and tragic) death seems a bit willfully blind to certain nuances, and I was interested as to your views.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 12th, 2015 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ah. (1/3)

Where to begin. Oh, dear.

It’s not that I don’t know precisely what to say, it’s that I don’t wish to say it publicly. But of course if one merely says THAT, it sounds as if one is trying to hide a racism or something similarly discreditable of one’s own.

I really do urge you to look carefully at the discussion that I was lucky to find at azdak’s LJ just as I was about to post my first reply; and not to be misled by the contextless Tumblr posts of (evidently) non-Francophone North Americans.

If I could drop a private word in your shell-like ear rather than replying here – but I cannot, because it’s necessarily part of the reply, and your comment deserves a full and unequivocal reply. It’s a bit embarrassing to me, but I really must first point out a mistake of fact. You see, there was – and is, for they have regrouped – a French magazine called Charlie. It had had a monthly edition from 1969 to 1986, Charlie Mensuel: Charlie Monthly, or, if you like, The Monthly Charlie. Since 1969, it has also had a weekly – in French, hebdomadaire, truncated slangily as ‘hebdo’* – edition: Charlie Hebdo. Charlie Weekly. The Weekly Charlie. There was never a M Charles Hebdo. There was never one man named Charlie. That is why Charlie could not be killed by killing ten of its senior staff.

Charlie (the magazine) was avowedly Leftist from its inception, and avowedly anti-racist. Now, I am not saying the Left is free of racism – to the contrary: I find it to be more prevalent, in slightly camouflaged forms, on the Left than amongst my fellow Classical Liberals and those to our Right. But – and, NOTA BENE, this is where the collective and decades-long character of Charlie as a magazine rather than as one man, comes in – even if one Leftist has (unrecognised by him) racist tendencies, a group of the buggers openly dedicated to attacking racism must simply by the operation of the law of averages tend to cancel that individual tendency out. What can, that is to say, be suspected of one cartoonist (let us say), is much harder to charge against a collective enterprise over a period taking in parts of half a century.

To this you may object that, from the Tumblr post you reference, you gathered that the magazine had spent that half century engaging in objectively racist acts. You have been, I think, misled.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 12th, 2015 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ah. (2/3)

You say, ‘Whether Hebdo was racist or not, [its] use of imagery that perpetuates a skewed view of oft-maligned groups (woman, Muslims, etc), is something that I feel is racist because it benefits from and supports a system of prejudice that focuses on a particular group of people’: but let us look at that. Of course, neither sex nor religious affiliation is race, and therefore neither sexism nor a hostility to a religion (or all religions, and the mag. was indeed hostile to all religions, or, to be precise, to all religion, to the very concept of religion) can be called in any sense which does not do violence to the word, ‘racist’. To say otherwise is to reach, as to the misuse of the very serious charge of racism, the point noted by Orwell, that the term ‘fascist’ had come to mean, by 1941 or so and ever sense, simply ‘anything the speaker doesn’t like’. But let that pass for a moment.**

You go on to say that, ‘Now, such racism [sic] may serve to counter racism by drawing attention to racism, but a double blind may not always be the most effective way to accomplish one’s purpose, seeing as many viewers are not patient/discerning enough to press on through the layers of meaning to discover the true purpose of the piece’, and, ‘(And yes, there is the problem of intent, but to many readers the intent is meaningless – they make their own meaning despite the creator’s true purpose.)’. Let me again hark back to Twain. The passage in which Huck, having been told all his life that failing to return a runaway slave such as Jim is a sin which damns a man to Hell, decides, ‘All right, then, I’ll GO to hell’, is one of the great moral passages in Western, let alone American, literature. Yet Twain, in setting this up, creates and depicts in detail a world full of racism casual and institutionalised at once; and people have spent the better part of a century and a quarter now trying to ban Twain, not least on specious charges of racism.

If the common – dead common – reader is ‘not patient/discerning enough to press on through the layers of meaning to discover the true purpose of the piece’ and such readers ‘ make their own meaning despite the creator’s true purpose’ – as happened to Swift and to Twain – that is hardly something to charge against the creator, except perhaps as a tactical failure sufficiently to underestimate the stupidity of readers. I really do urge you to look at the link to azdak’s post I furnished. If the magazine Charlie Hebdo were institutionally racist, then Speight and Mitchell (and Warren Mitchell was a Jew) were Alf Garnett and held his views (or, in American terms, Norman Lear and Carroll O’Connor were ideological soul-mates of Archie Bunker). And that is a view no writer or creator can accept.

Unlike your hypothetical Klansman cartoonist, Charlie Hebdo – meaning, specifically, Jean Cabut, Elsa Cayat, Stéphane Charbonnier, Philippe Honoré, Bernard Maris, Mustapha Ourad, Bernard Verlhac, Georges Wolinski, as well as Frédéric Boisseau, Franck Brinsolaro, Michel Renaud, and Ahmed Merabet – did not in fact ‘use racist cartoons to poke fun at certain racial groups’. That is simply a canard presently on the loose and unchained amongst people who know nothing of France and French politics, and do not speak French. But what if they had done? What if a group of French Jews, French Tunisian Jews, French Turks, French Greens, French anarchists, and French Communists did create and use ‘racist cartoons’ for the purpose of, and for no higher purpose than, ‘pok[ing] fun at certain racial groups’? You say, perhaps rightly, that ‘many would simply shrug, or even rejoice. I’m not sure that many would celebrate that person’s use of free speech to malign and spread racist thought’. All right. But the actions of the many cannot dictate what is right and just. And the principle of freedom to speak and to publish even the most distasteful things is too important to be censored in the name of manners or majority views or noble causes or religious sensitivities. Full bloody stop.

Edited at 2015-06-22 04:23 pm (UTC)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 12th, 2015 04:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ah. (3/3)

I advert you to my preceding post for that argument in full. Better still, I advert you to Mill:
If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. *** The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. *** There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation. Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right. *** Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being ‘pushed to an extreme’; not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case. Strange that they should imagine that they are not assuming infallibility, when they acknowledge that there should be free discussion on all subjects which can possibly be doubtful, but think that some particular principle or doctrine should be forbidden to be questioned because it is so certain, that is, because they are certain that it is certain. To call any proposition certain, while there is any one who would deny its certainty if permitted, but who is not permitted, is to assume that we ourselves, and those who agree with us, are the judges of certainty, and judges without hearing the other side. *** The usefulness of an opinion is itself matter of opinion.
See http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_Liberty/Chapter_2.

Either one believes in and is willing to defend a universal right, or one does not. If one is unwilling to defend it because it seems to one it has been ‘pushed to an extreme’, or is in one’s own opinion ‘not useful’, one does not in fact believe in the universal right to speak and to publish. Full sodding stop.

As it happens, I believe in that right, and must therefore defend much more noxious things than anything ever actually done or ignorantly charged against the staff and editors of Charlie Hebdo. It is a moral obligation so to do.
* Similarly, from 1854 until 2000, what is now the University Council at Oxford was, owing to its absolute rule of meeting only weekly, the Hebdomadal Council.
** I should imagine that, as an American and an American more or less evidently ‘of the Left’, you are a believer in what is called ‘the separation of church and state’. The American position, as I understand it, is that the State must be neutral as to religion, and must guard against the support, the establishment, of religion – whilst at the same time guaranteeing the right of the citizen freely to exercise his religion or irreligion. This is not at all the case in the French Republic, which, organically and constitutionally, is secular, and considers it a threat to the Republic to allow religion at all in ‘the public square’.
incandescent From: incandescent Date: January 13th, 2015 02:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ah. (3/3)

I often feel as if I should even speak at all. There's so much I don't know that I think I'm incapable of saying something without offending someone. I misunderstood the facts, and I thank you for educating me. Certainly no one else has done so. (My only disclaimer is that I meant no offense and hope I can be forgiven.)

As an aside, of course I support free speech, no matter what a person says. I simply found some of the general public's reactions to the entire affair interesting. And now I find that I don't know enough to speak at all.
shezan From: shezan Date: January 13th, 2015 03:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ah. (3/3)

I've been traipsing the Internet, and I can see you found all of this piffle and more among people who pontificate through their own very narrow mindset. So, kudos to you for saying you didn't know; and believe me, what I think of such people is that their families shelled out $70,000+ annually for an education that doesn't even enable them not to apply the same cliché formulas to everything, no matter how, er, actually, DIFFERENT.
incandescent From: incandescent Date: January 13th, 2015 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ah. (3/3)

I do try to remain educated about current events, but my blind spots often sneak up on me and stab me in the back though I mean only the best. I'm very embarrassed by my own ignorance, and again apologize.

I believe we've commented to each other once of twice before, but I may again be mistaken. In any case, if I begin seeming particularly foolish, don't hesitate to help me out by setting me straight. I always want to have intellectual, important discussions, but many times get ahead of myself. With time and patience, I hope to one day be much better at that.
shezan From: shezan Date: January 13th, 2015 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ah. (3/3)

No worries.

...anyway, BEST RESPONSE from the French Jesuits, who are publishing in their magazine some of the nastiest anti-Catholic Charlie Hebdo cartoons. WAY TO GO, Jesuits.
incandescent From: incandescent Date: January 13th, 2015 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ah. (3/3)

Really? I should go educate myself on that. That does sound absolutely great.
incandescent From: incandescent Date: January 13th, 2015 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

In the interest of aiding future discussions...

It occurred to me last night that part of my problem is that I have few really good sources for accurate and nuanced representations of current events. I do listen to NPR, but can't listen at work and so miss many of the daily reports that might inform me more. (And no matter how I try to curate a tumblr feed, obviously that's a task left to those with much more time, patience, and wisdom.) Can you recommend a good forum to learn more about current events?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 14th, 2015 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)


It always seems to me that one thing to do is to read The Other Side to whatever views you tend to hold. (All newspapers and indeed news organisations have politics. The difference between everyone else's and America's is that the Yanks pretend to neutrality whilst being partisan.) I am precisely the sort of person who naturally reads the Spectator and the Torygraph; so I make certain to read the Grauniad and the Staggers and the Indy to see what 'the enemy' are saying. And I also find that reading foreign sources compensates for local prejudices.
incandescent From: incandescent Date: January 16th, 2015 12:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh. Sorry.

Thank you so much! These links are a really helpful place for me to start, and I'll expand my reading on this side of the pond as well.
shezan From: shezan Date: January 12th, 2015 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Indeed, for I was taking the conversation in a slightly different direction.

*clicks on, clicks back*

Oh lord.

Irony, have you ever come across it? Christiane Taubira, our current Socialist Minister for Justice, who is a French politician from the Guyane, and has taken to court a number of National Front racist depictions of her, has never dreamt of accusing Charlie Hebdo of anything like it. She, like all of us, understands the fundamental differences between racism and ironic humour. You should try it sometime.

Edited at 2015-01-12 06:26 pm (UTC)
incandescent From: incandescent Date: January 13th, 2015 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Indeed, for I was taking the conversation in a slightly different direction.

Forgive my ignorance. I did not mean to insult anyone. Which is why I posed the question, and have such been duly corrected.
shezan From: shezan Date: January 12th, 2015 06:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Would you care to produce the images which you feel are racist? Because I've been a Charlie Hebdo reader since my teens (a bit of time ago, alas); I am French, have a Jewish mother, a Guyanese aunt, a Filipino side of the family, a Huguenot grandfather, a number of Beaujolais Catholic winegrowers on that same side (and, come to think of it, an ancestor about to be canonised, the Blessed Marie Rivier), a healthily Socialist atheist father, and an Egyptian uncle by marriage. None of us have ever been offended by Charlie Hebdo, even when we disagreed strongly with the ideas expressed in it (and there's nothing wrong with that), but we still smile or laugh whenever we think of many, many, many of its issues. It is possible you are not quite familiar with France's diverse culture and Republican traditions.

Edited at 2015-01-12 06:19 pm (UTC)
fpb From: fpb Date: June 21st, 2015 09:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Congratulations on the grammatically perfect Latin sentence. It should be easy enough to replace one accusative with another, but I swear you are the first person I have seen in years who had a grip of basic grammar.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 22nd, 2015 04:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

On the one hand, Thank you.

Although it is, as you rightly say, a doddle.

On the other hand, Must you depress me further? I know it's dire. And then of course your all too accurate assessment follows on the heels of this dispiriting news: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/11690481/Oxford-University-dons-verdict-on-their-students-Cant-spell-read-or-think.html
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