By Paul Avallone, author of Tattoo Zoo
A week ago, newscasts and social media were streaming endless images of the massive Paris rally and its sea of Je Suis Charlie signs held proudly over heads.
To which I shouted at the TV screen, “Merde! Bulls–t!”
Average citizens wanting to be one with the slain of the magazine Charlie Hebdo by proclaiming “I am Charlie” is pretentious and false. It’s easy to be nobly outraged when it doesn’t require any threat. When we can be Charlie without actually being Charlie, when there’s no cost, no danger, when our lives are not on the line for actually creating, and publishing, and brazenly flaunting scathingly satirical cartoons in mockery of Muhammad and Islam.
In the ensuing week, we were barraged with a loop of pundits lamenting the Obama Administration’s absence at that Paris street rally, then with Secretary of State John Kerry’s hug-fest apology visit to Paris, which climaxed in a rejected Saturday Night Live parody skit—sexagenarian folkie James Taylor serenading the French with You’ve Got A Friend.
And the only ones laughing? Muslim jihadists and their sympathizers—worldwide. Those, that is, who weren’t busy rioting over the week’s edition of Charlie Hebdo featuring a weeping Muhammad on the cover, which so many in the I Am Really Not Charlie mainstream American media refused to publish.
Let’s see if we’ve got this straight. Islamist jihadists kill journalists as a warning to all media not to take the name of their prophet in vain, and the best that the New York Times, AP and their ilk can do is comply? The best that President Obama can do is send well wishes via Sixties throwbacks Kerry and Taylor?
We’re talking all rain, no fire. The jihadists rain fire with Kalashnikovs, and the best the West can do is march with locked arms and Je Suis Charlie signs?
You want to be Charlie? Toss aside those cute little handheld Je Suis Charlie signs and hold high over your heads full-color posters of the actual offending Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Fill the streets in Paris, London, New York, L.A., Denver, Seattle, and Your Town with a million people in each holding up those cartoon posters.
You want to be Charlie? Take your locked arms and signs and cartoon posters and march yourselves enmasse through the sensitive urban areas of Paris. Have that front row of presidents and prime ministers lead the march directly to each and every mosque that sympathizes with radicalism in those zones and lay on the steps of the mosques the cartoon posters.
You want to be Charlie? If you’re a disarmed European citizenry marching behind those world leaders, (all of whom are shielded by platoons of gun-heavy palace security), perhaps you’d be better to rethink your own infantile gunlessness and demand aggressive resolve from those same leaders who are afraid themselves of holding high those Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
President Obama chose not to join those sanctimonious world leaders in Paris, which was a rare instance of unambiguous honesty for him (as a politician). He’s not Charlie and knows it, and he doesn’t want to be Charlie, has no intention of ever being Charlie. A man who can’t even openly associate jihadist warriors with Islam would surely choke trying to say “Je suis Charlie.”
Personally, I would like to see my president continue to ignore that phony Je Suis Charlie pose and simply walk impromptu into a press conference and hold up in each hand a poster of those blasphemous Muhammad cartoons. Look straight into the camera. Say, “I am Barack. You know where I live.”
Talk about one righteous hallucination. With Kerry and Taylor’s Paris revue in mind, that’s the kind of Sixties psychedelic scene one could imagine after dropping a tab of LSD.
Reality—no hallucinations here—just the other day, the week ended with the Oxford University Press asking authors to avoid references to pigs and pork in their publications. Yes, there followed Oxford’s high-minded rationalizations, but to even consider them is to fall down Lewis Carroll’s rabbit hole.
Which is perhaps exactly where America is in Obama’s You’ve Got A Friend peace-and-love Sixties worldview. Next up, slate Crosby, Stills and Nash to serenade the Iranian mullahs. Book Jefferson Airplane to rock Putin.
What a pity there were no Sixties rockadelics named Je Suis Charlie.
Paul Avallone spent three-plus years in Afghanistan as a Green Beret then an embedded civilian journalist. His novel of the Afghan War, Tattoo Zoo was published in December.