The new issue of Charlie Hebdo is out. In Paris it sold out almost immediately and the print run has been upped to a reported five million. On the cover is a cartoon of Muhammad, a tear on his cheek. Tens of millions of people will see it.
It is almost enough but not quite.
This is the moment, a week after the shootings, on the day of the publication of the first issue of the magazine since the murders, to rob all the Muhammad cartoons of their mystique. Steal away their power. Make them banal, not secret, censored and powerful but common. Flood the zone, let everyone see them. Show that they are only cartoons, caricatures, playthings. Show that the murderers got exactly the opposite of what they wanted. “You kill to stop a cartoon? We flood the streets with cartoons. You can’t take it? We have freedom here. You don’t have to live in the midst of it, you can go to a place that does not put such an emphasis on this kind of freedom.”
If in the West you keep such things as the cartoons in a magic, censored vault you give them mystical power and luster. These stupid drawings should not be imbued with these qualities! The argument is for disseminating them.
Some great media outlets in the United States, in an excess of what I’m sure they see as prudence, which is a virtue, and not cowardice, which is a vice, have refused to show the cartoons or even today’s Charlie Hebdo cover. I am proud that The Wall Street Journal ran one of the cartoons with an editorial the day after the murders. The Fox News website has run some of them also. Here we give you the new Charlie Hebdo cover.
Today is a day, on all social media and in mainstream media, to show the cartoons. All their mystique should be taken away, definitively. And a message delivered: If you murder a group of people for wearing cats on their heads, you know what the murderer’s supporters will soon see? Streets full of people with cats on their heads.