Garry Trudeau, political satirist of Doonesbury fame, is taking his turn at the lovely roller coaster ride that is public opinion, for views he aired in an acceptance speech at the Polk awards. You can see the full text of his speech here. Trudeau talked about how his career as a political cartoonist began, the purpose of satire, and the difference between good and bad satire.
Nothing controversial there, right? Except that Trudeau used the opportunity to call out Charlie Hebdo for lampooning Mohammed. Some defend the cartoonist, while others roast him.
The thrust of Trudeau’s perspective is that it is not okay to poke fun of the disenfranchised. He blames the victim, and in the process suggests that only rich white guys can be acceptable and expendable fodder for political satire. Worse, he calls Muslim extremists “powerless.”
Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists like Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it’s just mean.
By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech, which in France is only illegal if it directly incites violence. Well, voila—the 7 million copies that were published following the killings did exactly that, triggering violent protests across the Muslim world, including one in Niger, in which ten people died. Meanwhile, the French government kept busy rounding up and arresting over 100 Muslims who had foolishly used their freedom of speech to express their support of the attacks.
Trudeau then went on Meet the Press to walk back his remarks.
But in this interview Trudeau somehow manages to make things worse. While insisting he doesn’t blame Charlie Hebdo for the massacre in Paris, he says that by lampooning Mohammed, the satire magazine brought France, “a world of pain.” He is speaking of appeasement: make nice to the Muslims, give them what they want, or they will kill you.
And we know that the opposite is true. The more you agree to and give in to their demands, the more they kill you. Just look at Oslo or the Disengagement from Gaza.
Now if Trudeau had spoken about the issue of provocation, I would have agreed with him. If you poke a hornet’s nest, you’re going to get stung. And I do agree with Trudeau that it’s not okay to poke fun at a person’s deepest held religious beliefs.
But I do reject the idea that extremist Muslims are powerless. It seems to me they are pretty powerful. Let’s take a look at that, shall we?
- We live in a world where the U.S. and the EU have agreed to allow Iran to become a nuclear power and where Netanyahu was roundly criticized for daring to speak out about this before Congress.
- We live in a world where school girls can be abducted, forced to convert, and become the sexual playmates of Boko Haram and the only notable response from the White House is a hashtag campaign by the First Lady.
- We live in a world where the Yazidis are slaughtered by the hundreds in Iraq by ISIS.
- We live in a world where Hamas and Fatah can slaughter Jews and Israel is called on the international carpet for not giving the terrorists want they want: Jewish land.
Every day, we see examples of the growing power of Muslims, the fruit of a politically correct world that decides which ideologies are to be deemed hands off or embraced. On college campuses all over America, we see how the Islamic extremist narrative has taken hold. This narrative posits Israel, Zionism, and yes–even the Jews–as objects to deride and hate, while Muslims are the tortured underdog to be defended.
In its depiction as a powerless sector, the Muslims have gained the upper hand. Muslims can look in the mirror and ask, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall: who is the most powerful of all?”
The Jews, with all their military might, substantial brain power, and sheer goodness, are reviled. Israel treats Syrians who trickle in over the border. Israel is the first to arrive at the scene of any natural disaster scene to save lives. But the Muslims are celebrated, the Jews castigated.
This is a world where inversion rules: the powerful Jew is powerless, while the poverty-stricken Muslim holds sway in the arena of world opinion.
Would it be better to be poor?