I just had a look at the Charlie covers circulating around American news media as “evidence” of the magazine’s racism. I, honestly I didn’t think I could be more upset and surprised and horrified, but I literally cannot believe that people think THESE PARTICULAR covers are evidence of racism. These particular covers are, all of them, explicitly and obviously criticisms of racism, and anyone with half a clue would know that. I can only see the continued circulation of them as yet more evidence that Americans just think they know everything.
For the record, the Christiane Taubira one: references an incident where a Front National officer posted a picture of the garde des sceaux and compared her to a monkey, and this in a larger context where Mme Taubira was taking pretty much daily shit for her stance in favor of gay marriage and her sponsorship of the mariage pour tous law. The Front National says, oh no, that’s not us, we’re not RACISTS, she did that on her own. Charlie says…..bullshit. Charlie says, hey, FN, you’re a bunch of racists, fuck off.
As for the one with Dieudonné? Fucking look him up. Holocaust approving, hate-mongering, tax-evading, anti-semite, lazy, naricissitic shithead that he is, he deserves a good lampooning, and then he deserves another one. The thing up his butt is a quenelle, which, in addition to being something to eat, is also a neo-nazi racist salute that he invented and which was briefly in vogue among the nation’s disaffected youth and the poseurs who wish they were the nation’s disaffected youth. He is not a good guy, you are not on the right side of racism if you are defending him, and that thing in his ass is not a banana, or a pineapple, or anything else that you’re wildly speculating about. It’s a quenelle, it’s clearly a quenelle, there’s never been the possibility of it being anything else, and no one even marginally familiar with the context could possibly arrive at any other conclusion.
I know that condemning racism makes everybody feel all special and politically engaged without having to actually DO anything. I know that in particular, people who work as university professors can easily develop a sense that because they are so heavily theorized, that they are always right, that they know better. I know too that american political discourse is rapidly become hyper-sanitized and carefully corporate, that there is a tendency to go looking for racism whereever you can find it, and to explain that 1. you need to be really careful and 2. you probably need to look to an expert. But that doesn’t make you right. That doesn’t make the discourse a good one. And it doesn’t mean that you know jack shit about anybody else.
I am particularly tired of being told that the charlie hebdo situation is super complicated and requires the expert treatment of intellectuals to be deciphered (and in these moments I am always and already not an intellectual, so for that a special fuck you), while those same people are like, I won’t even get into the issue of racism, charlie is obviously racist and there’s nothing more to say. You guys don’t know what the fuck you are talking about. You may think you’re intellectuals and scholars, but with the cartoons you’re holding up, you haven’t even gotten as far in your interpretation of them as some kid who dropped out of high school and can barely read.