When I say, 'Je suis Charlie,' it's not kitsch
Over at the American Conservative, Rod Dreher is skeptical about the outpouring sympathy for Paris’s victims of Islamic aggression. Along with David Brooks saying similar things in the New York Times, he had this to say about people who have embraced the Je suis Charlie meme:
On the Right, if a Christian fanatic who opposed abortion shot and killed a dozen NARAL workers, many of us would be horrified, and many of us would by no means say, even to ourselves, “They kind of had it coming” (though some conservatives would say it). But I can’t think of a single pro-life conservative who would post “I am NARAL” on their blog, or even claim such a thing.[…]I can’t speak for French sensibilities, obviously, but here in America, it’s easy for us on both the Left and the Right to join the Je suis Charlie mob, because it costs us exactly nothing. Nobody here knows what Charlie Hebdo stands for; all we know is that its staff were the victims of Islamist mass murder, of the sort with which we are all familiar.
Memes are annoying. I get it. Perhaps I bristled at these paragraphs because I had just taped five “JE SUIS CHARLIE” signs on my office door as a sign of solidarity with free speech. It is good to do as Dreher does here, and be self-critical before we jump into slogans we might regret later.
So let’s be “complicated,” as David Brooks asks us to. Let’s think this through. Is it appropriate for a conservative – or, since I’m writing this, me – to say or post, “JE SUIS CHARLIE”?
First, I have to offer an alternative of view of what’s happening “here in America.”
I don’t know about other readers of American Thinker, but when I go to work, I am in physical danger. For having stood up against same-sex parenting, I have been targeted by international gay rights organizations and listed as an anti-American criminal in a “notice” that was sent to millions of people by activists close to the president of the United States. I have been threatened at work – physically. People have dragged a knife across my office door, students have accosted me, and my American flag has been ripped and stolen several times.
The Human Rights Campaign, the group that has targeted me most viciously, also seems to have played a role in provoking Floyd Corkins, a gay terrorist, to bust into the offices of the Family Research Council in 2012 with the goal of slaughtering everyone in the building. This does not make me feel safer when I stroll into my office building. And neither the FRC nor I had any truck with “puerile” cartoons, as David Brooks characterizes Charlie Hebdo. We’ve been nuanced and considerate and compassionate all along. They still came after us, and David Brooks was no help.
GLAAD keeps peddling a “commentator profile” on me full of unconscionably out-of-date and out-of-context quotes taken from deleted blog posts. With its sky-high Google ranking, this profile inspired a deranged student at a university to organize a mob of people to heckle me less than two months ago. The student stood up in an auditorium (can we say “fire” in a crowded theater – remember that?) holding a printout of GLAAD’s profile; he shouted charges against me – saying I worked with neo-Nazis, believed that gay men are all pedophiles, and was an anti-Catholic homophobe – which were totally untrue. The truth didn’t matter to the mob of white male hecklers, who started chanting, “Racist, sexist, antigay, Christian fascist go away!” while they brandished a rainbow flag and a U.S. flag on large flagpoles. I left the building as they were shouting at me to get out.
There’s no point in lecturing any of us about crossing lines at this point. The lines have been crossed – not by those of us who are told to tone down our rhetoric, but by the senseless attackers who have presumed a right to threaten and punish whatever they don’t want to hear. Many commentators are asking that we take a closer look at Islam itself, which is appropriate, given all that is happening. But it’s much bigger than that. Islamist extremism is one of a number of ideological movements, anchored on the left of the political spectrum, which adhere to an incoherent ideology. This only crystallizes as an ideological system or finds cogency in violent imposition of language standards on others. Islamist radicals hate gays, gay radicals seem constantly determined to get black Christians fired, black radicals lament the targeting of black men in particular (something that would lead an objective person to interrogate feminism), while feminists cite statistics from Muslim countries to demonstrate the worldwide war on women. If any of these lefty groups has real grievances, their grievances are with each other.
But their ideology is consistent, believe it or not. The cosmetic details of which identity class is entitled to which emotional reaction against which provocation are not what matters. They share the same central belief: intimidation, including violence, is warranted when people say things they do not like. As long as they preserve their emotional veto and get to enforce it with catastrophic reprisal, their mission is accomplished. The specifics of what they want can be endlessly deferred.
It is the left that thinks this way, not we. So we have to mount a movement against the left, not figure out ways to placate them. Placate them, and you invite the gunmen.
Discussing standards of civility is more offensive than offensive hate speech at this point, because the only people who can seriously speak about “civility” are the people who have accommodated and buffered themselves from liberals while abandoning other innocent targets of their madness. This is not a moment for conversation, dialogue, or trying to hear the other side out. This is a moment to organize and show a united front against the groups that are responsible for the bulk of this totalitarian silencing – the left. Liberals in the United States are violent and crazy.
I am hip to the fact that liberals silence other liberals as well as people who are to the left of themselves on specific issues. Look at how many of them cheered on the lynch mob against Bill Maher at Berkeley. When I hang “JE SUIS CHARLIE” on my office door, I am speaking with a great deal of solidarity. I don’t actually care if the staff of Charlie Hebdo was mostly left-wing. I understand the kind of real fear and suppression with which they contend.
Charlie Hebdo has been swiftly hung out to dry by leftists who now say they were offensive and imply that they got what they deserved. That’s something I can relate to. Some conservatives have rallied to support me, but quite a few of them find me dangerous and a loose cannon. Charlie Hebdo does not divide left from right or reasonable people from loose cannons. It divides the bold from the timid. If you are bold, you are not David Brooks. Your name is Charlie Hebdo. You need to claim it.
That’s America. Let’s talk Europe. I go regularly to France to work with social conservatives. They have far surpassed Americans in courage when standing up for the traditional family of mother-father-child. Over a million converged on Paris on March 24, 2013, when I was the only American who got to address the crowd. It was an amazing sight.
We were tear-gassed that day. I had been attacked by a mob in Brussels a few days before – this was a mob of angry Belgian militants who would have knocked us down and beaten us if it were not for barricades holding them back. The Francophone university a few miles from there saw this on the news and barred me from presenting my paper at a conference for which I’d spent two years preparing. Their reason was that they could not guarantee the physical safety of the conference attendees, even if I was willing to risk being violently attacked by a mob.
Prominent “pro-gay” socialists in France tweeted their wish for a bomb to go off under the Arc de Triomphe on the day I spoke on a platform there. They also tweeted their desire to see Beatrice Bourges, a conservative French woman, “euthanized.” Nobody brought these people up on any charges.
In France, I spoke before a group of people whose former leader was actually brought up on charges for “denying the holocaust” because he pointed out the fact that French homosexuals were not deported en masse due to their sexual orientation. He went through a highly publicized trial that destroyed his career in the center-right political party, which banished him. Nobody was paying attention when the French court found him innocent and he was able to prove that the history he cited was correct.
In England, I met with people in a Christian group who are under constant siege by the British government. Islamist terrorists hack people to death in front of rolling cameras there, yet Christians are threatened with fines and worse for asking to pay for bus advertisements reminding the public that some homosexuals have left the lifestyle with the help of churches.
The conservatives in the United States have allowed LGBT extremists to run roughshod over their civil liberties; they have said next to nothing about the resurgence of slavery, cultural genocide, and eugenics, in the form of human trafficking, social engineering, and genetic engineering – all of which are spiking due to the LGBT lobby’s insatiable need to secure a market for buying and selling children. While most conservative outlets focus on Christian florists and bakers who are forced to provide services to gay weddings, there are gay couples who are illegally trafficking babies. The response from the conservative press is largely crickets chirping.
In Europe, it isn’t so. Facing off against riot police, thugs, and an Orwellian pro-gay press, millions of French people paid for train fare to Paris so they could stand against LGBT fascism. I was there on the stage, looking out at a sea of pink and blue – one and a half million people risking a great deal for their principles. In the United States, a country with a population five times as great, only about two thousand people showed up for the last national march for marriage. Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Rand Paul can’t seem to backtrack on the fight over marriage quickly enough.
The French have stopped surrogacy and blocked sperm-banking for lesbians. There is a strong possibility that if Sarkozy returns to power in 2017, he will rescind the gay marriage law.
Je suis Charlie does not have to be a meaningless meme. It means a lot to people in France who live each day under the threat of serious reprisal when they see Americans showing some modicum of courage in the face of ghastly threats against our freedom of conscience. Quite frankly, I think Americans need more guts.
I say, hang up the sign and think about what it means. Act on what it means. Be Charlie.