Dennis O’Neil: The Bigger Picture
I thought maybe I’d write about that humdinger of a cliffhanger the creative folk at the Arrow television show left us with a few weeks ago. I also mulled doing a brief piece on Leslie Thompkins who, in the person of Morena Baccarin, popped up in another show, Gotham. The Batman mythos’s resident and, I’m afraid, token pacifist might be worth a few hundred words and maybe will be somewhere down the line.
But now, this week, Monday. . . Je suis Charlie. It is somehow pleasing to type those words.
Certainly, you know the story by now. No need for a rehash here. And my fellow Mixers have weighed in on it and you can see what they had to say someplace near where you’re reading this. I have neither facts nor speculation to add to what’s already been given wherever you go for news.
I was shocked when, in 1988, Salman Rushdie was condemned to death by the Ayatollah Khomeini because the clergyman and his followers were offended by Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses, and spent the next several years under police protection. The ayatollah’s fatwa seemed to threaten not only Rushdie, but all of us tale spinners who are just doing our jobs, which happen to be making up stories and drawing pictures. Those massacred at the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo were mostly cartoonists and we all know people like them – some of us are people like them. They are our tribe and slaughtering them was a deep and personal insult to us.
There’s little point in hating the murderers. They are ignorant and – cruel irony – they are doing what they deem virtuous. And look beneath the surface, beneath the unfamiliar rhetoric and alien ideology, and you can find men and women of our own kind who share the murderers’ attitudes and solutions. Anyone who wants to stipulate what others must believe and who wants to dictate what we can read and see and listen to and how we should dress and worship and love is not so very far from the barbarians and given the opportunity and a few assault rifles, who knows?
So, even as we grieve for our fallen brothers and sisters, we should not hate our attackers. You might remember the advice supplied by the Bible: “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you. . . ” I think that if you plumb them deeply enough you will find fear and we all know about that.
But we cannot tolerate their actions, either. We have to stop them. Let’s hope it can be done with no further suffering. Let’s hope that we can finally abandon what is obviously not working and find creative and merciful means to bring peace to the barbarians and to ourselves.