Tagged: Salman Rushdie

Dennis O’Neil: The Bigger Picture

RushdieI 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.


Mike Gold: Blowin’ People Up, Just To Make A Point

Charlie HebdoYes, I know. Our columnists here at ComicMix used to be pretty damn political. Eventually we drifted too far off of our happy little pop culture topic, and we retrenched. Well, sort of. Martha, Michael Davis and I moved our noisy political stuff over to www.MichaelDavisWorld.com . Therefore, at the outset I am telling you this column, delayed somewhat by my blind anger (thanks for filling, Emily!), is completely on topic.

You’ve probably heard about the bombing of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo by militant Islamists. Two gunmen stole a car, drove up to the paper’s office in Paris, and started blasting away on their AK-47s shouting “We have avenged the Prophet.” Then they split the scene, postponing their visit with their 72 virgins.

As of this writing, 12 people have been confirmed dead, including the editor, two policemen, and noted cartoonists: Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, Jean “Cabu” Cabut, Georges Wolinski, and Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac. Another 11 were wounded.

I’m not going to tell you a bunch of stuff you already know. This sort of thing has become all too common. Besides, comic book fan Salman Rushdie said it better than I ever could:

“I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”

Our fearless disrespect. Every once in a while, a writer knocks out a phrase so perfect that I think I should retire.

I wonder how the late Mad Magazine publisher Bill Gaines would have responded. He was a libertarian from back when the word wasn’t jingoistic. I knew Bill some, and my guess is that he would have been really pissed. He would have felt a kinship with the staff and talent at Charlie Hebdo… or so I think.

Now here’s the funny part of the story. Somebody reading these very words right now is thinking “It can’t happen here.” After two bombings at New York City’s original World Trade Center, a bombing at the Pentagon, a bombing of a child care center in Oklahoma City, various individual serial bombers like George Metesky and John “Ted” Kaczynski, the bombing of the J.P. Morgan bank on Wall Street, the bombing of the Los Angeles Times, the armed attack on Congress by Puerto Rican separatists… it most certainly can happen here.

Fortunately, we’ve got an outfit that helps – helps – protect cartoonists here. It’s called the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. They do excellent work. I am proud to be a supporter; if you’re not already, you would be too. Check out their web page. They cover international incidents as well as domestic; today Maren Williams wrote a great piece about the Paris attack.

“Funny” doesn’t make you safe. Ask Lenny Bruce.

It’s time to stand up and be counted.