The shootings at Charlie Hebdo are inexcusable. Resolving a disagreement or offense by ending the life of another is never right. The outpouring of grief and demonstration of solidarity with the French at this time is inspiring and brings out the best in humanity – although we obviously don’t feel the same level of grief over the hundreds of people killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria this week or the 37 killed by al-Qaeda in Yemen. But I’ll save my thoughts on that for another blog.
Not only were the terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo vicious, they were also stupid. Muslim extremists killing people over insults to their Prophet and what were they trying to achieve? Justice for Islam? Honor for Muhammed? The end of Charlie Hebdo? None of these things were achieved. You see Charlie Hebdo was already in serious difficulty. In fact last week they were in danger of folding. But not now! Before the attacks they printed 60,000 copies of each edition. This week they’re printing over 3 million copies in 16 different languages. Charlie Hebdo is now a household name around the world.
In addition to that The Press and Pluralism Association donated $360,0000, ordinary citizens through crowd fundraising gave $150,000, while French Culture and Communications Minister Fleur Pellerin pledged $1.45 million to the magazine. Charlie Hebdo now has more power, reach and influence than ever before and they will continue to do the same work of satirizing religions, cultures and politics. Nothing will be out of bounds. So, stupid terrorists, you would have been better off ignoring Charlie – just like those of other faiths did. Sure, there may have been blogs and media articles expressing concern at the distasteful cartoons in the magazine. Even Barrack Obama condemned them in 2012 and the French Government itself asked them to be more restrained. But it took two Islamist extremists to make sure Charlie Hebdo now has a bright future.
In 1988 there was a Canadian-American film released called The Last Temptation of Christ. I never saw it but I know people who did. It was an average movie that would have been a Box Office flop except for the free publicity given it by “Concerned Christians” who protested about the perceived blasphemous themes in the film. The movie should have been ignored. Hollywood must have sat back and rubbed its hands together in glee as the money rolled in. Incidents like this have occurred far too many times.
It reminds me of a quote by Elbert Hubbard: “Never explain – your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.” In other words there are times when ignoring something or someone is the best course of action. Jesus did it. Sometimes he just remained silent. Other times he answered a question with another question. He was never defensive, he never tried to justify himself and he certainly never resorted to violence to prove a point. He overcame evil with good because good is more powerful than evil and he encourages us to do the same.