Saturday, November 07, 2015

Charlie Hebdo Disgracefully Mocks Russian Plane Crash Victims

Charlie Hebdo Disgracefully Mocks Russian Plane Crash Victims

by Stephen Lendman

The French satirical weekly is outrageously over-the-top, featuring stridently irreverent  cartoons, polemics and humor.

It takes pride in mocking religions, notably Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Its predecessor Hara-Kiri publication was banned for ridiculing Charles de Gaulle’s death.

In 1970, its staff shifted to the newly introduced Charlie Hebdo (CB), continuing the same offensive style, notably its repugnant cartoons, taking shots at virtually anyone, including the Virgin Mary.

Why readers find this amusing, they’ll have to explain. The publication was largely obscure before 12 staff members were killed and eight others wounded in last January’s attack on its Paris offices.

Worldwide sympathy was aroused, deservingly for victims, not the publication, abusing its press freedom privilege.

In early morning November 2, 2011 before its staff arrived, its offices were firebombed and destroyed the day after it announced the Prophet Muhammad as its editor-in-chief for its next issue, complete with a cover caricature of his image. No one was hurt or killed at the time.

CB regrouped and continued its irreverent style, offending selected targets, defending the indefensible in mocking the Prophet Muhammad and now Russian plane crash victims, setting off a justifiable firestorm of anger in Russia.

Victims deserve respectful bereavement, not ridicule. CB cartoons included one showing shattered airliner parts coming down on an apparent terrorist. The caption reading: “Daech: “L’Aviation Russe intensifie ses bombardments” needs no translation.

Another showed a skull and burned-out plane in the background - the caption reading: “The dangers of low-cost Russia. I should have taken Air Cocaine,” referring to two French pilots fleeing the Dominican Republic to escape arrest for alleged involvement in cocaine smuggling.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called CB’s Russian plane crash cartoons “blasphemous. This has nothing to do with democracy, self-expression, nothing to do with anything. This is blasphemy.”

He and his colleagues “dug around,” trying to find CB cartoons mocking their murdered staff members but couldn’t find any.

CB editor Gerard Briand said the publication rejects the notion of blasphemy. For certain, no discretion and common decency as well.

During the 1954 nationally televised Army-(Joe) McCarthy hearings, I saw attorney Joe Welch on national television challenge the Wisconsin senator, denouncing his spurious accusation about one of his young attorneys having communist ties - famously saying:

“Until this moment, senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or recklessness.” Welch angrily interrupted McCarthy’s retort, adding:

“Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency.”

Overnight, McCarthy’s popularity plunged. Senate censure followed, ruining him. In 1957, he died a broken man at age 48, perhaps mindless of the harm his baseless accusations caused.

CB take note! With attribution to Joe Welch: Have you no sense of decency? US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.”

Twitter comments blasted CB. Some urged people to “ignore (its) disgusting provocation.” Russian upper house Federation Council member Igor Morozov called it “blasphemy (to) ridicule the memory of those who lost their lives as a result of this catastrophe.”

Surviving family members’ grief will be painful and lost-lasting. Respect for their losses overrides press freedom, especially when it mocks the dead.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asked: “Is anyone still Charlie?” The phrase Je Suis Charlie, honoring its dead and injured staff members, sounds more like a pejorative now.

CB mocked Muslim refugees earlier. A cartoon headlining “Welcome, migrants” featured a cartoon of a three-year-old child lying face down on a European beach - the caption reading: “So close to the goal.”

A second page headlined “The proof that Europe is Christian.” It featured the legs of a drowning child and a man perhaps representing Jesus walking on water - the caption saying: “Christians walk on water…Muslim kids sink.”

Do readers find material this disgusting material amusing? Perhaps the slogan Je ne suis pas Charlie Hebdo is most appropriate!

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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