Defending Free Speech Against Jihad
The savage attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris was in the instant bullets ripping through flesh. Innocent lives painfully ended. Friends & family members taken from this earth by cowardly dogs because their victims dared express ideas in the form of satirical cartoons. The free expression of ideas is the enemy of the Islamist. Debate is the enemy of those who would impose Islam on the entire world. We must all fight the counter Jihad to protect our ability to debate, discuss… We must fight to protect our freedom and, quite literally, our very lives. -Grizzly Joe
‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” wrote biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall, summing up the view of her subject, Voltaire. The 17th-century French writer has been on many minds since last week’s Islamist atrocity in Paris. “As the news of the massacre sank in,” wrote historian Robert Darnton for the New York Review of Books, “I kept thinking of Voltaire and calling up his famous grin—lips curled and lower jaw stuck out, as if to defy anyone who might dare to pull a punch.”
Many of us don’t share the sensibilities of Charlie Hebdo’s leftist politics and sometimes juvenile humor, but the terrorists who massacred its staff attacked a core component of French identity. “Free thought begetting light-hearted satire . . . is at the root of French character,” observed a 19th-century British history of French literature. French-style caustic satire is less common in the Anglosphere, but the Enlightenment in all forms enrages Islamists.
Islamists can’t abide free speech. They issued a death sentence for Salman Rushdie for writing a novel, forced a Danish cartoonist into hiding, and murdered Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam for making a film.
Moderate Muslims around the world most need a robust defense of free speech, especially if it offends. In the spirit of Voltaire, they’re taking great risks to challenge extremism.