This is a comment on one of Glenn Greenwald’s inane posts about the ethically and intellectually lax protest of the PEN Charlie Hebdo award. I thought it deserved reproducing:
“I cannot begin to imagine the kind of courage it took to show up and keep those presses running.”
I can’t either. Most of all I cannot begin to imagine how hard it must have been to make the cover illustration, with the whole world watching you, after having barely escaped death and still facing its very real threat, after having seen one’s friends and colleagues decimated, and that all with some almost impossible to reconcile imperatives. It had to be defiant in defense of free speech, that is, it had to depict the Prophet – anything else would have been seen as an Al Qaeda censorship victory. And yet it may not inflame xenophobia or worsen exclusion. It had to be surprising, if possible approaching the murders from an entirely new angle – although the whole world had been discussing them for days.
When it came out, my first reaction was, “Is that all?” It seemed tame. But it never left me, my mind kept mulling over it. “All is forgiven.” So unexpected. So much in line with Charb’s thinking. In the end, I think it must be one of the greatest cartoons I’ve ever seen. Made under the greatest duress any cartoonist has ever felt, and by far.
That, too, would be worth the PEN award just on its own.