Saturday, 9 May 2015

Charlie Hebdo and a Rubicon Moment for Free Speech

Amanda Foreman, in this Wall Street Journal article, makes some powerful points, being, as she is, a staunch Charlie, as am I -- fundamentalist free-speechers.
In her article, she refers back to a similarly ugly episode in PEN's history, this one Dubrovnik 1933.  PEN's then president, H.G. Wells, had tried to steer a neutral line with respect to the Nazis.  But they were talked down, and onto taking sides -- robustly anti-Nazi.
Foreman says that this latest boycotting by PEN members in response to PEN's deception to honour the bravery of Charlie Hebdo was a similarly historical moment.
And PEN, via its current president Andrew Solomon, passed the test with flying colours.
Other points of interest:
The boycotters had variously said that Charlie was racist and obsessed with Islam.
Both claims are false (and one wonders at the research capacity of otherwise famous -- now infamous -- writers):
When they were murdered, the Charlie staff were planning a conference on antiracism.
Only seven of 523 covers were about Islam.
[My earlier posts on PEN, Charlie, etc, here, here here and here]