Islamists Firebomb Charlie Hebdo Magazine. Time’s Bruce Crumley Blames the Magazine.

This is simply breathtaking for its grotesqueness. A French newspaper practices freedom of the press, printing some satire directed toward Islam; the paper is subsequently firebombed by religious fanatics; and Bruce Crumley, Time magazine’s bureau chief in Paris, castigates the newspaper for exercising poor editorial judgment:

[It’s] hard to have much sympathy for the French satirical newspaper firebombed this morning, after it published another stupid and totally unnecessary edition mocking Islam. The Wednesday morning arson attack destroyed the Paris editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo after the paper published an issue certain to enrage hard-core Islamists. … Sorry for your loss, Charlie, and there’s no justification of such an illegitimate response to your current edition. But do you still think the price you paid for printing an offensive, shameful, and singularly humor-deficient parody on the logic of “because we can” was so worthwhile? If so, good luck with those charcoal drawings your pages will now be featuring.

Bruce Crumley’s cowardice and gloating here is stomach turning. And his ire directed toward the magazine doesn’t stop there: he even condemns Charlie Hebdo for the sin of being (gasp!) insolent:

Charlie Hebdo has cultivated its insolence proudly as a kind of public duty—pushing the limits of freedom of speech, come what may. But that seems more self-indulgent and willfully injurious when it amounts to defending the right to scream “fire” in an increasingly over-heated theater.

But what else is insolence but to talk back to an authority figure in a manner inconsistent with his or her approval or sensibility? Insolence is directness and a form of irony—a way of puncturing bubbles of rectitude—and directness and irony are central to freedom of speech and the press. It’s hard for me to believe that the person who heads Time’s office in Paris doesn’t get that, and can’t find it in himself to stand up for the human (and liberating) right to be insolent.

Voltaire was insolent. If a fanatic had followed Voltaire to England and cut him down with a meat cleaver on a London street for writing Candide, would the lesson have been that Voltaire should have known better than to write the offensive stuff he did? Should Voltaire have toned his writings down before publishing them? 

And what about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters and the Tea Partiers? They’re direct and insolent, too. If someone firebombed the organizing offices for one of these groups, would Bruce Crumley write that it was hard to have sympathy for them?

Charlie Hebdo injured no one. The writers at that magazine printed words and images. That’s all. They communicated their views of Islam. They believe it’s a ridiculous religion and broadcast that belief to others.

This is not screaming fire in a crowded theatre. It’s speech. Every adult has the human right, if he or she is so inclined, to say that religion—including the religion of Islam and its prophet Muhammad—is ridiculous and to tell others exactly why they think that. Adults can read things, or ignore what is written. But it’s not a human right to be protected from offense, or to stop others from writing and speaking. The fire in this crowded theatre was a literal one, and set by criminals who meant to intimidate non-Muslims away from the full exercise of their rights to speech and publication.

I’d like to add one other thing: Charlie Hebdo devoted editions of its paper to Islam precisely because, after the “Arab spring,” Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt appear headed for Sharia-style theocratic cultural and legal lockdown. That means that if you’re a free-thinker, a gay person, a non-Muslim, or a woman living in any of these countries, it’s going to suck to be you for a very long time.

So, where is Bruce Crumley’s outrage about that? And, as for having an honest conversation concerning the besieged Christian minority in Egypt (9% of Egypt’s population), let’s not even go there. You can bet Bruce Crumley certainly won’t be. He’s obviously an apologist for Herderianism, especially of the ummah variety. He thinks it’s okay to let group sensibilities, however dull and ignorant, override the Promethean gestures of intelligent and dissenting individuals.

What turns an American journalist living in Paris into such a sheep? May the ghost of Mark Twain visit Bruce Crumley in his sleep.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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17 Responses to Islamists Firebomb Charlie Hebdo Magazine. Time’s Bruce Crumley Blames the Magazine.

  1. Blaming the victim, that’s brave of Bruce.

  2. hbhatnagar says:

    I think it was his craven fear that his office might be next if he did not condemn the Charlie Hebdo outright. Or maybe he’s just another Islamic apologist. So according to him it’s right for a fundamentalist to bomb an office but not for a non-fundamentalist to voice his/her opinion. Way to go Brucey boy!

  3. I don’t think he’s an apologist, I think he’s just pointing out that when you provoke people with no sense of humour and who have a history of reacting violently when they are made fun of, that you have to expect a violent response when you poke fun at them.

    But the problem is that if you are a reasonable person who believes in freedom of speech, that it’s hard to understand people who do not have that tradition. It’s hard to predict a reaction when you don’t really understand the mentality that’s driving the reaction.

    And Bruce is not considering that perhaps they got the response that they wanted, we shouldn’t be condoning violence as long as the provocation for it is less than violence to start with.

    And really, when you think about what some Christians do – shoot abortion doctors and bomb clinics, there’s not really a lot of difference between the religion’s responses to what they deem provocation.

    • Paradigm says:

      The fact that there are extremists in all religions doesn’t change that Islam is behind practically all deadly terrorism worldwide. And even though I wouldn’t defend the deadly terrorism of pro life-extremists, there is still a difference between killing people to defend unborn children and killing people because they insulted you.

      • Killing in defense of babies is an apologist way to say terrorize doctors so they stop providing abortion services.

        It is an entirely different thing to happen onto a scene of one person imperiling another and helping the person in danger than it is to take the time and effort to hunt down and shoot a doctor going about their daily life so they stop being a doctor.

        There really isn’t a difference. Both the doctors and the media is under threat of religious violence.

        Abortion doctors get shot in their homes, in their churches and at the office – the killing isn’t done to save a particular “baby”, but to terrorize any doctor who would consider providing the service.

        If a person is going to shoot or bomb to kill a person who is doing something they disapprove to stop them and to scare off other people from doing the same, it is the same action – one excuse for terrorizing people is no better than any other excuse, they are both terrorist groups seeking to impose their behavioral standards on the rest of us.

  4. This entry is very much on point about Bruce Crumley. This sort of apologia for Islam, for the politics in the region, and its effects in Europe is pretty disgusting, morally bankrupt, and devoid of any sound reasoning.

    These extremists are not looking for more tolerance so greater space can be created in discussion and opportunity. They’re not liberals. They are acting out against liberalism itself. It’s a consequence of their fundamentalist ideology, their hatred of free speech, their hatred of secular society, and their desire to put an end to it.

    Yes, these newspapers that print ‘insolent’ articles, pictures, and illustrations are very much martyrs for our liberal society. They’re fighting to keep that space open, to cast light on the dangerous of fundamentalism, its irony and ridiculous consequences, and they’re obviously being proven correct given what has followed

    It just makes me sick to my stomach to see significant factions in our society defending fundamentalism while at the same time calling it the defense of liberty, tolerance, and morality.

    The author is about the Arab Spring revolutions. It’s falsely being called a democratically liberal set of revolutions. There is no reason, evidence, or foundation for it. What we’re witnessing in that region is a series of fundamentalist revolutions which will end with repressive dictatorships.

    So, as the author states, the clear hypocrisy of Bruce and others is shown to all by the complete disregard and negligence in not revealing the realities of these upheavals. But then, I rarely see any leftist critique of Islam, of the Middle East, or of the virtues of many in our media in exposing those evils.

    One disgusted American.

  5. Paradigm says:

    “Killing in defense of babies is an apologist way to say terrorize doctors so they stop providing abortion services.”

    No killing in defense of babies is not apologism – making excuses for it is. Which I didn’t, I merely pointed out that there is a difference.

    “It is an entirely different thing to happen onto a scene of one person imperiling another and helping the person in danger than it is to take the time and effort to hunt down and shoot a doctor going about their daily life so they stop being a doctor.”

    Eh? Happen onto a scene? What are you talking about. A doctor being a doctor is someone helping those who are ill or injured – being pregnant is neither of those.

    “There really isn’t a difference. Both the doctors and the media is under threat of religious violence.”

    The difference is the doctors end human lives of unborn children who can’t defend themselves and the journalist or artist is using the right of free speech.

    “Abortion doctors get shot in their homes, in their churches and at the office – the killing isn’t done to save a particular “baby”, but to terrorize any doctor who would consider providing the service.”

    Yes, no argument there. But they are still trying to save babies. The Muslims are only trying to save face.

    “If a person is going to shoot or bomb to kill a person who is doing something they disapprove to stop them and to scare off other people from doing the same, it is the same action – one excuse for terrorizing people is no better than any other excuse, they are both terrorist groups seeking to impose their behavioral standards on the rest of us.”

    So if a group of people comes to your house and threaten your family and the police ignore you, you wouldn’t even consider beating one of those up to deter the others? Because it’s all the same and no excuse is better than the other?

  6. @ Paradigm

    You’re shifting word meanings without a clutch as if they are equivalent, when they are not.

    Home invaders are criminals who may cause some terror in their victims, but they are not terrorists. Frankly, anyone who breaks into someone’s home, deserves whatever beating they get.

    The people who are shooting abortion doctors are not heros and they aren’t rescuing anyone – even if they burst into the operating room. They are self appointed, self righteous people seeking to impose their religious beliefs on other people – the same as the folks who bombed the media offices.

    They are using terror to force compliance to their beliefs – there is no difference between someone who kills an abortion doctor and someone who kills a journalist. The particular victim is dead, but the rest of the journalists and abortion doctors end up being terrorized and threatened.

    I get the distinct feeling that you don’t really understand the difference between a violence directed at a person vs violence directed at a group and merely carried out against a member of the group as an example to other people.

    The killer might hate the person in the first instance, but it’s only a hate crime in the second instance, when it’s the hatred for the group with violence perpetrated against an individual who is a symbolic stand-in for said group.

    If you really beleive life is special and sacred, then killing the abortion doctor is an act of evil, it’s taking a life and impacting their family, friends, their entire network of people – the doctor’s actions are to carry out a medical procedure decided upon by a person who is legally entitled to do so – and by condoning killing abortion doctors you are saying that it’s okay to control women through violence, fear and intimidation.

    • Paradigm says:

      “Home invaders are criminals who may cause some terror in their victims, but they are not terrorists. Frankly, anyone who breaks into someone’s home, deserves whatever beating they get.”

      That was not what I said. I said,

      “So if a group of people comes to your house and threaten your family and the police ignore you, you wouldn’t even consider beating one of those up to deter the others? Because it’s all the same and no excuse is better than the other?”

      I was not implying that home invaders are terrorists at all. They are common criminals.

      And you haven’t answered my question. Because if you do beat one up to deter the others aren’t you a terrorist in the same way as the abortion activist who protects unborn children in the same way?

      “…there is no difference between someone who kills an abortion doctor and someone who kills a journalist.”

      Repeating it won’t make it right. There are degrees of most crimes. Stealing a bicycle or stealing million of dollars would with that logic be the same – it’s all theft. If you don’t agree with that you are by your own logic an apologist for bicycle thieves.

      • No beating up a person who is a member of a group that’s invaded my home is not the same as hunting down and killing an abortion doctor.

        First, people have no expectation of being permitted to invade homes, so if violence occurs, then it’s a occupational hazard.

        Criminals are not a minority group at risk of violence or persecution by the majority – criminals have already broken the social contract of our secular democratic society.

        Abortion doctors have not, they are operating within the law of the land. Abortion doctors are an identifiable group, and terror tactics of anti-abortionists are against the whole group when they shoot any one of the group – the primary goal of the violence is to make doctors unwilling to provide medical services with the secondary objective of stopping a particular doctor.

        There are degrees of crime and you are ignoring those degrees because of your abortion views, you are making the crime of shooting abortion doctors less than what it is because you are against abortion.

        Stealing a bike is very different than stealing a million dollars.

  7. concerned christian says:

    Random N!
    First let’s begin by condemning all acts of violence
    Second, let’s get back to reason and common sense. I can’t believe how some ultra leftist are investing all their credibility attacking Christianity and defending any other form of faith including radical Islam.
    How on earth we get sidetracked into a discussion about abortion? How many abortion clinics were firebombed and how many abortion doctors were killed in the last forty years? Compare that with the mayhem caused by Islamist, with tens of thousands of victims of all faith and religion including Muslims, and world wide destruction of houses of worship, including Mosques, and now a newspaper building.
    If you do that you find that your position is ridiculous, and silly, and that your argument is utter nonsense.

  8. Colin Hutton says:

    Santi

    “What turns an American journalist living in Paris into such a sheep?”

    Possibly not consciously intended, but is that slur against the French (on my reading of the sentence) really justified? Crumley may have been an apologist for Islamists before his sojourn in Paris. I seem to remember quite craven responses from numerous US-based US journalists (and politicians) in response to Islamist threats in the wake of the Rushdie, Mohammed cartoons, and Koran burning incidents.

    Nor am I holding my breath in expectation that Time head-office will do the right thing and demote or sack him.

    Colin

    • santitafarella says:

      I wasn’t consciously trying to slur the French. Thanks for catching that. I wasn’t trying to imply that I think of the French the way that George Bush or a Fox News host might.

      The French have a serious problem of assimilation on their hands, and they’re showing some clarity about it. I support, for example, their burka ban. When I think of American journalism at its best, I just think of Mark Twain and Hemingway—rugged individualists asserting themselves honestly and bravely against the nonsense thoughtlessly affirmed by the masses.

      A journalist shouldn’t be a gatekeeper and apologist for the wicked and stupid.

      —Santi

  9. conservative says:

    So you’re finally realizing that political correctness is crazy.🙂 That’s progress, Santi.

    There are many conservatives who have been saying this for at least a decade. But most people didn’t listen. They drew attention to the fact that “liberal democracies” in the West are trampling on constitutional rights and God-given rights such as freedom of conscience and frees speech, in order to advance and protect their failed ideology of multiculturalism. They would rather destroy freedom, than “offend” Muslims and their “holy religion”.

    As one conservative blogger said on the 10th anniversary of 9/11: “The progressive leftists promoted this for the last five decades. That everything is questionable and open to criticism. Everything, except Islam.”

    As far as atheists and gay activists are concerned, they gotta stop teaching Muslims to play the victimization game, which they themselves have been playing for the past few decades.
    They are the ones who made it possible for radical Islam to become so powerful on our own turf, and to threaten our freedom. They are the ones who ALWAYS attack traditional Western values, Christianity and free market capitalism. They specialize in defending “minorities” in this case Islam, against any kind of criticism, no matter what they do. The ACLU screams bloody outrage against a cross or a Bible verse on a public building, but they don’t say anything about Muslims blocking traffic on public streets every week in order to pray. I’ve seen pictures and heard people from New York city confirm this.

    Coming soon, to a public school cafeteria near you. The Canadians are crazy to permit this breach of religion and state.

    http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2011/09/brainwashing-schoolchildren-of-toronto.html
    This news report shows you how hypocritical the “open minded” atheist multicultural liberals are. If Jews or Christians demanded school prayers, the liberals would go through the roof.

    Santi, you should be honest enough to admit there’s a blatant double standard here.

    http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2011/06/coming-soon-to-school-cafeteria-near.html#more

    http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2011/09/sabbath-round-up.html
    Another news piece about Muslims saying that Jews are responsible for some of the French anti-sharia legislation. Where’s the American media now, why don’t report this example of anti-Semitism?… I forgot, it’s anti-Semitism only when Christians quote from the Bible and say that even Jews need Jesus for salvation. That Jesus loves the Jewish nation and wants to save them spiritually and earthly, that’s blasphemy in today’s world.

  10. conservative says:

    To all who posted on this topic,

    You shouldn’t be surprised that Time magazine has such idiots in their ranks. Time is a left wing publication that endorses all the extremist poison of the Left – socialist economy, multiculturalism,
    extreme social liberalism, Marxist apologetics. In their “100 Events tha changed the world” history almanac, published in 2010, they said on page 56, that the famous words from the Declaration of Independence became the inspirational motto for Mao, Guevara, Ho chi Min and Mandela.

    What?! Mao who committed mass murder and burned books and works of art, is on par with the Founding Fathers of America?…

    Ho Chi Min, another murderer and communist dictator. The other two were also not good, one was a murderer, the other a hypocritical president who through his political party, cleverly and indirectly incited class warfare and hatred of whites in South Africa.

    Don’t expect Time magazine to be logical or objective. They idolize Obama and agree with him on everything. That’s because his administration represents the highest aspirations and the darkest ideas of the far Left. To them, it’s a positive thing. It means destroying America in the traditional sense, and turning into a politically correct dictatorship with a Socialist economy, where people
    become loyal slaves to the State, through welfare checks, promises of government social programs and access to their vices and addictions. Llike the OWS crowd.

    It’s funny that progressive liberals don’t realize how ignorant their source of truth is. That is, the mainstream media. The editors at Time don’t care about that. They let a columnist who is ignorant about the supremacist nature of Islam to write stuff like that. It’s funny that they always say we conservatives are ignorant, they use the word “ignorant” a lot, but in reality they are very ignorant of what’s going on. They were kept in that ignorance by Time and TV media outlets, so it’s not surprising.

  11. Paradigm says:

    “No beating up a person who is a member of a group that’s invaded my home is not the same as hunting down and killing an abortion doctor.

    First, people have no expectation of being permitted to invade homes, so if violence occurs, then it’s a occupational hazard.”

    Why would people’s expectations mean anything in defining the act itself. I merely claimed that in both cases you are defending one or more human life by an act that will deter others from harming those you defend. That logic isn’t flawed by people’s expectations.

    “Criminals are not a minority group at risk of violence or persecution by the majority – criminals have already broken the social contract of our secular democratic society.”

    How is this relevant? As a way of justifying terrorism? If so, then you must be aware that there are a lot of minorities in the same situation who do not engage in terrorism.

    “Abortion doctors have not, they are operating within the law of the land. Abortion doctors are an identifiable group, and terror tactics of anti-abortionists are against the whole group when they shoot any one of the group – the primary goal of the violence is to make doctors unwilling to provide medical services with the secondary objective of stopping a particular doctor.”

    Yes, that I agree with but it doesn’t contradict anything I’ve said so far.

    “There are degrees of crime and you are ignoring those degrees because of your abortion views, you are making the crime of shooting abortion doctors less than what it is because you are against abortion.

    No, it is what it is – a killing. But it is a killing in defense of human life. The abortion doctor can kill for the mother’s convenience. There is nothing convenient about shooting a doctor a facing hard time in jail.

    And you also fail to see degrees of crime when you say,

    “…there is no difference between someone who kills an abortion doctor and someone who kills a journalist.”

    Because then you ignore the difference between killing in defense and killing because of an insult.

    “Stealing a bike is very different than stealing a million dollars.”

    Yes, but please apply that logic to the examples above.

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