In a stunning rebuke to the very idea of journalistic freedom, freedom of expression, and the whole objective of art, six writers have withdrawn as literary hosts at PEN’s annual gala. This year’s Freedom of Expression Courage Award was bestowed upon the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which stood up against the imposition of Sharia in the West – something every journalistic publication should be doing. And because they took a stand for freedom, they were slaughtered in cold blood.
The New York Times reported Sunday that “the novelists Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi have withdrawn from the gala, at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Gerard Biard, Charlie Hebdo’s editor in chief, and Jean-Baptiste Thoret, a Charlie Hebdo staff member who arrived late for work on Jan. 7 and missed the attack by Islamic extremists that killed 12 people, are scheduled to accept the award.”
Incredibly, one of the individuals who withdrew, Peter Carey, asked, “A hideous crime was committed, but was it a freedom-of-speech issue for PEN America to be self-righteous about?” He said that the award stepped beyond the group’s “traditional role of protecting freedom of expression against government oppression.”
But that is exactly what the award did. It recognized Charlie Hebdo’s courage in expressing ideas that go against Islamic rule. Calling PEN’s choice “self-righteous” is the pot calling the kettle black – except that Mr. Carey’s self-righteousness is a craven, cowardly capitulation.
Carey added: “All this is complicated by PEN’s seeming blindness to the cultural arrogance of the French nation, which does not recognize its moral obligation to a large and disempowered segment of their population.” Jaw-dropping. Talk about the hunchback who can’t see his own hunch. What about the “cultural arrogance” of the Muslim gunmen who committed murder to express the hegemony of their culture over French culture?
The handwringing by these writers over “France’s vulnerable Muslim minority” is galling. These cowards don’t mind the magazine’s claim to offend all parties. Their obsession is “specifically for racist [Islam is not a race] and Islamophobic provocations.” While their colleagues are executed and beheaded, these urbane savages are sharpening the executioners’ knives. It’s monstrous on every level.
This is related to the directive of the Society for Professional Journalists’ determination never to link Islam and terrorism, even when discussing the terrorist acts committed by Muslims in the name of Islam. Back in January 2010, I wrote a piece for Breitbart exposing the sharia-compliant policies of professional journalists. The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) issued this directive a couple of weeks after 9/11; for sheer propaganda, their “Diversity Guidelines” are hard to beat. In fact, the enemy who attacked our country in an attempt to bring it down may just as well have been writing the narrative. And now, these novelists are reflecting the same impulse: after a jihad terror attack, they jump to see Muslims as victims. The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists quintessentially represent what PEN should be all about: people taking risks, and even giving their lives, to defend liberty. Instead of lionizing them, Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, and Taiye Selasi are siding with their killers.
These craven clowns are not the exception. They’re the rule. Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau said last Sunday on NBC News: “I certainly wouldn’t draw pictures of the prophet.” In other words, he readily submits to sharia blasphemy laws and bows to violent intimidation. And he does it all in the name of “tolerance.”
Tolerance when applied to evil is a crime. The Charlie Hebdo jihad massacre was pure, unadulterated evil. Its victims are martyrs for the freedom of speech, which is the cornerstone of free society. Without the freedom of speech, including the freedom to offend, the people in power can work their will unopposed. The freedom of speech is the foundation of Western civilization and any civilization that respects human beings. Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, and Taiye Selasi are throwing it away with both hands.
Pamela Geller is the President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), publisher of PamelaGeller.com and author of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America and Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance. Follow her on Twitter here. Like her on Facebook here.