Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Today's Charlie Hebdo cover: "All is forgiven"

Various distractions have kept me from blogging yet about the terrorist attacks in Paris against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and (let us not forget) against Jews. I will probably get around to posting some things over the next few days.

Meanwhile, I want to celebrate the truly brilliant cover of today's issue of Charlie Hebdo, the first published after the massacre. As the BBC reports:
Charlie Hebdo's latest cover shows a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad weeping while holding a sign saying "I am Charlie"  [....]  below the headline "All is forgiven".

[....]  The normal print run of 60,000 was extended to five million - a week after Islamist gunmen murdered 12 people at the magazine's offices and five others in subsequent attacks in Paris.
(They intended to print three million copies, but it seems that those are already selling out.)

—Jeff Weintraub

Addendum: I noticed Facebook comments about this CH cover by two friends of mine that strike me as very apt—and worth highlighting, because they capture important qualities of the cartoon that help make it so brilliant.

Georges Dreyfus, who is not normally a fan of Charlie Hebdo, said that he loved this cover as an expression of "humanistic humor". Even people who are often put off by Charlie Hebdo's style, because they think it includes too much "tasteless provocation", should recognize that this cartoon conveys a different spirit. (But they probably won't.)

Akos Rona-Tas had this to say:
I find today's Charley Hebdo cover brilliant and funny in a warm hearted way. The sheepish looking prophet is sorry, and expresses this with the sign "I am Charley" without saying the words 'sorry,' with an impish gesture that is both moving and comical. And the response from Charlie is: "all is forgiven."The generosity of the 'all' just as the Mohamed's gesture has a hint of exaggeration. But that is what makes the the two gestures -apology and forgiveness - human and funny at the same time. We don't quite believe either but very much would like to.
Too true.  Are those sentiments being expressed sincerely, sarcastically, or purely aspirationally?  Probably a bit of all three. And "impish" is just the right adjective to describe this gesture.  The cartoon manages to be simultaneously sympathetic, humane, defiant, and provocative.

(Actually, I'm not sure it's completely clear whether "All is forgiven" is supposed to be coming from Mohammed or from Charlie Hebdo. But it works either way, so the ambiguity just adds to the "warm hearted" brilliance of the cartoon.)