Soon, I will address the whodunnit aspect of the Charlie Hebdo attack. As always, "Cui bono?''
remains our first and best question. We should pay particularly close attention to the links between the attackers and the Syrian "freedom fighters
." As we have seen in many previous posts, the pro-Al Qaeda rebels against Assad are largely a made-in-USA phenomenon.
Right now, let's talk about the cartoons.
notes that Americans usually display a hypocritical attitude toward freedom-of-speech issues: We support the right to publish works offensive to Muslims yet we dislike or disallow cartoons which might offend Christians or (especially) Jews. I'm reminded of the Reagan era, when the First Amendment was interpreted as giving each citizen the right to criticize the USSR in any way that he or she desired.
A couple of weeks ago, I considered publishing some potentially offensive cartoons on Christmas morning, but chickened out. These drawings first appeared in a 1900 book called The Life of Jesus
(La Vie de Jesus
), written by one of my heroes, Leo Taxil -- the man who pulled off the greatest hoax of all time
, a masterwork which still
manages to fool conspiracy buffs. When not engaging in elaborate leg-pulls, Taxil (real name: Gabriel Jogand-Pages) published sensationalized works of pornography and satire.
I had heard about La Vie de Jesus
years ago, but never saw a copy until recently. The book is a bawdy, goofy recounting of the Gospel story -- precisely the sort of thing you might expect to see on this blog on a Christmas morning.
To be honest, Taxil's humor hasn't held up. The big attraction of this book is the art, produced by an illustrator who called himself "Pépin." This unsung genius, previously unknown to me, inhabits an artistic space somewhere between Robert Crumb and Albert Uderzo (the creator of Asterix
So why didn't you see these glorious drawings on the morning of December 25? Because, for reasons that will soon be clear to you, it belatedly occurred to me that these cartoons might offend not just Christians but Jews. Although most (though hardly all) Christians can take a joke, I wasn't sure how Jews would react.
But at this
moment in history, "We are all Charlie."
Right? Right. So let's show neither fear nor favoritism. Mesdames et Messieurs, je vous présente la gloire de Pépin!
The Holy Spirit, as portrayed by Howard the Duck.
Jesus reveals himself to a kind Samaritan.
"Blessed are the imbeciles, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven," says Jesus.
The woman with hemorrhoids heals herself by touching Jesus.
Bread and fish multiplied by Robert Houdin. (Houdin was the French magician who inspired Harry Houdini.)
This drawing illustrates the opening of Luke, chapter 14. Oddly, this scene is rarely depicted in religious art.
"Take, eat, this is my body!" Pepin's masterpiece.
The Gospels do in fact say that Caiaphas tore his garments.
are those Roman soldiers doing
Doubting Thomas wants to put in the finger.
Direct line to heaven!