I have thought from the very beginning that the Je Suis Charlie movement, meme etc. was complete and utter nonsense. This is partly due to Charlie Hebdo magazine being the worst sort of neoliberal rag churning out deeply racist cartoons of hook nosed Arabs and pregnant “welfare queen” black teenagers while advancing anti-immigrant positions more commonly associated with European fascist groups. It’s true they made fun of other groups like Catholics in the distant past but that seemed to change after 09/11 when they switched to anti-Islam all the time and backed neoconservative/neoliberal causes such as the Iraq War.
But the bigger reason I think Je Suis Charlie is complete and utter garbage is France’s hypocritical, selective double standard application of hate crime laws specifically hate speech laws. The prosecution of Dieudonne in 2003 whose troubles all originally stem from a sketch he did where he compared Israeli settlers to Nazis (Well within the scope of civilized debate and which I agree with) is just wrong. It is also troubling when you consider France treats its Jewish citizens in a much different more privileged way than it does those who belong to other faiths.
There have been numerous other examples - Banning the Burka (but not banning dress associated with other religions), not investigating hate crimes against Muslims (The murder of Said Bourarach for example) but sending in the SWAT team every time someone spraypaints a swastika on a wall, running cartoons that mock Islam but cancelling those that make fun of the Last Supper and Catholicism in general as well as anything mimicking the Jewish faith. Personally I don’t believe in hate speech laws as I think they endanger real free speech but if you are going to have them they must be enforced on behalf of every group otherwise it creates resentments and things like Anti-Semitism.
In particular, laws that criminalize Holocaust denial are part of this inconsistency. I believe it should be legal to question any historical event (and for the record I am NOT a Holocaust denier). However, laws like this are often used to muffle those who stick up for Palestinian causes. France remains the only country in Europe to actually cancel pro Palestinian protests after Israel’s genocidal spree in Gaza last spring.
And there you have it – Neoliberalism is defined as western imperialism and empire building and tainted with the racist supremist philosophy of Zionism while trying to pass itself off as a free society. What people in America perhaps might not get is the liberal xenophobe, the cultural neoliberal. In America if one hates foreigners, he is also likely to embrace other beliefs perhaps he or she would be homophobic, against government spending on social programs, pro life etc. In Europe, this is not the case (and I speak from experience having met Europeans who think this way). One can meet a European with very liberal social beliefs about abortion, women, taxes and social programs, homosexuality but who will turn around and talk about “smelly” “uncivilized” foreigners and clamping down on immigration and invading and bombing countries. They often couch such statements in rejection of Islam but scratch an anti-Islam proponent a lot of the time and you’ll often find not just an Islamophobe but a racist and xenophobe as well. Unfortunately, I think there is a strain of this thinking growing in America (See Bill Maher or Sam Harris) which has its roots in Clinton neoliberalism which is one of the main reasons why I’m not a Democrat and remain an independent.
Feeding these beliefs is the conspiracy theory of Eurabia in Europe or Creeping Sharia which has been pushed by right wing Christian groups in the USA which is that Muslims are going to take over their countries. Ridiculous McCarthyism with no basis in reality other than population demographics which could be interpreted in many different ways based on individual prejudices – By itself it’s just data. My advice to those non-Muslims in Europe worried about too many Muslims? Have more babies!