Je ne suis pas Charlie
The problem with commenting on a current event is that you don't have a whole heck of a lot of time to formulate your thoughts. There is tyranny in urgency. There is also overreaction. With that being said, I am compelled to write what I hope is a thoughtful reflection on the attack on the French "magazine" "Charlie Hebdo" by Muslim radicals in the name of their religion.
First, the violence in France and other recent acts by Muslims in the name of their religion (Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc) are forcing the Western World to wrestle with the very important question of whether violence done by Muslims in the name of their religion is the exception or the rule in Islam. Is Islam at its heart a religion of peace that happens to have very visible and violent bad apples, or does its history point to a violent modus operandi? How the West answers this question will determine foreign policy towards Islamic countries and the treatment of Muslims living in the West. It is an important question that needs to be answered by thoughtful and educated minds, not the shrill cries of ideological drones.
Second, it is interesting how quickly people are claiming they ARE "Charlie Hebdo." The intent is good: to stand with the victim and against the villain. However, Hebdo is a rather unsavory victim. With a circulation of 45,000 Hebdo is not a major magaine. Its trade is intentionally insensitive, provocative, and lewd satire; sexualized potty humor with a left-leaning political bent. Magazines like Hebdo should be able to compete in the marketplace in a free society; but a discerning reader would leave them on the rack. Be careful in assigning "hero" status to the makers of "Charlie Hebdo." They were out to make money and push a political agenda in the crudest of ways. And at this they were only marginally successful. Had you even heard of "Charlie Hebdo" before this week? That they were attacked is tragic, wrong in every way and an attack on what many of us hold sacred: a free press and the right of people to express ideas without fear of violence. But what happened to Charlie Hebdo does not sanctify what Hebdo was about.
I am not Charlie. I am someone who will pray for their employees recovering from injuries and fighting for their lives; someone who will pray for the families grieving the loss of loved ones. I will speak up for their right to sell a sub-standard magazine that pokes fun at (denigrates, mocks, and even blasphemes) the One who gave his life for them because I believe the truth of the gospel shines brighter against a backdrop of so much dross. I am not Charlie.