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The PEN Six vs. Charlie Hebdo: The “Conditionalists”

with 5 comments

“I think most people would agree on what to do about PEN and Charlie Hebdo if they could agree on the question: Were there racist or bigoted cartoons in Charlie Hebdo?”- Caleb Crain

Are the PEN Six and followers cowards? Probably not, but.

They open themselves to scrutiny. At the Express Tribune I suggest they excised their “vertebrates.” There has to be a reason why they misjudge CH as bigoted, perhaps a lack of nuance combined with misplaced empathy, but to question their courage nowhere near as egregious as their misjudgment.

Charlie Hebdo stood/stands with the homosexuals in Iran, the blasphemers in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the Raif Badawis of the world, the bloggers in Bangladesh, all the oppressed. Hebdo shouldered the threats with courage. They knew they had been targeted, and still supported the right for any Muslim to say, “I disagree with this interpretation, here’s why.” Or, “I think apostasy and blasphemy laws and suicide bombings are wrong.” Or, “Muslim women have equal rights.” And Hebdo made fun of the religious bigots.

Those who would kill Charlie Hebdo are the same who imprison Raif, the same mentality that shot Salman Taseer. They silence w/violence. The idea that Hebdo was “racist” or “bigoted” lessens the meaning of these words. Hebdo did not believe any individual was inferior to another based on race.

The PEN Six:  NPR reported that six authors have recused themselves from attending a PEN awards ceremony “in protest against the free-speech organization’s decision to give the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award.” The PEN six, along with cartoonist Garry Trudeau, err.

Racism:  “The belief one race is superior to another.”

One of the PEN Six, Teju Cole, said Hebdo “has gone specifically for racist and Islamophobic provocations.” What? Not by definition. Mr. Cole, you misdirect your rage. Cole is joined by Peter Carey, Rachel Kushner, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, and Taiye Selasi. These six, along with later signatories, have betrayed the mostly Muslim bloggers and dissidents who write for universal peace and face threats, assassinations, and imprisonment because they support coexistence and tolerance of agnostics, atheists, apostates, homosexuals, Jews, Christians, and all religious minorities.

Further: On May 5th I became a member of PEN.

“Why we’re honoring Charlie Hebdo” – Andrew Soloman & Suzanne Nossel, The New York Times
“Is Charlie Hebdo racist?” – Laura Miller at Salon
“What everyone gets wrong about Charlie Hebdo and racism,” – VOX
“Charlie Hebdo, Pen, Ondaatje” – Stan Persky at
Pen has every right to honor Charlie Hebdo“- Adam Gopnik at The New Yorker
The Wrong Kind of Free Speech” – 33 Revolutions
“Dee Jay NDN Is a Racist Hypocrite” – GSpellchecker
Hebdo Turds That Won’t Flush” – Gerasites
If Charlie Hebdo is Racist…so Am I” –  Zineb al Rhazoui
In Paris, Pen Boycott Makes Americans Look Like Crude Provincials” – Tablet
Living in Diversity” – Kenan Malik
CH Receives Standing Ovation” – NYTimes
Charlie Hebdo Issue Skewers PEN Critics” – NYTimes
Apologist to the left, bigots to the right” – Pangea
Defend Free Speech” – Ian McEwan, TIME


Written by Caleb Powell

May 4, 2015 at 6:08 am

5 Responses

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  1. I have looked through your site it is well done

    “Racism: “The belief one race is superior to another.” ”

    Fact there is no such thing as different “races” of humans. If you take two individuals from the same group of people their DNA would have 9 times the difference as the average difference from two separate groups.

    There is no scientific basis for “race” It is a made up social construct to divide people into different groups.

    It was used extensively by progressive eugenics from the last part of the 19th century right up to today in the US Which the Nazis picked up on and implemented in the Nazi sterilization programs.

    As different “races” do not exist then Inherently people using the terms “race” and “racism” without the quotes are inherently self identifying themselves as “racists”


    May 11, 2015 at 12:03 am

    • Encarta Dictionary:

      Racism: Belief in racial superiority. The belief that people of different races have different qualities and abilities, and that some races are inherently superior or inferior.

      Race: Group of humans. One of the groups into which the world’s population can be divided on the basis of physical characteristics such as skin or hair color.


      Racism: A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

      Caleb Powell

      May 11, 2015 at 6:05 am

  2. I tried to summarize this fake controversy here


    May 11, 2015 at 7:14 am

  3. […] ought to know about French culture and what is and what isn’t racism. That didn’t stop 203 PEN authors (Jennifer Cody Epstein signed and then rescinded) from combining cowardice, ignorance, […]

  4. […] Ethan and Omar: Two PEN members of the Adalah – NY:  New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel. Not surprisingly, many signatories supported religious chauvinism when they protested last year’s award given by PEN to Charlie Hebdo. […]

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