Who but Charlie Hebdo would find the tragic drowning death of a little boy funny? The French magazine, notorious for its vile offenses against the sacred beliefs of Muslims, Christians and Jews, recently published two disgusting cartoons mocking the death of little Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on the shores of Turkey during the Syrian refugee exodus.
One cartoon showed a little boy’s body washed up on shore, next to a fast food billboard advertising two kid meals for the price of one, with the caption, “So close to making it.” The other cartoon showed a Jesus figure walking on water, with a child’s body upside down in the water next to him. The Jesus figure was saying, “Christians walk on water”; the drowning child said, “Muslim children sink.” And the caption read, “Proof that Europe is Christian.”
No amount of moralizing by the magazine’s editors could change what this was: a cheap exploitation of a little boy’s tragic death to grab attention, and then to somehow point fingers at Christians as responsible for his death. Which begs the question, who were little Aylan and his family fleeing from that caused his death? It wasn’t Christians, it was radical Islamist jihadists terrorizing their own people—as well as Christians—throughout the Middle East.
Some will of course try to spin this as a free speech issue. It was not. Nor was it last January when we, even as we joined the worldwide public outcry against the senseless slaughter of Charlie Hebdo staff by Islamist terrorists, also deplored the magazine’s vile, obscene portrayals of religious figures.
We’ve never called for censorship, and we do not do so now. But we do join in the widespread moral condemnation of these disgusting cartoons. And we agree with those like Peter Herbert, chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers in England, who called Charlie Hebdo “a purely racist, xenophobic and ideologically bankrupt publication.”