Shootings over cartoons: A cycle of sadness

Some people have misread this to think I am blaming the cartoonists for the attacks. That was not my intention at all; the terrorists are 100% to blame — it all starts with them. (I am probably more supportive of taking aggressive measures against ISIS than some of my peers.) What I am addressing are some of the vile comments and yes, a few very ugly, hateful cartoons against all Muslims that have come out over the past week in response to the shootings. All of this plays right into terrorists’ hands of baiting the West, stirring up culture war, and furthering their agenda of recruitment. I see a return to a Bush-era, post-9/11 mentality, and that’s a movie I just can’t stand to watch again. If a desire for de-escalation and greater distinction between terrorism and Islam makes me blasphemous, then maybe I am, in my own strange way, Charlie Hebdo.

Also: the use of “Religion X” was not done out of fear of terrorists, as some have suggested; that didn’t even occur to me. The cartoon is intended as a parable so that we can get around preconceptions.


  • nowhere

    The four panels clockwise from the one bottom right illustrate pretty much what the people who managed to get the shooters to commit murder and then die are hoping for. If Charlie Hebdo hadn’t been there they would have found another target to attack in the hopes of provoking those reactions. Sadly, it seems to have worked frequently in the past. There is some reason for hope – much to my surprise the recent murders in my own country (Canada) seem to have been treated largely as the crime they were and not a reason for general persecution of a particular group.

    By the way, if you are “in my own strange way, Charlie Hebdo” it is a very strange way. You’re comics are usually insightful, witty and have an engaging, unique art style. The ones in Charlie Hebdo (even when the cartoons are satirizing someone I believe richly deserves it, or if the point they make is one I happen to agree with) usually strike me as being something I would have seen on a binder in seventh grade. Quite a few years ago I came to the conclusion that they were the Andrew “Dice” Clay of the print world – realizing that being funny was an unattainable goal they decided to be tasteless in an attempt to be seen as controversial and edgy.

  • Susan Montgomery

    What people seem to be missing is that in France (and in Europe in general) “free speech” is a polite fiction. All anyone needed to do was file charges over some vague hate speech law or another and none of the now-vocal supporters would be saying “I am Charlie”.

  • Alan Barta

    I’ve linked this to my blog and Facebook. Protecting the dust of Mohammed is merely an excuse for profit oriented conflict funded and instigated by billionaire oil monarchs, conservative fear mongers, and the gun merchants who support their campaigns.

  • yougottaproblemwiddat

    As Basil Fawlty put it: “DO NOT MENTION THE WAR!”.

  • Robert Anderson

    I always wonder when people create this sort of thing whether they know they are grossly distorting the truth and think it is OK because it serves some higher mission (in their mind), or whether they really are completely absorbed with self-deception. There are many reason why this cartoon is ugly propaganda, but let’s point out the most obvious – “house of worship are attacked” – there is no objective evidence to show that hate crimes against Muslims have risen since 9/11 (let alone violent attacks). The only people attacking houses of worship are other Muslims. That would be taking place regardless of whether cartoons were printed. I can break down other gross distortions, but it is not worth it because your mission is clearly not one of adhering to anything remotely factual. You are every bit as bad as Fox News and any other lie spewing media hack who pretends they have a noble mission.

    • Benjamin Schwab

      1) In fact, mosques are indead atacked. This is in addition to several other religously motivated crimes.

      2) Hate crimes have indeed risen against Muslims since September 11th 2001. They has also been a wave of violence against Muslims in France since January 7th (see above.)

      3) There is ample evidence that humans tend to retaliate indiscriminately against a group who had some of its members commit a perceived wrong against a group one considers to be part of. This tendency does create cycles of violence.

      The one alleged factual error you point out is not in error, both in the specifics and as an example of a greater pattern: Muslims are discriminated against in France both defacto and dejure which contributes to violence. It would be foolish to think that France is the only country for which this pattern is an issue.

      The pattern presented by Mrs. Sorensen is largely accurate. It would be a gross misleading to assume that Mrs. Sorensen means to criticize everything in the cycle she presented. I would find it hard to believe that Mrs. Sorensen intended to mock the attitude presented in the right panel. This is especially true as the first thing Mrs. Sorensen does in her commentary is to clarify that she in no way blames cartoonists for this violence. From following her work I am sure that she is opposed to censorship of the cartoons but she is apparently making the claim that offensive cartoons can be part of the motivation or part of the excuse for violence. I believe that claim to be accurate.

      The slanders that you levy against Mrs. Sorensen are baseless. You cite one alleged factual error in labeling the cartoon a gross distortion and claiming that Mrs. Sorensen is not at all interested in facts. You do this by committing factual errors that can be corrected by five minuets of google: “The only people attacking houses of worship are other Muslims.” Mrs. Sorenses has demonstrated a greater fidelity to the truth then you have, sir.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.