I Am Not Charlie and I Am Sorry

I joined an online mob last week, and I didn’t like it.

“Hey, change your Twitter pic for a day to stand in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo.”

The caricature of The Prophet with the French tag line of “all is forgiven” was my pic for a day.

If you ask someone who practices Islam about the image of the Prophet it is highly insulting to use his image. The person I asked also said there are no images of other people or animals in the homes of Muslims out of respect for entities God has made.

This is a group of people asking for respect. I did not give it to them. I violated my Christian principles when I posted the picture. Jesus left us two rules. Love His dad, and treat each other the way you want to be treated. I failed.

Even more insulting than the image of the Prophet was the caption, “all is forgiven.” I was grabbing forgiveness. Where is my brain? Forgiveness is not something you grab. It is something you ask for, as in, “Please, I beg your pardon, will you forgive me? I messed up.”

Thinking about this celebrated image from the new Charlie Hebdo cover, it is MORE insult disguised as satire.  I am trying to understand how it is funny to punish people as you punch down. The publisher used the opportunity to re-iterate their lack of respect for Muslims but saying, “Yeah, we forgive you.” The exact triggering image put into play again — as if slamming the image out there will somehow de-condition those offended by the use of the Prophet’s image.  Are the publishers of the magazine thinking if they show the image 10 more, 20 more or 10,000 more times Muslims will be less offended?

Or, will Muslims think the creators of this “satire” and those who buy it are uncivilized or bigots?

Do not get me wrong.  Killing people in the name of God in this case was wrong.  I have a hard time thinking of any case where killing in the name of God is right.  (Jesus was convicted in a Blasphemy case.  What about Joan of Arc?)

Like Muslims, I believe God is Almighty.  God can take care of Himself.  He doesn’t need a bunch of knuckleheads killing for Him.  If He wants a word with you He knows where to find you.

The events transpiring since the killings have a surreal sheen to them.  On Sunday a crew of world leaders locked arms and walked down the street saying they were Charlie in a gesture of support for Freedom of the Press.

President Obama did not send anyone to lock arms.  The thin-skinned press went nuts.

Three days later over 50 people were rounded up in France because they aren’t free to express themselves in France.  Turns out President Obama was right in not going.

What about European countries that have two-tiered immigration systems?  Folks from other countries can work in these places, but cannot gain full citizenship.  They cannot fully assimilate. The second generations of these folks find it hard to get a foothold on the socio-economic ladder.  Now the majorities in these countries get to insult their method of faith.

Are the publishers, and the press in general asking the Muslims leave behind their respect of The Prophet to assimilate into Western Culture?  We are using our ‘enlightened’ Western mores to put up a wall against people who want to assimilate with us.  It is a lunch table at school where the cool kids won’t let the nerds sit down unless they go through some hazing. (I have sat at the cool kids table – some of them are real jerks.)

I am trying to figure out what “I am Charlie” really means.  Aside from being a fashionable T-shirt image, it is not a cry for freedom of the press after the arrests for unprotected speech.  Is it a rallying cry for those who want to go after Islam?  While Jews have felt pressure in France, I would argue that a cycle of hatred is circling Muslims.  A similar cycle swirled in the USA after 9/11 where all Muslims are suspect.

To those who use the Koran as their road to enlightenment, I apologize for my actions.

We can’t stop free expression, but when the free expression steps over the line with insult, or jail; then we all need to speak up and call the provocateurs for what they are.  They are the bullies at the cool kids table.

We need to add each other’s culture and respect into the smaller melting pot the world is becoming, I have no issue respecting how you wish view God. (I really can’t talk since my view of God has this Trinity thing going – must seem pretty funky to you.)

I am sorry I joined the mob, may I have your forgiveness?

But, we need to have a way to talk and laugh with mutual respect.   (After all, I think we’re worshiping the same Guy…)

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