There’s a French weekly publication called Charlie Hebdo that is described as being “left-wing” and “anarchist.” They published a cartoon Wednesday that depicted a naked Mohammad being filmed presumably by the director of the fake “anti-Muslim” YouTube video. The caption at the top reads, “The film that embraces the Muslim world,” and while the director is pointing the camera at Mohammad’s posterior, Mohammad is saying, “My butt? You love my butt?” I know. I don’t really get it either, but then again, I’m not French.
The French government prepared for the cartoon’s backlash by closing down embassies and schools in 20 different countries the Friday before the French magazine published the cartoon. French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius was critical of the magazine’s decision to publish the cartoon, saying:
In France, there is a principle of freedom of expression, which should not be undermined…In the present context, given this absurd video that has been aired, strong emotions have been awakened in many Muslim countries. Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?
But Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, who goes by “Charb,” had no regrets and did not apologize for the cartoon:
Mohammed is sacred for the Muslims, and I can understand that. But for Muslims only. I am an atheist. Mohammed is not sacred for me. I understand perfectly that the Muslims don’t violate the law of blasphemy, and I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. But they shouldn’t tell me under which law I should live. I live under French law, and I don’t live under Koranic law… I’m not the one going into the streets with stones and Kalashnikovs. We’ve had 1,000 issues and only three problems, all after front pages about radical Islam.
We all understand that these Muslims will use anything as an excuse for violent protests, and that no one is truly to blame for their violent acts except themselves. But, if anyone else is to blame for Islamic violence, it’s the media. All the outrage thus far in recent weeks in the “Muslim world” is the fault of the media. The media are the ones that invent controversy. Prior to the publication of the French cartoon, it was as if the media shouted, “Hey, Muslims! There’s gonna be a cartoon that this particular magazine is going to publish tomorrow, and it’s sure to outrage you. Just letting you know.” That’s all it took, and Muslims went crazy, and the French government cowered before them. What if the media had said nothing? Probably nothing would have happened.
I can post my own anti-Muhammad cartoon or make my own anti-Muhammad YouTube video, but no Muslim radical would ever protest over them, and no politician would ever denounce them for one reason: they wouldn’t know about them. We’re probably all anti-Muslim on this website, and no one else cares. Those that do, generally ignore the website. No one has hacked in the website trying to shut it down (yet); no one is protesting outside the website’s “headquarters;” and no one is getting killed.
But, if the media were looking for a story, they could find some obscure cartoon that I drew up or YouTube video that I shot and turn it into an international scandal. All the media would have to say is, “There’s a cartoon that was posted to this particular right-wing extremist website that is being blamed for all the violence in the Muslim world.” All the networks would repeat it until it was taken as self-evident, and Muslims would fall for it as well as most Americans. The Muslims wouldn’t even have had to see the cartoon or video. The media would’ve told them all they needed to know. And if they didn’t care enough to protest, they would be paid to protest just for the media’s cameras, so that all you see on TV were crowds of angry people holding up homemade-looking signs that denounce said video or cartoon.
The YouTube video didn’t cause Muslim unrest, and neither did the French cartoon. The media was the catalyst for the violence because they convinced Muslims to be outraged over things that should have been ignored. They’ve engaged in the very thing they and the politicians accuse the filmmaker and cartoonist of doing: inciting violence.
“All the world’s a stage.” It’s also the media’s giant backdrop, and we’re all being played like fiddles.