My Wednesday appearance on The John Oakley Show was dominated by the breaking news from Paris of this morning's murderous assault on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Unlike so many of the supposedly "edgy" "satirists" on this side of the Atlantic, congratulating themselves on their transgressive "bravery" at one back-slapping awards ceremony after another, the editors, writers and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo were genuinely brave - and paid for it with their lives.
I did not know at the time I spoke to John that among the dead was Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier, the editor of Charlie Hebdo and a great cartoonist in the French style. Two years ago, he said:
It may seem pompous, but I'd rather die standing than live on my knees.
He did. He was an heroic figure, and he paid for it with his life. But he wasn't being in the least bit pompous, merely stating what ought to be far more obvious to far more people.
Click below to listen to my discussion of today's events with John:
In contrast to the bravery of Charlie Hebdo, at my old London home The Daily Telegraph some gutless pansies decided that their reporting on the story could only be accompanied by carefully blurred and pixilated images of the late cartoonists' work in order to avoid giving offense. Unlike the late M Charbonnier, too many members of the media are perfectly happy to live on their knees. On page 297 of my book After America, I speculate on how future generations will look back on our time from a decade or two hence:
In the Middle East, Islam had always been beyond criticism. It was only natural that, as their numbers grew in Europe, North America and Australia, observant Muslims would seek the same protections in their new lands. But they could not have foreseen how eager Western leaders would be to serve as their enablers. ... As the more cynical Islamic imperialists occasionally reflected, how quickly the supposed defenders of liberal, pluralist, Western values came to sound as if they were competing to be Islam's lead prison bitch.
Among them is the so-called leader of the free world, who stood up before the world at the United Nations and, in service of his Administration's lies over Benghazi, shamefully told the assembled leaders:
The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.
Mission accomplished - at least in Paris. As I wrote two years ago:
The more that U.S. government officials talk about the so-called film "Innocence Of Muslims" (which is actually merely a YouTube trailer) the more they confirm the mob's belief that works of "art" are the proper responsibility of government. Obama and Clinton are currently starring as the Siskel & Ebert of Pakistani TV, giving two thumbs-down to "Innocence Of Muslims" in hopes that it will dissuade local movie-goers from giving two heads-off to consular officials. "The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video," says Hillary Clinton. "We absolutely reject its content, and message." "We reject the efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," adds Barack Obama. There follows the official State Department seal of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad...
Obama and Clinton's two-on-the-aisle act cost $70,000 of taxpayers' money. That may not sound much in the 16 trillion-dollar sinkhole of Washington, but it's a pretty big ad buy in Islamabad, and an improper use of public monies... I fought a long battle for freedom of expression north of the border when the Canadian Islamic Congress attempted to criminalize my writing, and I'm proud to say I played a modest role in getting Parliament to strike down a shameful law and restore a semblance of free speech to a country that should never have lost it. So I know a little about how the Western world is shuffling into a psychological bondage of its own making, and it's no small thing when the First Amendment gets swallowed up by the vacuum of American foreign policy.
Charb, Cabu, Tignous, Georges Wolinski and the others who died today were braver men than the stunted eunuchs who dominate the west's political class. The loss of the freedom to make jokes is not a small one, which is why there is an entire section in my latest book called "Last Laughs". To modify Charb and Charlie Hebdo's recent cover, I'd rather die laughing than live in the cowed, craven serf state the malign alliance of totalitarian Islam and a cowardly western leadership is building for us.