Thursday, January 8, 2015

Charlie!

What happened yesterday at Charlie Hebdo is horrible. You've all been reading about it. And many have sent questions of concern -- How are you? Where are you?
I'm going to address that. I'm fine. I'm sad, but we are in no danger, here. We don't live in the neighborhood where this took place. It happened on Bd. Richard Lenoir, not far from the intersection with Bd. Voltaire, between Bastille and Place de la République, in Paris. Yesterday, We had no occasion to go into Paris, so we were far from the event and far from the getaway. And we were not among the targets.
This was an act of terror. A terrorist attack. However, it was not like other attacks we have seen -- back in the 90s on the RER B or in 2007 on the London Tube or in Spain on the train. Or even the twin towers in 2001. Or the Boston Marathon. In those attacks, the victims were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The terrorists were after numbers of victims, not specific targets of hate.
In the attacks many years ago on the Rue des Rosiers or in front of the synagogue on rue Copernic or, more recently, at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, the victims were definitely targets of hate, but not specific. Any Jew would do.
The attack yesterday was different. It was definitely not a suicide mission. The attackers were not amateurs. One of the police victims, wounded and lying on the sidewalk, was executed as the attackers left.
The attack was the assassination of a specific target: Charlie Hebdo. That's a magazine, or newspaper. A magazine on newsprint, if you like. I haven't read it in a long time, but I used to read it from time to time. It's claim to fame was its cutting satire and excellent cartoons. Excellent cartoonists. People who could express so well so much in a simple little drawing. It's no surprise that they were the main editors, including the editor-in-chief. The attack was done during the weekly editorial meeting, when they were all there, with the writers, too. The attackers were well informed; they decapitated Charlie. What they don't understand is that Charlie will survive. It will grow a new head, somehow. Until it does, other journalists will take up their fight, their style.
Charlie will survive, but the journalists and police officers who died yesterday are human beings and they did not survive. They leave behind families and friends. Because most were journalists, they leave behind a whole country of readers and followers, who feel as though they knew the victims. We knew their faces, their voices. We all feel the loss of these individuals.
Yesterday afternoon, we were watching our regular news commentary program, "C'est dans l'Air" (watch the 07/01/14 edition). It's always interesting. We know all the commentators. They appear regularly on the show. For each subject there is a panel of regular commentaors. If it had been an economics subject, Bernard Maris would have been one of them, but he was killed in the attack.
When I came to France and met Paul, he was an avid reader of Pilote -- Cabu, Wolinski, and others were part of that experience. There was Pilote, then Hari-Kari. I could manage Pilote pretty well -- Asterix, Lucky Luke, The Masked Cucumber, etc. -- but Hari-Kari was hard. You had to have a good idea of what was going on in the world, in France, and get all the satire -- in French. That and the Canard Enchainé. I tried for a while to read them. Then, we'd see the cortoonists in the Nouvel Obs, and Liberation, so we never lost touch absolutely. I was able to identify at a glance a drawing by one or another of them. They are now people I feel are lost. They didn't die the natural deaths that could have come (Wolinski, in his 80s, and Cabu, 75); they were killed.
I'm rambling, so I'll stop.

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