The first Charlie Hebdo cartoon aroused indignation: Two Italians are trying to decide between penne pasta with tomato sauce or au gratin, and eventually settle on lasagna stuffed with the bloodied bodies of people buried under the rubble of Amatrice. We’ll leave the indignation to those responsible for this distraction from the growing body count.
Certainly the cartoon in question is hateful. Or rather, it’s racist.
If the goal was to say that the earthquake in Italy left too many dead, the result is disappointing and unsuccessful.
Because there is a substantial difference between satire that mocks the powerful and sarcasm against the defeated and the vulnerable.
The Charlie Hebdo cartoon even takes advantage of the common Italian slur — pasta. At the beginning of the century, Parisians referred to Italian migrants as “macaroni.” In response to Italian anger at the first cartoon, Charlie Hebdo published a second one in response: “It isn’t Charlie Hebdo who built your houses, it’s the mafia!”
Italian pasta, pizza, mandolins and mafia. It’s not enough to claim the “absolute value” of all satire as a protest against censorship: Otherwise why haven’t the brilliant pencils of Charlie Hebdo ever mocked the bloody terrorist massacre that affected their editorial staff two years ago, perhaps calling it “Foie gras”?
Charlie Hebdo has changed for some time — pencils adrift — no longer laughing, standing like a bastion of the ‘60s. Once irreverent and insurgent, it has quickly become politically correct or, at will, incorrect.
As in the famous illustrations in which the effigy of Mohammed appears, inexorably, designed like an ass or a Zebedee. And everyone chuckles at the sight of rampant anti-Islamism.
But, remember, even the Christian Pope Francis, asked about the Hebdo massacre, said publicly that such a provocation is likely to yield a violent answer: “I’ll punch anyone who insults my mother.”
This time Mohammed is not the object of its cartoon, but rather the 300 dead earthquake victims.
In any case, in the united European anthropology, if arrogance and bad taste are an insufferable French peculiarity, the corrupt and criminal superficiality — as earthquakes have revealed — belongs to us all as well. And there’s nothing to laugh at.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Your weekly briefing of progressive news.