Here’s my no doubt flawed translation of a portion of the post-massacre Charlie Hebdo editorial by Gérard Biard:
Will There Still Be “Yes, Buts”?
…One question, though, continues to irk us. Can we finally purge the dirty words “fundamentalist secularist” from our political and intellectual vocabulary? Can we finally stop inventing wise semantic circumlocutions in order to make parallels between the assassins and their victims?
These last years we have felt ourselves a little bit lonely, as we have tried to defend ourselves with slashes of pencils from the outright filth and the pseudo-intellectual delicacies that have been have thrown in our faces and in the faces of our friends who’ve firmly supported secularism: the words Islamophobe, Christianophobe, provocateur, irresponsible, throwers-of-oil-on-the-fire, racists, you-asked-for-its…
Yes, they say, we condemn terrorism, but…Yes, threatening cartoonists with death, it’s not nice, but… Yes, to burn down a newspaper is bad, but. We all heard this, and our friends heard it, too. We often tried to laugh about it, because that’s what we do best. But we would prefer, now, to laugh about something else. Because this thing is beginning again already.
The blood of Cabu, Charb, Honoré, Tignous, Wolinski, Elsa Cayat, Bernard Maris, Mustapha Ourrad, Michel Renaud, Franck Brinsolaro, Frédéric Boisseau, Ahmed Merabet, Clarissa Jean-Philippe, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, and François-Michel Saada had not yet dried when Thierry Meyssan started explaining to his friends on Facebook that this was all obviously a Jewish-American-Western plot.
We already saw, in those first days, the refined mouths making a moue over the Sunday demonstration supporting Charlie Hebdo, drooling from the corners of their lips the eternal arguments hoping to justify terror and religious fascism, either openly or in undertones, and showing indignation over – among other things – the “SS policemen.” Well, in this massacre there was no death more unjustifiable than another. Franck [Brinsolaro, the security officer assigned by the government to Charlie Hebdo], who died in our office, and all his murdered colleagues during this week of barbarism, died to defend ideas that, perhaps, were not even their own.
Still, we are going to try to be optimists, even though it’s not really the season. We’re going to hope that going forward from January 7, 2015, a defense of secularism will be reflexive for everyone, and that people will finally stop legitimizing or tolerating cultural relativism – whether they did so because they were posturing, or seeking to gain political clout, or because they are cowards – legitimization which opens the way for one thing only: religious totalitarianism. Yes, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a reality, yes, international geopolitics has been a succession of maneuvers and underhanded attacks, yes, the social situation of, as they say, “populations of Muslim origin” in France is profoundly unjust, yes, racism and discrimination must been combatted without surcease.
Fortunately there are several tools one may use to try to solve these grave problems, but none of them can work without the crucial tool of secularism. Not positive secularism, not inclusive secularism, not je-ne-sais-quoi secularism, but secularism, period. Because secularism puts forth the ideal of universal rights, only secularism permits the exercise of equality, liberty, brotherhood, and sisterhood. Only secularism permits full freedom of conscience, a freedom which denies – more or less openly, depending on your marketing strategy – every religion when those religions leave the intimate and familial terrain and head for the political arena. Only secularism permits, ironically, both believers and others to live in peace. All those who pretend to defend Muslims by accepting totalitarian religious discourse are defending in effect those who torture Muslims. The first victims of Islamic fascism are Muslims….