Voltaire, who was perhaps the most distinguished French Islamophobe since Charles Martel, and the only one, ever, with any charm, once said that if God didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent Him. The same might be said about the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Whether it was really spontaneous, or some ginned-up police provocation, hardly matters. It’s been a brilliant success.
In the name of vague and unexamined notions like “free speech” and “satire”, all kinds of ordinarily reasonable, skeptical, good-hearted people have enlisted in the Clash of Civilizations, on behalf of the folks who published the charming image above, shortly after the Egyptian military coup of 2013.
It’s extraordinarily depressing now to listen in on the chatter of people I usually respect and admire. This one somehow got them where they lived, and while they would no doubt deplore — retrospectively — the uses of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, or the Reichstag fire, or the Zimmermann telegram, or remember-the-Maine, they’ve swallowed this latest one hook, line and sinker.
Who was that wiseacre who observed that the only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history? I’m afraid he got it right.
Below, another product of French enlightenment.