Calling sales of Charlie Hebdo‘s first edition since the terror attack that killed 12 of its own a rousing success would easily be the understatement of the new year.
Sky News reports lines to buy the magazine–which defiantly features a weeping Prophet Muhammad and holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign and a caption stating, “All is Forgiven” began forming at 6:00 a.m. local time and many newsstands had sold out shortly thereafter; AP reports that one newsstand in Paris’ Champs-Élysées sold out just five minutes after opening. In all, Charlie Hebdo printed a total of three million copies (or 50 times more than usual) of what is being dubbed its, “Survivor’s Edition.” And guess what? They’re going to need at least another three million to satisfy the masses just today alone. All proceeds, by the way, will go to the victims’ families.
“For the past week, Charlie, an atheist newspaper, has achieved more miracles than all the saints and prophets combined,” the lead editorial in the today’s edition proclaimed. “The one we are most proud of is that you have in your hands the newspaper that we always made.”
So now the French play the role Americans played in World War II when liberating that country after the French quickly surrendered to the Nazis: No capitulation, no fear in the face of fascism. But in 2015, the roles are now reversed in some parts of the world of media, with a small French satirical publication showing the kind of courage that inspires at a time everyone would have forgiven them for just laying low and not printing anything–let alone a cover with the Prophet Muhammad on it–or simply shutting things down altogether. No gushy hyperbole here: Their resolve is truly something to behold.
Now imagine for a moment CNN or MSNBC — two cable news outlets which decided not to show the new cover — being a parent company of Charlie Hebdo. Would there be any edition to speak of this week? Maybe, maybe not. Would the cover have the Prophet Muhammad on it–even with something as benign as the moving message of forgiveness included on the cover this week? Of course not. Would the editorial resemble the one included above? No way. In fact, it would likely read something like this:
“To all in Muslim communities around the world: We were wrong to have not considered how any image of the Phophet may have insulted you. Images of Muhammed — depictions, cartoons of the prophet Muhammed — are highly offensive to you. They are a taboo within Islam. Not only would showing the cartoon be offensive to our audience, but it could also be a safety risk for our staff and for those that are in the field. So embrace the new Charlie Hebdo, as we mock Christians, Jews, Hindus, and every other religion known to mankind except you. In short, the efforts of those terrorists who murdered our cartoonists and editors will be rewarded via our surrender in this matter. And if you subscribe now, we’re offering 70 percent off the cover price. Just use promo code, “SHARIA”. WE ARE CHARLIE…kinda.”
That’s not to say many networks and publications aren’t following CNN or MSNBC’s lead. On the cable news front, for example, Fox News is showing the new Charlie Hebdo. CBS News, the BBC, Germany’s ARD and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation are showing it as well. On the print side, France’s Liberation, The Guardian in Britain, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and USA Today all feature the cover, as well as many online outlets such as The Daily Beast and, as you can see, Mediaite. Meanwhile, NBC News, ABC News, The Daily Mail (Britain), NPR, The New York Times and the Associated Press all agree with CNN and MSNBC in hiding the image while simultaneously praising the Charlie Hebdo staff’s defiance and courage.
Note: The USA Today decision to offer the image of the new cover is an interesting one that must be commended. The paper does have a policy not to ordinarily publish images of Muhammad, but editor Rem Reider says the new Charlie Hebdo cover is “not vicious” and “quite a moving statement.”
“In this case,” Reider explains, “We decided the newsworthiness of the first cover of Charlie Hebdo since the awful events of last week really made it essential to do it…it kind of outweighed other concerns.”
Kudos to Reider and USA Today for their willingness to adapt to a story. Kudos to CBS, Fox, the BBC, ARD and the Aussie’s version of ABC for showing the new cover, which is absolutely newsworthy and moving to Reider’s point.
As for CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and NPR, please save your breathless reports about Charlie Hebdo being an inspiration to us all.
You just rewarded the objective of terrorists everywhere: Intimidation wins, Sharia Law rules, First Amendment loses, expression is silenced.
Three million copies of Charlie Hebdo have been sold today already. They may need 30 million before it’s all said and done. In the end, it’s good to see that expression isn’t being silenced everywhere…with bravery coming from the one outlet that matters most.
[Featured image via CNN/screengrab]
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