writing - pencil

I Would Rather Die on My Feet Than Live on My Knees

“I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” Those were the words of Gorges Wolinski, famed cartoonist of the Paris publication, Charlie Hebdo. Wolinski was among the 12 dead at the Paris publication on January 7, 2015 at the hands of extremists, determined to send a message to anyone daring to challenge their ideology. And challenging the ideology of others was a mainstay at the Paris weekly. Charlie Hebdo was no stranger to controversy or violence. Unmoved by those who would seek to silence them by any means necessary, the staff of writers, artists, satirists, iconoclasts and critics moved forward at warp speed. In November of 2011, their offices were firebombed. Their website was hacked. This week, armed extremists broke into their office and massacred, among others, their editor and chief cartoonist, Stephane Charbonnier. It has been reported that many of the dead were called out by name before they were assassinated. I suspect they had known that their lives could come to an abrupt end for a very long time, as they had long lived under the threat of violence. They were undeterred. Think about that. They were undeterred. Every day, they got out of bed and went to work. Upon arrival, they got down to the business of making social statements through editorials, political cartoons and satire. And they knew every day could be their last. They weren’t packing their ‘freedom perteckers’ just to go to the local market to buy milk. They lived their lives. They freely expressed their opinions, even when it outraged others. And when their own government admonished them for inflaming the extremists? They moved forward, one foot after the other simply saying, “Their threats and anger merely prove our point.” Their government essentially said, “Just because you have the right to do it, does not mean it’s the right thing to do.” The staff at Charlie Hebdo knew they were not shouting ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded movie theatre. They were not saying they hated anyone. They were not implicitly asking for someone to come and kill them. They were taking the extreme views of political and religious extremists and mocking them – because in the end, they are truly ridiculous and worthy of our scorn.

The terrorist threats so many Americans charliemouth off about on a daily basis? Well, that’s just an excuse to amass an arsenal in your basement. Of course, that arsenal always comes in handy for threatening or actually killing people who annoy you, those who would let their dog take a dump on your lawn or who happen to be one of the wrong-coloreds. Americans spend a lot of time talking about how much they hate the other half of America who doesn’t look or think like them. Like immigrants and people who speak other languages and women. And ‘The Poors’. Lord Sweet Baby Jesus they hate The Poors. The armed half? They hide their racism or religious extremism in fake patriotism and fake knowledge of the intentions of the Founders of our nation and their fake knowledge of the content of the Constitution and yes, their Fake White Jesus. They talk a lot about how people daring to disagree with them deserve to die. Aside from the accent and the skin tone, these Rambo’d up stumps look exactly like the extremists who murdered the staff of Charlie Hebdo.

And I mock them. Because in the end they are truly ridiculous and worthy of our scorn.

charlieAs news of the Paris murders spread across the globe, the bombing of NAACP headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado went largely unnoticed by State Run Television and Corporate Media. The FBI’s primary suspect in the case is a balding white male about 40 years old. He looks a lot like the crowd that converged on the Bundy Ranch last year and I’ve got to tell you, with that description, he could be any of the thousands of militia members that belong to the hate groups listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. When I look at the photos of those arrested perpetrating such crimes, they all look alike. White, middle-aged, doughy losers. But that’s not news. American terrorists who fit that description are merely ‘lone wolf activists’ or ‘mentally unbalanced’. The media and their faux counterpart, Fox News can sugarcoat the brutality of the Paris murders all they want. They didn’t fit the description of a ‘bad guy’, because they weren’t besieged by melanin disease. You heard me. The same day of the murders, Fox News host Shannon Bream was wondering aloud on live television how in the world anyone could know up front these were ‘bad guys’ if we didn’t know the tone of their skin. charlieOh, I dunno, Shannon. Maybe the fact they were dressed all in black wearing hoods and carrying assault rifles.  After the gun, I generally don’t need too much more information to know I’m dealing with a ‘bad guy’ and the tone of his skin is generally an aside. I know, in the White Wing, the wrong-coloreds all have genetic character flaws, are all criminals and thugs. A person who looks Middle Eastern or have foreign sounding names that allude to their belief in Islam makes them terrorists. White people can’t be terrorists, according to Fox, because they believe in White Jesus. The Klan believes in Jesus too. Ask any of them. They tout their Christianity. And I mock them. Pat Robertson taught his 700 Club followers that dark-skinned people are all bad and have been since they killed White Jesus. Kind of interesting to find one Caucasian man in the whole of the Middle East when everyone else born there clearly wasn’t. And didn’t the Romans kill Jesus? I mean, like white Romans? I could be wrong but I was reading the same text used by His Popiness, Papa Frank. Oh – and the pontiff is in hot water too because he prayed not only for the victims in Paris, but also for the shooters in the hopes that a loving and benevolent God could soften their hearts. White Jesus would shoot them in the face, I guess. Swarthy Middle-Eastern Jesus would command us to love them, as has Frank. Forgive them?  This is Murica goddamn it.  Ain’t nobody got time for that shit.

These White Supremacists are no more representative of American Christians than the individuals who massacred the staff at Charlie Hebdo represent Islam. Extremists are extremists, no matter their choice of a God. Ordinarily, I’d say they’re equally dangerous, but White Terrorists are in many ways, far more dangerous. Why? Because they are socially acceptable in the United States of Star Fucking Spangled ‘Murica. And I mock them.

Stephane Charbonnier - A Self Portrait

Stephane Charbonnier – A Self Portrait

Yes – I will most certainly mock you. I will satirize your rhetoric until your kind can’t tell real news from the satire. I will write about you in the most inflammatory terms because you don’t deserve a modicum of respect. You have the attention span of a common tree squirrel. The only thing that separates you from the animals is your ability to walk upright… sort of. Or is it your ability to accessorize your ensemble with a fashionable holster as you terrorize the unsuspecting patrons of your local Kroger store? I can never remember which. Or maybe it’s both. It’s not exactly like you folks are, well… complicated.

And why does the Atheist Socialist franchissementFeminazi openly mock them? Because I can. I mock them because for all of the hate speech in which they have engaged, no matter how offensive, I have defended their right to say it. When they have their little marches with their loaded Freedumb Perteckers, I hope like hell they don’t kill any bystanders, but I defend their right to carry misspelled protest signs. I have defended their right to be bigoted, willfully ignorant assholes for the past 6 years. I’ve defended their right to speak because in a Democracy, the moment I demand their microphone be turned off, I’ve essentially pulled the plug on my own. And I’ve mocked them. Because they are a stupid, ill-informed and hate-filled pox on society and a boil on the butt of humanity. I will defend their right to say stupid things. I will never defend their right to commit crimes. They blow up NAACP offices. They break windows of Democratic Congressional offices and toss in incendiary devices. They get ramped up on the extremist rhetoric from a gasbag over at Fox News, walk into a church, and shoot an abortion doctor in the head. They get stopped by police for a minor traffic violation and their cars are filled with documents describing how they’re on their way to murder everyone at a Liberal think tank after they’ve been goaded for weeks to do just that by the likes of Glenn Beck. That abortion doctor never did a thing to harm the man who murdered him. But abortion rights activists consider the man who murdered that doctor a martyr. They love the sanctity of life – well, some life. They love pre-borns but the borns? Eh, not so much. Once their little backsides hit the ground, they go from “God’s little gift” to the “bastard child of a whore”. And for that… I mock them. That fella on his way to murder people he didn’t know and who’d done exactly nothing to him? Well, he got written off as a ‘poor mentally disturbed man’ when what he was, in fact, a terrorist.

marriageAs for the men who murdered the staff of Charlie Hebdo? They didn’t get what they wanted. In fact, more people worldwide have Internet access to the political cartoons that so inflamed them than ever would have had they let those people live. The weekly circulation of Charlie Hebdo was somewhere around 30,000. Next week, thanks to the volunteer contributions of writers and cartoonists worldwide, Charlie Hebdo will reach more than a million people. Their murderous rampage has resulted not in the destruction of the paper, but has instead opened the eyes of the world on to their pages. Now, the world will mock them because they are more deserving than ever of our scorn. But be clear: they are no better and no worse then the 40-ish balding middle-aged white man who bombed the NAACP headquarters in Colorado Springs. I give thanks to true journalists like Ezra Klein and the editorial staff at vox.com for having the courage to print some of the more controversial of the cartoons. They did not consider freedom of expression a hard choice, which is more than I can say for some of this country’s most widely circulated papers.

I’m fortunate to have an editor and publisher with the character of Kay Van Hoesen, who has for years, consistently displayed the courage to permit me to say unpopular but consistently true and proven to be factual essays. It’s never been a hard choice for Kay and there are some issues about which we are miles apart. But Kay has always understood the importance of a free and open exchange of ideas. When other contributors demanded that my work be censored, even gave the “It’s me or her” ultimatum, Kay said, without fanfare or drama, “No. Period.” That, my friends, is courage. Kay has always been my Charlie.

Across the globe, I’m seeing “Je Suis Charlie”, meaning, “I Am Charlie” and it makes me proud to know so many others who embrace the ideals of a free and open exchange of expressions – even when we don’t always agree or suspect someone has gone too far. That’s always the way it was with Charlie Hebdo. I honor them here with some of their most controversial and yes, finest work. I will continue to mock the extremists. That is how I will honor the memories of these fine and gifted social commentators.

Why? Because I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees. If you don’t like it, I’m not terribly difficult to find. But be warned: kill me and my opinions will become more widely read than ever and Carol Baker, in death, will become the vox populi (the voice of the people) faster than you can say, “Praise Jesus”. Worse for you, before my ashes can be scattered, you’ll have to deal with writers like Erin Nanasi and Arik Bjorn and Progressive talk radio hosts like Bob Kincaid. Kill them? Others will be waiting in line to take their places. You can’t murder an idea. Learn to deal.

Je Suis Charlie

This is my choice of weapon. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.


Carol Baker is a political writer and a frequent contributor to Here Women Talk.

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