Saturday, September 18, 2021

Ian McEwan on Charlie Hebdo / Facing down hatred with laughter


Ian McEwan on Charlie Hebdo -facing down hatred with laughter

The slaughter in Paris was a tragedy for the open society – the free speech debate must revive

Saturdady 10 January 2015 


M

urderous and self-sanctifying, radical Islam has become a global attractor for psychopaths. It has never been embarrassed to proclaim its list of hatreds: education, tolerance, plurality, pleasure and, above all, freedom of expression – the freedom that underpins all others. Even more important than the abstractions are the people that jihadists hate and have killed: children, schoolgirls, gays, women, atheists, non-Muslims, and many, many Muslims. To that list we must now add the brave and lively staff of Charlie Hebdo, who hoped to face down hatred with laughter. The slaughter in Paris is a tragedy for the open society. On a dark night for mental freedom, a few fragile points of light: the calm, determined crowds gathered in cities across France; the hope that the general revulsion at these murders might have a unifying effect; the fact that a cult rooted in hate is a frail thing and cannot last; the fact that the psychopaths are vastly outnumbered.

Those blackest hearts of the Pegida or Front National persuasion who are thinking of fire-bombing a mosque should consider that the most effective way of oppressing or murdering Muslims would be to join Isis or one of its affiliates. After the disappointed hopes of the Arab spring, much of the Arab world finds itself crushed between state tyrannies and religious fanaticism. General Sisi or Isis – the palindrome is apt. One marginal but relevant development, particularly in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, is the growth in the number of internet sites for those who, disgusted by jihadist violence, reject political Islam or Islam itself (see Black DucksArab Atheists Networkfreearabs.com). The apostates communicate in fear and at great risk, for turning away from their religion can bring down harsh punishment. Post Charlie Hebdo, the free speech debate must revive. Sadly for free thought in the west, mainstream Islam’s attitude to apostasy remains cloudy at best. There’s a civilised conversation to be had.

THE GUARDIAN





2009
001 My hero / Oscar Wilde by Michael Holroyd
002 My hero / Harley Granville-Barker by Richard Eyre
003 My hero / Edward Goldsmith by Zac Goldsmith
004 My hero / Fridtjof Nansen by Sara Wheeler 
005 My hero / Mother Mercedes Lawler IBVM by Antonia Fraser

007 My hero / Ernest Shepard by Richard Holmes
008 My hero / JG Ballard by Will Self
009 My hero / Alan Ross by William Boyd
010 My hero / Ben the labrador by John Banville

011 My hero / Vicent van Gogh by Margaret Drabble
012 My hero / Franz Marek by Eric Hobsbawm

2010

017 My hero / Jack Yeats by Colm Tóibín
018 My hero / Francisco Goya by Diana Athill
019 My hero / Max Stafford-Clark by Sebastian Barry
020 My hero / Arthur Holmes by Richard Fortey

036 My hero / Robert Lowell by Jonathan Raban
037 My hero / Beryl Bainbridge by Michael Holroyd
038 My hero / Charles Schulz by Jenny Colgan
039 My hero / Oliver Knussen by Adam Foulds
040 My hero / Annie Proulx by Alan Warner

041 My hero / David Lynch by Paul Murray
042 My hero / Edwin Morgan by Robert Crawford
043 My hero / Anne Lister by Emma Donoghue
044 My hero / Jane Helen Harrinson by Mary Beard
045 My hero / Edmund Burke by David Marquand
046 My hero / Shelagh Deleaney by Jeanette Winterson
047 My hero / Christopher Marlowe by Val McDermid
048 My hero / Gwen John by Anne Enright
049 My hero / Michael Mayne by Susan Hill
050 My hero / Stanley Spencer by Howard Jacobson

051 My hero / William Beveridge by Will Hutton
052 My hero / Jean McConville by Amanda Foreman
053 My hero / Alexander Pushkin by Elaine Feinstein
058 My hero / Cy Twombly by Edmund de Waal

2011
079 My hero / Gene Wolfe by Neil Gaiman
087 My hero / Alberto Moravia by John Burnside
096 My hero / Isaac Babel by AD Miller
097 Lucian Freud by Esi Edugyan
100 Thomas Tranströmer by Robin Robertson
102 My hero / David Hockney by Susan Hill

2012

190 My hero / Iris Murdoch by Charlotte Mendelson
194 My hero / René Descartes by James Kelman
199 My hero / Albert Camus by Geoff Dyer

2015
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