Last week, we commented on a Jan. 8th Guardian cartoon (by political cartoonist Andrew Marlton) reacting to the jihadist attack on the staff of Charlie Hebdo, which implicitly blamed the victims for inciting their attackers.
Recently, we noticed another cartoon, published by The Guardian on Jan. 9th (the day four Jews were murdered in a Paris kosher grocery store), which similarly throws the Charlie Hebdo victims under the bus.
The first frames:
In response to the text in the last frame, it should be stressed that the Charlie Hebdo depictions were clearly taking aim at the prophet Muhammad, not Muslims qua Muslims. Indeed, after the cartoonists were murdered, the gunmen were heard shouting, “the Prophet is avenged”.
The second set of frames:
Note how Sacco conflates the issue of racism with blasphemy.
Again, the Charlie Hebdo depictions of Muhammad were criticized because an Islamic hadith prohibits images of Muhammad and, therefore, many Muslims believe that those who do so are guilty of blasphemy, not because it evoked anti-Muslim stereotypes.
The final set of frames:
The depiction (in the middle frame ) of the iconic image from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and accompanying text, suggests that Sacco is somehow blaming the West’s putative mistreatment of Muslims for their present inability “to laugh at a mere image”.
At the end of the day, Joe Sacco had an opportunity to honor the memory of fellow cartoonists who were murdered because they resisted attempts to have their creative freedom stifled. But, instead of standing in solidarity with the victims of extremism, he chose to smear them as “vapid” and racially insensitive, and contextualize the intolerance which fed the jihadist rampage by asking, in the familiar pattern of those whose political faith is based on immutable Western guilt, ‘What have we done to provoke them’?