It is to be hoped that we will remember the cartoonists and writers at 'Charlie Hebdo' by being ever-more protective of the freedoms that over thousands of years innumerable people have died for, so that inch by inch, with all the setbacks and horrors of history, we have created something that is still, just, freer than any society that existed much more than a hundred years ago; freedoms that still the majority of people on our planet don't possess at all. It isn't very long ago that people our parents and grandparents knew were fighting and dying for those freedoms.
It is also to be hoped that we will remember the French Jews who were killed in a Paris supermarket the following day, simply because they were Jewish, by being ever-more conscious of the casual (and not so casual) antsemitism that has crept back into European society, with all the bizarre theories about a few million Jews 'controlling the world'; it is casually justified and accepted in the most unexpected places, in ways that were unthinkable even ten years ago. It isn't very long ago of course that in Euope Jews... well, we all know that, though perhaps we should not forget the unexpected places even a strange 'understanding' of events of seventy years ago has come from. As unlikely a person as Roald Dahl once said: 'There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity... I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.' So if we 'understand' Hitler's reasons...?
But don't get too excited about yesterday's march, moving and right as it was. There is already a great silent 'BUT...' that follows almost every political and media declaration supporting freedom of expression; a 'BUT...' that will find its voice once the obsequies for 'Charlie Hebdo' are done; a 'BUT..' that already, quietly and insidiously, suggests that in some way the best way to protect freedom of expression is to keep your mouth shut. The journalists at 'Charlie Hebdo', who attacked and questioned everything - all parties, all opinions, all power, all faiths - are already being accused, by people who want to shut down free speech, of being closet 'fascists'. I mean, why should anyone criticise anything at all?
They stood virtually alone before, and when the tears are done their surviving colleagues will stand alone again. As for the Jews of Paris (and elsewhere), despite the 5000 French soldiers now being deployed to protect Jewish schools (this is where we live in 2015!) they will stand alone too. After all, this was the BBC's 'take' on the supermarket murders. Less than 24 hours afterwards a BBC 'journalist', a man called Tim Wilcox, interviewed an elderly Jewish Frenchwoman. She happened to be the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, though that isn't the poiint, it merely adds a grimmer, more unpleasant stench to Mr Wicox's words.
When the woman said (speaking a self-evident truth):
''We cannot be afraid to say that Jews... are targets now.'
On behalf of the BBC Mr Wilcox wanted to point out (it's not a question, he is actually 'lecturing' the woman on how she ought to be looking at the killings):
'Many critics of Israel would say that... there has been suffering at Jewish hands too... So... you 'understand' everything is seen from a different perspective.'
I am sure she 'understood' very well.
I am sure we can all 'understand' very well.
There is a perspective from which the killings in a Paris supermarket are profoundly 'understandable', and the BBC doesn't want anyone, especially a Jewish woman in Paris, not to know that. Yes, we should all 'understand' it.
When the marching of millions is done, there will be.... silence.
Normal service will be resumed...