As anyone who has paid any attention to news cycles over the last few years could have told you, the reaction to the terrorist attacks on the leftist periodical Charlie Hebdo for publishing a series of satirical cartoons was depressingly predictable. First comes shock, then sadness, then a brief moment of "solidarity," then a reaction against that solidarity that goes something like "Well, what about other atrocities," and then, finally, outrage-mongering on behalf of the poor oppressed terrorist reactionaries in the form of stupid, utterly ignorant essays that decry as racist the leftist periodical in question.
As my colleague Andrew Stiles has noted, the idea that American satirists are all about "punching up" is extraordinarily silly. But even if that idea wasn't silly, the entire argument—that satire is only truly satire if it goes after the "comfortable" and "speaks truth to power"—is pernicious. Foolish ideas in all their forms should be mocked, whether they're promulgated by wealthy white people or impoverished European immigrants.
Consider, for instance, this incredible story in the Daily Beast about how some Muslim immigrants have reacted to the Charlie Hebdo attack:
But even though the flags of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia were flying at the rally in Place de la République and Muslims were well represented among the marchers Sunday, Boular said the attacks in Paris were part of a plot masterminded by Jewish conspirators.
"The Kalashnikovs, the identity cards the [killers] supposedly left behind, it was all staged," said Boular, as his friends nodded in agreement. "It was a conspiracy designed by the Jews to make Muslims look bad. We’d rather just stay where we are."
Even when it was the Muslim extremists I knew it was the Jooz. It's worth noting, of course, this is all par for the course: It's always the Jews, even when it's obviously literally anyone else. Conspiracy theorists have never found a tragedy they couldn't blame on the Jews. There's more, however, and it gets way nuttier. Check out this bit of bizarre insanity:
The man, who gave his named as "Mohamed," also said he was a devout Muslim but then changed his demeanor and added, grinning, that he was also "a delinquent." Then he said he was a drug dealer and without prompting, invited the reporter into the (also very clean) gas station to show an array of hashish for sale in broad daylight on a shelf next to the ATM.
He also called the Paris terrorist attacks "un complot," or conspiracy, and launched into a lengthy explanation of the "magical Jews" behind it. They were not ordinary Jews, he said, but a "hybrid race of shape shifters" who have extraordinary abilities. "They know how to get in everywhere," he said. "They are master manipulators."
A hybrid race. Of shape shifters. Who can get in everywhere. And are master manipulators. I think we all know what he's really trying to say:
I'm sorry, but it's not "racist" or "punching down" to highlight these comments and mock them without mercy. Indeed, it is every decent person's moral obligation to do so. When you find people spouting such amazing inanities your personal code should demand that you direct withering mockery in their direction. You should make fun of them to everyone you see. You should draw cartoons mocking their bizarre worldview and denigrating the culture that led to such perversions of the truth being accepted as fact. Satirizing this bizarre worldview—even if it's one held by a poor, oppressed, marginalized people—will help discredit it. And even if it doesn't help discredit it, it's still worth mocking because it's so bleeding dumb.
So spare me your whinging about the need to lay off jabbering morons who believe in the worst kind of racist claptrap because, hey, they're poor minorities or whatever. They've earned every bit of mockery being thrown in their direction. If you don't want to be treated like an idiot, don't act like an idiot or talk like an idiot or believe in idiotic things.