Since 2015, I have here observed the International Day of the Cartoonist in honor and memory of five French cartoonists murdered for their art. They were Wolinski, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous, and Charb, respectively, George David Wolinski (1934-2015), Jean Cabut (1938-2015), Philippe Honoré (1941-2015), Bernard Verlhac (1957-2015), and Stéphane Charbonnier (1967-2015). They were killed on this day in 2015 by Islamist terrorists in the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
The same kind of terrorist infamously killed another Frenchman in 2020 because he showed some cartoons to his students. He was Samuel Paty (1973-2020), and he was a middle school teacher in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb of Paris. Every year since the Charlie Hebdo massacre, M. Paty showed his students cartoons drawn by its cartoonists depicting a person revered by Muslims. When he did the same thing in October 2020, a young Muslim man took offense, and on October 16, 2020, he killed and beheaded Samuel Paty in the street near his school. A few minutes later, police tried to arrest the killer. When he resisted, they shot him dead. The French government was strong in its response to the murder. Some Western media, including in the United States, were characteristically weak. The French showed strength and resolve. Some Americans, Canadians, and Europeans showed their bellies.
The French president awarded M. Paty the Légion d'honneur posthumously. I think we can honor him, too, for his courage and for his devotion to the principles of freedom of thought and expression and of resistance to tyranny and oppression. There are cartoonists all over the world currently engaged in the same kinds of things. We should honor and remember them, too.
Postdated to January 7, 2021.
Copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley