A few points on the recent controversy around PEN’s award to Charlie Hebdo:
Jeet Heer wants to know how everyone has suddenly become an expert on French visual satire. It’s a peculiar argument, based on the premise that in order to judge Charlie Hebdo cartoons one has to be an expert on a long and rancid tradition of French satire. It has always struck me as odd, as if the only obvious conclusion to be drawn from the argument simply doesn’t occur to those making it. If one has to be an expert on a distinctly French tradition of satire because what others may consider vile and bigoted is common within that tradition and the broader national culture then perhaps it is logical to assume that French society is more racist than others. It’s certainly a more logical conclusion than whinging in perpetuity about how no one understands the French.