I was one of many who were shocked and outraged when the French satirical paper Charlie Hedbo was attacked and twelve of its employees killed by alleged Islamic extremists. It was heartening to see thousands marching in solidarity with the slain journalists. Ironically, it was also an occasion for the French government to crack down on free expression, which they label as “hate speech.” One of their victims was the controversial African-French comic Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, who has in the past been convicted of “anti-semitism” and “making light of the Holocaust.” This time the charge is “condoning terrorism” because of a Facebook post he made sarcastically comparing himself to the gunman who, in solidarity with the Hedbo murderers, killed hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris.
I decided to check out Dieudonné’s comedy for myself. You-tube has many of his performances, some of which have English subtitles. Sorry, but the man is funny, and despite having made a few tasteless and intentionally shocking public remarks, I don’t believe he’s an anti-semite. His audience in the video was not full of radicalized Arabs; it looked predominantly white and French.
If you don’t mind very dark humor, and if you can laugh at yourself (he’s particularly harsh on Americans) I highly recommend it. One very edgy sketch had his Jewish-looking assistant Jacky dressed in Auschwitz-style pajamas; the point was to satirize President Hollande’s mandate that French schoolchildren study the lives of the French Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust. Call me cynical, but I believe Hollande is trying to whitewash the sins of the French government, particularly its support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians and American atrocities in Syria and elsewhere. “We must not forget!” Dieudonné mocks. What we’re not supposed to remember is that it was the collaborators in the Vichy government who rounded up and deported French Jews before the Nazis even asked for them.
In “freedom loving” France, it’s dangerous even to support Dieudonné. An African footballer was suspended for copying the comedian’s satirical “quenelle” gesture which the French authorities have branded as a modified Nazi salute. Personally I hope to see Dieudonné team up with Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front (believe it or not, the two are friends) and send that politically-correct Marxist imbecile Hollande packing.