Charlie Hebdo & PEN America Center (Jeffrey Goldberg)


I know many people hate Jeffrey Goldberg because he’s not an anti-Zionist. And they won’t like this piece by him in the Atlantic, which you can read here, excoriating (I think eviscerating) the arguments made by critics who protested the decision by the PEN American Center to honor the murdered cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo. I won’t digest the argument because it holds together as a piece. About one point I’d demur. Goldberg reduces religion to a set of ideas. In his defense, he also understands that these ideas involve “practice” as well. One might understand the motivation of the critics of Charlie Hebdo, if not their judgment. I don’t get this disrespect for the dead. About Islam, it smells like special pleading. Another caveat: I don’t know why Goldberg doesn’t think the circumcision cartoon is pretty funny. If we can’t make fun of religion, religious ideas, and religious people, then what? Without this right, is then nothing sacred? In our postmodern world, I don’t see how anyone thinks you can block up words. To concur with Goldberg, as a scholar of religion, I can’t believe that God gives a shit –about anything except the dead.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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