On January 7th, 12 persons in the office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo were gunned down mercilessly by armed assailants. Today we are being told these newspaper people are freedom fighters, heroes of democratic ideals, archangels in some Earthly battle for free speech. Their assailants, we’re informed, are new denizens of an evil empire of soulless Islam, of the Muslim world that has become a big red target for the west.
Unfortunately, like so many of their brethren, death has silenced their pleas of guilt or innocence. Meanwhile the rest of us, having finally churned up the courage to stand up, we find even our caring and humanity is only a drama where we the people are upstaged by the elite puppets. The prime ministers and presidents of our collective chaos, they’re scurrying for the last drop of spotlight they can get. Here’s a preliminary report from a dissenting view, on the Charlie Hebdo movement so far. Are we being manipulated once again?
The Truth Can Hurt
A French friend of mine yesterday, he actually astounded me with his vehement claim from Paris, that “the Je Suis Charlie fervor is a sham, a put up job over mediocre cartoonists who went too far.” Just as some of you reading this may be agape at the insinuation, so was I. Don’t mistake my intentions here, these people by no means deserved to die. Like us all, they were entitled to their belief system, and the right to live in freedom and peace. However, righteous they may have been though, showing someone their God with a big “G” being sodomized in some cynical and sick dimension of right… Let’s just say all of France and the world knew what was coming, sooner or later. Look at it from a 9/11 perspective. Several thousand people die and three buildings are destroyed in America, and millions are dead, displaced, or their lives altered inextricably. Most of them innocent of any wrongdoing. We cannot say we have not forced to the margins, the world of Islam.
(The video below conflicts with what the New York Times and other media are showing – the France 24 real time stream differed from what’s been edited and presented elsewhere)
To be transparent here, I agree with what my friend said, for the most part. What astounded me was the fact an educated man from Paris, would come to this conclusion so easily and quickly. 1.5 million or more people took to the streets in Paris, to cry freedom as if political philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau himself had called for the march! Astounding, this is how many people are viewing the trend #JeSuisCharlie today. What with thousands being shelled in Ukraine, more hundreds of thousands dead or displaced in Syria, Gaza, Libya and now Iraq, and the throng in France is being manipulated into believing a fallacy. And as I insinuated, the fall guys in the drama cannot speak, they’re dead as door nails, as the saying goes.
As tragic as the death of these people is, it is ridiculous to even classify what they created as either art, or reason, by any stretch. Free, they may have been, but priests of free speech have no need for crass and cruel cruelty and banality. Let’s just be real here. The real tragedy here is, the truth that dies each time we allow spin to equal truth. I’ll wager 90 percent of those marching in a show of support would be aghast at what passed for art and reason from Charlie. Type in Charlie Hebdo into Google and his images. You’ll see what I mean.
Let’s forget for just a moment the sub plot of this trend, the imagery of western leaders arm in arm in cohesive oneness with the throng. The sight of France’s President Francois Hollande, Germany’s Angela Merkel, and Britain’s David Cameron locking in solidarity with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, I know it tugged at the heartstrings of the free world. But little did the free world realize, the image of this carnival were scripted, contriving to appear as US, the hurt flurrying mass of humanity, scared shitless over those dastardly Islamic demons. Thank God though, not all of us are sheep. Seeing Netanyahu orchestrating cameras to focus on him in Paris, it’s sickening to watch killers grab the limelight. Gaza and the blood there, is on his hands alone. As for the supposed “viral” nature of this #JeSuisCharlie movement, any Internet guru will tell you, there is no such thing as “organic” viral. Using the excellent Brandwatch social analytics suite our PR firm utilizes, I performed a series of queries aimed at tracking this trend. Here’s some interesting finds.
Oh So Catching, Viruses Are
The first person to “tweet” this hash was Joachim Roncin @joachimroncin, French artist and music journalist for Stylist Magazine.
— joachim (@joachimroncin) January 7, 2015
A few minutes later, Thierry Puget (@titi1960) used the image Roncin made, along with the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie.
Then, Puget proceeded to tweet to a long list including Europe 1 journalist Romain AMBRO. Europe 1 is one of France’s most listened to radio stations, a company owned by Lagardère Group, a media conglomerate essentially chaired by Xavier De Sarrau. Without going into a “bread crumb” trailing expedition here, De Sarrau is also on the board of directors of Arthur Andersen LLP, the tax firm found guilty of criminal charges relating to the handling of the auditing of now infamous Enron’s books. The first instances are not so crucial here, not as important as how radio and publishing connections ended up leading to an amazingly cohesive and vehement unity (really amazing given the time frame) that led to newsrooms and creative departments at key mainstream media hitting Twitter with a vengeance. The tweet from the day of the killings from Canada Radio (owned by the Crown) is symbolic.
These journalists essentially work for the Canadian government under the watchful eye of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. If we examine the progression of this trend, there are many interesting anomalies that suggest it was hijacked or contrived in the first place. As for the initial tweeters, I believe they were being sincere and creative in reflecting sorrow and dismay over the horrid murders. After these initial tweets, however, too much momentum was built and too quickly. In the marketing and digital PR business, it’s common practice to “seed” video and other content, and to hire content distribution experts to ensure an “idea” takes hold.
As you can see in the chart above from Brandwatch, it was not until the day after that #JeSuisCharlie really went viral. Once Advance Publications, Inc.’s New Yorker entered the trend, things went worldwide pretty much after their entry into the fray. As big a boost impression wise as The New Yorker was though, BBC chiming in has created to date 96,696,093 impressions for the hash. In order of magnitude, the engagement reads like this after BBC:
- Adam Shapiro – Actor and Director – 88,078,377 impressions
- CNN – 87,884,666
- CNN Money – 87,695,742
- The New Yorker as above
- CNN Blog New Day
- The New Yorker culture page
- A Vine by French marketing and communications guru DelphineRemyBoutang, whom we’ve worked with before
- A tweet by BBC’s Mishal Husain
- BBC Breaking News
- And the list stretches thin at this point except that Huffington Post UK had the biggest reach score
Right here I should not have to point out who runs the BBC, who CNN parrots, and so forth. Is it fair to say mainstream media highjacked the trend? If I had to bet, I’d say it’s fair. Did someone behind the mainstream conjure this up to get France back in line on the whole “terror” thing? What would you do with trillions riding on war games? This is conjecture though, so far. It’s also worthy of noting here, the vast preponderance of media note Charlie has gotten, it’s almost all on Twitter. Not blogs, not newspapers, not rich media, but tweets….
The Dead Tell No Tales
Have you noticed how each-and-every-terror-event in the last 15 years has ended in silence? The “war on terror” is, if anything unique for just how dead and silent its perpetrators are! The two men supposedly guilty of killing these valiant cartoonists, they’re pushing up daisies, unable to stand trial, to say their piece, to utter an inkling of dissent against the Hollywood spell being cast in Paris, Prague, Berlin, Copenhagen, and Los Angeles. The world has once again been denied testimony, in the trial of public opinion. Since the Oklahoma City bombing in which Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were the accused, Islam or Muslim fundamentalists have been implicated in a vast array of crimes. But after McVeigh and Nichols, the culprits have more often turned up dead. Here’s a short list, just for cases:
- The 19 men responsible for carrying out the 9/11 attacks, they reportedly died in the attacks
- Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was executed December 30th 2006 – death by hanging – he contended all along he was a fall guy. His last request was that the people of Iraq not hate Americans or the people who invaded, but for them to rise up against the leaders who had betrayed him and the world.
- Ali Amrozi bin Haji Nurhasyim, was put to death by firing squad for his alleged part in the 2002 Bali bombings along with Imam Samudra and Huda bin Abdul Haq. Osama Bin Laden was implicated for a message from him that “may” have pointed to Bali.
- Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and passengers in his car were shot and killed at a checkpoint in Mogadishu. He was suspected of various terrorists activities in Africa attributed to Al-Qaeda
- The three bombers who perpetrated the 2005 London attacks were all reportedly killed in their suicide bomb attacks
- Osama Bin Laden, the chief suspect sought for 100s of terror acts as leader of Al-Qaeda, is reportedly shot dead by Navy Seals in May, 2011 in Pakistan. His remains were buried overboard at sea.
- Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, Libya’s leader for decades, was beaten, humiliated and killed after NATO bombers disrupted his escape from the NTC.
I could go on to list literally 100 instances where our war on terror has ended in summary execution or death with mysterious or questionable circumstances (such as Paris Police Commissioner Helric Fredou blowing his brains out with his service weapon right after talking with Charlie Hebdo victims’ relatives). Rather than protract this argument though, I focus your attention on the role media, our governments, and even corporations have played in all this world upheaval. Now today, even in spite of a good deal of evidence to the contrary, we are asked to believe exactly what we are told, and nothing more. The mainstream media has largely fabricated our reality for years, and now 5000 media outlets are perpetuating the idea Islam and Muslims are warring with us, rather than the other way around.
This report is by no means meant to be conclusive. Instead, I only want to call to question what we are being fed. Images have been used, video has been edited, politicians have seized on the opportunity, and for what purpose? Why are these killings any different from the thousands of others? Today we are watching reports from hundreds of supposed reporters that conflict with the facts. The video below was removed from several sites because it showed a policeman allegedly killed at point blank range, actually being missed by the alleged terrorists. Watch this.
Today the CNN Money headline reads: “Charlie Hebdo puts Mohammed on its new cover,” and this is going to rocket us forward into a free and unfettered freedom era? The fact CNN Money is reporting on world news instead of investment, this should tell us something. Apparently censored video clips showing mainstream editing of the Charlie Hebdo events as they unfolded, photographs like I’ve shown depicting world leaders with the crowd, when in fact they’re being staged to look as if they’re supported by a throng, all manner of inconsistencies are there for us to question. But so few people are.
Did the people who died in this tragic event “ask for it,” as the saying goes? Undoubtedly. Did they, or any of us deserve to lose our lives because of our views? Decidedly not. Human nature being what it is, the conflict in our world having been exerted onto us all mostly, all we can say really is that tragedy waits around every corner. Tomorrow, you or I may be hit by a bus, or by a falling meteor, for all we know. It’s sure if a bus does hit you, you won’t be made a martyr though. I feel for the families of these people from Charlie Hebdo really, there can be no closure for them, not with a million Muslims dead in the desert somewhere. The real perpetrators of their loved ones’ demise, they’ll go noticed but unpunished. They’ll just feed off the last drop of blood of misguided artists, the legacy of whom we’ll create now.
As for #JeSuisCharlie, and our united sense of oneness with free speech and democracy? I think the tail has wagged the dog again.
in·nu·en·do: a statement which indirectly suggests that someone has done something immoral, improper.
I will continue to update this post as events unfold.
Update One: In an interlude to war, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings France has upped involvement in fight against ISIS
Additional image credit: Feature image via carpentier_patrick on Flickr