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Why I Am Not Charlie Hebdo

Fostering tolerance and understanding through personal stories of hope and inspiration.

Edward Grinnan, Guideposts Editor in Chief.

I want to make it clear from the outset: Murdering journalists is abhorrent and indefensible. The terrorist slaughter by Islamic extremists of 12 people at the Paris offices of the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo can only be condemned as an act of barbarism.

There is simply no justification for killing people exercising their right to free expression, even when that expression is offensive and tasteless, as was often the case with Charlie Hebdo. Remember, they were equal opportunity insulters.

They mocked Christ, the Pope and the Hasidim as ferociously as they did Mohammad and Islam. The publication did its level best to offend everyone, especially people of faith. And it was their right to do so.  

But I say no thanks to changing my Facebook profile picture to the I Am Charlie Hebdo slogan, as so many of my friends and colleagues are doing. That’s their decision. 

But as the Editor-in-Chief of Guideposts I cannot honestly say that I am Charlie Hebdo. Dr. Peale and his wife, Ruth Stafford Peale, founded Guideposts to bring people together not divide them, to foster tolerance and understanding through personal stories of hope and inspiration.

They were certainly not Charlie Hebdo, though they would have defended anyone’s right to say anything they wanted about religion. Unlike the terrorists in Paris, Dr. Peale welcomed a challenge to his faith even if he would have found much of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons disgusting. I can only imagine what Mrs. Peale would have thought.

I’m not saying a subscription to Guideposts would have changed Osama bin Laden’s mind about the West (only the Navy Seals could take care of that). Muslims have a real and terrible problem with a violent and bloody minority of their faith. 

This growing radical faction of Islam is making the world a very, very dangerous place. It cannot be condoned. I want to try and give the benefit of the doubt to moderate Muslims.

The super in my apartment building is a Muslim, and he was more outraged by the attack than anyone I know. He was actually crying. “This is not us,” he said.

If the terrorists were not “us,” as my super said, is Charlie Hebdo you?

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