The early backlash to the “je suis Charlie” phrase began hardly a day after the eight Charlie Hebdo editors and illustrators (plus four additional people) were murdered by terrorists in Paris on January 7. Several contrarians painted it as a hypocritical, beer-muscled line being parroted mostly by people who would never display the reckless courage of the Charlie Hebdo staff, don’t have a clue about the newspaper’s editorial point of view and likely wouldn’t be nearly as broken up about the identical slaughter of people who, say, were gunned down for drawing caricatures of Jews or blacks. Or maybe Americans.
Of course, “je suis Charlie” is just the latest iteration of the “I am” rallying meme that starts going around after a bloody event. For example, “I am Trayvon Martin,” “I am a Jew,” “I’m Michael Brown,” etc. By now, some people have closets with nasty identity disorders. I get that the broadly intended meaning of this Swiss Army slogan is “I’m united with the persecuted party” or “when you hurt them, you hurt me.” But I’m pretty tired of hearing it from people who are in no way similar to the entity they are supposedly boldly supporting.