CHARLIE: Real Courage Assaulted by Real Cowards

Written by Pauline Wolak on January 8, 2015

“When the public’s right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk, all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered.”–Christopher Dodd

Call me what you want; a reporter, a writer, a blogger, or just a girl with a big mouth. My love for the news began as an 8 year-old honing my reading skills with the daily paper. Twenty-nine years later, that love continues. It doesn’t matter the medium, I clamor for stories and angles and in’s. It is with an investigative lens that I view the latest headlines. I am in awe of the men and women that risk their lives for the next big story, while I sit comfortably at my desk. I feel safe here, far from the realities of those embedded with the troops or reporting from Gaza. 

Yesterday in Paris there were ten journalists that probably felt the same way. Even with threats from Islamic thugs, they trudged ahead, unafraid of the backlash. It takes a certain kind of bravery to shrug off the glaring eyes of those that disagree with you. Written words, private thoughts made into public opinion; they are not without a certain degree of consequence. Losing a reader is a consequence. A strongly worded complaint to the editor is a consequence. I would die for my beliefs, but death shouldn’t be a consequence for reporting the news or even for mocking it.

The victims, though aware of the threats to their workplace, were caught completely off guard. Islamic terrorists seem to work that way, though. Their attacks like a sucker punch, catching victims unaware and incapable of fighting back. They target countries with strict gun laws like Australia, Canada, England, and France. They target children as they walk to school. They aim for men and women as they ride the bus to work or stop by a café for a latte. Or, they take out journalists, having their weekly editorial meeting.

Cowards. It’s the only word to describe these three men and all of the terrorists like
them. They will always target the weak and unarmed. Nidal Hasan opted to attack in a location he knew wouldn’t be filled with armed men and women. Boko Haram constantly targets young girls, knowing they are unable to fight back. After slaughtering nearly a dozen individuals, Said and Cherif Kouachi chased down a police officer, shooting him at point blank range. Why didn’t he take up a position and shoot them first? The answer is simple and disturbing. He was unarmed. The officer, one of many tasked with protecting the city of Paris, couldn’t even save himself. And they knew. They have and will continue to exploit every weakness, every kink in the armor of freedom.

As the world embraces the tagline “Je suis Charlie”, I’m left wondering, “Am I as strong as Stephane Charbonnier?” Nicknamed “Charb,” Stephane was the editor of Charlie Hebdo. As often as it managed to offend the masses, Charlie Hebdo only came under fire when its target was Islam. That never bothered Charb, even after the Paris headquarters was firebombed. Charb made an Al Qaeda hit list. His life was under constant threat.

Still, he continued to do what he felt was right and he never apologized for it. In a 2012 interview he said, “Maybe it’s a little pompous to say, but I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.” He died as he lived, never wavering from his belief and never waving the white flag. He fought.

It’s about damn time the rest of us do the same.




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Pauline is a proud wife and mother of three. When she isn't being the world's greatest Girl Friday, she is volunteers her time as a school librarian and athletic director. Pauline enjoys football, politics, good beer, and arguing with anyone. She's a devout pro-life Catholic. Pauline believes in the 1st Amendment and uses it on a daily basis, most notably to ambush unsuspecting family members in political debate! You can find her work here at Clash and at Follow her on twitter at @MiStateFan.