How (not) to do satire

The publication ‘Vive Charlie’ had passed me by until its involvement in the proposed Mohammed exhibition became a topic for discussion here.  A commenter said I probably wouldn’t like the satirical online magazine because it published Robert Spencer.  But, having looked at a random copy from March 2015, in fact Spencer’s contribution seemed quite measured compared to the rest of the content.

‘No one is interested in gratuitously insulting Muslims or any other group’, Spencer explains, but that claim isn’t really borne out by the rest of the magazine.  The cover represents the meat section of a supermarket.  To one side is a masked slaughterer, preparing to cut the throats, not just of animals, but of a captive blonde woman. ‘Halal is barbaric and funds terrorism’ proclaims the caption to this lurid and tendentious image.

Another cartoon, of ‘Timmy nice but Dhimmi’, is equally crude, but at least comprehensible, whereas the Burkapapa one on the opposite page is just random and bizarre.  This representation of Obama

makes no satirical point about his views, words or actions but is a gratuitous insult – and of course the implication that he is not really American but Kenyan is dubious, to say the least.

Mehdi Hasan and Owen Jones are the focus of another cartoon.  Now, there’s plenty to criticise about Mehdi Hasan, and, I am sure, some great material for genuine satire.  But this is so over the top as to lose all its edge.

Mo Dawah – who is also interested in the relationship between Muslims and liberal non-Muslims in the media – is much funnier.  His latest piece is a response to that Guardian hatchet job on Maajid Nawaz – you can read all about that in Jacobin’s new post.

There’s a nice blend of sharp observation and absurdity in Mo Dawah’s parody of the interview, particularly the increasingly ridiculous reported comments from the journalist’s anonymous sources:

Before interviewing Nawaz, I speak to some anonymous people who know him. One of them, an anonymous source who wants to be anonymous, says ‘Maajid thinks he’s amazing, but he’s not. Instead of writing and debating things in order to confront bad ideas, he should be sticking his head in the sand, which is the only way the extremists won’t be offended’.

Another person I spoke to, who wanted to remain anonymous, but knew Nawaz years ago, and coincidentally happened to have the exact view of the shifty collaborator as I do, said ‘Maajid claims to be a normal human being who believes in liberalism and secularism. But how can he go from one extreme, believing in a supremacist caliphate, with most of humanity inferior to him, to the other extreme, believing in equality, secularism and liberal ideals? It just doesn’t make any sense. Both these positions are as extreme as the other. I hate him.“

“He wears nice clothes. Tweed jackets, for example. And he looks like he wears shoes from a shop on Savile Row. What is he trying to hide, by wearing suits and ties? How can authentic people relate to him, and not be alienated, when he wears natty clothes? What a coconut bastard.”

Vive Mo Dawah.