WSWS on “Free speech” hypocrisy following Charlie Hebdo

The World Socialist Website comments on Western “Free Speech” hypocrisy after the strange events of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

While I support free speech, some reporting has been worse than useless. Does anyone know if there were two or three attackers yet? Were they Kalashnikovs or AK47s? I know what a rocket launcher is, but what’s a rocket grenade launcher? Do you really believe that an attacker left his identity card in the getaway vehicle? How fortunate … and haven’t we heard that one before many times?

“Free Speech” hypocrisy in the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo

Throughout Europe and the United States, the claim is being made that the attack on the magazine Charlie Hebdo was an assault on the freedom of the press and the unalienable right of journalists in a democratic society to express themselves without loss of freedom or fear for their lives. The killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and editors is being proclaimed an assault on the principles of free speech that are, supposedly, held so dear in Europe and the United States. The attack on Charlie Hebdo is, thus, presented as an another outrage by Muslims who cannot tolerate Western “freedoms.” From this the conclusion must be drawn that the “war on terror”—i.e., the imperialist onslaught on the Middle East, Central Asia and North and Central Africa—is an unavoidable necessity.

In the midst of this orgy of democratic hypocrisy, no reference is made to the fact that the American military, in the course of its wars in the Middle East, is responsible for the deaths of at least 15 journalists. In the on-going narrative of “Freedom of Speech Under Attack,” there is no place for any mention of the 2003 air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded.

Nor is anything being written or said about the July 2007 murder of two Reuters journalists working in Baghdad, staff photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh. Both men were deliberately targeted by US Apache gunships while on assignment in East Baghdad.

The American and international public was first able to view a video of the cold-blooded murder of the two journalists as well as a group of Iraqis—taken from one of the gunships—as the result of WikiLeaks’ release of classified material that it had obtained from an American soldier, Corporal Bradley Chelsea Manning.

And how has the United States and Europe acted to protect WikiLeaks’ exercise of free speech? Julian Assange, the founder and publisher of WikiLeaks, has been subjected to relentless persecution. Leading political and media figures in the United States and Canada have denounced him as a “terrorist” and demanded his arrest, with some even calling publicly for his murder. Assange is being pursued on fraudulent “rape” charges concocted by American and Swedish intelligence services. He has been compelled to seek sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, which is under constant guard by British police who will seize Assange if he steps out of the embassy. As for Chelsea Manning, she is presently in prison, serving out a 35-year sentence for treason.

That is how the great capitalist “democracies” of North America and Europe have demonstrated their commitment to free speech and the safety of journalists!

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