"A caricature works like a putsch. It has to work first time round or else it makes things worse. One needs to acknowledge the fact that Charlie Hebdo tried to kill two birds in one shot. The intention of the newspaper was to discredit Nadine Morano’s words by making her look like an idiot. What could be more obvious to the cartoonist than to compare her to a person living with Down Syndrome, which is the most frequent, most visible and least well-accepted mental disability. In fact, it is not the first time Charlie “uses” Down Syndrome in support of its ideas.
By doing this, by assimilating Mrs Morano to Anne de Gaulle, also living with Down Syndrome, Charlie was hoping to win on another front. It placed the general’s successors in an awkward position. If they remain quiet, they let the memory of the great man be insulted. If they defend him, they become supportive of the unconditional love the man had for his mentally disabled daughter. The general used to say: “This child also came as a grace, she helped me get over all the failures, get past any man, see further”.
In fact, the putsch was a failure. For three reasons.
It victimizes Mrs Morano more than it weighs her down. Indeed, in our western societies Down Syndrome represents absolute monstrosity. On an etymological level, a monster is The Creature people point their fingers at to dissociate themselves from it. Our French society has collectively declared that people living with Down Syndrome are so monstrous that they should no longer be born. This, done by the development of a policy systematically based on eugenics, supported by the state at great cost. People with Down Syndrome represent the first population to be eradicated because of its genome and this under cover of a complacent medical point of view. In 96% of cases today, being diagnosed with Down Syndrome means being condemned to death. Because in our country, it is possible to be alive on a biological level, but dead on a social level. This is indeed the message conveyed by the caricature: Morano needs to be put to death socially.
What’s more, Charlie Hebdo has not really understood the tragedy of Down Syndrome. People with Down Syndrome are indeed discriminated on the bases of an old racist belief. For a long time, it was thought that people with Down Syndrome were the fruit of a degeneration of the white race towards the yellow one, thus the name “Mongolians” which they were then given. Nowadays, the racism of the past has been taken over by modern eugenics, and the result is even worse than before since it is now commonly admitted that their life is not worth living. To pull away from any supposed racism against Morano, Charlie thus uses rhetoric explicitly filled with a eugenic way of thinking. It is still racism, though this time it is what one would call chromosomal racism, in the end as despicable as any other. The effectiveness of an argument in which one becomes the accomplice of one kind of racism to get away from another seems dubious, as testified by the unanimous reactions filled with incomprehension that can be found on the social media.
Finally, Charlie’s words are inaudible and suicidal because it causes the newspaper’s status to change from victim, recently earned at a high cost, to aggressor, unnecessary and spiteful. By becoming the accomplice of hatred towards one part of the population, i.e., people with Down Syndrome who are already the object of radical ostracism, Charlie put an end to its state of grace earned on January 11th."