Art Spiegelman, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel "Maus," spoke to Time Magazine's Kirsten Salyer about his decision to host the Tuesday night's PEN gala honoring the bravery of Charlie Hebdo.
He noted that the reward was for courage, and "it’s hard to be more courageous than going back to work after your office has been bombed and your comrades have been slaughtered," Spiegelman said. He made it clear that he was in no way condoning the actions of Pamela Geller and the American Freedom Defense Initiative.
"Superficially," he said, "it seems like the same thing that happened in Texas -- but it's not. It's the anti-matter, Bizarro World, flipside, mirror-logic version of what Charlie Hebdo is about."
"The American Freedom Defense Initiative is racist organization," he said. "It’s exactly the nightmare version that the writers who were protesting the PEN award thought Charlie was. But Charlie is an anti-racist, political magazine that does not have an agenda that consists of wanting to bait or trouble Muslims."
Charlie Hebdo was provocative, Spiegelman said, but its intention wasn't to incite Muslims to violence, whereas "Pam Geller’s organization is intentionally trying to start war of culture with Islam by saying that all Muslims are terrorists under the surface, and we’re going to prove it."
However, he did acknowledge that Geller and "her dim-witted, ugly organization deserve the protection of the free speech mantle that they wrap themselves in."