Last year, I was asked to illustrate the February issue of the monthly publication Piauí. It was an emotional cover for everyone involved. One that made seemingly every editor and employee pour their heart out in trying to argue their vision for the best memorial to the slain artists. It was chaos and back and forth revisioning until the last possible minute, even though this cover was to appear on newsstands almost a month after the murders.
Piauí magazine might be based in Brazil, and be written in Portuguese, but it has a special connection to Charlie Hebdo, and not just because it frequently publishes biting satirical illustrations on its cover. It’s a literary magazine, containing everything from well written hardcore investigative liberal journalism, the kind that makes most people want to vote Republican, to trolling political cartoons like you would find in Charlie Hebdo. Well not just always like, sometimes exactly like, because Georges Wolinski, who was senselessly murdered last year in Paris, also contributed his work to Piauí. In fact, his work graced the cover of issue 55. As with love and humor, art is a universal language understood by almost every human.

Like most people in the world, I didn’t know Wolinski. I don’t speak French very well – certainly not well enough to grasp all the snark and innuendo found in his lifelong catalog. He was born Jewish, I was born a Muslim. He was an 80 year old man, I am a 33 year old woman. He was a free thinking liberal, I am a close-minded conservative. What we did have in common though was troll, and a complete insensitivity for the psyche of the intellectually challenged.

When I designed the cover, it was a dedication not just from me, but on behalf of the people that knew and worked with him. It was quite possibly my heaviest responsibility yet as an artist. I took it very seriously, and quite a few versions. I had the head-start weeks worth of completely hamfisted, brainless memorial art to look at. It was all so absolutely sickening to me the lack of understanding in the Western hivemind when discussing this attack. Pencils and intellect will never stop crazy ideology mixed with weapons. Who are these fools?

I was born in the USSR, and grew up in its turbulent dictatorial successor, the Russian Federation. A place were laws drafted with pencils are intended solely to oppress others, and when stamped permanent with ink, they are ignored completely by anyone who can get away with doing so. Fighting the scourge that is Islam with pencils and papers to me is like fighting lightning with bows and arrows. You can’t win. This strategy will lose.

Tolerance left unchecked will only lead to yourself one day not being tolerated. The real world is not a Hollywood movie. It does not have a happy ending. We all will die someday. Eventually the human race will become instinct no matter how many galaxies we are able to repopulate in. It will come to an end. You won’t matter one bit after the universe slowly freezes over in heat death.
Still, despite such morbidity, it isn’t over yet. All of us still have real feelings and emotions while alive on this planet. I believe not in god, but in the pursuit of happiness. I believe in freedom of speech. I believe in justice, and liberty for those mature enough to be willing to die to defending it. Wolinski truly died a hero, righteously fulfilling every one of these tenets. Moral values that when upheld, result in a healthy civilization comprised of people who sometimes might appear different on the surface, but really aren’t because humans who value life are not different. We are the same. We seek the same goals, and although he may very well one day be forgotten, as long as I am alive I promise that I will not forgive the people who murdered him. I will do anything I can to make sure justice is served. It is my duty, and it is society’s duty to stop this madness.

When you are out arguing on the internet today over the 2nd Amendment, abortion, or government surveillance – just remember your villain likely is on the other side of the same coin. Let's be nice to one another.
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