Terrorism works because fear is contagious. We pretend it isn’t and proclaim “Je Suis Charlie” in supposed defiance of terrorist acts such as January’s shooting rampages at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket. But events in Copenhagen in February are a good reminder of the reality.
The people attending the free-speech discussion at the Copenhagen cafe that was attacked on Feb. 14 really were “Charlie.” The event was organized by the Lars Vilks Committee. This group was established two years ago by eight Danish media figures from the political left and right to provide support to the Swedish artist for whom the committee was named. The nonprofit, low-budget association organizes discussions where panelists—including artists and art critics but also businessmen, feminists and others—can have a normal interaction with a man for whom normal interaction has become nearly impossible.