Tag Archives: Charlie Hebdo

A mistake, yes; a disgrace, no

Ron Fournier of the National Journal has managed to put the kerfuffle over the White House’s error in not sending a high-profile marcher to the Paris “unity rally” in its proper perspective.

President Obama and the White House senior staff made a mistake, he writes, but there was no “disgrace,” as some of the president’s critics on the right have called it.


I’ve stated already that the White House needed to have sent a high-level emissary to march in the rally that commemorated Western resolve in the face of terrorism in the wake of that horrifying massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices.

The error of omission, though, did not signal a lack of resolve or a lack of support for France of other nations victimized by these hideous monsters.

Fournier notes that the U.S. ambassador to France did attend the rally. But then he adds: “Personally, I’ve got no problem with the U.S. ambassador representing my country in Paris. If it was my call to make, I would have put (Vice President Joe) Biden on a plane. But did Obama let the world down? Take a breath. After all this country has done for Europe in the last century, let’s not confuse a mistake with something more meaningful.”

Let’s understand, though, that we’re about to embark on another presidential election campaign. I’m virtually certain that Republicans running for the White House are going to ensure that this episode doesn’t fade away.

For all any of us know, they’re likely to blame Hillary Rodham Clinton — the presumptive Democratic frontrunner — for all of it.


Let's quit the Hitler references

Randy Weber is making a strong case for the title of looniest Texas member of Congress.

The right-wing Republican who represents Southeast Texas — where I used to live — has gone overboard in criticizing President Obama for his absence from the massive Paris “unity rally” the other day.


The GOP nimrod posted on Twitter that Adolph Hitler bothered to go to Paris for the wrong reasons, while the president didn’t go “for the right reason.”

Good bleeping grief, dude.

Hitler went to Paris in 1940 to declare victory over the French during World War II. And this episode has reached some sort of moral equivalency? Give me a break.

I’ve criticized the president for failing to attend, or for the absence of a high-level, high-profile American official at the event; the U.S. ambassador to France did attend. And the White House did offer an unusual admission that it erred by not sending, say, the secretary of state to the enormous rally.

To compare the president of the United States to the 20th century’s most hideous dictator?

Keep your mouth shut, congressman.


'We should have sent someone' to Paris rally

Think long and hard about this one.

When was the last time the White House admitted openly that it made a mistake. My best recollection goes back to, oh, around 1987 when President Reagan said as much about selling arms to rebel fighters in Nicaragua.

Still, the White House press spokesman, Josh Earnest, made a startling announcement today in declaring that the Obama administration erred in not sending a higher profile emissary to join the massive Paris “unity rally” in the wake of the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices.


Secretary of State John Kerry said today as well that the U.S.-France relationship goes far beyond a single event, such as the Paris rally. President Obama has noted that France is our “oldest ally,” dating back to the American Revolution.

But yes, the White House made a mistake. I’m glad the administration is acknowledging it.

The current war on international terror began on Sept. 11, 2001 when terrorists conducted the cold-blooded, premeditated attack on the United States. We issued a call to arms and enlisted the aid of nations around the world.

The United States has been the main player in the world’s fight against the monsters who seek to terrorize the rest of the world.

There should have been a high-profile U.S. delegation at the unity rally, which featured the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

That does not diminish our leading role in the global war. Indeed, today’s White House admission well might enhance it.


Major attack possible in U.S.? Do ya think?

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein says now is the time for “vigilance” after the massacre at the offices of a Paris satirical magazine.

Well, what do you know? The former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee is demonstrating an impressive command of the obvious.


Feinstein, a California Democrat, is trying to alert Americans to the possibility of a “major” terrorist attack on U.S. soil. I would argue that we’ve been on high alert ever since 9/11. And we should be on alert, possibly for as long as terrorists exist in the world.

The shootout at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris has stunned the world. Twelve people died in the melee. Three of the assassins were killed by French commandos; a fourth remains on the lam.

The Paris mayhem has brought to the fore once again that terrorists will do whatever it takes to strike fear in the world. We’ve known this all along, even before 9/11.

But we let our guard down and on that Tuesday morning 13 years ago we paid a terrible price.

I appreciate Sen. Feinstein’s word of extreme caution.

However, I hope she’s preaching to the proverbial choir.  We damn sure ought to be on high alert already.

Listen to this fellow Aslan about Muslim reaction

Reza Aslan burst onto the national scene about a year ago when a Fox News Channel talking head tried to goad him into acknowledging that, as a Muslim, he was not qualified to write a book about Jesus Christ.

He told the talking head that she didn’t know what she was talking about and that as a religious scholar who studied all the world’s great religions he was perfectly qualified to write such a book.

Now he tells critics of Islam and the Muslim community that they aren’t paying attention to the outrage being expressed by Islamic fanatics’ acts of terror.


Aslan points out in an interview that Muslims have been criticizing these actions not only after the Charlie Hebdo massacre but have been doing so ever since the 9/11 attacks.

Yet we keep hearing from critics, mainly in the right-wing media, that Islamic believers — the actual believers — have been silent in the face of these terror onslaughts.

Aslan said this: “The answer to Islamic violence is Islamic peace. The answer to Islamic bigotry is Islamic pluralism, and so that’s why I put the onus on the Muslim community, but I also recognize that that work is being done, that the voice of condemnation is deafening and if you don’t hear it you’re not listening.”

Let’s start listening to all the voices out there, not just those that are outshouting everyone else.


Where were POTUS and VPOTUS?

The right-wing media are going to have a serious field day with this potential error of omission.

Still, the question persists: Why weren’t the president and/or vice president of the United States among those attending the “unity rally” in Paris today?

The rally held in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre was meant to demonstrate western resolve in the fight against terrorist madness. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was there, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu … among many others who joined the throng of hundreds of thousands of French citizens.

The U.S. ambassador to France was there. OK. That’s good, too.

It might be that critics will have a point that if a rally was important to draw heads of state and government from around the world, it would have added amazingly poignant symbolism to have the leaders of the Free World at the front of the pack of dignitaries.

Secretary of State John Kerry happened to be in India attending an important meeting there with our Indian allies. I’ll give him a pass.

President Obama and Vice President Biden? They well might have been able to adjust their schedules to attend this rally to demonstrate against a murderous rampage that has shaken the world.


War on terror is not 'over'

Politicians hate taking back things they say. They aren’t disposed — given the nature of the work they do — to admit when they’re wrong, at least not openly.

President Obama has declared in recent years that “The war on terror is over.”

I cannot read his mind, but my throbbing bunion and my trick knee are telling me the same thing: He well might wish he could take it back.


He pronounced the end of the war on terror as the United States was pulling its troops out of Iraq. Our ground war there had concluded. All that was left was to fight the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other splinter terror groups in Afghanistan.

The terrorists have taken a terrible beating at the hands of the greatest military apparatus in world history. They keep coming back. Their resilience is astonishing.

Al-Qaeda is now taking credit for the Paris shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. France is on high alert. French intelligence operatives are looking for a fourth terrorist who reportedly might have fled to Syria; three other terrorists were killed.

The columnist Charles Krauthammer, a psychiatrist by training who isn’t known as a counterterrorism “expert,” says we’re entering the “third stage of the jihad.” His link is attached to this blog post. I don’t quite understand how he knows what stage this we’re, or how the terrorists measure these things. He’s a smart fellow, though, so perhaps he knows something many of the rest of us don’t know.

I do know, this, though: The president spoke far too prematurely in declaring the “war on terror is over.”

Indeed, some of us have noted since the dark days immediately after 9/11 that the war against international terror may never end. I questioned at the time of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan how we could declare victory, other than by simply declaring it and going home. The late U.S. Sen. George Aiken, R-Vt., once proposed such a thing — only partly in jest — when he suggested we declare victory in Vietnam and then just leave.

That well might be what President Obama has done. He declared a victory that he couldn’t define.

The Paris attack and all the attacks that have come in the years since 9/11 persuade me, at least, that the war on terror will be ongoing well past the foreseeable future.

I am not expecting an admission of error from the president of the United States. I believe, though, that we ought to stop talking like victors while continuing to act like combatants.

This war isn’t over.


'This is not a war against Islam'

George W. Bush said it with crystal clarity.

Barack Obama has repeated it with equal amounts of force and conviction.

The United States of America, both presidents have stated, is not waging a war against Islam. The enemy, they have proclaimed repeatedly, is the radical fringe of a great religion that has perverted its holy word and misinterpreted it for its own evil intentions.

Sadly and tragically, the other side — the enemy — doesn’t see it that way. The enemy has declared a religious war against the West. Should our side follow that lead? Absolutely, categorically not.

The attack in Paris has produced some chilling aftershocks. The massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices — where gunmen attacked staffers at the satirical magazine for publishing unflattering images of Mohammed — has led to real fear that more terror cells have been activated in Europe.

More mayhem is on its way.

But the United States and our allies must stand firm in the belief that their war isn’t against Islam.

The 9/11 attacks against the United States were not carried out by mainstream Muslims. They occurred because a monstrous terror cell decided to kill innocent victims, which is prohibited explicitly in the Quran. The leader of that cell, Osama bin Laden, had done this deed before. U.S. and allied intelligence officials knew of this individual’s evil ways, sought to kill him before 9/11, failed, leaving those victims vulnerable to paying a terrible price on that bright morning more than 13 years ago.

Did the president at the time declare all Muslims to be evil? No. President Bush laid down the marker clearly and succinctly: We are going to take the fight to the evil elements that brought to us.

The president left office in January 2009, handing the war plans over to a new commander in chief, Barack Obama. President Obama has said it time and again: This war must be fought against vicious rogue elements.

U.S. commandos finally brought justice to bin Laden in the middle of a moonless night in May 2011, killing him on sight and then burying him at sea.

Did we kill an Islamic cleric? Did this man command a religious following? He was a monster.

And other monsters must remain in our sights as we pursue this global war on terror.

The Paris attack will prompt more violence from more monsters. Yes, they belong ostensibly to the religion of Islam and they technically are “Muslim terrorists.” But the war we fight is not against the peaceful mainstream.

As for the enemy, let the other side declare a religious war. We must remain focused on the real enemy.

The terrorists.



Free expression under assault

The attack this week on a French satirical magazine that killed 12 people was launched against a guiding principle of liberty.

The target was freedom of expression.

There cannot be any buckling to the forces of terror, according to Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson.

He is so very correct. Here is Robinson’s column in full:


Charlie Hebdo is known for its biting — and sometimes crude — satire. It published some cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed in a less-than-flattering light. Some French Muslims took exception and opened fire at Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office. The bloodshed ended Friday with the deaths of three assassins; four hostages also died in a French commando assault outside of Paris, but other hostages were freed.

Publications around the world are going to look at how they should react to this horrifying act of revenge. Free expression is a cherished right of those who enjoy liberty. Let it stand forever.

Robinson notes in his column: “Right now, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the tendency must be to err on the side of defiance. News organizations have an obligation to demonstrate that they will not be cowed — and indeed, many are doing just that. But what happens a month from now, or a year from now?”

And then he adds: “If freedom of speech is to mean anything, we must avoid self-censorship. And if we are to avoid self-censorship, we must be able to protect and defend the right to make editorial decisions on their merits — which means being prepared to protect the journalists who make those decisions. This means that media organizations and governments must provide adequate security measures so that journalists can do their work.”

I’m with him.



Evil needs to be 'mocked'

Rudolph Bush’s blog for the Dallas Morning News is so spot on it’s nearly impossible to improve on it.

I won’t try here, except to add a point here and there.


The assassins who opened fire on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris embody evil in its purist form. Bush’s point is that evil hates being mocked and he encourages good people around the world to mock whenever and wherever possible.

I’m not inclined to “mock” evil. Instead, I prefer to call it what it is. “Evil” well could be the most descriptive four-letter word in the English language. So, let’s allow the word to stand on its own.

Bush writes: “If we think about the good people we know, they’re often lighthearted. They might lead serious lives, but they are quick to pull themselves down, often with a joke at their own expense. They don’t burden others with their troubles. They don’t blather on about their accomplishments or beliefs. Their lives are quiet examples.

“Not so the evil. They can’t stop jabbering on about their own goodness, or the goodness of their beliefs, or the goodness of their possessions, or on and on. It’s a loud and energetic effort. The evil are often very busy people, and they would have us know it.”

Charlie Hebdo had satirized the prophet Mohammed, enraging three Muslim cultists who opened fire on the magazine’s offices. One of them surrendered. Two others, brothers, are on the lam. French police essentially have locked down the nation and are dedicated to finding these individuals.

I’ll leave the mocking to others. But let’s all be sure that we don’t cower in the face of those who terrorize others. The world’s “lighthearted good people” cannot let them declare victory.