Tuesday, January 13, 2015

American Exceptionalism Part Deux

OK, OK.  So the administration now says that the we should have sent someone who we could claim was at least important to the march.  Not a "world leader," of course (that would be his Barakness), but someone like a cabinet officer - say Eric Holder who just happened to be in Paris at the time but somehow just couldn't get over to where stuff was going on.

But really, you know, we're absolutely engaged in the fight against terrorism in France, and wasn't that the point?  Hey, the French know it.

Except that wasn't the point.  Or at least not all of it.  It was about the pen.  It was about Je Suis Charlie.  It was about freedom and liberty.   
  • Liberté!
  • Égalité!
  • Fraternité!
World leaders who don't believe in those things, who deny them to their people, showed up to honor them in this one moment.  And to say that the weren't afraid.

And yeah, that they opposed terrorism (even, again, those who may encourage it).   

But you know, the President and the Vice President, they can't just go zipping off places without super security.  From a CNN report.
"I think it's fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday afternoon.
He said Obama himself would have liked to attend the march "had the circumstances been a little different." But planning began Friday night, 36 hours before the event began, and there wasn't enough time for the "onerous and significant" security work that needed to take place ahead of a presidential visit, Earnest said. He said Obama's presence also would have meant extra restrictions on the people who were there.
Oh, sure, everyone else marched down the street, arm-in-arm, bravely, defiantly, secure in the knowledge that well over 2,000 troops were guarding them.  But the President?  The veep?  Oh no.  

And so, we didn't attend a march to show that we weren't afraid to endorse freedom and liberty in the face of terror, to show that we weren't afraid to put ourselves on the line.  We didn't attend because we wouldn't put ourselves on the same line as the rest of the world.  Because we'll stand up for freedom and liberty only when 

Look, the government, our government, is good at condemning terrorist acts.  And we're good at blaming "radical" this or that.

You don't see much effort to understand what motivates, and to condemn that.  The need, for instance, to crush ideas and images some folks may not like.  You know, to understand that they attacked Charlie Hebdo because of its speech.*  Politically incorrect speech.  Speech that upsets. Speech that wasn't nice and fuzzy and warm and belly-rubbing.

Speech that we protect by the 1st Amendment.  Even though both our government and much of the population don't much like that one.  

Certainly not to the point of Voltaire, for whom the street the march began on was named.  You know, Voltaire:
I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
As long as I have my own special security forces surrounding me.

The first cover since the attack

* Yes, I know it's more complicated than that.  Yes, I know about the kosher supermarket.  Yes, I get it.  But they picked on Charlie Hebdo specifically because of the cartoons.

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