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The Massacre in Paris
The President Gets It Right on Free Speech

President Obama made an impromptu visit to the French Embassy in Washington yesterday, where he expressed his support in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. According to The Hill, he wrote in the Embassy’s book of condolences:

“On behalf of all Americans, I extend our deepest sympathy and solidarity to the people of France following the terrible terrorist attack in Paris. As allies across the centuries, we stand united with our French brothers to ensure that justice is done and our way of life is defended. We go forward together knowing that terror is no match for freedom and ideals we stand for — ideals that light the world. Vive la France!”

Well said. This is exactly how we should be responding to brutal attacks that were aimed both at innocent lives and sacred ideals. President Obama also struck the right tone in another address.

The President has been very strong on free speech lately, between these comments and his stance against North Korea’s intimidation of Sony. This stands in stark contrast to the President’s response to Benghazi, in which the federal government condemned an allegedly provocative film and arrested the filmmaker on a technical parole violation. But perhaps the President has learned something from that. This time the tone was spot on. Bravo, we say—and more, please.

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  • S.C. Schwarz

    Talk is cheap, as the saying goes. These words cost the president nothing and therefore mean nothing. I’ll believe he care about free speech when, for example, he speaks out about campus speech codes. That would anger his base and therefore be a meaningful statement of principle. But this is a president who never, ever does anything to upset his base.

  • wigwag

    Can I have some of what you’re smoking Professor Mead?

    The President’s comments were awful; he didn’t acknowledge the ubiquity of Islamic extremism, he didn’t mention the profound antisemitism that has resulted in almost continuous attacks by radicalized Muslims against Jews in France and he offered no strategies to combat the problem that France and the rest of Europe is facing. He did nothing to try and shake European leaders out of their lethargy because he is as lethargic as they are.

    The president offered nothing but pabulum; if you think he struck the right tone you must be a fan of that mushy breakfast concoction.

  • Lyle7

    Yeah, this is an apples and oranges comparison. I know you hope he has changed, but I can guarantee you that the man hasn’t. Don’t be fooled by Barack Obama.

  • Corlyss

    Right. We make great speeches. We can make little signs saying “I Am Charlie!” We can have candlelight vigils. We can put sad little posies at make-shift shrines. I’m sure all that terrifies the crap out of ideological mass murderers.

  • Anthony
  • Brad Lena

    doesn’t Obama know, as he said, “the future does not belong to those who insult the prophet Mohamed. Why is he deceiving the French?

  • FriendlyGoat

    Thanks to TAI for complimenting our president on this point. As I have mentioned before, with the mild exception of too much golfing while in office, there has never been a day I was not proud of him and Michelle in The White House. I am well aware some like to make him the subject of CONSTANT criticism and I’m glad TAI “gives that tone a break” now and then.

  • Gene

    The French Prime Minister said today that “France was at war with radical Islam after the harrowing sieges that led to the deaths of three gunmen and four hostages the day before,” says the NYT.

    “It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity,” Mr. Valls said.

    I doubt he’s the first major western political leader to do so in the last 13 years, but it’s heartening to hear the phrase “radical Islam” pass a leader’s lips, considering how hard most of them work to say anything BUT that.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Indeed, President Bush tried as hard or harder than even Obama to dodge speaking about the reality that Islam, the religion, keeps showing up looking like an enemy.

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