American tears continue to shed for Paris.
While the American people stand in solidarity with the people of France, where in the world were our own leaders when a million strong marched in Paris in support of Charlie Hebdo and freedom of expression?
Shame on them.
For the first time I am disappointed in your blog. Never has a sitting president attended a protest march and the security provisions would have overshadowed the event if POTUS had attended. Many of the ‘leaders’ who did attend did not march, they simply posed for a photo op on an empty street, miles ahead of the real protesters…and many of them were guilty of suppression and human rights violations themselves.
You are absolutely correct Dianne that some of the leaders at the rally aren’t exactly known for their love of expression, yet they made the trip to Paris while a high official for the US was absent. Even John Stewart commented on that issue last evening: “How could the US not be there when representatives of such beacons of freedom and lack of censorship as journalists-punishing Russia was there?” asked Stewart, who went on to cite several other examples.
It wasn’t necessary for President Obama to attend as I agree with the points you made, but a high ranking US official would have gone far to show our solidarity. Thank you for sharing your thoughts,they are always welcome.
Had he gone, the same negative voices would have said something like, “How could he go and overwhelm this French moment with his American agenda? And didn’t his presence make them all bigger targets for assassins? Shame on him for stealing their moment! He’s nothing but a narcissistic-Muslim-terrorist-dictator- commie-Nazi-Kenyan-gay-murdering-anti-patriot!”
You know the routine. There is nothing he could do or not do that would be acceptable, even walk on water and raise the dead with his touch.
As for solidarity, a friend of mine who lives in Paris noted the French were especially appreciative of Kerry’s condolence statement which he delivered in French for the French nation and President Obama’s visit to the French Embassy to sign the book of condolences.
The absence of a higher ranking American at the march was not as big a deal to the French on the whole (my Parisian friend noted) as it is to us Americans, who are used to being high profile actors on the world stage.
Our presence with other national heads with questionable human rights records and known resistance to freedom of the press, in fact, might suggest solidarity with those ideologies, a guilt by association. (And example, if we are honest with ourselves. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, water boarding, Cheney, the Iraq war, drones.)
That said, I’m glad President Obama didn’t go there without adequate time for vetting by the Secret Service of security along the route. If you remember, the Secret Service already had a scandal this past year for a couple of fence jumpers, including one with a knife who made it into the White House past seven or eight levels of security! I can’t help but believe at some point the Secret Service advised the President against going on such short notice, what with the usual entourage of two highly modified 747s (Air Force One and the identical backup); three helicopters transported by military transport – partially dissembled to fit inside (Marine One and two decoy helicopters); the Presidential limousine and all of the armoured black SUVs used by the Secret Service; pre-arrangements for all of the Secret Service people; supplies of safe food, special weaponry and survival gear; etc., etc. AND knowledge that all of the American Right would shit bricks of disbelief that this “narcissistic-Muslim-terrorist-dictator- commie-Nazi-Kenyan-gay-murdering-anti-patriot” wasted millions of dollars just to appear for a few minutes in a line up of world leaders for a photo opportunity.
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You make good points and it’s true that Obama would be criticized either way. The White House did make a rare apology for not sending a more senior US Representative to Paris acknowledging the symbolism is important. For better or worse, “optics” matter today.
Lady Liberty has had plenty to cry about in the past 15 years. I’m still waiting for America to publicly demonstrate how deeply we share the grief of the Pakistanis who lost so many children and teachers in the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar last month. I know many Americans grieved for the loss of so many innocent lives, but I wish our sympathy had been more publicly expressed.
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There is so much tragedy and unfortunately, the media can get very myopic about what they cover.
What about the optics of world leaders not showing up en masse in protest of 2000 murders in Baga, Nigeria in the same week?
Perhaps Black Africans in remote bush town without the amenities of a major European capital city like Paris says a lot more about Western priorities, let alone an American President’s.
Tens of hundreds of rotting black African Christians strewn on the grounds of their hometown surely would make for a much more potent image of why we band together against terrorism than this photo op in Paris, a line of people posed in front of a crowd of live marchers.
Sally, I get your point and even feel somewhat that “it would have been nice if…”, but there seems to be a lack of perspective, a misplaced moral outrage when there is an even grimmer, more egregious example of terrorism ignored by the American public, the political right, and even otherwise more in tune commentators like John Stewart, in an effort to find fault with a President more than to somehow restore honor denied to the victims of terrorism.
I doubt we will hear the end of this Presidential faux pas that the French themselves didn’t find a problem if my Parisian friend’s observation and measure of their media is accurate.
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I can’t argue with you there, and in fact agree with what you are saying. When it comes to causes, there is a lot of myoptic vision skewed toward the West. As an artist and a writer who trucks in satire, this entire tragedy has struck a personal nerve.
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You typically are dead center on your targets (not speaking political center), and I enjoy your wit and insights into topics you cover. This blog is a treasure in my mind, and I hope you never feel you are not appreciated for your honesty, skill expressing your point of view, and eye for irony! This event/nonevent will doubtlessly be political hay for the right no matter how the French view it.
Thanks for your kind words of support .Just so you know I am always grateful for your intelligent engaging feedback. If some of my sentiment coincidently aligned with any right wing rhetoric, I am the first to be mortified!
I am still trying to absorb what happened in Paris. It deeply saddens me that we live in such a world. I can’t comment on the President not going. But he could have sent the Secretary of State or the Vice President. My heart goes out to the French and what they are going through now.