We didn’t want to write about the Charlie Hebdo massacre or the ensuing mass rallies, and not just because everybody we know has done so. But given the bizarre U.S. response and some counter intuitive ideas of our own, here we go.
First, the counter intuition: Call us cynical, but we don’t see any slogan putting three million people in the streets absent an extraordinarily widespread misunderstanding of what’s going on.
Factor in that the slogan here (“Je suis Charlie”) is a defense of 21st century Western values and that someone might get hurt over it, and we’re even more convinced that the crowds rallying in Paris were less than unanimous concerning what it was all about.
Some may have turned out to assert one of the most widely-held of all contemporary Western values; that is, to claim their entitlement to victim-hood and tap into the finite supply of pity being lavished upon the murdered cartoonists and hostages.
As for the Obama no-show, its irrelevance can’t be overstated, but neither can the relevance of our Secretary of State belatedly showing up with James Taylor to make everything better by singing “You’ve Got a Friend” to President Hollande and the assembled French persons.
It’s as if the administration’s best minds pondered how great leaders have succored besieged allies and remembered that FDR sent the Glenn Miller Band to England but forgot he also sent the rest of the Air Force.