We gleaned some illuminating insights into public figures – including the sometimes predictably despicable nature of the usual suspects – in the aftermath of the Paris slaughter. And understand that I am now moving beyond discussion of the normal reactions of grief, anger, insecurity and reconciliation.
Firstly, Obama is as autistic as ever – failing to either attend in person or send someone of rank to France – proving himself yet again to be, emotionally, totally unsuited to be president. During momentous events the leader of the world’s most powerful nation should articulate the feelings of supposedly right-thinking people everywhere. Obama always reacts to tragedy as though he’s accidentally swallowed a piece of chewing gum. Such aberrant behaviour should not be dismissed lightly. This kind of dégagé reaction to atrocity is quickly exploited by opponents. Thankfully, he’ll be gone soon. I’d rather have a tuned-in individual, whether of centre-right or centre-left; in any case there’s not much difference.
We also learned that the blame-Israel-brigade will wait (at most) four to five days – at least for the blood to dry – before attributing an attack on a satirical magazine to alleged Zionist hegemony (I just knew President Carter would mention Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as a cause) or Jewish misconduct in general. I don’t see the connection. By this I do not mean that the attackers do not hate Israel and Jews. Of course, they do. (Significantly, the attacker murdered a female Jewish employee at Charlie Hebdo but spared another woman, not to mention the killings at the kosher supermarket). But Israel’s conduct is not a cause. Israel could do a number of things differently – and perhaps should – but does anyone seriously believe this would have prevented the attacks? Likewise, if Jews, en masse, altered their behavior (if such a thing were possible) would that have prevented the massacres? I doubt it.
The other development, par for the course, is that conspiracy theories quickly spread in the Islamic world. Turkey’s President Erdogan even alleged that the French authorities must have had prior knowledge of the attacks. Helpfully, the mayor of Ankara (not some obscure cleric, you understand, but the mayor) even suggested that Mossad was behind them. (We should be mindful that Turkey is a candidate for EU entry). Predictably, talk quickly moved to a supposed intricate false flag operation involving Manchurian-candidate mind control and the like. Ah, if only Jews were so clever as this, if only … not in order to attack publications but to make Nazis self-destruct.
The other point – and here perhaps I offer a concession to aggrieved Muslims – is that this much vaunted so-called freedom of expression does not actually apply across the board. For example, in many European countries, Holocaust denial is outlawed. Personally, I regret that we went down this road. It is not because the views of Holocaust deniers are not vile – they obviously are – but because criminalising opinions always makes us vulnerable to the charge that we have a double standard and, perversely, that makes it easier for Nazis and Islamic extremists to say that Jews have special status. The best way to counter vile opinions is through the truth, not through the courts.
This leads me to note the unholy alliance of Jew-haters, especially in France. The hardcore members of the National Front, for example, loathe Jews more than Moslems. They also despise freedom of speech because they believe that democracy and freedom are all just tools of Jewry. Jean-Marie Le Pen, in particular, resented that Charlie Hebdo was free to mock everyone, especially him. Le Pen is also godfather to one of the children of French alleged “comedian”, Dieudonné. Marine Le Pen, to her credit, has made moves to distance herself from this hardline anti-Semitism. Well, women are always a bit more sensible than men, aren’t they? Hopefully she will continue to shun these hardcore Nazis who would find some way to blame the Jews if they ran out of toilet paper. And by “Nazis” I mean not only the obvious candidates but the likes of Dieudonné.