Are we marching to anywhere?
[See the updates below]
Since this is a mostly-Minnesota website, and since I am a little conflicted about the meaning of the whole thing myself, I hadn’t planned to write about the massacre in Paris (because that it was it was) and the follow-up shooting at a kosher market that took additional lives (that was also a massacre). I am prompted to, though, because the whole affair has turned into a bacchanal of showmanship and pandering.
Steve Sack did three great cartoons on the subject which you can see here. Here’s the first one:
One conservative of my acquaintance wrote, on Twitter, I think, “Thanks, Steve Sack, for standing up for the First Amendment.”
As someone should point out, France doesn’t have a First Amendment; it does have some measure of free expression, and although I am not a student of French law, I suspect expression is more circumscribed there than you might think. As for example, if you’re a schoolgirl who wants to wear a hijab in class.
But let’s focus on the march in Paris for a moment. You have all seen photos of the sea of people out on the streets of Paris, a crowd estimated to be larger than for the liberation in 1944. You’ve also seen photos like the one above of the world leaders marching in solidarity with the crowd. I’ll be you haven’t seen this one, though:
Those world leaders who were at the Paris demonstration? They weren’t actually at the Paris demonstration. pic.twitter.com/JOVwGu7pqF
— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) January 12, 2015
If you look carefully, you can see the same Potemkin Village leaders of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Donald Tusk and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
This was not a march, my friends, it was a photo-op. If you look at the back of this little scrum, you can see people holding machine guns and providing, literally a rear guard. No million Parisians.
This is the event that President Obama is so roundly criticized for missing. Why, C+ Augustus would have gone!
My sense is that W would have gone to Paris.
— Luke Hellier (@lukehellier) January 13, 2015
At the level of instinct, Luke just knows this. But you know, in this case he’s probably right. It would have been perfect photo-op for that strutting little rooster. He could have given Merkel a back rub.
Naturally, Tom Emmer has to get into the act.
Tonight, I signed the Congressional condolence book for France in wake of this unspeakable tragedy. pic.twitter.com/diNimZOaow
— Tom Emmer (@RepTomEmmer) January 12, 2015
Of course, Emmer just spoke about it.
Top honors in the hijacking of a tragedy, though, have to go to Benjamin Netanyahu. David Gregory memorably once called Netanyahu the “Leader of the Jews.” Kind of like Moses, I guess.
Anyway, Bibi apparently saw the junket as an opportunity to pitch Israeli real estate to French Jews. Palestinian real estate, really.
A pox on everybody’s house.
Update: After Bibi’s slideshow of prime building spots just opened up in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the congregation at a Paris synagogue broke into a spontaneous rendition of La Marseillaise. Bibi didn’t know the words, and obviously didn’t share the sentiment.
Further update: (1/14): Here’s a cartoon by a Muslim cartoonist responding to Bibi’s peddling Palestinian real estate that I rather like:
And meanwhile, back in France:
France has arrested 54 people for offensive speech since Charlie Hebdo killings. In other news, French PM Hollande has outlawed irony.
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) January 14, 2015
Forty-eight hours after hosting a massive march under the banner of free expression, France opened a criminal investigation of a controversial French comedian for a Facebook post he wrote about the Charlie Hebdo attack, and then this morning, arrested him for that post on charges of “defending terrorism.” The comedian, Dieudonné (above), previously sought elective office in France on what he called an “anti-Zionist” platform, has had his show banned by numerous government officials in cities throughout France, and has been criminally prosecuted several times before for expressing ideas banned in that country.
That’s the lede in a Glenn Greenwald story at The Intercept. Greenwald continues:
Expressing that opinion is evidently a crime in the Republic of Liberté, which prides itself on a line of 20th Century intellectuals – from Sartre and Genet to Foucault and Derrida – whose hallmark was leaving no orthodoxy or convention unmolested, no matter how sacred.
Greenwald zeros in on it here, in my opinion:
As pernicious as this arrest and related “crackdown” on some speech obviously is, it provides a critical value: namely, it underscores the utter scam that was this week’s celebration of free speech in the west. The day before the Charlie Hebdo attack, I coincidentally documented the multiple cases in the west – including in the U.S. – where Muslims have been prosecuted and even imprisoned for their political speech. Vanishingly few of this week’s bold free expression mavens have ever uttered a peep of protest about any of those cases – either before the Charlie Hebdo attack or since. That’s because “free speech,” in the hands of many westerners, actually means: it is vital that the ideas I like be protected, and the right to offend groups I dislike be cherished; anything else is fair game.
You have to identify the ox before you can decide if it’s been gored or not.
One more update: Back to Israel:
Israeli minister Uri Ariel exploits Paris killings to call for illegal settlement expansion: http://t.co/qG0LRJQnX9
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) January 14, 2015
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