This morning, addressing the staff and families of the U.S. Embassy in Paris, John Kerry made the following unscripted comments:
But nevertheless, we are deeply appreciative for your commitment to helping us to help people to share the values and the interests that we are all working to protect.
In the last days, obviously, that has been particularly put to the test. There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for. That’s not an exaggeration. It was to assault all sense of nationhood and nation-state and rule of law and decency, dignity, and just put fear into the community and say, “Here we are.” And for what? What’s the platform? What’s the grievance? That we’re not who they are? They kill people because of who they are and they kill people because of what they believe. And it’s indiscriminate. They kill Shia. They kill Yezidis. They kill Christians. They kill Druze. They kill Ismaili. They kill anybody who isn’t them and doesn’t pledge to be that.
I don’t believe that every slip of the tongue is significant, but that’s not what this was. Kerry said what he meant, but then realized how bad it sounded and backed off. But conceding the “legitimacy” of the Charlie Hebdo murders was central to his point, that last Friday’s attacks were materially different. That Kerry and his boss, President Obama, regard the Charlie Hebdo murders as somehow legitimate likely explains why the Obama administration, alone among significant Western powers, sent no high-ranking representative to the Paris demonstration that followed a few days later.
Is it unfair to suggest that there is another kind of legitimate terrorism, different somehow from the rest, when Arabs murder Jewish Israelis? I don’t think so. I think some such belief is the only plausible explanation for the Obama administration’s neutrality (at best) as between terrorists and their victims in Israel.
UPDATE: Here is the video: