Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

The Real Scandals of the Paris March

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

French President Francois Hollande welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Elysee Palace before attending a solidarity march in the streets of ParisCommentators on both the left and the right are slamming President Obama for missing the march in Paris last Sunday. Even a stalwart courtier like CNN’s Jake Tapper sniffed that he was “ashamed” that the U.S. was represented by an ambassador––one, by the way, who got her appointment by bundling money for the president’s political campaigns. But who’s surprised at this latest display of diplomatic incompetence? This is the same president who gave the queen of England an I-Pod loaded with his speeches, banished a bust of Churchill from the White House, bowed low to the Saudi King, blew off Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, and insulted on an open mike the prime minister of Israel, our most important ally in the Middle East. Missing the march is just Obama being Obama.

More significant is the fact that these complaints are just distracting us from more important questions about the march. The first is, what took the French so long? In 2012, to take just one example, a jihadist killed 7 people, including 3 Jewish children, in Toulouse and Montauban. Why did those deaths not merit a large display of  “solidarity” and multicultural togetherness? Some will argue that the Charlie Hebdo killings deserve more attention because they struck at a foundational belief of liberal democracy, free speech. Indeed it did.

But killing Jewish children just because they are Jews strikes at equally foundational beliefs––that all people have human rights whatever their race or creed, and that confessional tolerance is mandatory for an open and free society. Yes, the latest massacre also killed 4 Jews just because they were Jews, but those victims of the violent assault on our principles have been an afterthought. Passionate proclamations of the importance of free speech? Heard a lot those. Equally passionate calls to fight anti-Semitism? Not so much. Perhaps some people have some residual decency, and are embarrassed at being reminded that just 6 months ago, these same streets of Paris were filled with protestors marching in support of Hamas, vandalizing synagogues, and shouting anti-Semitic and genocidal slogans.

So there is a fair amount of hypocrisy in such calls for free speech and tolerance, coming as they do from the same people who institute “hate speech” codes against the critics of Islam, and who brand as “Islamophobes,” and “xenophobes,” and “neo-fascists” those political parties that call for a renewed commitment to Western civilization, and take pride in the culture that created human rights, democracy, tolerance, and all the other goods the scorners of national and cultural pride take for granted. Hence Bernard Henry-Levy snidely dismisses as “arsonists of the soul” those parties that call for patriotism and pride in their culture, and the need to defend it from the enemies that want to destroy it. So much for Henry-Levy’s cries for “national unity,” an invitation apparently valid only for those who endorse the flabby “tolerance” and multicultural fantasies that have enabled the illiberal, homophobic, misogynistic, and lethally intolerant jihadists shedding blood in the streets of Paris.

One suspects that the outcry reflects anger not so much at those who murder innocents in order to destroy liberal democracy and human rights, but at these particular killers who dared to slaughter left-wing journalists in what François Hollande laughably called the “capital of the world.” One wonders what the response would have been had the same number of people been murdered in a National Front office out in the sticks. It’s the arrogant provincialism of the has-been great power, the Gallic version of that old New Yorker cover showing the U.S. as a vast wasteland west of the East River. Killing Jews or cops in the provinces is one thing, but left-wing journalists in the City of Lights? Now that’s a cause for outrage. Roger Kimball got it right when he wrote, “The whole production is slightly nauseating in its fakeness, its self-aggrandizing narcissism, and its essential mendacity.”

But the most nauseating scandal of the march was the presence of Palestinian honcho

Mahmoud Abbas, participating with other heads of state in an event supposedly memorializing victims who include 4 Jews killed by jihadists. But Abbas is not a “head of state.” He is the “chairman” of a terrorist gang called the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a member of another terrorist outfit, Fatah, and a holocaust denier. Since 1993 he has headed up the Palestinian Authority, that Potemkin “government” behind which for 20 years now he and his cronies have incited hatred against Jews in Arab Palestinian popular culture and schools, brutally suppressed political rivals, fleeced the West of funds that arm soldiers and line the pockets of the PA’s “leaders” ($100 million just for Abbas), and serially engineered terrorist murders of Israelis, over 1500 since Oslo handed control of Judaea and Samaria to the Palestinians.

So a “leader” whose whole life has been committed to the destruction of Jews and their national homeland, who has colluded in terrorist murder, who regularly praises murderers of Israelis as “martyrs” and names schools after them, and who has rejected offers of the nation that he tells gullible Westerners is people’s purpose of their violence––this man who embodies everything opposed to the liberal democratic principles of Western civilization is invited to march in a celebration of those principles? A “leader” who arrests and tortures journalists marches in support of free speech? A killer of Jews attends a memorial in which Jews have been killed? But what should we expect when nations forged by Western principles have sunk so low that they make a terrorist gang a member of U.N. institutions––with the approval of France, remember–– and the International Criminal Court, one of whose charges is to prosecute genocide and war crimes like randomly firing rockets into cities. You have to go back to the bloodstained Soviet judges sitting on the Nuremberg Tribunal to find such absurd hypocrisy.

The rot in the West, its failure of cultural nerve and collapse of civilizational morale, will not be stopped by big talk and displays of communal emotion. To quote Churchill’s words in response to the Munich debacle, “This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in olden time.” And that “stand” will require more than just words and marches.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

5 Thoughts on “The Real Scandals of the Paris March

  1. William Graves on January 14, 2015 at 2:16 pm said:

    From 1977 until 1980 I worked in France and lived in Paris. What you saw Saturday was quite extraordinary and unprecedented. I would offer that the disparity between the reaction to the murder of the Staff of Charlie Hebdo and that of the Toulouse incident is easily explained. The French people, and Parisians in particular, have a personal relationship with ‘Charlie’ which is intimate and powerful. Although Charlie has only 125,000 circulation, virtually everyone has read it. Think of ‘Peanuts’ or ‘Doonsberry.’ You may disagree with it’s policy, think it fatuous, or stupid, but you’ve read it on multiple occasions. Now imagine someone murdered Charles Shultz and then tried to justify the act. That’s what brought the French into the streets in unheard of numbers.They effectively attacked the French zeitgeist. Now, where this will go, I’m not sure, but it was very powerful. Powerful enough, perhaps, to change people’s thinking. Geert Wilders is a Dutch MP and head of the Dutch PVV, the ‘Freedom Party.’ It is currently the fourth largest party in the Dutch Parliament. I just read that the took a pol after the ‘Charlie’ murders, and that if elections were to be held today, that the PVV would now be the largest party. Maybe Ayaan Hirsi Ali will become more important in the aftermath?

  2. Why have no Jihadists attacked the offices of American gun magazines?

    Why didn’t 12 Journalists in France, and all the customers in that grocery store have concealed Glocks?

    Our Founding Fathers believed Natural Law rights were a package. France left out public self-defense arms? So does New York, D.C., California and all places where important people disarm the unimportant.

  3. Victor, as you are quoting Churchill, let me follow his advice on how to use language best. Use the English rather than the foreign word, use the shorter rather than the longer. Let me cross out “mendacity”, “hypocrisy”. Let’s shout and scream: Lies! All lies!

    Here are some lies you missed:

    1) The pen is stronger than the AK47: Singing the “Marseillaise” contradicts that belief. Is is a violent song, shouting “to arms citizens”, written after a violent revolution. It records the history how France met violence with violence and achieved liberty. It suggests the sequence: first use violence, then win liberty and only after that write a song.

    2) Nothing can be done against these terrorist: Some people shot video sequences of the attack from some floors up. Given the American idea of an armed citizen, I recommend replacing the camera-smartphone with a rifle. The videos on the internet prove that with a shot or two the assassins could have been stopped easily.

    3) It’s all new. How could we have known: A deadly attack by Palestinians directed at Jews actually did occur during the 1972 Olympics in München. This is the event in Europe that links Abbas with the terrorist attack. There’s both a red, and a blue-and-white line, here.

    4) In the end millions of demonstrators defeated the terrorists: Not quite. Same as with the 1972 attack the wider population could not replace a competitive athlete in a competition. Are there really cartoonists in the crowd who command both the talent and the courage to replace the cartoonists killed? No one is a Charlie unless proven a top notch cartoonist.

    5) See, the muslim community is with the wider public: While muslims have been condemning the murder they still prefer less cartoons about their prohet. In other words they condemn the halal slaughter but still enjoy the halal meat. The genocidal generation of my grandfathers were like that. They felt that, yes, the Holocaust was wrong, but the Jews gone would not be all that undesirable. They felt that yes, war is evil, that is if you are losing one.

    6) France and all Europe is now united: The Jewish victims left that fake unity. They decided that even when dead, the soil of France would be unsafe to be buried in it. Those victims concluded they would not be part of Europe united in denial.

  4. David Park on January 15, 2015 at 8:33 am said:

    Agree about Abbas, the European attitude toward him and his organization represents a form of insanity. Loved those quotes of Churchill’s at the end. They speak to the Europe and United States of today as history prepares to repeat itself, especially for those who, after becoming drugged on political correctness, think human nature has really changed.

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