The Atrocity in France

Yesterday, Claire Berlinski reported from Paris

Obama, of course, “condemned” the attack. It’s important to remember, however, his administration’s response to earlier threats against the magazine Charlie Hebdo:

In other words, we don’t question the right of something like this to be published; we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it. And I think that that’s our view about the video that was produced in this country and has caused so much offense in the Muslim world.

The quoted statement basically implies that people should use “judgment” to avoid saying or publishing anything that will offend Muslims. The video referred to is of course the one that the Obama administration blamed for the Benghazi attacks, going so far as to purchase newspaper ads to denounce the video. And Hillary Clinton, who was Obama’s secretary of state, told the father of one of the murdered Americans (Tyrone Woods) that “we’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.” Not “we’re going to destroy those terrorists,” but rather, they’re going to destroy a filmmaker. The Obama administration’s statements have acted not only to normalize that “thug’s veto” over all expressions of opinion, but even to put United States government power behind the thug’s veto.

Time Magazine posted an article titled “5 Facts That Explain the Charlie Hebdo attack.” Can you guess what they were, and which one they left out? (Link) And numerous publications are censoring the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

The staff of a humor magazine demonstrated far more courage than either Western governments or the bulk of Western media in standing up for Enlightenment values. I’m reminded once again of a passage in Sebastian Haffner’s memoir. Haffner was working in the Prussian Supreme Court, the Kammergericht, when the Nazi thugs came to the Court, demanded to know who was Jewish and who was not, and established totalitarian control over what had previously been an actual judicial process.

As I left the Kammergericht it stood there, grey, cool and calm as ever, set back from the street in its distinguished setting. There was nothing to show that, as an institution, it had just collapsed.

That evening, Haffner went with his girlfriend to a nightclub called the Katakombe. The master of ceremonies was a comic actor and satirical cabaret performer named Werner Fink:

His act remained full of harmless amiability in a country where these qualities were on the liquidation list. This harmless amiability hid a kernel of real, indomitable courage. He dared to speak openly about the reality of the Nazis, and that in the middle of Germany. His patter contained references to concentration camps, the raids on people’s homes, the general fear and general lies. He spoke of these things with infinitely quiet mockery, melancholy, and sadness. Listening to him was extraordinarily comforting.

In the morning, the Prussian Kammergericht, with its tradition of hundreds of years, had ignobly capitulated before the Nazis. In the same evening, a small troop of artistes, with no tradition to back them up, demonstrated the courage to speak forbidden thoughts. “The Kammergericht had fallen but the Katakombe stood upright.”

CNN, MSNBC, Time Magazine, the White House, the Elysee Palace, 10 Downing Street may have all demonstrated a lack of resolution in the face of Islamist threats and violence, but at least Charlie Hebdo has stood upright.

40 thoughts on “The Atrocity in France”

  1. “The staff of a humor magazine demonstrated far more courage than either Western governments or the bulk of Western media in standing up for Enlightenment values.”

    Quite right. A good start would be to scrap all sorts of law that enforce ludicrous constraints on free speech. What does it matter if some loony wants to prattle about the holocaust not having happened. It just makes clear what a bloody fool he is. What on earth is the point of banning it? Why can Jim Watson be fired for speaking freely? Why are colleges full of nonsense about speech codes, micro-aggressions, and so on? Why can the police in England harass you for flying a St George’s flag? All this nonsense should be stopped; muslims can take their chances with the rest of us that they may be offended by someone else’s views. Tough. Grow up.

    Lord, I spit at the hypocrisy of Obama, Hollande, Cameron. Merkle and the rest of them, pretending that they approve of free speech. Or the Guardian, or the Beeb, or (I dare say) the NYT. Hypocrites all. Sod the lot of them.

  2. Hillary & the families struck what I had hoped would be a very low point in our public life.

    The consequences of loss – of free speech, of institutions that reinforce an objective search for facts and for “what works” – is the loss of progress. The greatest loss, of course, is to the truth. But it affects our material lives as well. They have improved immeasurably because men and women didn’t flinch at seeing the truth, at facing facts. When we do that, we find what works. And doing so empowers us, makes us alive and creative. That may sometimes be mundane, but it reinforces all that is best in us and best for our nation.

    Honesty is primary. And what keeps us honest is facing truths, not mouthing lies – is truly free speech that tests our honesty. Sherlock Holmes’ great attraction was an attention to detail, a sense of the “fact.” Krauthammer explains his change of perspective – empirical evidence that the great society hurt rather than helped. But still, we hear that Head Start works, that Islam is a religion of peace, as many domestic canards as foreign policy ones, and facts always couched in the personal, the emotional and never the general, the rational. Any debate between the left & right seems to be one between the immediate and the long range, the narrow and the broad.

    We hear of solutions to nonexistent problems and denials of real ones. The left in America (academics, msm, entertainment, and welfare queens) don’t accept empirical evidence. They live in soft America – a soft that is going to get pretty hard, because it is static, in the habit of pretending the emperor has clothes. It’s also hard because narcissism (and what is most “victimology” but that) really isn’t productive.

    Obama and his ilk would have us live, live themselves, in a world that has learned nothing, A leader that can lie – and what is so much that he says but a lie – with neither shame nor retribution is key. Our nation has slowly become the kind of culture that Lysenko’s theories marinated in.

  3. Europeans have brought this on themselves by allowing millions of Moslems to emigrate to Europe. It is useless to say that Moslems must accept European values. They won’t. If large populations of Moslems are to live in Europe then the Hebdo cartoons become the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre.

  4. “Europeans have brought this on themselves by allowing millions of Moslems to emigrate to Europe.”

    We are not too far behind. We are following them.

    President Barack Obama’s administration announced on Wednesday that it had eased some immigration rules to allow more of the millions of Syrians forced from their homes during the country’s three-year civil war to come to the United States.

    God help us !

  5. Mike K. – Maybe we should stop trying to destabilize the Middle East without knowing what the consequences will be. God knows the place will be unstable enough if we just leave it alone.

  6. Robert Schwartz Says:
    January 8th, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius


    Oderint dum Metuant.

    Subotai Bahadur


    Regarding the anti-Islam video that the administration blamed for Benghazi…

    President Obama claimed that in the U.S., “we reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” Hillary Clinton said of the U.S. government, “we absolutely reject content and message.”

    Except that our country doesn’t reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. In fact, we state quite clearly that we believe everyone has the right to denigrate the religious beliefs of anyone they care to, from Mormon to Methodist to Muslim. And the U.S. government has no business weighing in on videos made by Americans and had no right to try to get Google to pull it down when people objected to it.

    Charlie Hebdo brutally mocked Christians as well as Muslims. Because they made fun of Islam’s prophet, 10 journalists lost their lives. Many more are wounded.

    The problem of such cowardly rhetoric in the face of Islamist violence certainly didn’t begin with President Obama and Hillary Clinton but they should be called to account for their tepid defense of free speech and freedom of the press.

    I fear that the election of Barack Obama as US president will turn out to be a greater disaster for civilization than was the selection of Neville Chamberlain as British prime minister.

  8. >>President Obama and Hillary Clinton but they should be called to account for their tepid defense of free speech and freedom of the press.

    The Left doesn’t want free speech or a free press. The Left has been repressive of freedom for their entire history. Freedom impedes control.

  9. “Maybe we should stop trying to destabilize the Middle East without knowing what the consequences will be.”

    What do you suggest ?

    In 1953, Iran had a communist PM named Mohammed Mosaddegh and his government was overthrown in a coup d’état orchestrated by the British Secret Intelligence Service and the American Central Intelligence Agency.

    The Shah’s father, Reza Shah was a German sympathizer, like many Muslims in the Middle East. He did some good things:

    In 1925, Reza Shah deposed Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar dynasty, and founded the Pahlavi dynasty. He established a constitutional monarchy that lasted until overthrown in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution. Reza Shah introduced many social, economic, and political reforms during his reign, ultimately laying the foundation of the modern Iranian state.


    Reza Shah was the first Iranian Monarch in 1400 years who paid respect to the Jews by praying in the synagogue when visiting the Jewish community of Isfahan; an act that boosted the self-esteem of the Iranian Jews and made Reza Shah their second most respected Iranian leader after Cyrus the Great. Reza Shah’s reforms opened new occupations to Jews and allowed them to leave the ghetto.


    To counterbalance British and Soviet influence, Reza Shah encouraged German commercial enterprise in Iran. On the eve of World War II, Germany was Iran’s largest trading partner.[59] The Germans agreed to sell the Shah the steel factory he coveted and considered a sine qua non of progress and modernity. Nevertheless, according to the British embassy reports from Tehran in 1940, the total number of German citizens in Iran – from technicians to spies – was no more than a thousand.[60]

    His foreign policy, which had consisted essentially of playing the Soviet Union off against Great Britain, failed when those two powers joined in 1941 to fight the Germans. To supply the Soviet forces with war material through Iran, the two allies jointly occupied the country in August 1941.

    There was a world war to win. He was deposed, as he had deposed the previous regime.

    The son, the next Shah, was an ally of the US and of Israel. Mosaddegh was an enemy and an ally of the Soviet Union which had well known designs on Iran.

    British prime minister Winston Churchill suggested to the incoming Eisenhower administration that Mossadegh, despite his open disgust with socialism, was, or would become, dependent on the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party, resulting in Iran “increasingly turning towards communism” and towards the Soviet sphere at a time of high Cold War fears. After the Eisenhower administration had entered office in early 1953, the United States and the United Kingdom agreed to work together toward Mosaddegh’s removal and began to publicly denounce Mosaddegh’s policies for Iran as harmful to the country. In the meantime, the already precarious alliance between Mosaddegh and Kashani was severed in January 1953, when Kashani opposed Mosaddegh’s demand that his increased powers be extended for a period of one year.

    Wiki is unreliable on matters of left and right but the story is largely true.

    Intervention consisted of buying oil from the Saudis and trying to keep Iran out of the Soviet orbit. Russia has been an enemy of Iran for centuries.

    Iraq was an invasion of Kuwait and a threat to Saudi oil.

    The attack on the WTC on 9/11 was part of a war on the Saudi royal family by bin Laden. Simple solutions are for simple people. Which are you ?

  10. Sarah Hoyt read some crazy Facebook posts, and she has responded with a righteous rant:

    The film of red grew as these asinine cowards, these craven and self-regarding poltroons, started saying things like that the brave men and women who risked their lives for free speech should have been more careful of the feelings of others. These are the same people who routinely, three times a day, post some dig at Christianity, some mockery of Americans, some pseudo-witty comment about Republicans. But see, none of those people threaten to kill them…Is this their pathological admiration of anyone who has the cojones to do what they’d like to do and cut the throats of everyone who disagrees with them? After all, these are the idolaters of Che, he who clubbed children and puppies to death. Are they, in their heart, hyenas who dream of being lions? Or perhaps – since the lion is a lazy beast who relies on size and intimidation – they are lions who dream of being hyenas.

    Definitely read the whole thing.

  11. People like to bring up Mossadegh as proof of Western/CIA conspiracies against the poor honorable third world that just want to break the bonds of colonialism. The thing is, however, that he had the previous prime minister killed. Not exactly a humanitarian. Live by the sword…

  12. Europeans have brought this on themselves by allowing millions of Moslems to emigrate to Europe… If large populations of Moslems are to live in Europe then the Hebdo cartoons become the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre.

    Charlie-Hebdo spent decades attacking anti-immigration sentiments, even calling for Le Pen’s party to be banned. With victory, and a new population, they then proceeded to mock the prophet of these new “Frenchmen”. Charlie-Hebdo = Darwin award winners

  13. In the early 1990’s I would frequently listen to Dennis Prager when he was on only in Los Angeles. Back then, he would often state, and with plenty of confidence, that Europe would face a religious war and soon. He was right.

    Now would be a good time to pick up Ms. Berlinski’s “Menace in Europe”.

    I pray the Europeans feel this is worth fighting for. Their vacant churches and declining birthrate suggest to me, when I’m in a gloomier mood, that they’ve already given up.

  14. Jason,

    Thanks for the prompt… I went and found Menace in Europe on my reading pile and moved it to the top of the list.

  15. East Anglian – Yes, Hebdo’s views are very strange. Apparently he was in favor of massive Islamic immigration but then thought that it would be a great idea to pour ridicule and contempt on them. He was like somebody who decided to try to make a pet of a wolf, not a very good idea to begin with, and then decided to beat the wolf. Hebdo did his best to make Moslems hate him and he succeeded. He certainly deserves a Darwin.

  16. The Times article is ludicrous but it’s simply reality that anywhere where there are large Moslem populations then anything like the Hebdo cartoons is out.

  17. “Charlie-Hebdo spent decades attacking anti-immigration sentiments, even calling for Le Pen’s party to be banned. With victory, and a new population, they then proceeded to mock the prophet of these new “Frenchmen”. Charlie-Hebdo = Darwin award winners”

    About the only thing I’d feel confident in criticizing Charlie-Hebdo about is their not having a couple of semi- or even automatic weapons stashed in back corners of the office(s) and, perhaps, not carrying individually.

  18. In any society with a large Moslem population the supply of people who are willing to die for the sake of ridiculing them will run out very quickly.

  19. Tyouth – What is the point of letting people into your country if you have to arm ourself against them? If Frenchmen have to arm themselves against the Moslem immigrants that shows just how insane multiculturalism is.

  20. Well at least we still have Free Speech.

    Which is the biggest time waster and diversion for men who should be talking that man has stumbled into.

    Free Speech? What does it get us?

    Free speech isn’t worth a damn if you self censor action.

  21. “Tyouth – What is the point of letting people into your country if you have to arm ourself against them? ”

    The only point that I can see is that certain powerful groups feel that it weakens existing national feeling and unity, empowering them (the powerful groups) (I’m omitting the naive kumbiya types though, I guess.)

  22. You’re making the same mistake our enemies have in the past, and are certainly making today. These elitist metrosexuals who dominate our media and political leadership may mouth endless pc bromides and non-judgementel pap, but ordinary citizens don’t buy any of it.

    Let’s remember the old adage “live and let live” applies to both sides. If one group decides to violate it, the other side is released from any obligation of tolerance.

    These fanatics, and, indeed, Islam itself, are living on borrowed time. When the most ruthlessly efficient killing machine in history decides it has had enough, that time will run out quickly, brutally, and with no quarter.

    The President of Egypt can sense it, and is trying to warn his culture of the danger they face. We will see if they can hear and understand.

    If not, the plagues of the biblical story will seem like fraternity pranks.


    No surprise coming from Vanity Fair. I saw no question about economic collapse, wrecking the economy, unlimited immigration, Islamic terror.

  24. There is an interesting piece today in the Wall Street Journal about historian Tom Holland and the writing of his In the Shadow of the Sword, the Rise of Islam “ which is about the origins of Islam and Muhammed, which do not agree with the Quran or the Hadiths. He was OK until the BBC made a documentary about the book then he started getting lots of death threats. He said he never thought that a historian would be at such risk since all he wanted to do was tell a true story.

    I’m ordering all three of his books about the Middle East. Apparently Muslims do not read much but do watch TV. Maybe they read cartoons, as well.

  25. Sgt. Mom Says:
    January 9th, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Wretchard’s Three Conjectures.

    I have been reading [and commenting] at BELMONT CLUB since I encountered the Three Conjectures when they were new. They, and Wretchard, are inspired.

    Conjecture 3 involves “the Golden Hour”. I am pretty sure that by deliberate will [most likely] or incompetence and stupidity, that the final seconds have counted down. Wait for it ……

    #JESUISCHARLIE is one thing.

    I think that we are more in need of #JESUISCHARLIEMARTEL

  26. IIRC, Allah specifically admonished Muslims from claiming “to be from a place.” God, Islam, and submission are universal. Like the working class for Socialists/Communists and the race for Nazis and the gender for (no cute name yet), the people of the book—one specific book, Koran—are to be a single, undivided people.

    God said don’t assimilate. Whether or not individual Moslems will become more French, American, or British remains to be seen.

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