Best and Worst Reactions to the Paris Terror Attacks

Charlie Hebdo
AP Photo/Claude Paris

The world’s reaction to the shootings of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris – and the world’s lack of reaction to the shooting of four people at a kosher supermarket the next day – have filled the news for days. Some of those reactions have been inspirational; others have demonstrated the self-destruct tendency at the heart of the Western post-modern mindset; and some are just plain tone deaf. Here are the best and worst reactions to the Paris terror attacks:


President Obama. President Obama’s original 145-word statement on the Paris attacks contained no mention of radical Islam, freedom of speech, or freedom of religion. His press secretary, Josh Earnest, initially refused to label the attacks Islamic terrorism, but did say that “Islam is a religion of peace.” Obama then about-faced and talked at length about freedom of speech and its value in the West, even though just two years ago he told the United Nations, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

Obama didn’t cancel any of his campaign events for his new free community college program, leading off a speech in Tennessee with reference to the shootings in Paris before stumping for junior college. He then sent no representative to the massive Paris rally, prompting CNN’s Jake Tapper to lament that he was “ashamed” of America’s absence. Then, to add insult to injury, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that such criticism was “quibbling.”


President Francois Hollande. In the aftermath of the Paris attacks and with Islamic terrorists still on the loose, Hollande did not dispatch any additional law enforcement to Jewish sites, leading to an attack on a kosher supermarket. That followed on years of Hollande largely ignoring anti-Jewish violence by Muslims in the state. He then announced a unity march in Paris, but tried to bar nationalist political opponent Marine Le Pen from the rally. That prompted Le Pen to tweet, “the system was able to turn a national unity time a symbol of division and sectarianism pitiful.”

Then, Hollande specifically asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to attend the march, despite the fact that four Jews were murdered in Paris, and that all four will be buried in Israel. The goal: to separate off Israel from the community of nations at war with radical Islam, specifically due to anti-Semitism. When Netanyahu said he would come, Hollande promptly invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a terror supporter and free speech opponent, to the rally in favor of free speech and against terrorism.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu traveled to Paris to show solidarity against Islamic terror; in Israel, the tricolors are flying on Jerusalem streets. On Sunday, Netanyahu spoke at the Grand Synagogue in Paris, where he and Hollande attended a memorial service. He said that “radical Islam” was the enemy:

The radical Islamists do not hate the West because of Israel; they hate Israel because it is an integral part of the modern world. We cannot let Iran achieve nuclear capabilities. Israel stands with Europe, and Europe must stand with Israel. Those who murdered Jews at a synagogue in Jerusalem and those who murdered Jews and journalists in Paris are part of the same problem. We must condemn them and fight them!

He then said that any French Jew who moved to Israel would receive a warm welcome. A full 74 percent of French Jews say they have considered moving to Israel thanks to anti-Semitism in France.


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Harper’s statement with regard to the Paris shooting was perhaps the strongest of any world leader’s. Harper said:

The fact of the matter is this, ladies and gentleman: The international jihadist movement has declared war. They have declared war on anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they would think and act. They have declared war and are already executing it on a massive scale on a whole range of countries with which they are in contact. And they have declared war on any country like ourselves that values freedom, openness and tolerance. And we may not like this and wish it would go away, but it is not going to go away and the reality is we are going to have to confront it.


Amal Clooney. George Clooney won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes on Sunday, the same day millions marched in Paris. He wore a button reading “Je Suis Charlie,” and talked about the “millions of people that marched not just in Paris but around the world.” In typical Hollywood leftist fashion, he then pretended that all religions and countries were unified in favor of free speech.

But the worst reaction was left to his wife, Amal, who placed a “Je Suis Charlie” pin on her pricey Dior clutch. She then told the media that her Dior clutch had been “customized in solidarity with the French people, who’ve gone through a terrible week.” Earth-shattering courage. It’s not at all out of touch to brag about your bravery in customizing a thousand-dollar clutch.


BBC’s Tim Willcox. While covering the Paris rally, Tim Willcox interviewed the daughter of Holocaust survivors. She told him that Jews were being persecuted in France, and “the situation is going back to the days of the 1930s in Europe.” To which Willcox quickly responded, “Many critics though of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.” When she shook her head, he answered, “You understand everything is seen from different perspectives.” In other words, because of Israel, Muslim murder of Jews in Paris is at least partially justified.


Obama Foreign Policy Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. He told MSNBC:

The most important thing we have to do, in my judgment, is to avoid becoming the enemy number one of Islam, in the eyes of the believers around the world of Islam. I think we have to draw clear lines and be patient. And also we have to be responsible. We have to preserve our rights… that is to say our freedom of expression and the freedom to express our views, but we must avoid being provocative, unnecessarily nasty. Some forms of humor, for example, directed at the Prophet, in some publications in Europe, were extraordinarily provocative.

If your first reaction to murderous radical Muslims killing people is not to offend murderous radical Muslims, you’re doing it wrong.


Fox News’ Shepard Smith. As the Paris situation unfolded, Shep Smith of Fox News appeared to explain to folks that Islam was in no way involved:

To call the kind of religious extremists who are doing this sort of thing Muslim seems way out there, any more than guy who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma might be considered a Christian.

Way out there.


JK Rowling. Rupert Murdoch tweeted, “Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.” He added, “Big jihadist danger looming everywhere from Philippines to Africa to Europe to US. Political correctness makes for denial and hypocrisy.” Author JK Rowling then responded, “I was born Christian. If that makes Rupert Murdoch my responsibility, I’ll auto-excommunicate.” She continued, “The Spanish Inquisition was my fault, as is all Christian fundamentalist violence. Oh, and Jim Bakker.” And it didn’t stop there: “Eight times more Muslims have been killed by so-called Islamic terrorists than non-Muslims.”

Given that polls show a huge majority of British Muslims support legal prosecution of those who cartoon Mohammed, and that Islamic countries all over the world deny basic due process as well as freedom of speech and religion, Rowling’s comparisons to Christianity ring just a bit hollow. Her comparison of Murdoch to Islamic terrorists also seems to be a stretch, and her suggestion that Christian fundamentalist violence provides any analogue to violence in the Muslim world is insanity.


Pope Francis. The Pope represented the milquetoast wing of the Paris response:

[Wednesday’s] terror attack in Paris brings to mind so much cruelty – human cruelty – so much terrorism, both isolated [incidents of] terrorism and of state terrorism. We pray, in this Mass, for the victims of this cruelty – so many of them – and we pray also for the perpetrators of such cruelty, that the Lord might change their heart.

That nonspecific response seems par for the course for world leadership, which refused to name radical Islam as the source of the terrorism. Just weeks ago, Pope Francis told Turkey that Christians had their “share of [fundamentalists]” and added that it was wrong for anyone to be “enraged” against Islam because of terrorism. “All religions have these little groups,” the Pope stated.


Catholic League Head Bill Donohue. Donohue wrote a piece criticizing Charlie Hebdo for its attacks on Mohammed:

What unites Muslims in their anger against Charlie Hebdo is the vulgar manner in which Muhammad has been portrayed. What they object to is being intentionally insulted over the course of many years. On this aspect, I am in total agreement with them. Stephane Charbonnier, the paper’s publisher, was killed today in the slaughter. It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. In 2012, when asked why he insults Muslims, he said, “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.” Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive. Muhammad isn’t sacred to me, either, but it would never occur to me to deliberately insult Muslims by trashing him.

Criticism of Charlie Hebdo’s material is fair. Blaming them for their own deaths is gross.

Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.


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