John Kerry Sees ‘Rationale’ in Charlie Hebdo Massacre, Says They’re Different From Paris Attack
During remarks delivered on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry noted differences between Friday’s brutal attack on Paris and the January slaughter at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, both organized and inspired by radical Muslims.
Kerry said Friday’s attacks that ended with the murder of 129 people were an “assault on all sense of nationhood and nation-state and rule of law and decency” because they were “absolutely indiscriminate,” while the execution of Charlie Hebdo’s staff was a more understandable attack.
“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,” said Kerry while speaking to employees at the US Embassy in Paris on Tuesday.
“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. And they carry with them the greatest public display of misogyny that I’ve ever seen, not to mention a false claim regarding Islam. It has nothing to do with Islam; it has everything to do with criminality, with terror, with abuse, with psychopathism — I mean, you name it.”
It is very much worth noting that Kerry did backtrack from calling the attacks on Charlie Hebdo legitimate, but saying there was a rationale behind them that was understandable is still a disturbing thing to hear from the free world’s top diplomat. There is nothing easily understandable or rational about a bunch of religious fanatics shouting “God is Great” while shooting up the offices of a magazine because they were offended by some cartoons. A strongly worded letter, a boycott, a picket—those are things that are an understandable response to a perceived slight in a publication.
Kerry seems quite preoccupied, too, with the “nation state” and “nationhood,” as if these things are somehow more important and valuable than, say, the right of the individual to speak freely without the fear of an Islamic radical trying to kill everyone in their office. As Jacob Sullum writes at Reason, it’s almost as if he “fetishizes” the state over the individual.
The attack on Charlie Hebdo was an attack on “rule of law and decency, and dignity,” and it did put fear into the community.