READER'S EDITORIAL: A BARBARIC ATTACK ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

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By Jane Hartley, U.S. Ambassador to France

Photo: Je Suis Charlie rally in support of slain French journalists, by Claude Truong NGOC, creative commons

Editorial originally published in Le Monde January 8, 2015 and on the U.S. Embassy website in Paris

January 9, 2015 (Paris)--Wednesday’s barbaric attack on the journalists and staff of Charlie Hebdo, as well as on policemen guarding them, shocked and saddened the entire world.  As we pause to mourn the loss of life, I am reminded of how the people of France showed their support to us in the aftermath of 9/11.  On September 11, Americans were in a state of shock as we tried to come to grips with that terrible loss and our own grief and a growing sense that our world would be different from that moment on.  I remember seeing Le Monde’s headline that day: “We are all Americans”, and how much those words meant to me that day as an American, a New Yorker and a friend of France.

Just as we did on September 12, 2001, today, more than ever, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the French people in rejecting extremism and intolerance, defending shared values we hold dear, and working to produce a more just, secure and peaceful world.

From our inception, the United States has shared with France an abiding belief that freedom of expression is not the window dressing of democracy, but rather a universal right and a fundamental value, along with freedom of religion, which defines who we are.  Americans stand in solidarity with the victims of these senseless attacks, their families and with the people of France: Today we are all Charlie Hebdo.

Even as we mourn, this attack should not weaken our resolve.  As Americans, we share the outrage felt by our French friends and allies at this senseless massacre.  We know all too well what it means to be targeted for who we are and what we stand for. 

This attack was, of course, not just a brutal assault on brave men and women, but an attack on one of the freedoms we both hold most dear: freedom of expression and of the media.  Many of the thousands of protesters who came out in the cold in Paris, Madrid, London, New York and elsewhere to express their solidarity held up pens as a potent symbol of that fundamental value.  In gathering by candlelight in the winter night, they proudly stood up to defend the right of artists, newspapers and magazines – indeed, all citizens -- in a free society to say what they wish, to provoke debate and, yes, to be insolent. 

John Kerry articulated American sentiment best when he proclaimed: “Today’s murders are part of a larger confrontation, not between civilizations – no – but between civilization itself and those who are opposed to a civilized world...What these people who do these things don’t understand is that they will only strengthen the commitment to that freedom and our commitment to a civilized world.”

I have made it my goal as the U.S. Ambassador to France to work closely with all sectors of French society to promote our common values, spur economic prosperity, and strengthen the historic partnership and friendship we have enjoyed for 240 years. We have offered France all assistance we can provide in bringing the perpetrators to justice, and we will continue to join our French brothers and sisters in the fight to eradicate extremism and terrorism, no matter their source. The struggle will be long but our two nations are making important progress, from halting Daech's advance to adopting the first binding Security Council resolution on foreign terrorist fighters.

As President Hollande said in his address last night, the best response to this heinous attack on our freedoms and our values is to come together and demonstrate, in word and deed, our unity and our solidarity. This is true not only in France but for the entire international community. The United States will do its part.

Recognizing the unshakeable bond our two countries share, President Obama took the unusual step Wednesday of inviting the press into the Oval office to condemn the attack.  He also, however, expressed the optimistic sentiment that my countrymen and I share, declaring: “France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers.” In that spirit, let us go forward, together, undeterred in our determination to defeat extremism and stand up proudly for the liberties and universal rights that France exemplifies for the world.

The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of the East County Magazine. Those with comments for consideration please contact the editor at www.eastcountymagazine.org.

 

 

 

 

Comments

CCW

Of course, we in San Diego County are safe....our Sheriff refuses to issue Conceal Carry Weapons licenses. Stop and think about this a second. The FIRST people killed were the editor AND HIS POLICE GUARD. Then it was a simple matter of calling the others by name...so they could be shot. When will people realize that evil DOES exist and that GOOD people with a gun CAN stop them....if our politicians let us protect ourselves (THEY all have secret service, metal detectors, etc.)

Jane Hartley...

... is known for being a campaign bundler who raised more than $500,000 for Obama's re-election bid in 2012. Now she is Ambassador to France. Hartley has no other qualifications for this diplomatic assignment, as her support for anti-Muslim "free speech" adherents illustrates. And since when is Hartley an East County Magazine reader, and not just another government propagandizer?

editorials

We occasional run editorials from prominent individuals on major issues. We actually haven't received a reader's editorial on any issue for the past three weeks; I spotted this statement on the US embassy site in France, a government website, and thought it appropriate to include the US Ambassador's views on the issue. We have run editorials from various elected and key appointed officials in the past in both political parties. I didn't know the Ambassador was an Obama fundraiser, don't normally track ambassador's histories as a local reporter but it's not relevant anyhow. Every politician has probably raised money for someone somewhere. As for anti-Muslim free speech, I like most journalists found some of what the French magazine published to be offensive, and personally wouldn't have run a cartoon lampooning the leader of any religion. But I do defend the right of journalists and the public to freedom of expression, whether I agree with their form of expression or not. Moreover it's certainly a legitimate subject for political cartoonists to take on world events and organizations such as ISIS, as political cartoonists have done for centuries. In the free world we don't censor the press or condone killing someone for voicing an unpopular or even an offensive view, unless it sinks to the level of intentionally inciting violence. the same magazine lampooned the pope and you didn't see Catholics rising up to kill anybody. The rise of anti-Jewish and anti-Christian speech and violence in Europe and around the world is on the rise. Funny how the Muslims rarely speak out against that (and yes, there are exceptions). Anti-semitic acts of violence are at frightening levels right now--the attack on the kosher deli in France is the latest in a long string of such incidents in Europe recently; where is the outrage over that?

but of course it is fine for

but of course it is fine for european anti antisemitism, it is fine for arab publications to do Holocaust and antisemitic rallys and publications. killing people because you don't like them or what they write is the act of a barbarian and extermination of them and their supporters is required.

No. Actually we are working on a story

on the rise in anti-Semitism around the world, which is a terrible situation and very frightening. Bigotry is never acceptable, no matter what group it is directed against.

What will you do?

There is considerable background to this situation. The US and its principal allies France and UK have been laying waste to many Muslim countries, injuring killing and torturing. This is reminiscent, to Muslims, of the many centuries of the Crusades. Western Christians beating up on Muslims. Obama recognized this in 2009 with his "new beginnings" speech in Cairo. But the US has instead regressed, with renewed attacks on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya, and now Iraq and Syria. The criminals in Paris were motivated by these events. Reportedly they were radicalized by Bush’s Iraq War and Abu Ghraib torture. This Paris attack was blowback for the US killing and torture in the Middle East. Now we have a US State Department travel caution to US citizens traveling worldwide. Thank you, US government, for making travel dangerous for me. So these political cartoonists stoked the resentment by attacking Muslims and thereby intentionally incited violence that took their lives, stronger than the fire-bombing of their office three years ago. Believe whatever you want, and publish/write whatever you want. But the next time I walk down Main Street in El Cajon and pass a woman in an abaya I will smile and look upon her in friendship. What will you do? Voice an offensive view?

Wrong. While inciting panic

Wrong. While inciting panic is illegal, expressing one's opinion of another's beliefs/religion is not. It is, in fact, a basic right that we ARE free to act upon.

Express your freedom.

Next time you walk down Main Street in El Cajon and you pass a woman in an abaya, speak up. It's your freedom to do so. "Hey, lady, you look funny. Do you have some freaky religion?" Really get into it. We have the complete freedom to insult anybody we have a prejudice against, and doing it openly and in public is the way to go. Same goes for anybody that's "different." After all, there's no law against "freedom of expression," is there. It's a basic right.

you couldn't be more wrong.

The rising anti-Semitism and attacks on Jews in France and around the world is chilling, and personally disturbing, speaking as someone who lost great-grandparents and other relatives in the Holocaust.

legality and morality...

...are two different things, and these cartoonists were intentionally attacking nother peoples' religion knowing that that it might result in personal danger -- they had been firebombed before for doing it. Insulting other people, and particularly their religion, is not funny and there is no need for it. You call it "a basic right"" but I call it stupid. Why can't we all just get along, whether it's legal or not?

Freedom of expression...

...does not include shouting FIRE in a crowded auditorium, nor intentionally enflaming a religious reaction. We should instead focus on getting along in the world in the brief time we're in it.