The world has been stunned by the horrifying terrorist activity in France last week. Seventeen people were killed in attacks on the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo and a Kosher supermarket in Paris. Universal response has been loud and clear, we all stand with Charlie Hebdo as well as the Jewish citizens of Paris. When any nation is attacked world leaders speak out against the violence and often step forward to attend events supporting the injured country.
A group of world leaders led a chain of 1.5 million people in a march along Boulevard Voltaire in Paris on Sunday. Joining French President Francois Hollande were British Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, and even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Many other leaders from Africa and other European countries were represented. This has been called the largest demonstration in the history of France by some.
US Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris but he did not attend. The United States was represented by the US Ambassador to France Jane Hartley and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. There is something painfully disturbing about this. President Barack Obama was at the White House in Washington, DC, and Secretary of State John Kerry was previously committed to be a lead speaker at a summit in India.
The streets of Paris were filled with Christians, Jews, and Muslims speaking out in unison against the Islamist terrorists who perpetrated the attacks in Paris.
What does this lack of participation by the United States leadership say? White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said it today. “We should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there”. Concerns about security were also stated. Attorney General Holder apparently had to hurry back to Washington and Secretary of State Kerry plans a stop in Paris on his way home.
Personally I find this very disturbing. When world leaders unite despite concerns about security to show solidarity against terrorism and the United States is under represented I feel we are sending a questionable message. Are our leaders any more valuable than these other representatives who stepped forward to demonstrate unity? Are the attacks by Islamist (not Islamic) terrorists on the side of the ocean any less important than an attack on American soil? When Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders lock arms to lead over a million people in standing against the vicious attacks and we are not properly represented we appear either frightened or uncaring.
Let me assure the world as an American citizen, as a country we are neither afraid nor uncaring. We stand with Paris and the rest of the world saying Je Suis Charlie, Je Suis Juif, Je Suis Francais.