by Avi Davis
I had to rub my eyes to make sure that I was not viewing an SNL spoof.
Here was John Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States, speaking to a gathering of French dignitaries in the wake of the most deadly Islamic terrorist attack in France in modern times, an atrocity which took the lives of 17 and whose shock wave has not yet even receded.
After sounding the obligatory notes of condolence and emphasizing America’s steadfast support for France, Kerry turned the stage over to twee voiced troubadour James Taylor who proceeded to croon the Carol King song ” You’ve Got a Friend” for the assembled Frenchmen.
Is it just me or others utterly perplexed by this abdication of good sense and absence of seriousness on the part of the Secretary of State and the Administration he represents? Already reeling from criticism that the United States could not bring itself to send a senior member of the U.S. government to the 3 million person solidarity march in central Paris last week, the Obama Administration had an opportunity to demonstrate forthrightly that it was prepared to resume the war against Islamic terror and to make all of its resources available to European countries to execute it effectively.
Instead it resorted to banal and trite words of condolence, the kind of tribute that high school students in the United States would offer one another.
I have nothing against James Taylor, nor the song. But can anyone say, in the light of the devastating massacre in France last week, that singing this song (in English, mind you, not French) with a microphone that was way too short for the 6′ 3″ Taylor – whose thin voice hardly carried for the first 30 seconds of his performance – was any way to express rock solid solidarity with the French people and mourn their very significant loss?
It would be as if the French had sent us a box of chocolates after 9/11 with a casual note reading ‘Get Well Soon.’
The episode betrays a fundamental problem with the West’s response to the events of January 7th and 9th in Paris. There is still no evidence that French or American leaders get it: they continue to fall back on old prescriptions for dealing with their internal Muslim problem – including better education for Muslims and reaching out to Muslim leaders in an effort to have them control the epidemic of extremism which has spread throughout their communities.
Meanwhile it should not be lost on anybody that the 3 million person crowd last week contained proportionately very few French Muslims; that the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo – featuring a teary eyed Mohammed on its cover was widely condemned by Muslims around the world who did not voice their approval, as expected, of the exercise of French free speech but condemned it; that the spotlight has been shone of Belgium, which interdicted a terrorist attack last week – and Sweden and Norway, where Muslims have been celebrating the massacres as just retribution for the defamation of the prophet.
It should lead to a thorough questioning of why French leaders’ search for answers for the racial problems which have beset their country consistently leads back to the French peoples’ own bigotry – a situation which can only be addressed by a greater level of openness and tolerance.
Or why the French still remain so mystified by the riots of 2005, which ransacked France for three entire weeks, and was met then with resolutions by the government to simply increase funding for the banlieus that ring Paris and other major French cities?
In this willful blindness, they truly do have a friend in the White House – a man who insists that his underlings never speak the words ” Islamic” and ” terrorism” in the same sentence and who has gone to tremendous lengths throughout his Presidency to avoid any sense that Islam – not ‘radical’ Islam nor ‘militant’ Islam – poses the greatest threat to the survival of the civilization of which he is the reputed leader.
Four years years ago, Treasury Secretary Larry Summers upon resigning his office, commented that from his perspective there did not seem to be any grown ups running things at the White House.
From John Kerry’s juvenile attempts to console a grieving France to his and his bosses’ adamant position that Islam itself remains a religion of peace and could never condone the depredations we witness daily on our television screens, we have more proof than we have ever needed that his assessment is correct.