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After the massacres in Paris on November 13, the US Secretary of State John Kerry made a statement so disgraceful you had to read it, rub your eyes, and read it again to comprehend the extent of his folly: “There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that,” Kerry began in the laboured English of an over-promoted middle manager.

“There was a sort of particularised focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of — not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, OK, 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 terrorise people.”

The staff of “Charlie Hebdo” in 2006: The cartoonists Cabu, Charb, Tignous and Honoré (first, second, fourth and fifth from left) were all killed in the 2015 attack, and Riss, third from left, was wounded. Meurisse, second from right, happened to be out of the office (© Joel Saget/AFP/ Getty Images)

Did you get that? Then allow me to translate. Kerry believes the satirists Islamist gunmen killed at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris’s 11th arrondissement on January 5 had it coming. It is not that they deserved to die. John Kerry is a New England liberal, after all, and does not endorse the death penalty for journalists. But liberalism is a two-faced creed. It can mean that you believe in individual freedom and abhor every variety of prejudice, including the prejudice that allows men to shoot journalists dead for producing a magazine they disapprove of.  Or it can mean that you go to such lengths to take account of your enemy’s opinions you become indistinguishable from him.

John Kerry’s liberalism, and the liberalism of millions like him, ignores Chesterton’s warning not to be so open-minded that your brains fall out. Kerry wanted to understand radical Islam and to seek the root causes of its apparently psychopathic violence. Not for him the knee-jerk condemnations of a red-state redneck. When Kerry applied his nuanced and expensively educated mind to the corpses in the magazine office, he discovered that the dead had provoked their own murders. The assassins had, well, if not quite legitimate reasons, then certainly a “rationale” which explained why they were “really angry because of this and that”.

Charlie Hebdo mocked the prophet Muhammad, Islamic State and Boko Haram. Its editor Stéphane Charbonnier (aka Charb), the cartoonists and columnists who wrote for him, and the police officers who died protecting their freedom (and ours) knew the risks and paid the price. They went looking for trouble and we should not be shocked that they found it.

All the rest of us had to do was to moderate our behaviour. If we were careful not to make terrorists “really angry” about “this and that”, we would be safe.

Perhaps I am being too kind to Kerry. But I assume even he must have had one doubt buzzing around his empty head like a dazed bluebottle. An associate of the Islamist gang that pumped bullets into the staff of Charlie Hebdo also took hostages at the Hypercacher supermarket at Porte de Vincennes in the 20th arrondissement. There he murdered Philippe Braham, a sales executive, Yohan Cohen, a student, Yoav Hattab, another student, and François-Michel Saada, a pensioner. The dead had provided no “rationale” and created no “particular sense of wrong”. They were ordinary citizens, shopping for food, as we all do.

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Brian Richard Allen
May 1st, 2016
8:05 AM
.... Kerry ... in the labored English of an over-promoted middle manager .... I suggest, kind Sir, that you flatter the man, who surely even among the positive parade - comprised of many such "Democrats" that vie for the prize - perfectly personifies Professor Peter's Principle's Perfect Poster Person. Like his boss, the Indonesian foreign exchange student, Jean-François passed that position almost as many promotions ago as either has ever finagled. Brian Richard Allen

Saul Sorrell-Till
March 27th, 2016
1:03 PM
"religious believers who want nothing more than to be left in peace" I can't, for reasons of intellectual good taste, quote the rest of 'P.S.''s facile post so I'll concentrate on that one, utterly warped excerpt. The majority of Muslims do not JUST 'want to be left in peace'. The majority also want all people, everywhere, to refrain from drawing their holy figure. A smaller subset of these conservative Muslims approve of actual punishments meted out to blasphemers - eg. imprisonment, through beatings, all the way to murder. A smaller subset still are prepared to carry out those murders. This is not the behaviour of a religion that 'just wants to be left alone'. The general conservatism of the religion itself, as well as the totalising nature of its hold over its adherents' lives, doesn't allow for that. If someone in a secular country is illustrating your prophet(along with the Pope, the National Front, orthodox Judaism, etc.) in a magazine almost no-one reads then you ignore it and move on with your life. You don't kill the cartoonists, nor do you react with either apathy, apologetics or outright support for the killers(all of which was uncomfortably common even amongst western Muslims). If you just want to be left alone you don't participate in mass, worldwide rioting(which results in hundreds of innocents being killed) at the mere existence of a book, or a film, or a picture you don't like. I make a clear distinction between conservative Islam and liberal Islam, so I'm not criticising the luckless liberal Muslims who get shouted down, silenced, even killed by their conservative counterparts(and ignored, dismissed or smeared by illiberal leftists like 'P.S.') but it's an uncomfortable truth that Islam is massively lopsided when it comes to the balance between the former and the latter: the number of openly liberal Muslims is minuscule and conservatism is dominant. The location of the centre ground on the Islamic political spectrum is shifted much further to the right than it is on other religious spectra. The support for blasphemy punishments is widespread, and the support for executing blasphemers is less common but still alarmingly ingrained. It's panglossian inanity to characterise opposition to the Charlie cartoons(who gives a flying fuck if they're 'vulgar' by the way?) in 'P.S.''s pacific terms.

March 23rd, 2016
12:03 AM
@Unihill - you are of course correct, we should understand the motivations and history of IS. a) the inherent corruption within the Iraqi government - so blatant that a government minister recently appeared on Iraqi TV and casually mentioned how widespread it was - though he wouldn't name names for fear of being shot. b) agents of the previous Sadam regime with sack fulls of cash and buried weapons caches, running round stirring up trouble to keep the Sadam regime's policy of sectarianism going, via the militias c) a geography vs demography problem that leaves the sunnis with 5% of the oil - no point having all the money and weapons from the previous regime if you don't have oil going forwards. d) casual racism - try watching arab television e) the article you are responding to is not about IS - it is about you.

March 21st, 2016
3:03 PM
Unihill can enlighten himself as to the root cause of Islamic State. The thick and sick love it. Who will wipe them off the face of the earth? "Islam hates us."-Donald Trump (USA tv) Camille Paglia has changed her mind about him and has some good things to say at

March 17th, 2016
2:03 PM
Cohen talks about rationality. Surely the most rational course of action IS to look for the motivation and causes behind these ideologys. Simply describing them as poisonous, evil and beyond reproach is nothing more than hysteria. It is certainly not a rational approach. The only way you can tackle a problem is by trying to understand its root cause.

An Gíogóir
February 17th, 2016
2:02 PM
A good piece on Western, in particular, Left/Liberal cowardice in face of a massive threat. However, it doesn't go far enough. How does the author think such extremism appeared in Europe? Large scale mass migration that's how. Yet, I hear nothing about that from him.

February 7th, 2016
6:02 PM
On the Pegida UK facebook is a video of the speakers at the Birmingham 6 feb demo. One of them was a black guy and ex-muslim called Mohamed. What the proud to be british Pegida Mohamed had to say about how fear of being branded an apostate `unites` muslims. Take away the fear and Islam would see millions of muslims abandoning it and Islam would collapse. Standpoint should invite the Pegida Mohamed,Anne Marie Waters,Paul Weston and Tommy Robinson to write an article.Or Douglas Murray could interview them. The best art from Russia is Pussy Riot`s new art&music video `Chaika` free on Youtube.

January 23rd, 2016
5:01 PM
Cameron etc wants us to use the word Daesh instead of Islamic State. Toby Young in the Spectator accurately calls them Islamist Nazis and explains why. This spells doom for Corbyn and an infiltrated Labour Party unless the subject is explicitly dealt with. Cameron is being superficial. British politics is already in the shadows of the Trump-Palin spectacle.

Gordon Phillips
January 8th, 2016
7:01 PM
Brilliant Nick. I wouldn't put it on facebook as I'd be condemned as a Blairite Tory. Don't go on facebook anymore.

December 28th, 2015
3:12 PM
SiRush "Understanding the reasons behind someone's actions (and yes, there are reasons) is key to avoiding it happening again. That doesn't mean condoning it." It's true we should try to understand what drives people but have you ever heard a politician talk like this about school shootings? "It's a tragedy but the jocks and cheerleaders were very mean to that boy." Go back and read what was being said around Charlie Hebdo. From politicians to journalists to blogs and tweets. There was an unprecedented amount of victim blaming. As if any kind or amount of drawing could ever rationalise mass murder.

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