Yesterday I wrote that the message sent by Obama’s non-attendance at the Paris march was “unmistakeable.”
But I guess it wasn’t, because there’s been a lot of chatter about it (see, for example, the long list at memeorandum) and many people profess to be puzzled by it or to think it was some sort of oversight. So I’ll be more direct.
Yes, the march was mostly an exercise in hypocrisy, because many of those participating in it certainly don’t have the guts to defy the Muslim message the way the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo did. But the march still signified that world leaders were willing to stand up to radical Islam rhetorically and/or symbolically, and to defend free speech, which is more than Obama is willing to do. Rhetoric can be a prelude to action, although probably most of those leaders will confine their defiance to a march. But at least they’re not afraid to say the words “Islam” or “Muslim” or some variation of the two in the same breath as the word “terrorist.”
Obama is. Actually, “afraid” is not the right word, either. He’s not afraid to say those words; he refuses to say them. You can speculate on the reasons, from the possibility of his being a closet Muslim to being in sympathy with them to thinking that if he appeases them it will somehow cause them to make nice to the US. But the fact is that he is singular among Western world leaders in his reluctance to link the two.
Not only that, but he has explicitly condemned people such as the Charlie Hebdo satirists by saying, in his UN speech not long after the Benghazi attack, “The future does not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” Why march in solidarity with those who protest their murder, then? He wrongly and intentionally blamed the Benghazi attack on reaction to an obscure satirist. The cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo were not obscure, and the almost inevitable conclusion to draw is that Obama does not defend their right to mock Islam or its prophet.