Contrasting demonstrations

Michael Raffety


The reaction of the French people to the Jan. 7 murder by Islamic terrorists of 12 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, including a police officer, and then two days later the murder of a police woman directing traffic and four hostages at a kosher grocery store, was impressive.

Jan. 11, French people filled the streets of Paris, with crowds estimated at more than 3 million. That is two to three times more than fill New York’s Times Square for New Year’s Eve.

It was a peaceful demonstration whose size exceeded Paris’ population of 2.7 million. It was an impressive and peaceful demonstration against terror.

We can’t help but notice the difference between the demonstrators in America over two black men who died at the hands of police — one in Ferguson, Mo., and one in Staten Island, N.Y. In both cases grand juries convened to hear the evidence declined to bring charges against the officers.

Demonstrators in Ferguson looted, vandalized or torched 60 stores in downtown Ferguson following the Nov. 24 grand jury decision. In Oakland, they vandalized and looted stores downtown, cleaning out a liquor store and using their loot to get drunk in a nearby park.

In New York City, demonstrators prevented shoppers from entering Macy’s and other stores on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. They continued blocking shopping districts as they chanted about killing cops. Then two New York police officers were assassinated Dec. 20 in the Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn.

Here is another contrast. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio favored the New York protestors over his police force. Following the assassinations, the police union representatives said the mayor had “blood on his hands.” He met with the union reps but he didn’t change his position or attitude.

Here is how French officials reacted to that country’s assassinations. First, government leaders led the demonstrations in Paris against terrorism. At the front were French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, as well as European Council President Donald Tusk. Second, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls Jan. 13 said France would give its intelligence services “all legal means to accomplish their mission.” His address to parliament was met with standing ovations. Parliament opened with a moment of silence and then sang the Marseilles. It sounds even more stirring than the scene from the movie “Casablanca” where the French in Rick’s Cafe sang the Marseilles.

The French are showing the rest of the world how to begin the fight against Islamist terrorism, which former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman calls “as much an ideological conflict as were the wars against fascism and communism.”

Prime Minister Valls Saturday said France was “at war” with radical Islam.

It is a fight for freedom. In this America stands with France.


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