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  • jroberts548

    It’s a real shame, because I guess if they’d had 51 world leaders they could have brought back the victims.

    What, concretely, would Obama have accomplished by going?

    • Joseph

      Did you miss the part where Chirac flew to the US as a show of support and respect to Americans after 9/11… oh yeah, you did. Obama is flawless.

      • jroberts548

        Did Chirac coming here help anything?

        If Obama had shown this willingness to not participate in meaningless displays of empty solidarity before 2012, I might have considered voting for him.

        ETA: This shouldn’t be relevant, but I dislike Obama. He has not accomplished one good thing while in office. I did not vote for him in 2008 or in 2012. I have never, and likely will never say a good thing about any of his policies (except for his willingness to try to open things up with Iran and Cuba, and in both cases it’s too early to tell whether he ends up being successful).

        One reason I don’t like Obama, and I like Obama supporters even less, is the willingness to pretend completely empty symbolic acts matter. For instance, Obama is widely perceived in the news and by his supporters and critics as some sort of progressive who wants to tax the rich and redistribute wealth in favor of the poor. He’s even given a lot of speeches about income inequality. He also cut taxes, chiefly on the rich (since the so-called Bush tax cuts should have expired by now), has passed massive corporate welfare programs (chiefly, the bank bailouts and the PPACA), and, unsurprisingly, overseen the enormous growth in income and wealth inequality.

        I don’t care if he links arms with every single world leader. I don’t care if they do-si-do and then sing kum-bah-yah around a campfire. As long as he’s doing things like not ending our support of Saudi Arabia – a country whose second largest export is Wahhabi Islam – he doesn’t care about Wahhabi Muslim terrorism. There’s no amount of arm linkage that changes that. As long as his DOJ is doing things like going after the Little Sisters, he doesn’t care about freedom of speech and religion. He could fly to France and make out with Hollande, and he still wouldn’t care about freedom of speech and religion.

        There’s a million substantive things wrong with Obama. I have no idea why anyone would attack him for refusing to participate in obviously fake bullshit.

        • Joseph

          I guess I can’t say it any better than Mark did… I think it went way over your head or something… or you have the same lack of empathy.
          .
          Here’s another example. Hypothetical. Your son dies in a tragic car accident. Your neighbour comes over to support you. Does he bring back your son? No. Does his presence miraculously make you overcome your grief? No. So, based on your rather stupid position, because your neighbour’s presence had no immediate or apparent impact on the situation (i.e. you’re still sad and your son is still dead), he should have just saved time and stayed home… or played golf or something.
          .
          Now, let’s say he came over *anyway*, even though *he* knows that he won’t bring back your son nor will he take away your sadness. A little over a decade goes by. His son dies in a horrendous car accident. But you, the brilliantly empathetic person that you are, decide not to go over and support him because, even though he came to support you when your son died, you’re smart enough to know that your presence just doesn’t offer anything in a practical sense… so you choose to sit there and watch the football game. Damn, dude. You look really, really bad right now.

          • jroberts548

            On a personal level, empathy matters.

            So? I don’t care about Obama’s empathy. I care about what he does.

            ETA: Alternatively, Obama demonstrates his lack of empathy by our continued support of Saudi Arabia. Visiting France and linking arms for a photograph while continuing to support Saudi Arabia wouldn’t change his lack of empathy. It would merely hide it.

            • Joseph

              Sadly, Obama represents America as the President. So, even if he is not empathetic, I’d say that there are a lot of Americans who are. By Obama not showing, it makes America look bad. It’s pretty simple. It’s not so much about him as a person… we know how much empathy he has (making sure he doesn’t miss tee time when an American is killed by the people he funded and supported in Syria)… it’s about Americans who he represents. America looks like a collection of a-holes right now… and you’re not helping.

              • jroberts548

                Fair enough.

                On the other hand, again, we’re indirectly funding Wahhabi and Salafist extremism by supporting Saudi Arabia. As you note, we’re directly funding Sunni extremists in Syria, even while pretending to fight other Sunni extremists in Syria and purportedly supporting Shias in Iraq. We overthrew Libya with no plans for building a stable Libya. At best, we’re doing what we can to introduce instability into the Muslim world; at worst, we’re deliberately stoking a Shia-Sunni war in a profoundly cynical and stupid act of realpolitk (or an attempt at acting out Yojimbo / A Fistful of Dollars on an international scale). That has consequences.

                If I were French, I would be insulted by American expressions of false empathy.

                • Joseph

                  France is too, BTW… as is the UK. In that regard, all Western nations are hypocrites. But that doesn’t mean that the citizens are. We can’t help what our masters do. It’s not like we live in democracies or anything.

                • jroberts548

                  So again, instead of linking arms, they should stop actively making the world a less safe place.

                  • Joseph

                    They should be doing both. But just because they aren’t doing one doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be doing the other. I’m with you on wanting pure, unadulterated intellectual honesty… but in situations like these it would be cold and soulless (though intellectually honest).

                    • jroberts548

                      But perversely, the visible expression of empathy masks the underlying problem, and makes a real solution less likely. Just as Obama tricked progressive voters by talking about income inequality while cutting taxes, or by talking about gun control while marginally expanding gun rights, when constituents fall for empty symbolic acts, they make it less likely that any meaningful steps will be taken.

                      The motor driving violent Sunni extremism isn’t that European heads of state are insufficiently unified in their support of cartoonists. Anything that distracts their voters from, e.g., their countries’ support of Saudi Arabia makes a solution to the problem less likely.

                    • Joseph

                      Understood, but it’s not about the man and his policies. He’d be doing it as a representative of the Americans who can only show their solidarity by wearing T-shirts. He’s not just the King of America, he’s supposed to be a representative of America. It’s bad form, period.

        • Joseph

          I see that you’re busy typing a response right now… just.stop.digging.

    • chezami

      Empathy. Respect. You know, the sort of thing that is supposed to happen in moments of national trauma for an ally. Like DeGaulle coming to JFK’s funeral instead of sitting in Paris watching a soccer match and eating Doritos. For a smart guy, Obama sure seem to lack elementary personal skills sometimes.

      • jroberts548

        Or like when Hollande visited the US following the Sandy Hook massacre? Or when Hollande visited the US following the Aurora massacre?

        Where does this standard that every world leader is expected to personally offer condolences following every shooting come from?

      • virago

        Lacks emotional intelligence

    • Jonk

      Just keep coming up with excuses for your idol in the White House. I’m sure you’ll keep everyone from noticing his faults.

      • jroberts548

        From elsewhere in this thread: “This shouldn’t be relevant, but I dislike Obama. He has not accomplished one good thing while in office. I did not vote for him in 2008 or in 2012. I have never, and likely will never say a good thing about any of his policies (except for his willingness to try to open things up with Iran and Cuba, and in both cases it’s too early to tell whether he ends up being successful).

        One reason I don’t like Obama, and I like Obama supporters even less, is the willingness to pretend completely empty symbolic acts matter. For instance, Obama is widely perceived in the news and by his supporters and critics as some sort of progressive who wants to tax the rich and redistribute wealth in favor of the poor. He’s even given a lot of speeches about income inequality. He also cut taxes, chiefly on the rich (since the so-called Bush tax cuts should have expired by now), has passed massive corporate welfare programs (chiefly, the bank bailouts and the PPACA), and, unsurprisingly, overseen the enormous growth in income and wealth inequality.

        I don’t care if he links arms with every single world leader. I don’t care if they do-si-do and then sing kum-bah-yah around a campfire. As long as he’s doing things like not ending our support of Saudi Arabia – a country whose second largest export is Wahhabi Islam – he doesn’t care about Wahhabi Muslim terrorism. There’s no amount of arm linkage that changes that. As long as his DOJ is doing things like going after the Little Sisters, he doesn’t care about freedom of speech and religion. He could fly to France and make out with Hollande, and he still wouldn’t care about freedom of speech and religion.

        There’s a million substantive things wrong with Obama. I have no idea why anyone would attack him for refusing to participate in obviously fake bullshit.”

        • IRVCath

          Not to mention in Cuba’s case, a lot of the heavy lifting was done by a certain Argentinian former chemistry teacher…

    • D.T. McCameron

      What, concretely, would Obama have accomplished by going?”

      Not looking the odd man out?

      • jroberts548

        And we all know how vitally important that is.

        • D.T. McCameron

          What is politics, if not posturing?

  • jroberts548

    How many of those 50 world leaders visited Nigeria to show solidarity with Goodluck? Somebody should wake them up.

    • Joseph

      Hashtag campaigns. But seriously, you know why. Nigeria is full of black people. That’s why. Tens of thousands of Africans died of Ebola and Americans had their Starbucks before heading home to watch ‘Friends’ re-runs on their comfy chairs. A handful contract it in the US and Europe and it’s the end of the world. Europe and the US are neighbours who live in the same upper class white neighbourhood. Those *other* neighbourhoods are so foreign that what happens in them doesn’t have much of an affect on their lives. Maybe the shaking of the heads and a conversation with one another about how terrible things are for them (re: Hashtag campaigns), but back to Starbucks with them. Look at it in local terms. White middle/upper class neighbourhoods in Chicago are only a few miles away from black neighbourhoods where there is a homicide practically every day. It doesn’t phase them.

      • jroberts548

        Which makes the complaints about Obama’s lack of empathy ring a little hollow.

        And it’s purely a mental division. Nigeria is the biggest economy (or will be soon, depedning on the measurement) in Africa, and projected to overtake the US in population size in 2050. Their peace and stability is at least as much in our long-term interests as the ability of French magazines to publish certain cartoons.

        • Joseph

          Not really, how many times have your crossed town to give your sympathies to mothers in black neighbourhoods whose children were gunned down? Probably never. On the contrary, how many times have to paid your sympathies to people in your neighbourhoods or acquaintances when something terrible has happened in their families? Every time, I’m guessing. Same concept. France would be considered a close acquaintance/friend/neighbour to the US. Nigeria, not so much… at this time. Things may change later when there is a more symbiotic relationship between the US and them, but until then, they’re the black neighbourhood several miles away. Hastags is all they get.

    • IRVCath

      Precisely. While one of course, deplores any kind of murder or terrorism, why all this sudden outpouring for a journal whose stock in trade, in addition to goading its Muslim population, also consisted in regular blasphemous attacks on Holy Mother Church (including one depiction of the Most Holy Trinity engaged in the crime against nature)? Should not there be a funeral held, messages of support, and so on? Sure. But a rally? I am sceptical.

      Surely the massacre of Nigerian civilians, who I am rather confident did not make blasphemous libel their stock in trade, would have been a more appropriate occasion of solidarity?

  • Tom Beigel

    I guess even Valerie cannot get between Obama and his TV when a big game is on.

  • Thomas

    The Daily Show is a disgrace. Like a broken clock its occasionally right about something…not worth my time.

  • jroberts548

    “[N]one of the 54 people [arrested] have been linked to the attacks. That’s raising questions about whether President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government is impinging on the very freedom of speech that it so vigorously defends when it comes to Charlie Hebdo.” http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2015/01/14/5446193/charlie-hebdo-sells-out-before.html#.VLfUWS7F_xg

    I’m not going to fault someone for not participating in a nakedly fake rally to support free speech.

    Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2015/01/14/5446193/charlie-hebdo-sells-out-before.html#.VLfUWS7F_xg#storylink=cpy

  • Marthe Lépine

    The way I see it, symbolism can have a very strong effect, and seeing those 50 world leaders, shoulder to shoulder, holding arms and marching in front of such a huge crowd, sends a strong, if difficult to verbalize, message. And who knows what went though the minds of some of them, for example, a leader of Israel in the same line as a leader of Palestine, in spite of a recent conflict (and that is only one example). Leaders of populations with varied cultures, all standing together because of one tragedy that happened to resound loudly in the world. Maybe it does not really matter if that tragedy was not the one that you or I think is the most important in the world, if it only hit a few people that we might not consider as particularly worthy of concern (since even Pope Francis has criticized the kind of cartooning some of them had been doing). But the fact that all of those leaders considered it a good idea to gather for this, by itself, might suggest a small step towards looking at some situations in a broader light than that of each of their own countries and their individual interests. And who knows what some of them talked about when they happened to casually (e.g. not in a heavily planned kind of “summit” prepared months in advance) meet before or after that march? Networking can happen at that level too. And over and above all that, let’s remember that God is always at work in the world… Instead of just complaining that things could have been done differently, why not try to find, and celebrate, the good that could come out of this? This, by the way, is meant to support Mark’s point of view, not to complain that Mark does think that Obama should also have been there, since on this point I fully agree with Mark that Obama, as president of one of the most powerful countries of the world, would have been representing the people of the USA.