The ISIS attacks on Paris last night have left at least 127 people dead with hundreds more wounded or in critical condition. In what was the biggest attack on French soil since World War II, the nation is reeling in shock from the sheer callousness of the bloodshed. The targets were not military, police or even political -- they were innocent civilians enjoying time in a cafe and dancing at a metal concert.
Almost immediately after the attacks, social media was set ablaze with messages of support for France -- small acts of kindness that don't affect much but are not doubt welcome in the wake of such appalling violence.
But of course, merely minutes after the facts emerged about the attacks, activists with pet agendas began to emerge and began spreading their own politicized message through social media. Here was former Salon columnist (and serial plagiarist) CJ Werleman's response to the attacks:
Leaving aside the fact that there is nothing racist about criticizing a belief system, Werleman is so intent on propagating his belief that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with Islam (in of itself a contradictory assertion) that he cannot bring himself to simply keep quiet. There are 127 dead bodies lacerated with bullets and shrapnel, and a terrified population that has not yet begun to grieve them. But CJ Werleman wants you to know what he believes about Islam, so that must obviously take precedence over the country's mourning.
This obviously isn't an isolated opinion -- for anyone with politically active friends, their facebook/twitter feed is no doubt clogged with posts pointing out Frances history of imperialism, its role in Syria, other tragedies we ignore around the world, and why France really should have expected this. All of the above may well be true to a various degree, but now is not the time to air your own political opinions.
The fact is, we have just witnessed a mass slaughter of completely innocent people, all of whom died because they had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. While analogies can be drawn with civilian losses in Syria, the truth of the matter is that ISIS deliberately targets innocent life, while French forces do not. When an organization is too extreme for Al Qaeda, comparing them to modern-day France is not only stupid, but incredibly offensive. ISIS rape women, behead children and raze cities in the name of Allah, so while French action in Syria may not be particularly moral or beneficial, it should not be compared to the actions of murderous psychopaths in any way.
In the days and weeks to come France must try to come to terms with what happened, why, and how best to respond. But rather than politicize the horrendous attacks in Paris for activist points, we would do well to remember that people in France are suffering right now, and need to know that today, we stand in solidarity with them.