Responding to the massacre at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, President Barack Obama and other public figures such as John Kerry, author Salman Rushdie — even the far-right nationalist French politician Marine Le Pen — have defended the right to freedom of expression as a core democratic value. Huge demonstrations in solidarity with the victims are occurring throughout France and in many European capitals.
The slogan “Je suis Charlie Hebdo” is circulating widely in social media. Twitter is inundated with tweets about the political power of satire. Pictures of demonstrators holding pens in the air abound.
Freedom of expression is undeniably worth defending but is too narrow a frame for this event.
With this horrific event, Le Pen may well have become the front-runner in France’s 2017 presidential elections. These killings will reverberate throughout the shaky European Union, where nationalist parties of all stripes are warning of the dangers of too much immigration.