Leave it to the French to invent an expression that with just two short words has come to characterize social misdeeds, abhorrent etiquette and errant social behavior in every country—faux pas. Some dictionaries note that an English synonym is gaffe. But actually, that too is French. Frankly, the French can claim this as their niche. Whether they invented good manners and protocol, or merely codified acceptable conduct, they certainly cornered the market on all the expressions that describe it.
On Jan. 7th, 2015, Al Qaeda terrorists attacked and murdered 11 employees of Charlie Hebdo, the Parisian political-satirical newspaper. As they left, they encountered a police officer who they shot and killed. Along the way, they killed 5 more and injured 22.
Increasingly, the world gasps as they witness these deranged extremists who gratuitously murder westerners who they claim have insulted Mohammed. These self-appointed executioners have reintroduced the Dark Ages to Islam and in doing so; have severely wounded their religion.
While the world absorbs this massacre, 40 heads of state and world leaders spontaneously gathered to march side-by-side as a demonstration of unity to show their commitment to one another and to bravely embrace sanity over fanaticism. Demonstrations such as this are profound and are very rare.
Ironically, 50 years ago there was such an event in a little southern town called Selma, Alabama. To not heed the call to march with your neighbors whether they are from down the street or across the ocean is an act of cowardice and a message of indifference. As the first US President of African-American descent, Barak Obama surely understands what it meant to march from Selma to the capital of Montgomery so long ago. It eventually secured a Federal law that allowed Negros to register and vote. Those very votes, generations later, helped put Mr. Obama in the White House.
Americans should feel humiliated and embarrassed that their leaders could not grasp the significance of being a “no show” in Paris.