Yesterday, I went on a brief Twitter rant based on misinformation about the Charlie Hebdo attacks — both on the nature of the publication itself and the extent of the attack. I had somehow gotten the impression that the publication in question was an exclusively anti-Muslim one, devotedly solely to insulting and marginalizing Muslims. This is obviously false. Secondly, I did not realize the full scale of the attack, which does not appear to be the result of inarticulate rage (as I had initially envisioned) but of significant planning motivated by a political strategy that, while profoundly misguided and unrealistic, does make it something other than a crime of passion.
Making the statements I did was hugely irresponsible and insensitive, and I quickly realized this and deleted them. Unfortunately, someone screen captured them and reframed them as a justification of the attacks. I want to be clear that I did not intend to justify the attacks. First of all, I was thinking of events fundamentally different from what actually occurred. Secondly, though, even with the hypothetical situation I had in mind, I didn’t intend to say that the attack was justified or deserved, any more than I would be justified in punching someone who insulted me to my face. If someone goes out of their way to constantly insult me and my whole community, though, maintaining self-control can be difficult due to a human emotion known as anger. Angry reactions are by definition excessive and unjustified — but they’re not incomprehensible.
Whatever the value of the point I was making based on my own imagined scenario, it was obviously the wrong thing to say in connection with the Paris attacks and I understand why people have viewed my statements as justifying those attacks. Hence I want to be completely clear: I unambiguously denounce the attacks, not only for the needless death and destruction they immediately caused, but because of the inevitable backlash they will bring down on the Muslim community in France and elsewhere. A more purely destructive act is difficult to imagine. I regret that my overhasty statements gave the impression that I thought differently.