It is happening again.
We have seen, yet again, innocent civilians brutally targeted for death by terrorists.
They seek not just to maim and murder us as individuals. Their goals are grander and more ambitious than that: they use violence, and the threat of violence, to undermine our entire way of life. They want to take away our freedoms from us and force us to live in fear.
That’s what terrorism is.
They’re not just opposed to our foreign policy, they loathe our entire way of life. This is why they engage in attacks against civilian targets like schools, newspapers, marathons, markets, trains, and buses. It’s also why they launch these attacks all over the world, and not just against the United States. If they were truly just opposed to our policies, as some have claimed, they would express that opposition in a civilized way. Their tactics betray their true motivation.
Terrorism is bullying gone global — and like bullies, terrorists are cowards. Unwilling to defend their beliefs in an open debate, or fight in accordance with the rules of war, they lurk in the shadows, hiding until they get their moment of weakness when they can strike. They don’t want to participate in an open marketplace of ideas; they want to burn the marketplace down and eliminate all avenues of dissent from their tyranny.
It’s often been said that freedom isn’t free. That expression used to exclusively refer to the sacrifices made by our heroic military and their families. Today it’s been, sadly, extended, as these cowards have turned civilians throughout the free world into their targets.
This is why, when these attacks occur anywhere in the world, we must all stand together with the victims.
We can best stand with them not just through expressions of sympathy, but of strength. We can do this by carrying on their work, by engaging in the freedoms that made them targets rather than shrinking away from them. If we give in to fear, if we self-censor, we are handing the terrorists a victory and making their victims’ sacrifices meaningless.
Moreover, we cannot just stick our head in the sand and pretend that attacks outside this country don’t matter. A threat to freedom anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere. This is a truly global conflict, and to pretend otherwise is dangerously naive. The entire civilized world — regardless of race, religion, or culture — must stand together against this madness.
We must fight terrorism not only through force of arms but in the global marketplace of ideas that so frightens these cowards. We must show the world that, while freedom isn’t free, it is strong. They will only win if we surrender, if we give in and let their fear conquer us.
Today it is France, and so we are standing with them against this tyranny.
Maintenant, nous sommes tous Français.
In the past, it has been Sydney. Ottawa. Boston. Baghdad. Toulouse. Jerusalem. London. Madrid. Each time, the civilized world has stood with the victims of terrorism, giving them voices when theirs were snuffed out. Each time, we stand with them because we know that tomorrow, it could be us.
Today, we must continue to do so. We must not give in to their complaints. That only gives them a victory and risks the light of liberty being completely overtaken by the shadows of tyranny.