Unlike the latest Paris attacks, John Kerry could see the “rationale” of the Charlie Hebdo shootings

US conservatives are taking full advantage of awkward remarks made by secretary of state John Kerry about the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. While speaking to the staff and families of the US embassy in Paris yesterday (Nov. 17), Kerry said the following, referencing the January shootings of journalists at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French magazine that published cartoons of the prophet Muhammed:

There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of—not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people.

At an event in South Carolina, US Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was quick to link Kerry’s comments to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, as well as current president Barack Obama: “I want to read something to you, because it pretty much says what the left—Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama… and this is a quote from John Kerry—what they really believe, as they see the ISIS threat.”

Bush then concluded that “Hillary Clinton says we should empathize with the enemy.” Amid applause, he said that “there should be no empathy, and there’s no rationale for barbaric Islamic terrorists who want to destroy Western civilization.”

Other conservatives were also quick to pile on.

Commentator Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News, “If a gaffe is when a politician speaks the truth, what’s really on his mind, when Kerry said legitimacy, it told us a lot about him and the president.”

“His comments were offensive, and truly stupid,” New Jersey governor Chris Christie told the Weekly Standard, which ran a piece headlined “John Kerry Justifies Charlie Hebdo Slaughter.”

Republican Ed Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Relations, said Kerry should make a correction: “There was absolutely nothing legitimate or rational about the slaughter of 10 newspaper staff and two police officers in Paris earlier this year… Secretary Kerry is plain wrong and needs to correct the record.”

Former New York governor George Pataki wants even stronger action, as he explained on Twitter:

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