Right-wing media are using the Paris terrorist attack to falsely claim Hillary Clinton has encouraged empathizing with terrorists like the ones who carried out the attack. But conservatives' attacks on Clinton are badly distorting remarks she made during a December speech in which she emphasized the value of understanding one's enemy, and she has repeatedly stated her opposition to negotiating with violent ideological groups.
Following Paris Attack, Right-Wing Media Accuse Clinton Of Empathizing With Terrorists
Rush Limbaugh: By Saying We Should Empathize With Enemies, Clinton Meant That We “Are Owed” Attacks Such As The Paris Shooting. On the January 7 edition of his radio program, Rush Limbaugh criticized Clinton's December speech at Georgetown University, during which Clinton mentioned “showing respect even for one's enemies” and “empathiz[ing] with their perspective” :
LIMBAUGH: When you spread the word that the United States has mistreated the world and that therefore we kind of are owed this kind of -- that's why we must try to understand it -- that's what Mrs. Clinton means when she talks about needing empathy: We're guilty. We have a role in this. People otherwise wouldn't be mad. They have a legitimate reason to be mad at us, so we better get serious and find out what it is and understand it. That's what she means. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/7/15]
Fox's Richard Grenell: Hillary Clinton “Wants You To Empathize” With Paris Attackers. Following news of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Fox News contributor Richard Grenell used the attack to claiming Clinton “wants you to empathize” with those responsible for the attack:
Limbaugh: Clinton's Belief In Empathizing With Enemies Makes Her A “Dangerous,” “Risky” Presidential Candidate. Later in his program, Limbaugh aired audio of Clinton's Georgetown speech and argued that Clinton believes the U.S. could have prevented the Paris terror attack if we had reached out to and “empathized” with terrorists. He went on, "[T]his is dangerous. And it's therefore risky, I think, for us to even contemplate this kind of thinking continuing in the Oval Office." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/7/15]
Ben Shapiro Ties Clinton Comments To Attack: “Cowardice Of The American Administration.” In a January 7 post to TruthRevolt, Breitbart.com editor-at-large Ben Shapiro tied the terrorist attack at Charlie Hebdo to Clinton's Georgetown speech as an example of the “cowardice of the American administration” :
In the aftermath of the Islamic terrorist killing of 12 people at the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, in vengeance for the magazine's mockery of the Prophet Mohammed, it is worthwhile noting the cowardice of the American administration on issues of free speech related to Mohammed in the past.
Hillary Clinton recently explained that the use of foreign policy “smart power” should focus on “leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect even for one's enemies, trying to understand and insofar as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view.” [TruthRevolt, 1/7/15]
Full Context Of Clinton's Speech Praised Women As Coalition-Builders In Nonviolent Peace Process
Clinton: “Showing Respect Even For One's Enemies” Is One “Smart Power” Tool In Nonviolent Peace Process. On December 3, Clinton spoke on “security through inclusive leadership” at Georgetown University, in an event sponsored by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and the Institute for Inclusive Security. The discussion focused on “strategies to help women rise into leadership roles on security issues.” During the talk, Clinton discussed “smart power,” specifically describing a peace deal that two women brokered between rebels and the government of the Philippines. She was not pressing for empathy with terrorist groups (emphasis added):
CLINTON: Consider what has happened recently in the Philippines. Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines, has been locked in a 40-year conflict. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front was battling the government. More than 120,000 lives were lost. Hope for peace was all but gone when two strong women, Teresita Quintos Deles and Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, took over the negotiations. They made inclusivity their mantra. And thanks greatly to their efforts, finally a peace was brokered in a historic deal.
This is what we call smart power, using every possible tool and partner to advance peace and security, leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect even for one's enemies, trying to understand, and insofar as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view, helping to define the problems, determine the solutions -- that is what we believe in the 21st century will change, change the prospects for peace.
Yet in too many places, the promise of women's participation remains largely unfulfilled. [Georgetown University, 12/3/14]
Clinton Speech Focused On Praising Women Who Broker Peace Through Coalition-Building. Clinton used her speech to underscore the evidence that women's participation in peace processes can be crucial for coalition-building and fostering compromise between sectarian groups, not terrorist sects (emphasis added):
CLINTON: So, we know when women contribute in making and keeping peace, entire societies enjoy better outcomes. We know when women participate in the peace processes, often-overlooked issues like human rights, individual justice, national reconciliation, economic renewal, are often brought to the forefront. Women leaders, it has been found, are good at building coalitions across ethnic and sectarian lines and speaking up for other marginalized groups. I saw that in Northern Ireland. I saw that in Central America. I saw that certainly in the Congo. I saw that in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
They act more as mediators to help foster compromise and to try to organize to create the changes they seek. So it's important to underscore this overriding fact: Women are not just victims of conflict. They are agents of peace and agents of change. [Georgetown University, 12/3/14]
Clinton Has Repeatedly Stated Her Opposition To Negotiating With Violent Ideological Groups
Clinton To The Atlantic: “I Would Not Put Hamas In The Category Of People We Could Work With” Because “It Is Married To Very Nasty Tactics And Ideologies.” In an August 2014 interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, Clinton made clear that the goals of smart-power negotiations were not under consideration for particularly violent ideological groups, such as Hamas:
I would not put Hamas in the category of people we could work with. I don't think that is realistic because its whole reason for being is resistance against Israel, destruction of Israel, and it is married to very nasty tactics and ideologies, including virulent anti-Semitism. I do not think they should be in any way treated as a legitimate interlocutor, especially because if you do that, it redounds to the disadvantage of the Palestinian Authority, which has a lot of problems, but historically has changed its charter, moved away from the kind of guerrilla resistance movement of previous decades. [The Atlantic, 8/10/14]
Clinton In Hard Choices: “We Weren't Talking About Reconciling With Terrorist Masterminds ... All We Were Doing Was Trying To Peel Off Nonideological Insurgents.” In her 2014 memoir, Clinton explained her conception of smart power in more detail, noting that reconciliation with our former enemies did not mean talking to “terrorist masterminds,” but instead reconciling with nonideological insurgents:
In an interview in London, I was asked if “it would be a surprise and maybe even disturbing” for Americans to hear that we were trying to reconcile with some insurgents even as the President was sending more U.S. troops to fight the very same Taliban. “You can't have one without the other,” I responded. “A surge of military forces alone without any effort on the political side is not likely to succeed. . . . An effort to try to make peace with your enemies without the strength to back it up is not going to succeed. So, in fact, this is a combined strategy that makes a great deal of sense.”
That had been my argument during the many debates in the White House Situation Room about the troop surge, and it was in keeping with my beliefs about smart power. But I recognized that even if this was a wise strategy, it might be hard to accept. So I added, “I think underlying your question is the concern of people who say, well, wait a minute, those are the bad guys. Why are we talking to them?” That was a fair question. But at this point we weren't talking about reconciling with terrorist masterminds or the Taliban leaders who protected Osama bin Laden. I explained that all we were doing was trying to peel off nonideological insurgents who sided with the Taliban for the much-needed paycheck. [Hard Choices, June 2014]