If you're going to Hell in a handbasket, you might as well stop in Paris along the way, and human decency made a detour to the City of Lights yesterday to collectively condemn last week's terrorism that took 17 innocent French lives.
It was inspiring and reassuring to see people of all ethnic and political stripes march together in solidarity in what's being described as the largest crowd in France's history. It says something about French unity and resolve that more people showed up for Sunday's event than took to the streets for the Revolution or Liberation. What's especially gratifying is that there were no reports of confrontation despite a significant Muslim presence at the rally. Far from being treated as interlopers, Muslims marchers were applauded and embraced as they carried signs saying "Not in my name" and "Je suis Juif" - exactly the loud and clear message the broader population needs to hear from the moderate Muslim community if it wants to distance and differentiate itself from violent Islamic extremism.
There was also political hypocrisy at play, as among the 40 world leaders who marched arm-in-arm were representatives of countries that actively suppress freedom of speech. But yesterday was less about free speech than it was about the right to publish offensive cartoons without being murdered for it, and nitpicking for its own sake is missing the point. Any day that people from disparate ideological backgrounds come together to denounce a common scourge that threatens us all is a good day and something the civilized world can build on.