There are European values. I became more aware of them watching the BBC 4 Saturday night European subtitled drama slot. European values lean heavily to laughter, mockery and forgiveness. Police dramas still focus on discovering who did the crime, but are not, in general, much interested in vengeance against them. They are (and I hope American friends will forgive me for saying so) much gentler towards the offenders than most USA dramas tend to be.
The ghastly killings at Charlie Hebdo cut right into our sense of shared European values. Cruel, vengeful, unable to tolerate humour, they cut at the very heart of what we hold dear. The suggestion we stop laughing, even that we stop some of our cruder humour, in order to avoid making ourselves targets is, well it just goes against everything we might believe.
Yet there is another European value, and to this we have not paid enough attention. Justice. There was no justice in invading Iraq, and even less in doing so without a plan to then help the country arrive at peace and prosperity. There was little justice in our actions in Afghanistan, where we made more trouble than we were capable of solving.
Least of all is there any justice in how we approach the Israel/Palestine conflict, a conflict which urgently needs resolved, and would have been easier to resolve earlier.
The roots of the Charlie Hebdo murders lie far back, and a fertile breeding ground we ourselves have helped to create. The murders are wicked and disproportionate. There is no excuse or justification for them.
But if we want to prevent such things, the answers do not lie in police protection or in greater vigilance against terrorism. They lie in a more just world order, where it is easier for wicked men to be stopped in their tracks much sooner.
With or without the spur of fear, the duty of all of us is to work unceasingly for justice. We must have justice and courtesy for all those from minority faiths and communities in our lands. Justice in our trade polices, and justice in our foreign policies. Anything else is, ultimately, as unEuropean as shooting dead people who make jokes.