-- President Obama today called the killing of more than 80 people in Nice an "appalling attack on the freedom and the peace that we cherish,” adding that the hearts of Americans are with the people of France.
The president made the remarks at what was originally planned as a private reception for the Diplomatic Corps in the East Room of the White House.
Obama said he had spoken to French President Francois Hollande and that he “reminded him that France is America’s oldest ally and one of our strongest."
"We owe our freedom to one another,” the president continued, declaring U.S. solidarity with France. "We pledge to stand with our French friends as we defend our nations against this scourge of terrorism and violence. This is a threat to all of us."
The president also took on those who have suggested targeting Muslims specifically in the United States, calling “the very suggestion … repugnant and an affront to all we stand to as Americans.”
“We cannot give into fear or turn on each other or sacrifice our way of life,” the president said. “We cannot let ourselves be divided by religion because that’s exactly what the terrorists want.”
Noting that “it’s been a difficult several weeks here in the United States,” the president warned against nativist impulses that he said run across all the countries represented at the diplomatic reception.
“Those who would suggest that someone is less than them because of their tribe or their ethnicity or their color, those impulses exist in all our countries and those impulses when we do not speak out against them … they can take over they can be unleashed,” he said.
Specifically acknowledging the two Americans killed in Nice and the family now mourning the loss of their loved ones, the president said, "they need all the love and support of our American family."
Speaking of terrorism broadly, the president said, “we will not be deterred, we will not relent,” and turned to discussing ongoing U.S. military efforts abroad targeted at taking out ISIS.
“We are going to destroy this vile terrorist organization,” he said.
Defeating terrorist ideology, the president said, will occur by offering better alternatives and paths to political freedom and prosperity.
“We will win this fight by staying true to our values, values of pluralism and rule of law and diversity and freedoms,” the president said, noting that the people of France were celebrating their freedoms during the French holiday of Bastille Day when the attack took place.