At the end of this speech which had the usual platitudes, she decided to be topical:
We are gathered here because we have recognised the potential of the youth of Palestine. Against all the odds, they continue to learn, to work, to dream and aspire to a better future. And the days when we remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances - the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world - we remember young people and children who lose their lives. Here are young people who are asking not to be leaders of the future, but to be taken seriously as leaders of today. And it is to them that we should look and to them we should listen and it is to them that I pay tribute.
To begin with, while she mentions children's lives who are lost in accidents - like the Belgian bus tragedy - she seems to place those killed in Gaza in a different category. She puts it in present tense, as if they are being murdered daily, in the same way she describes Syria; she is not framing it as kids killed because their leaders decided to pursue a policy of genocide against the Jews of the Middle East but as kids who are being targeted by...those awful bloodthirsty Israelis.
She would no doubt disagree vehemently. She probably thought that she was just talking about how tragic it is when children's lives are lost, no matter what the circumstances. But even if you are being charitable and think that she was not referring to Gaza as a Israeli policy targeting kids, it is still a hugely offensive statement.
A bus accident is a tragedy. The deliberate murder of children, as in Norway and Toulouse, is an outrage. To compare the two is to cheapen the lives of those whose lives were lost because of hate.
One of the more maddening themes one comes across on public forums is the idea that "it doesn't matter how they died, they are still just as dead." This is a sick way of thinking. It reduces people's lives to a flip of the coin, and it minimizes the one factor that changes a tragedy into an outrage - the intent of the killer. There is a good reason why the penalties for murder and involuntary manslaughter are different. If you equate the two, you are revealing your own depravity, and you put a murderer same moral plane as defective car brakes. It is the worst kind of moral relativism.
Ashton, by putting all dead kids in the same big bucket, is not respecting the lives of children. She is cheapening them. She is saying that the proper response to any child who dies, no matter what the circumstances, is "Oh, how awful!" An honor killing is awful, an anti-semitic hate crime is awful - but so is a bus accident, and so is cancer. When every death is the same, then there is no reason to get angry when children are mowed down in cold blood.
Ashton's statement shows that in her own warped mind, there is no difference. The next logical step is that it is not reasonable to blame anyone or to hold anyone accountable; "these things happen."
Some acts demand outrage; but in Catherine Ashton's universe, there is no room for outrage.
(h/t Challah Hu Akbar)
UPDATE: The transcript of her speech now mentions he children of Sderot as well, and apparently she really did say that.