Has the USA fallen into cowardice?
Satirist Bill Maher appeared a few weeks ago on the Jimmy Kimmel show, just after the horrific attacks against Charlie Hebdo in Paris, calling America a “pussy nation.” He was referring to the painful-to-watch mental contortions that so many, particularly in the media, go to in order to explain away Islamic terrorism as something else than what it really is: Islamic terrorism.
The media labored, as though delivering a breech baby, both during and after the terrible events in and around the Ile-de-France; folks weren’t sure initially if these were really Islamists, as though some other group would have been as likely to be responsible, or whether they were just “lone wolves,” and most commentators, professional or otherwise, were and remain predictably baffled as to what their motivations could have been.
After all the blood-letting, the oft repeated yarns began that these perpetrators were not even Moslems and that this incident certainly had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. Handwringing extended even to our own White House as Press Secretary Josh Earnest dutifully reported that the rabble rousers at Charlie Hebdo had used poor judgment; and poor judgment in the context of lampooning the Prophet of Islam can be dangerous to your health – which if nothing else, we have all learned .
It is now clear these jihadists were long known to French authorities and also to American security services. They had traveled to the Middle East where at least one of them had undoubtedly received terrorist training. That they had been radicalized by an Imam (a man learned in Islamic doctrine) and were motivated by the indispensable trilogy – of (1) revenge for Western intervention in the Middle East, (2)rabid Jew hatred and (3)Islamic supremacism – in the quest for a universal Caliphate goes without saying. Unfortunately, in the multitude of near catastrophes by a growing pool of radicalized terrorists, this repeat attack wasn’t thwarted, or apparently even anticipated.
In the aftermath of the horrific bloodbath the mantra was Je suis Charlie, “I am Charlie.” It has become a phenomenon around which much of the world can unite, if only symbolically. And while it was heartening to see such widespread initial support for the concept of freedom of thought and expression, there is much underlying culpability from our own Western democracies in the brutal deaths of these men and the hostages killed two days later. How, you ask? By the anemic and short-sighted approach to demands for special treatment and self-censorship from the stricter adherents and apologists for the Islamic faith, as well as our leaders’ steadfast refusal to publically acknowledge what virtually every Jane and John Doe on Main Street now recognizes: that we, as Western society, have encouraged our enemies by letting them know that we will not engage them as the existential threat that they truly are.
In the desire to honor these victims’ work, it is worth remembering that these brave heroes didn’t get killed for criticizing Jesus or Moses or Buddha or even their own flawed and often foolish Western governments (although these were the most frequent targets of their brutal satire) and neither would you. They were murdered for opposing – through words and pictures – what they saw as the darker and more sinister forces operating within the “Religion of Peace”: the intolerance and endless violence, as well as a supercilious supremacism which seeks to squash all dissent before it can become contagious. They fought against these real threats to free people everywhere with their pens, and for this crime of irreverance they paid with their lives.