Friday, January 9, 2015

You can't solve the problem if you refuse to identify the problem

In the wake of the barbaric attack on Charlie Hebdo, we have seen temporizing and moral relativism from the usual sources, and a flash of "coming together" that will ultimately be meaningless if it is not followed with actual action that has actual teeth. The underlying problem is an abject refusal of many, especially in our foreign policy establishment, to even consider the possibility that the problem may be not with us, but with the people who are attacking us.

But others are not so blinded by political correctness. A taste:

Roger Simon:
After the brutal mass murders at the office of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, the airwaves and  the Internet are filled with pundits and “experts” wondering whether this horrendous act is the work of al-Qaeda, ISIS or were these evil maniacs “self-radicalized,” as the new phrase goes.
I have news for them – there is no difference!  Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Muslim man on the street all work from the same play books; they need no outside advice.  And those play books are the holy texts of Islam, the Koran and the Hadith.  All you need to know is there.
Egypt’s el-Sisi is right.  Islam is in desperate need of a reformation, because right now it is not even a religion.  It is a virus.
What the world should do now is nothing short of an intervention, just how we would treat a drug addicted or alcoholic relative.  Unfortunately, given the terrified international leadership, that isn’t in the offing.  They are more likely to call the murder at Charlie Hebdo “workplace violence,” as ludicrous as that sounds and is.
Davis Harsanyi, in a column titled "Stop Pretending Terrorism Has Nothing To Do With Islam":
Detesting ideas and hating people are not the same thing. Muslims are, and should be, protected equally under the liberal principles everyone else enjoys. Yet, for some reason, when it comes to our discourse, Islam is given a special dispensation from the standards that apply to everyone else who operates under these rules. A criticism of a faith – and the customs and philosophy that go with it – has been transformed into an act of racism.
I’ll never understand why so many on Left feel compelled to provide the most pervasively illiberal ideology on Earth this kind of cover. Nor, for that matter, why so many of my fellow atheists reserve their venom for Christianity (a religion that made secularism possible) while coddling an ideology that would surely destroy it.
You might imagine that once the media itself was attacked, the madness would end. But you would have been wrong. These moments are instructive in separating genuine liberals – Hitchens, Ayaan Hirsi Ali (the Somali-Dutch opponent of radicalism), or Maher, etc. – from the authoritarian leftists who try and stifle speech, the ones that chill speech by purposefully confusing bigotry and discourse, and perhaps the worst kind, those who try to pretend there is moral equivalency between our world and Team Civilization. (And boy, some of them fail hard.)
To prove that all faiths share the same propensity for violence, apologists must cast a net over the entire breadth of human history. My guess is that any reasonable person would concede that few groups in history are innocent. (I’m sure not all the Amalekites had it coming – and for this I apologize.) But the thing is, if you have to reach back to 1572 to make a connection between Catholic hostility and modern Islam, you’ve already lost the argument. In this world, today, right now, when it comes to religious violence there’s really only one game in town.
Amir Taheri, in a column titled "Stop Giving Modern Islam a Free Pass":
[H]owever, there was little sign that a genuine debate on the roots of the tragedy might start anytime soon. Whenever the discussion edged close to the core of the issue, the usual suspects of multiculturalism and political correctness intervened to put it on a different trajectory.
It seemed almost mandatory to assert that the attack, carried out by a three-man commando of French-born jihadists of Algerian origin, had nothing to do with Islam. The obvious question went unasked: If so, then why did the president and prime minister — indeed the whole political elite — keep reassuring the “Muslim community?”
The self-styled spokesmen for ­Islam, including a string of imams in a variety of folkloric garbs, played the same comedy by insisting that the three jihadists represented only themselves and that Islam is a religion of love and peace.
On the “love and peace” note, it’s remarkable that none of the “community leaders” and “spokesmen” was prepared to ­label the three murderers as ­jihadists or even terrorists, let alone “enemies of mankind.”
Instead, echoing President Obama, they all described the killing squad as “violent extremists.” Even Hassan Chalghoumi, a Tunisian-born cleric regarded as France’s “most moderate imam,” would go no further than describing the killers as “misguided individuals.”
Some “Muslim spokesmen” tried to spin a web of confusion by using words and phrases many French adore — “alternative narratives,” “ historic concepts,” “discourse.” They recalled France’s 100-year colonial presence in Algeria, though the Charlie Hebdo attackers had never been to Algeria and made it clear they were seeking revenge for the Prophet.
In a Europe 1 Radio interview, Tariq Ramadan, a former adviser on Islam to the government, even insisted that the attack should remind the French that all lives are of equal value, including those lost by Muslims in Syria and Iraq. In other words, if France takes part in the fight against ISIS, it must expect attacks on its citizens.
Non-Muslim talking heads, meanwhile, warned against racism and Islamophobia, praised religious tolerance and dwelt on the merits of multiculturalism and alterite (otherness) for all communities. Leftist commentators tried to inject a dose of class warfare into the debate by harping on the poverty in heavily Muslim neighborhoods.
On Thursday, Iran’s minister of Islamic guidance, Ali Jannati implicitly justified the murder of Charlie Hebdo staff: “Press freedom can’t justify insulting religion,” he said. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham went further: “Freedom of expression should not include disparaging what is sacred.”
Glenn Reynolds: "There are, of course, plenty of good Muslims. But they’re not driving the bus."

Roger Kimball:
[T]hese two French Muslims, since identified as Said Kouachi (34) and his brother Cherif Kouachi (32), were on a mission. They targeted Charlie Hebdo because the irreverent magazine had repeatedly made fun of Islam and its founder (it has done the same to other religions and indeed to other establishment figures in general, but with less incarnadine results). Back in 2011, after the paper published the famous “Danish Cartoons” of Mohammed, other partisans of “the religion of peace” firebombed the offices of the magazine.  Its editor, StĂ©phane “Charb” Charbonnier, was given round-the-clock police protection as a result. It wasn’t enough. The Kouachi brothers knew exactly who they were looking for. When they shot their way into the office of Cahrlie Hebdo, they rattled off a list of names of journalists and cartoonists, including Charbonnier’s. When they found them, they murdered them. Now at last, they proclaimed, “the prophet has been avenged.”
Think about that. The prophet, i.e., Mohammed, the revered founder of Islam, has been “avenged” because 12 people have been murdered in cold blood. Why? Because a magazine published some satirical cartoons of said prophet.
Which brings me to the second Muslim manifesto I mentioned.  This, too, was an extraordinary effusion, notable for its honesty about the realities of Islam in the world today.  But unlike President al-Sisi’s speech in Cairo, this manifesto was not a call for an accommodating revolution in Islam. On the contrary, it was a warning to infidels (that would be you and me, Virginia) that the French journalists (and their bodyguards) reaped what they had sown.
I refer to the “opposing view” op-ed by Anjem Choudary, “a radical Muslim cleric in London and a lecturer in sharia,” in USA Today yesterday. “Why,” the article’s dek asks, “did France allow the tabloid to provoke Muslims?”
You know what happens when Muslims are provoked. They start murdering people. One or two, if that’s all they can manage, thousands if they happen to get their hands on a few airliners. “Offend” them and they kill you. If you let them.
This ravening specimen of intolerant, theocratic rage doesn’t put it quite like that, of course, but he is pretty frank. “Contrary to popular misconception,” he begins (are you listening, President Bush?), “Islam does not mean peace but rather means submission to the commands of Allah alone.”
He’s right about that, you know: “Islam” means “submission” not “peace.” And Choudary’s frankness does not end there.  About the first thing Barack Obama did on assuming office was travel to Cairo as part of his world-apologize-to-tyrants-tour. At the University of Cairo, he gave a famous (now infamous) speech in which he asserted that Islam and America share core principles, “principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
Tolerance, eh? Barack Obama ought to have asked Anjem Choudary about that. “Muslims,” Choudary wrote in USA Today,  “do not believe in the concept of freedom of expression, as their speech and actions are determined by divine revelation and not based on people’s desires.” How does that accord with “tolerance”? Choudary is clear-eyed about that, too. “In an increasingly unstable and insecure world,” he writes, “the potential consequences of insulting the Messenger Muhammad are known to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.” You said it, Anjem! Even as I write, Riaf Badawi, a Saudi blogger, is receiving 50-lashes in public, part of a sentence that includes a 10-year prison sentence and 1000 lashes (50 every Friday for 20 weeks, if he lasts that long). And what heinous crime did Badawi commit to merit such barbaric punishment? Why, he “insulted Islam.” So our “friends” and “allies” the Saudis are subjecting him to something out of a twisted medieval melodrama.
Badawi might well die from the prolonged torture he is being subjected to. But he might survive. Which in a way, I suppose, shows that, from an Islamic perspective, the Saudis are being lenient. I suspect that Anjem Choudary would not be so accommodating. To besmirch the “honor” of Mohammed is a grave crime against Sharia, i.e., Islamic law, Choudary points out, and the “strict punishment if found guilty . . . is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, ‘Whoever insults a Prophet kill him.’”
Oh, I see. So that’s all right then?
According to Anjem Choudary, France is responsible for the deaths of those 10 journalists and 2 policemen because it allowed Charlie Hebdo to “provoke Muslims.” It thereby, he suggests, “placed the sanctity of its citizens as risk.” His conclusion? “It is time that the sanctity of a Prophet revered by up to one-quarter of the world’s population was protected.”
My conclusion is a bit different. I believe it is time that the insane and murderous ideology of Islam is recognized for what it is, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. USA Today got a lot of pushback for publishing  Choudary’s drooling apology for murder. I am glad that they did, for it reminds us in vivid terms exactly the sort of thing we in the so-called liberal West are up against.
Islam in its current configuration denies those values. Perhaps the “revolution” that President al-Sisi hopes will eventually take place and carve out a place for Islam among the civilized religions and political systems of the world. Until that day, however, the sane response to Islam is not to pixelate images that Muslims find “offensive,” as The Daily News just did, to its shame. Nor is it to redact news stories in the hope that they will not (as Anjem Choudary put it) “provoke Muslims,” as The New York Times just did, to its shame. Were I (per impossible) editor of The New York Times, I would run those cartoons of Mohammed on the front page of the paper every day for a month. The sane response is to say No to any form of Islam that does not accommodate itself to the animating principles of liberal Western society. That means no to polygamy, no to murdering people who apostatize from Islam, no to stoning adulteresses, no to murdering homosexuals and Jews, no to treating women like chattel, no, in short, to the entire rancid menu of insanity that is contained under the rubric “Sharia.”

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