The Paris Massacre and Western Funk
A core western value, freedom of expression, was snuffed out with contemptuous ease along with 12 innocent lives in Paris this week.
By Melanie Phillips, Jersusalem Post, January 8, 2015
Is this a tipping point? Has the West finally been shaken out of its complacency? The horrific massacre in Paris, in which al-Qaida terrorists systematically targeted and gunned down journalists, cartoonists, and policemen at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in revenge for its mockery of Islam, has shocked Europe by its barbarism and its symbolism.
A core western value, freedom of expression, was snuffed out with contemptuous ease along with 12 innocent lives, among them some of France's most iconic and beloved cartoonists.
The emotion behind the "Je Suis Charlie" demonstrations, as an expression of solidarity with the murdered Charlie Hebdo staff, was very understandable. But did anyone actually mean it? For what Charlie Hebdo did was what very few people have ever done. In continuing to publish its scurrilous images of Islam and Islamists, Charlie Hebdo had refused to be cowed by Islamist terrorism.
Plainly, therefore, very few people indeed mean "Je Suis Charlie," since the media response to the massacre has been carefully to obliterate the images Charlie Hebdo published that so offended al-Qaida.
The French have also been declaring defiantly that free speech will never be surrendered. But there has been no free media expression about Islam ever since the 1989 Iranian fatwa calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie over his book, The Satanic Verses.
That was when the West sold the pass (Editor: British expression meaning "betrayed the cause.") In Britain, people supporting Rushdie's murder were never prosecuted.
As his book was burned on British streets, establishment figures turned on the author for having offended Islam.
In 2006, riots following the publication of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons left scores dead around the world. But virtually every media outlet - except for Charlie Hebdo - refused to republish them.
In 2004, the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered on a Netherlands street for making a film criticizing Islam. In 2012, Lars Hedegaard, who founded the Danish Free Press Society after the Muhammad cartoons affair,was shot point blank on his doorstep, although he miraculously survived.
To all these outrages, the West responded by blaming the victims for provoking their attackers. After this week's Paris massacre, commentators on CNN observed that Charlie Hebdo had been "provoking Muslims" for some time. On The Financial Times website, Tony Barber wrote that "some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo... which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid."
(That last clause was subsequently removed).
The fact is that Islamic terrorism and intimidation against the West have been going on for decades, matched by displays of Western weakness which merely encourage an enemy it refuses properly to identify.
Over and over again, the West denies that these attacks have anything to do with Islam. First it blamed poverty and exclusion among Muslims. Then it blamed grievances around the world - Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine.
Then it blamed isolated madmen whose Muslim identity was irrelevant.
In France before Christmas, attacks in which cars were used as battering rams against crowds amid shouts of "Allahu akbar" were said by French authorities to be unconnected with each other.
Yet Muslim violence in France has clearly been out of control for years. Just look at the repeated Islamic pogroms against French Jews, which have driven thousands of them to emigrate. Yet none of those attacks provoked the kind of outrage that followed this week's atrocity. Is free speech more important than the lives of French Jews? But the West refuses to join up the dots. The Charlie Hebdo attackers shouted "Allahu akbar" and "We are avenging the Prophet Muhammad."
Yet Obama, Cameron, and Hollande condemned the attack as merely "terrorism," carefully omitting to say what kind of terrorism this was.
This follows their absurd statements that the Islamic State terrorist group has "nothing to do with Islam" and that "no religion" condones that kind of barbarism.
Really? What links Islamic State, al-Qaida, Hamas, and Boko Haram? It's a religion beginning with the letter I and ending with M.
A very senior British civil servant once told me that Islamist terrorism couldn't be about Islam, because that would "demonize" all Muslims. This absurd non-sequitur was like saying the Inquisition had nothing to do with Catholicism, in order not to demonize Catholics.
For sure, many Muslims are not only opposed to Islamist terrorism but are its principal victims. But to pretend that it is not rooted in a legitimate interpretation of the religion, backed up by the historical evidence of centuries of aggressive and violent Islamic conquest, is ridiculous.
If the West cannot even bring itself to acknowledge what it is up against, then it will surely be defeated by it.
Both France and Britain in their different ways have given in to Muslim extremism. Multicultural Britain has allowed Islam uniquely privileged treatment: providing sharia banking, tolerating polygamy, converting school kitchens to halal.
France, which pushed its Muslims out to peripheral housing estates to fester, has ceded control of those estates to Islamist radicals, thus creating in effect mini-states within a state.
At same time, the West has shown weakness by giving in to terrorism abroad. Thus France voted for the recent Palestinian ultimatum at the UN, thereby rewarding terrorism and Jew-hatred. Obama, who in the wake of the Paris massacre intoned "Free expression and a free press are principles... that can never be eradicated," is busily appeasing the Iranian terrorist regime, which jails, tortures, and executes political opponents and is pledged to the genocide of the Jews and an Islamic takeover of the West.
What the West should be doing is drawing a very firm line in the sand to defend its own values. It should be fighting Muslim radicalization by establishing what should be considered totally unacceptable.
At present, for example, it ignores the Jew-hatred coursing through the Muslim world.Yet this is a driving force behind Islamist terrorists, who believe not only that modernity and the West must be destroyed, but that the Jews are behind both of them.
Europe has failed to learn the lesson of the Holocaust. This is that Jew-hatred is not some unpleasant but marginal aberration; it is not just a threat to Jews or to Israel.
It is nothing less than a psychic derangement that drives the entire civilization show off the road.
Muslims must confront the beliefs in their own religion and culture that swell the seas in which terrorism swims. And the non-Muslim West must start to teach Muslims the hard truths that will force them to do so.
The problem is that another Western core value is the desire to compromise —even with those whose agenda brooks no compromise, and who see such a desire as a weakness to be exploited.
With the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo, Europe stares into an abyss.
But a tipping point? I fear not.