There is little I can say about the Paris attacks themselves that would not be repetitive or prosaic at this point. Perhaps most depressingly, there is little to be said that hasn’t been said already, after each of the numerous attacks that have been inflicted on free societies in the last few years.
The anxiety and fear that afflicts me now is not from the prospect of another attack; that is so unpredictable and out of my control that it hardly occurs to me to worry. What fills me with the most dread is the Western reaction to them. As after the Charlie Hebdo attacks we experienced a brief moment of stunned solidarity and internationally transcendent human empathy; but, as I predicted, it did not take long for our priorities to fly violently off-kilter.
I have said before; it is astonishing to me that so many Westerners are more afraid of being thought of as insensitive or politically incorrect than they are of being butchered or blown up in the streets of their own cities. Within 48 hours of these attacks many Western users of social media indulged in, not condemnation of the filthy death cult who committed these acts or solidarity with the French people, but a tidal wave of hedging, obfuscation, masochism, self-loathing and victim-blaming: No this is NOTHING to do with Islam; these people were NOT Muslims, just bad people using a peaceful religion for their own malicious ends; This is really all OUR fault for meddling in the Middle East and invading Muslims lands, WE created ISIS; If anyone dares to discuss the possibility of any connection between these events and Islamic doctrine then they are “RACIST”.
Just reflect for a moment on the insanity of this. At a time like this, the priority of people in the West who consider themselves “progressive” is to take responsibility for the acts on behalf of their civilisation, silence, in advance, any conversation about the role of dogma and whine and mewl about an assumed racist backlash (again, in advance). We had to hear from the Guardian about how all this is to do with how multiculturalism has failed to make Muslims feel welcome (ironically lumping nominal Muslims in with potential ISIS recruits as the regressive left so frequently does) and The Independent even wrote a long sneering screed criticising people for changing their online profiles to show the colours of the Tricolore, in solidarity with France, because it makes them complicit in the corporate greed of the Facebook Corporation.
The main objective of all this, apart from the opportunity to polish their halos through an online “look how progressive I am” contest, is to divert attention away from the real problem, blame anyone but the perpetrators and attribute the events to anything but their source. We have become so attached to our idea of politically correct virtue, so terrified of being thought politically incorrect, insensitive or “racist” (once again, a total non-sequitur when discussing religious doctrine) that we are more afraid of this than being butchered, shot or blown up in the streets of our own cities.
When people say “this is NOTHING to do with Islam” or “these people were NOT Muslims” they are trying to silence a necessary dialogue that makes them uncomfortable because it brings their politically correct delusions into stark conflict with reality. These are the same people who turn the blame on Western society but this in itself, as a former colleague of mine pointed out recently, betrays an ignorant and patronising Western-centric mentality. Groups such as ISIS have their roots in long-standing conflicts between Muslim sects and geopolitical rivalries, scriptural prophecies and ancient animosities going back hundreds of years (as he put it, “Jihadism wasn’t invented when George Bush Sr. marched into Kuwait”). The West has certainly meddled in the Middle East in recent years but to assume it is solely responsible for the rise of Islamic Jihad infantalises the Muslim world and excuses the killers by making them unwitting pawns of history – in short, it is the worst of both worlds (quite aside from it being empirically false).
Interestingly enough, the people I do see confronting the reality of the problem, that this is “something to do with Islam” and that these people absolutely WERE Muslims, are the reforming voices of the Muslim community themselves who, while few in number (at least those who are given a public platform) and besieged by obfuscating voices of apologists and regressives, have not imbibed the delusion of political correctness that infects secular white liberals.
A desire to see the solutions come from within Islam is certainly not racist. It is not even insensitive (quite the opposite as I have highlighted above) but, for some reason, it has come to be seen as politically incorrect. This, I believe, is because the idea has become loaded with assumptive connotations. Too many liberals see this concept as representing a kind of modern Inquisition or Kristallnacht – that it means persecution of Muslims. But this is just the usual sensationalist garbage employed to frighten people out of confronting the issue.
By way of example, imagine if a fanatical Catholic sect decided to bring the world under the yoke of Holy Mother Church through acts of violence and brutality. In this event, we would undoubtedly turn to the Vatican for solutions. If Mahayana Buddhists began flying planes into buildings in the hope of a shortcut to Nirvana we would have some very searching questions for the Dalai Lama. But Islam has no such centralised religious authority – no one figure can speak for the Muslim faith (though many claim to). In the absence of a central authority to consult with, wouldn’t nominal law-abiding Muslims be unjustly expected to take collective responsibility? This is what I think people (liberals just as much as Muslims) fear most about engaging with the Muslim community on this issue. However, there are a precious few courageous reforming voices trying to tackle this issue from within Islam; intellectuals, politicians, journalists and others such as Maajid Nawaz, Irshad Manji and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Unfortunately, politically correct fear-mongering has so crippled liberals that they turn their backs on, or refuse to acknowledge these brave individuals who are doing their work in the face of extraordinary personal risk (a fact that, on its own, proves how deluded one has to be to downplay the threat) and would benefit greatly from our support. Instead, as I wrote about some weeks ago, when Maajid Nawaz engaged in a dialogue with atheist and prominent critic of Islam, Sam Harris, he was, in a loathsome and cynical display, smeared by the regressive left as a “native informant”, a “fake Muslim” or, worst of all, a “porch monkey”. The regressives who perpetuate this insulting cultural meme have a lot to answer for and may well end up with blood on their hands for, at every turn, seeking to silence meaningful dialogue which may, if allowed to flourish, one day lead us out of all this darkness.
If we can’t look to the Muslim community for solutions then where else do we turn? The same people who object to engaging with the community are the same who object to the ‘boots on the ground’ approach, believing that it will merely inflame Islamic grievances against the West even further. If both of these paths are off limits to us for fear of upsetting people then I can only suggest we find a quick, efficient and polite way to surrender because that is what these people seem to be proposing. As Nawaz pointed out, The Guardian shamefully dedicated an entire editorial spread to one message: “Do nothing”.
If you are one of the people peddling this obscurantism, I fear you are allowing the spectre of political correctness to take you obligingly by the hand and walk you off a cliff, and you are demanding that Western society accompany you on this one-way trip into the abyss. These people cannot be allowed to dominate the public discourse. What is needed now is honest conversation and reasonable dialogue about the way forward, and it should be obvious to any person of decency that the liars, frauds, useful idiots and self-hating apologists that make up the regressive rabble have excused themselves from this discussion.
Featured Image Credit: “The Flagellants”. Still from Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957) Source: YouTube
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