Sometimes people are slow to learn a lesson, but fanatical Islamists are nothing if not diligent in their pedagogic urges. Lately they have taught us, again, that the only provocation required to inflame them is our existence—which means some people have a lot to apologize for after the latest assault on Western values, along the seaside in Nice.
Let’s start with Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau who, barely 15 months ago, suggested that the satirists at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo were complicit in their own assassinations. “Charlie Hebdo, which always maintained it was attacking Islamic fanatics, not the general population, has succeeded in provoking many Muslims throughout France to make common cause with its most violent outliers,” Trudeau said. “This is a bitter harvest.”
Lie down with dogs and you’ll get fleas; sow jokes about Islam and you’ll reap bullets. Trudeau said “Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech, which in France is only illegal if it directly incites violence. Well, voila—the seven million copies that were published following the killings did exactly that, triggering violent protests across the Muslim world.” So Charlie’s satire should have been suppressed before it was even published, just to be safe. Wouldn’t that have saved lives?
Trudeau in effected created a calculus of satire that involves assessing your level of victimhood against that of your intended target. Should his claim be superior, you must bow and remain silent. Given that Yale-educated bien pensant multi-millionaires like Trudeau place Muslims at the very top of the Victimology Mountain, Islam can therefore never be mocked in any way. The logic goes something like this: Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it’s just mean. And if mean people happen to get shot while they’re having their morning coffee, no big loss.
A little more than a year later, I haven’t heard Trudeau carry his logic along its natural path. Surely those who attended bars in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, also deserved to be murdered? After all, use of alcohol is denounced by Muslims. Shouldn’t we be more sensitive to their culture? I’m not aware of any directives by the Prophet that concerts given by the Eagles of Death Metal were haram, but let’s not be limited in our imaginations. Mohammed would most likely have disapproved. Anyway, weren’t women at the concert venue and the restaurants and the cafes walking around with their heads completely naked? That’s gross insensitivity. Trudeau derided “free-speech absolutists.” Isn’t appearing in public among Muslims sans hijab pushing free expression to its outer limits?
What about celebrating Bastille Day while watching fireworks? Bastille Day means France, and France means imperialism, and imperialism means subjugation of millions of Muslims. Those fourscore people mown down by a truck kind of had it coming, didn’t they?
No. Cringing, and bending over backward, and begging pardon and making excuses for radical Islam, is not placating the jihadists. Jihadists will kill in countries where there is strict gun control. Jihadists will kill in countries where there is less gun control. Jihadists will kill with homemade bombs. Jihadists will kill with trucks. Jihadists will kill 3000 people armed with a pocketful of box-cutters.
Jihadists will not make exceptions for non-Muslims who flay themselves with knotted cords while demanding love, understanding, respect and empathy with the Islamists. Indeed, in their eagerness to destroy infidels, they will not worry overmuch about how many fellow Muslims get killed in the process.
Trudeau’s remarks, shocking as they were, were mainly remarkable not in their underlying assumptions but in their frankness. The foundations of his thinking are common ones. Indeed, they are at the core of progressive thinking today. Last November, Secretary of State John Kerry declared, “There’s something different about what happened [in the Paris attacks] from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of—not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, OK, they’re really angry because of this and that.”
Legitimacy! That the word even crossed Kerry’s mind tells us that his thinking is not so different from Trudeau’s. President Obama also suggested that the atrocities by Islamists today are equivalent to the Crusades that ended 530 years ago. They killed people, we killed people, let’s not get hung up on trivial distinctions of the calendar. Obama’s designated successor Hillary Clinton, like Trudeau, avers that a little more sensitivity on the part of the West is the way to respond to jihadism: “Showing respect even for one’s enemies. Trying to understand, in so far as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view.” Today the Islamist mood is delirious joy. Maybe we should send them a fruit basket to express our empathy with their feelings.
Western culture has been under siege from within since the advent of Modernism, but today it is under siege from without, by radical Islamists who despise everything we stand for, from liberation of women and gays to religious tolerance to free expression. Islamism won’t destroy the West’s faith in our institutions. But modernism’s guilt-riddled self-loathing heirs might.