Why did it take Paris for the world to shadow their online avatars with a flag for solidarity? I mean, on the very same day, suicide bombers hit Baghdad, killing twenty-six. And the day before, Beirut was attacked by two suicide bombers resulting in the death of over forty people. And days prior to that, a Russian plane headed out of Egypt was blown up. ISIS has taken credit for every one of these incidents but the world went nuts about Paris. Why?
Because when it happens in Lebanon or Iraq or anywhere else in or around the Middle East, it’s normal. I know that’s a cruel reality, but it’s true. Being a kid in the seventies and eighties, seeing the near daily squabbles on television of Israel and Palestine, Iran and Iraq, etc, it seemed to be less conflict and more just their culture. (I stole that, I believe it was Dennis Miller who said something along those lines). But it’s exactly how it seemed and still seems. The Internet has made it even more noticeable with everyone becoming their own reporter.
The problem in the Middle East goes back a long way, all the way back to the sixth century AD when Muhammad and company went from trying to spread Islam through persuasion to doing it by force. This ideology spread, in part, through violence all the way to Spain. The Crusades were launched as a response to that which started dividing things up. While Christianity came to dominate Europe, Islam came to dominate the Middle East with some border crossing here and there. That’s about as summary as summaries go.
As briefly noted in a prior post, religious conflict drove lots of people in Europe to leave and come to America. And America managed to keep itself removed from the European and Middle Eastern internal struggles with religion. The First Amendment makes it very clear that religious practice and conscience is not to be infringed and that the government is not allowed to favor any one of them. In fact, while the First Amendment covers speech and press only once, the religion question is addressed twice. That’s telling in its importance. Yet, America doesn’t have a rosy history on the religion question. We weren’t very welcoming to Catholics or Jews at first. But there never has been a big crusade within the States or mass killing in the name of some god or anything like what Europe went through between Catholics and Protestants and the Middle East goes through with Sunni and Shia. America has never had an Inquisition* or list of laws built on a holy book. We’ve managed to keep our governments rather secular while allowing individuals to practice their conscience as long as said practice doesn’t harm anyone else.
On September 11, 2001, America got a taste of what the Old World had been going through. What Americans only saw through their televisions going on “over there”, was now over here. I think the mistaken response to divert attention from Afghanistan and invade Iraq caused Americans to slowly forget what September 11th was all about. Attention turned from being attacked to doing the attacking, on a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. So all the attention went to Iraq and the American public called to bring the troops home and voted for a president that promised it and made it happen.
What we should have done was stuck around in Afghanistan, started reconsidering our partnerships with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and work on naming the problem – Islam.
I don’t play footsie around this nonsense of “radical” Islam or “fundamental” Islam. It’s Islam. Read the Qur’an and you’ll see Osama bin Laden was going by the book and ISIS is going by the book. The reason most Muslims are not engaging in the same behaviors as al-Qaeda and ISIS is because they’ve either not read their holy book or made a conscious decision to ignore those parts. And again, as I’ve said in other places, I’m really happy they chose to do one or both of these things.
Even before the last bullet casing fell from an assailant’s rifle in Paris, people were already taking to the air waves and social media claiming that if the West hadn’t invaded Iraq, none of this would be happening. The Regressive Left complained that western foreign intervention was the problem, the thievery of Middle Eastern oil, and so forth. Guns were to blame too. Everything and anything other than admitting behaviors are motivated by beliefs. And for over a year now, ISIS has been telling us why they’re doing it. They don’t shake a Kalashnikov in one hand and a copy of western foreign policy papers in another while ranting in front of a video camera. No, they hold the rifle and the Qur’an.
What does throwing gay men off the top of tall buildings have to do with western policy? What does killing Coptic Christians from Egypt have to do with western policy? What does stoning alleged adulterous women, turning women into third class citizens, killing apostates, slaughtering people caught consuming food during Ramadan have to do with western foreign policy? If you think any of this isn’t due to the tenets of Islam, you’re either a guilty colonialist or better put, part of the Regressive Left, not helping in solving this problem.
Still, back to our opening question, why did it take Paris to get the world’s attention?
Starting somewhere in the early 1700s, thinkers in Europe started to challenge the rule by religion, the Age of Enlightenment sprang up and the barbary of fighting over who’s version of Christianity was right faded away. The internal struggles and violence of different Christian groups lost its steam. People realized life just couldn’t continue like this, living conditions were terrible. Couple all these events together and you’ll understand why much of Europe just isn’t very religious at all anymore. Compare this to the Middle East and you’ll see why Paris got the world’s attention.
The Middle East never had an Enlightenment. They actually went backwards. Whereas Christianity in Europe went from being practiced in feudal governments to governments now being secular, the Middle East went from embracing science to prohibiting it and turning theocratic. Starting around the eighth century and dying out somewhere in the sixteen century, Islam seemed okay with scientific inquiry. They went in search of knowledge and preserved many of the ancient books for us to enjoy today that might otherwise be lost. But it appears that when their research started to contradict their holy book, they backed away. And now we’re all suffering for it.
I think that’s why the attack on France mobilized the world. It happened outside the norm. It is really a shame to say that. But consider: If the Middle East was rather peaceful and had an Enlightenment regarding Islam a few hundred years ago, would November the 13th in Paris and Baghdad and the 12th for Beirut have gone down like that? I’m going to say no. There is no equivalent in the Christian or Jewish or Buddhist or other religion going around yelling an “Allahu Akbar” declaration and shooting up the place. Islam is the last of all religions in need of an Enlightenment. It is unique, in that, the Qur’an, their primary book is primarily a list of instructions on how to deal with anyone who is not a Muslim. And if you’re the wrong kind of Muslim, you too get to suffer. This is why ISIS, being made up of Sunni, is killing the Shia.
Here’s the scary part…
What happened in France on November 13, 2015 is the new norm for the entire world. Get used to it; this is what war looks like. I’m not asking you to become numb from mass shootings or planes crashing into buildings, I’m asking you to prepare for the inevitability of another. I’ve been writing about this for long enough to see no end in sight. I’m repeating myself too often.
How long will this take?
The European Enlightenment took a few hundred years to complete. Remember the Inquisition, which incidentally started in France in the twelfth century, did not come to an end until the nineteenth century. Now France and the rest of the world are being thrown into a new struggle against another medieval tyrant, this one brought on by Islam. And this, too, is why the West is finally taking some action against ISIS. The West went through one Enlightenment, it is not about to give up the ground it obtained to have to go through another.
What should you do?
On two fronts, ISIS must be defeated militarily. There is no chance for negotiations with them. This will have to be left to the men and women in uniform and their commanding officers to execute. But the bigger fight, a discussion about Islam, is of utmost importance. This is where everyone can make a difference, to start talking about this. Stop using regressive leftist guilt, start calling it what it is. Read the Qur’an, make it part of your next book club. Even if every single ISIS member is dismembered, the ideology will still be out there. We will still have al-Qaeda, which continues to grow because it’s letting ISIS take all the heat. We will still have al-Nursa front, which is al-Qaeda light, currently fighting Assad in Syria. We will still have the home grown radicalized youth right now contemplating a way to get to Syria.
It will inevitably be up to Muslims to change things. They certainly are not going to listen to me, an outsider. But I’m still part of the equation because everyone is an indiscriminate target when bullets start flying. I wish to assist, be an ally to the Muslims who are making inroads into changing Islam. I direct you to the Quilliam Foundation to see the great things coming out of there.
As I was finishing up this essay, my colleague here at Freedom Cocktail, Alan Sanders, texted me the following: “F’ing Islamists (are) messing with my creativity.” Yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Let’s get involved and stop them.
ISIS, these people want to literally destroy everything you love about your freedoms, art and music and sciences and quality of life. In its place, they wish to set up a theocracy built from your ashes. They relish in glee of sending infidels to their deaths and even more so, look forward to their own, to die in battle. This is a generational battle. Engage in it now for the sake of the next generation so that they can enjoy what you have today.
* America did have a witch hunt in Salem; however, the remarks in this piece are regarding after the Founding of the United States. Salem was long before the revolution.