Photo above: One of the gunmen shoots a wounded police officer on the streets of Paris. (YouTube)
A murderous melee broke out in a tony section of Paris on Wednesday after three Islamic terrorists broke into the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly publication, killing twelve and wounding others. Those murdered were employees of the satirical weekly and included cartoonists, two policemen stationed at newspaper’s offices, and an experienced and well-regarded editor who in the past had refused to kowtow to extremist threats. (The publication lambasts religion in general, has been firebombed by extremists in the past, and had recently published a cartoon poking fun at the prophet Muhammad).
The terrorists shouted “Allahu akbar!” as they went on their deadly rampage, and finished their rampage by yelling in French, “The Prophet Muhammad has been avenged.” The events of Wednesday, along with the shooting of another Paris police officer on Thursday, have left that city rattled and mourning, and with a raised terror threat level.
America’s official reaction was typically muted. While the President and top administration officials referred to the Paris attack Wednesday as terrorism, they generally did not use the term Islamic terrorism. The director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Steve Emerson, criticized officials on Wednesday for avoiding the term. “The bottom line here, these are Islamic terrorist attacks and need to be called as such.”
When are America’s leaders going to really absorb the fact that we are dealing with a religion whose extreme elements’ default reaction is murder? Can you imagine if Christians and Jews murdered and terrorized every time they were lampooned? There wouldn’t be enough hours in the day to fight crime. Further, we must face up to the fact that peaceful, “moderate” Muslims are not speaking out consistently and with conviction about the violent actions of their extreme factions. Why not? I think we know why not – it is too scary to risk the consequences of angering them.
Our world is changing and we need to face it with a clear focus and the correct verbiage. It is increasingly apparent that our very safety depends on our correct assessment of the threats to us – and this may include the very sticky idea of understanding that the Koran is interpreted by some as a call to perpetrate violence and death. Perhaps there are many different interpretations of the Koran, just as there are many different interpretations of the Bible. But neither Baptist, Protestant nor Catholic calls for murder when it feels slighted, maligned, or disparaged, and none of them cause waves of extremism such as we are seeing with the radicalized Muslim sects.
We would love to live in peace with Muslims. Americans as a whole are very accepting of other cultures and beliefs – the country was built on the principle of religious tolerance. Europe feels the same way – in fact, France has a strikingly large Muslim population, which now worries some Parisians. But facts are facts – extremists who are Muslims are killing those who mock their prophet or disagree with their faith and attempt to practice another.
Some of our leaders are loathe to accept this. Howard Dean, appearing Wednesday on MSNBC, argued that they should be treated as “mass murderers” instead. Kind of like the Ft. Hood shootings were “workplace violence” and not “terrorism.”
“I stopped calling these people Muslim terrorists. They’re about as Muslim as I am,” he said. “I mean, they have no respect for anybody else’s life, that’s not what the Koran says. And, you know Europe has an enormous radical problem … I think ISIS is a cult. Not an Islamic cult. I think it’s a cult.”
Doesn’t Dean’s statement just beg for an injection of common sense? Firstly, I am betting that these murderers in France are a lot more Muslim than he is (unless he screams “Allahu akbar” when angered). Secondly, ISIS self-identifies as Muslim – so we should probably take them at their word. They pretty much do as they say they will do when threatening to behead an innocent victim, so I am thinking we can trust them when they say that they are Muslim.
We need for our leaders to speak to us like we are intelligent beings, and to show us that they have our safety foremost in their minds. We understand that it is hard to question why this faith has a dark underbelly of extremism, and that’s a good thing – that is how America should be.
It should be uncomfortable to begin to shine the light of inquiry and discernment on a world faith. But we are sometimes tasked with doing hard, uncomfortable things – ask any veteran about this – that leads to greater safety for all. Even crazy, unbalanced Christians, Jews and Hindis don’t run around beheading innocent people to make a point, inspire fear, or prove their faith’s domination; this is not even a tiny part of what their faith is about at its core. What is causing so much misinterpretation of the tenets of Islam, whose followers assure us it is a religion of peace?
We all want to hang on to the notion that we can live in peace with all religions. But as Bill Maher pointed out in his televised argument with actor Ben Affleck, “One reason they (Muslims) don’t get exposed is because they’re afraid to speak out because it’s the only religion that acts like the mafia that will f****** kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book. There’s a reason why Ayaan Hirsi Ali needs bodyguards 24/7 …”
After the Paris shooting Bill Maher also tweeted: “Condemning attack is not enuf: unless U strongly endorse the right of anyone to make fun of any religion/prophet, U r not a moderate Muslim.”
Bill Maher has been widely trusted and looked to as an apologist for liberal doctrine, so his words carry weight in today’s America.
Christianity has been mocked so many times it becomes pointless trying to name them all, but here is one stunning example of current hypocrisy in the media when it comes to defaming Christianity: for years, the Associated Press has had in its photo library Andre Serrano’s “Piss Christ” image – a photograph of a crucifix submerged in a jar of the photographer’s own urine. (I can’t even describe my revulsion at typing these words.)This, apparently, is fine and dandy, oh-so-cutting-edge, and a terrific example of free speech. The Associated Press is refraining, however, from running any cartoon that mocks the prophet Muhammad. “It’s been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images,” AP spokesman Paul Colford told BuzzFeed. The AP has just removed the offending Serrano image after the Washington Times called them on this lack of editorial continuity.
Really? Can I get an “Amen” in begging both our elected politicians and our press for some shred of consistency and common sense when it comes to Islamic terrorism?
Apparently in today’s politically correct landscape, brotherly love is only available to some brothers – usually those who 1) we don’t understand, or, 2) hate us. This political, social, and media-driven liberal tendency to offer unearned, unjustified love may prove to put us in an increasingly vulnerable position when it comes to our safety, both at home and abroad. And it may just be America’s undoing.
Deirdre Reilly has written one humor book, and authored a syndicated family life column for Gatehouse Media for 13 years. She has won a Massachusetts Press Award for humor, her op-eds have been published in the Boston Herald and The Hartford Courant, and she has had short fiction published in literary journals. Deirdre was raised in Columbia, Md., and now lives outside Boston, Ma. She enjoys outdoor pursuits, and is obsessed with the care and happiness of a retired carriage horse named Nello that she bought for a few hundred dollars on a menopausal whim.