reflections of a pragmatic optimist, lover of freedom

Category: Syria

Horror in Paris

I took to Twitter in the aftermath of November 13th’s horrific, barbaric Jihadist attacks on Paris and her people, rather than posting here. To my resigned dismay, I am at a loss to see what more can be said at this point, or what will change the state of deep denial about such things that we seem to be stuck in. It’s excruciating watching this horror recur so predictably, and I wonder, as I have for so very long now, what it will take for the West to wake up, stop making excuses for Jihadist atrocities, and really and truly stand up for its values.

The Charlie Hebdo massacre, less than a year ago, should have been more than enough to make that happen — as, to be honest, should any of the innumerable prior acts of Jihad against the West. Much of the world briefly united, declaring “Je suis Charlie!” in a sincere but symbolic defiance and resolve that evaporated after a time, ultimately returning us to our slumber. This time around, it was “Cette fois, c’est la guerre.” But that sentiment, too, has already faded, and it’s unclear to me that it will have any lasting consequence for our actions. Before the day was over, the usual suspects in the press were dutifully reinforcing The Narrative, wringing their hands about mythical anti-Muslim backlash that fits their perpetually low opinion of their countrymen, rebranding a deliberate, premeditated atrocity as a “tragedy”, and generally doing the enemy’s propaganda job for them. We’re back to rearranging the deck chairs. We’ve learned (or have we?) that “Holding hands for a feel-good photo opp. gets us nowhere in the fight against terrorism.” “In a month most of Europe will be back to giving cultural sensitivity training and talk of ‘war’ will be forgotten.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

As has been rightly said before: It’s not a wake-up call, if we go back to sleep. Mark Steyn’s reflection on the Paris attacks was among the most apt: The Barbarians are Inside, and There Are No Gates. James Delingpole’s assessment was likewise on target.

Whether or not we are interested in war with Jihadis, they have made quite clear, time and time again, that they are profoundly interested in war with us. Dreamy-eyed insistence on “peace” in the face of acts of war (which the iconic Eifel-Tower-recast-as-peace-sign graphic that circulated in the wake of the attacks seems to ask for) is an act of pure, blind surrender. Honestly, “It must be incredibly frustrating as an Islamic terrorist not to have your views and motives taken seriously by the societies you terrorize, even after you have explicitly and repeatedly stated them. … It’s like a bad Monty Python sketch” — one that would be funny, if the consequences weren’t so grave. It no doubt comes as quite a devastating surprise to ISIS that they are “not Islamic”.

“We in the West have reached such a low in self-esteem that we do the job of defeating ourselves even better than the enemy,” noted Allen West. Make no mistake, that low in self-esteem is by design — the result of dedicated work by many, over a long period of time. It’s been wrought by people who sincerely believe that we are worse than our enemies.

I’ve pleaded for an end to this willful blindness, as have others with far greater eloquence, dedication, and courage. By now, we’ve been shown more than enough to be able to see that shunned and vilified critics of the Islamic world like Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Tarek Fatah, Brigitte Gabriel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and others have been right to sound the alarm. “Tolerance” is all well and good in theory, but “When tolerance becomes a one-way street, it leads to cultural suicide.” You can’t tolerate people whose chief ambition in life is to kill you.

Below was the scene in the Bataclan Theater, where people were gunned down and tortured by having their stomachs slit open, where survivors pleaded for the lives of their loved ones and waited helplessly as tens of minutes went by, wondering whether they and theirs would be next to be systematically murdered by Jihadis who stood there, methodically reloading without any apparent fear of being stopped. It grieves me to have to post something like this. There is a temptation to look away. We mustn’t. This is the face and work of an enemy that will not relent until we decisively confront and unconditionally subdue its murderous, bloodthirsty army. This is utterly barbaric. There is no excuse for it. We must at long last find the moral courage to commit to decisive actions that match our ephemeral and easily uttered words of defiance, or those words will have had no meaning.

Fourteen Years Later: 9/11 Links

If you read but one memorial page: 9/11: Never Forget, Never Give In

If you watch but one slideshow: America Attacked: 9/11

Victory Girls Blog: Remembering the 9/11 Jumpers

Parents Had No Idea What Happened to Their Son on 9/11. Then They Read the Words ‘Red Bandana’

New York Times editorial page, of all places, points out that our lack of action on Syria has been a disaster.

ISIL haunts 9/11 anniversary: 14 years ago, Americans learned they can’t ignore the terror of extremists. Did we? Seemingly not.

9/11, Thirteen Years On

Another 9/11 has rolled around. And while the grief and anger are still there, and we have renewed cause for concern this year in the rise of ISIS/ISIL, I find that my feelings seem not particularly more pronounced on this day relative to any other. The problems that we are obliged to squarely face endure, and are relevant every day of the year, not just on anniversaries of the September 11th, 2001 Jihadist attacks on the United States.

The sickening brutality of ISIS/ISIL and its ideological fellow travelers such as Boko Haram has been something for the world to behold. If we cannot now see with complete clarity what these scumbags are about, I don’t know what it will take. The fact of things as I see it is that ISIS/ISIL are but a particularly awful symptom, one that is enabled and allowed to exist only to the extent that we lack the resolve to call them what they are and commit ourselves unreservedly to their complete and unconditional defeat.

The broader, underlying problem we face is an erosion of cultural confidence, and I’m sad to say it’s the predictable result of decades of steady, dedicated work by many among us — people whose aim has been to demoralize us and gradually chisel away at the foundations of our belief in who we are and the way that we live. An event such as 9/11 should have brought us to our senses, it seems to me, and brought an end to that idle self-doubt, seemingly born of boredom with years of relative safety and security. But I’ve been proven more wrong in that expectation than in any other of my life. Rather than have a change of heart, our cultural termites dug in and continued their toil. It makes no sense to me to see a culture of great achievement, worthy of celebration and of a strident and confident defense, in such willful and sometimes self-recriminating denial about the threats posed to it. But there it is. It’s an aspect of human nature that I suspect I will continue to struggle to understand for many years to come.

I do feel I’ve made progress, though, in casting off the shadow of gloom this past year and a half or so. It feels as if my thinking has shifted to a point of: OK. So that’s how it is. What are you going to do about it?

Our present condition is not cause to sit in idle resignation. It’s cause to get up, dust ourselves off, and fix the things that matter. And despite all the potential reasons for gloom, I’m doing it with gratitude in my heart, a cheerful demeanor, and a smile on my face — because I’ve learned that no matter what, one cannot allow others to drive him to despair. To have hope of prevailing, we must maintain a steady and undaunted focus on all that is positive in our love for what we hold dear. We must make that love stronger, more resilient, and more lasting than our enemies’ bitterness, brutality, and hate. It’s what I’ve been striving to do, and aim to continue to do, with The No Fear Pioneer (so please give a listen, and stay tuned for more to come).


That’s it for now. As in previous years, I may follow up with some links and quotes later, as I read good work by others. Below are links to my previous years’ 9/11 posts, including the 2009 retelling of my own peripheral but deeply affecting experience of that awful day. As before, I pledge myself never to forget — nor misremember. May we find our way to better times.

My Previous Years’ 9/11 Posts

2013: 9/11, Twelve Years On

2012: 9/11, Eleven Years On

2011: A Plea, Ten Years After: Please, Open Your Eyes ~ Ten Years Later: 9/11 Links

2010: 9/11: Two Songs

2009: Tomorrow is 9/11 ~ My Experience of September 11, 2001 ~ 9/11 Quotes

2008: 9/11, Seven Years On ~ 9/11, Seven Years On, Part 2 ~ 102 Minutes that Changed America

2007: 9/11, Six Years On

2006: Soon, Time Again to Reflect ~ 9/11 Observances ~ 9/11 Observances, Part 2

2005: I Remember

2004: Remembering and Rebuilding (republished here September 12th, 2014)

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