No more flags of foreign countries posted on Facebook in a spirit of solidarity. No more empathic Twitter hashtags. No more empty statements by heads of government declaring that “the terrorists have failed in their effort to turn us against one another.” No more equally empty statements by other heads of government expressing their own country’s support for “our ally in its time of grief.” No more calls for love in the face of hate, or candlelight processions as a response to murder. No more clicking of tongues and shaking of heads over the horrible loss of life—as if people had died in a one-off natural disaster, a hurricane or tornado or tsunami—followed, after a few days, by a return to normal. Until the next time, of course.
No more attempts to psychologically analyze every new jihadist—to probe his troubled family or professional life in an attempt to figure out what “turned him to violence and extremism.” No more reflexive reassurances that “this has nothing to do with Islam,” that a handful of bad guys have “hijacked” a “peaceful” faith, and that “the great majority of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims are, of course, peace-loving people who utterly reject this kind of action.” No more slick pivoting to the subject of gun control, or American homophobia, or whatever other diversion seems useful under the specific circumstances. No more blaming of Europeans’ supposed failure to accept or embrace or integrate or employ Muslims, or of Muslims’ alleged poverty or hopelessness or frustration or alienation.
No more hand-wringing by journalists, as they stand mere yards from the bodies of the dead, about the possible “backlash” against Muslims (which never really materializes). No more declarations by U.S. officials that the mere mention of Islam in connection with Islamic terrorism is “dangerous” and “counterproductive” because it “alienates” the Muslim allies and Muslim communities whose help we need in fighting this problem that we dare not properly name. No more respectful TV interviews with representatives of “Muslim civil-rights organizations” that have been proven over and over again to be fronts for terrorism.
No more outrageous lies by government and media that, almost fifteen years after 9/11, keep so many Americans so outrageously in the dark about the world in which we live now. No more of the despicable day-to-day efforts by the same actors to keep those Americans who do get it in line, to instill in them an unholy fear that, if they dare to address the problem honestly, they’ll be thrust forever out into the dark—beyond the realm of decent society, unacceptable, unemployable, unfriendable. No more societal tyranny by those who (because they’re cowardly, or feel powerless, or have no sense of responsibility to preserve the precious gift of freedom that their own forebears fought and died for and have bequeathed them, or are, inconceivably, unconcerned about the world their own children and grandchildren will inhabit) treat as enemies not those who seek to destroy them but those who dare to speak the truth about it.
No more ignorance. A couple of weeks ago, Adam Carolla recorded his podcast—one of the most popular on the Internet—before an Amsterdam audience. Carolla, an Angeleno, asked locals about life in the Netherlands. They painted a thoroughly rosy picture. He asked about religion. They depicted a near-utopian secular country free of reactionary faith. Poof! Down the memory hole went Pim Fortuyn, Theo Van Gogh, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Geert Wilders. And Carolla didn’t challenge any of it. Then, just the other day, in an interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast (which is even bigger than Carolla’s), gay conservative Milo Yiannopoulos served up some basic facts that everybody in the U.S. would know by now if the mainstream media were doing its job—facts about the levels of Muslim rape in Sweden, about the scale of antigay animus in Muslim communities, and about the systematic efforts by European governments to obscure these and other ticklish matters. Rogan, who is no fool, and who has interviewed hundreds of people in an effort to educate himself about the world, was shocked by all of it. (“Wow! Wow! Wow!”)
In the years after 9/11, major acts of Islamic terrorism in the West seemed to come along every year or so, leaving plenty of time in between to go back to pretending that everything was fine and to resume mouthing benign platitudes. Now they’re happening so often, one right on top of the other, that we can hardly keep track of them. The only upside is that it’s getting harder and harder to maintain that pretense.
The time for shock is over. The time for heaping up flowers and candles and stuffed animals at the sites of atrocities is over. The lies and ignorance and cravenness must end, and the simple facts must be faced. The free, civilized West has, for years now, been the target of a war of conquest—a war waged in many forms (of which terrorism is only one) by adherents of a religion that preaches submission, intolerance, and brutality, and our leaders and media, with few exceptions, continue to play a game whose fatuity, fecklessness, and pusillanimity have become increasingly clear. After Nice, no more.
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