The first observation may or may not be the most controversial. (The second assuredly won’t be.)
It is this: the West, as it is organized today, seems to want to have the effect of the God Jehovah – almighty protection, for a people that doesn’t prioritize defending itself – without the actual God.
Today’s West is quite determined not to defend itself. Mere common sense and practicality would suggest that the West close itself off, for now, to Muslim migration, and force open predominantly Muslim neighborhoods in the West to active policing and the enforcement of Western access and norms. Among other things, for example, no neighborhoods in a Western nation should be allowed to make the streets unsafe for unveiled women, Jews wearing kippas, gays, or any other demographic group.
It doesn’t matter that not all those who attack gays (or anyone else) on the streets are Muslim. Of course they aren’t. What matters is that being Muslim should not immunize street vigilantes against truthful identification and sanction. The authorities shouldn’t lie to the people at large about the threat to public safety posed by unassimilated, Islamifying neighborhoods.
The basis for making common cause with Muslims should be Muslims in the West understanding and respecting Western norms – not the other way around.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 22, 2016
There is nothing imperialist or “Islamophobic” about this. If Westerners migrated en masse to Muslim countries and demanded that Western ways be accommodated, that could be considered imperialist. But no one’s trying to do that.
Immediately after the Brussels attacks, Hillary Clinton lectured Americans, predictably, that the U.S. response must be “consistent with our values” – as if there is some overriding need to make that point.
But the real question this refrain raises is, What are our values? Are our values a suicide pact? That’s certainly the conclusion one could draw from our paralysis in the face of Islamic extremism in our midst.
Do our values not include the freedom to walk our streets, being who and what we are, without fear of being attacked for it? Notice I didn’t say “safety” is our value. I said freedom to live as who we are.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) March 22, 2016
We could buy some level of safety with submission. But that’s not what we value. We are people who go unveiled. We don’t worship “Allah”; we don’t even believe in him. We are free to believe differently, in peace and without being punished or extorted for it, and almost all of us do.
That is what we value. It’s the purpose and outcome of our set of values. But instead of hardening our way of life to sustain those values, we seem to think we can engage in childish, sentimental displays and ritual incantations, and that will somehow get the attention of…something – what? Who? A deity of some kind? The “Force” from Star Wars? – that will intervene on our behalf to make everything right.
In the wake of the Brussels attacks, the Belgian flag has been invoked in the lighting of iconic structures around Europe. Belgians have comforted each other with allusions to Tintin, their beloved cartoon character, on social media. Tweeps throughout the West sent “love and light” to the Belgians. Belgians – adults – took to the streets of Brussels to write messages and draw flowers and tears and Belgian flags in chalk on the sidewalks.
I certainly don’t begrudge people their symbols of grief. But do Westerners, who pride themselves on skeptical empiricism, think this actually makes a meaningful moral impression on anyone? And if so, whom? Whose actions do they think will be influenced for the better by it?
Believing Christians and Jews have reason, according to the tenets of their faiths, to believe that the God Jehovah will give them the protection they can’t manage for themselves, if they obey His commands. People of both faiths have for centuries lived through peril by this belief, and would count many cases of survival and success as the work of God.
There have been times when Christians or Jews didn’t take precautions they might have taken, precisely because of the values of their faiths. Instead of shooting, they prayed and sang. Perhaps, instead of killing on a massive, preemptive scale, they killed as little as they could manage to, knowing they or their children would have to face the unkilled enemies later. Time after time, the people of faith would say, God rewarded their adherence to the values He commanded them to live by – and not with death; not with release from this mortal coil; but with life, hope, a future.
It’s an important question, in this dynamic of faith, where you decide that you do have to use force or take precautions. Members of the same faith won’t always agree.
But that’s not the real question facing the West today.
The real question is this one. If you don’t believe in the God Jehovah, where does the protection come from, when you try to live, undefended, or non-preemptively, by values that can only triumph if there’s an actual Jehovah backing them up?
The West tries to live as if it can deny Jehovah, but also come under His protection. Frankly, what my eyes see is a ritual of pagan caterwauling each time a new terror attack erupts in our midst. People weep, send each other “love and light,” and draw pictures like children in supervised therapy sessions, while political leaders chant the same incantations over and over again: more surveillance, more unity, more resources, but all consistent with our values, and absolutely no racism, xenophobia, or “Islamophobia” – meaning the one exercise in truthfulness that would make a difference is the thing we must not do.
It might as well be “Baal! Hear and answer! Baal!”
— Le Monde (@lemondefr) March 22, 2016
The second observation is that we had no reason to think Obama’s reaction to the attacks would be anything other than useless. There’s not really any point in embellishing that observation further. Obama called for unity! as if no one had thought of that before. He did “the wave” with Raul Castro at a baseball game. Whatever. Did anyone expect something different?
Allahpundit has a nice wrap-up here. But I would differ with him on one point. Obama has never really been any more engaged or effectual than he attempted to be today. The main thing that’s changed is the sense of observers about his importance. It’s our own minds that have been magnifying the meaning of Obama’s lackadaisical, Delphic utterances for the last seven years. He’s been checked out of our real problems since the beginning.
The third observation is that what the West needs to do is the same thing it needed to do 14 months ago, when Islamic terrorists first mounted a progressive, tactically orchestrated attack in multiple venues across Paris.
We need to settle Syria and Iraq – and now Libya – with as much force as necessary to pacify and contain them. At this point, merely stopping the bleeding has to be the first priority. Therapeutic restoration is for later. Shrieking criticism simply doesn’t matter; there is no defense of the West if we don’t clamp down on the chaos in the Arab nations. There are Muslim nations to make common cause with, but leadership and focus are essential. We can’t lead from behind on this one.
The West needs to relocate its spirit and values. Are we, in fact, weeping children drawing pictures on sidewalks when people blow us up, hoping irrationally that somehow that will ward off further terror? Better to decide that point deliberately, today, than wait for time and the law of the jungle to decide it for us.
The people of the West need to reclaim our own heritage of self-armament and individual dignity and value. The European, Judeo-Christian West is the only civilization that has based itself on the self-armed yeoman, who uses his arms for his purposes first, and must be persuaded to use them for someone else’s. Our civilization cannot be hardened and sustained if it is not built on this yeoman. But if it is built on him, it is hardened already.
The basis for respecting the yeoman and acknowledging his right to arm himself, on his own authority, is acknowledging him as both a repository of moral value, and a moral actor. We’ve become untethered, in our data-fied collectivist age, from the idea of the moral actor.
Which seems to be why we go around chanting about “values,” not as a way to empower the people but as a way to immobilize the people and excuse their governments.
This is a house built on sand. It will not stand.
— Mazel Galerie (@MazelGalerie) March 22, 2016