So, the world suffered yet another terrorist attack a couple of days ago in Paris. Six separate but coordinated attacks conducted against targets like a soccer match, a concert hall, restaurants and cafes. They killed 129 people (so far) and wounded over 350 others and the only common denominator amongst the victims was that they were citizens of a western democracy and they were out to have a good time. In other words, they weren’t attending some anti-Muslim rally or reading a newspaper whose comic section poked fun at some subject militant Muslims get all shooty/stabby/explodey about. There’s a fair chance, in fact, that some of the dead people were Muslims themselves. The targeting was deliberate; the slaughter of victims indiscriminate. As happens in the now wired, always in touch, constantly connected world we live in, when the first news reports started showing up minutes after the attacks started, I reacted in the same way that the vast majority of people did. I said, “goddamned Muslims again”. It happened back on 9/11 as well. First reports of a jet liner hitting the World Trade Center made me think “Osama Bin Laden” but I wasn’t fully there yet. But when the second one hit, it was cemented. One plane could be a tragic accident but a second one was an attack and the first person most people immediately thought of was Bin Laden: the leader of the most well known Islamic terrorist organization in the world at the time. If you were old enough to remember that attack, you’ll probably also be old enough to recall that a second possible perpetrator of that kind of horrific mass murder never even came to mind. Fast forward to this past Friday and the same thing happened. First thought to pop into my head: Muslims. There literally wasn’t a second place runner up finalist and I suspect the vast majority of people reacted exactly the same way.
So, militant Islamic fundamentalist terror has struck yet again. It’s happened so many times now that it literally defies an accurate accounting of incidents. France immediately reacted by shutting down international transportation and closed her borders. That’s how a nation state reacts when it starts to go on a war footing. Because ISIS (those merry Muslim assholes who are slaughtering and terrorizing their way to a better and brighter Islamic tomorrow in what used to be Syria and Iraq) claimed responsibility for the attacks, France immediately counter punched the only way a nation state can: it launched a military attack against targets in the areas that ISIS controls. However, we all know that this is merely symbolic and that this response, while absolutely necessary to sate the righteous desire of the French people for some kind of vengeful action, will do absolutely nothing to prevent more such attacks in the future. NOTHING about this French response makes anyone anywhere actually think “well, we’ve seen the last of THAT kind of murderous madness”. We all know it’s just a tit for tat response and an ineffective one at that…but it’s the only thing a nation can do…and it’s inadequate. So today, if you turn on the TV, this issue is morphing from a news flash/current events kind of incident to a catalyst for a debate on “what to do about terrorism” and more properly, “what to do about Islamic terrorism”. One of the most compelling questions I read (via Facebook) was someone asking (and I’m paraphrasing here) “what can we do about this kind of thing without destroying civil liberties”. When I read that, it made me really think. Just asking about the peril to civil liberties suggests why we have, so far, been unable to affect Islamic terrorism. I think I understand the problem and I think I have an answer.
We (western democracies) can’t fix Islamic terrorism…but I know who can.
Whenever anyone starts to discuss Islamic fundamentalist terrorism the very first thing you’ll hear is how we can’t penalize all Muslims for the actions of a few. According to the mighty Google, there are nearly 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and anywhere from 15% to 25% of them would be classified as “radical” or “fundamentalist”. That means there are as many as 400 million people on this planet who support the erasure of western civilization and culture (because that’s what we are to those people…we’re “infidels” or unbelievers and deserving of death and eradication). That’s more people than the entire population of the United States and Canada combined so it’s a number worth recognizing as posing a serious and continual threat. Furthermore, those 1.6B and 400M people aren’t confined to a tidy geographic area like a nation with borders. They’re scattered throughout the world. Yes, there are roughly 50 nations whose populations are predominantly Muslim but for the most part you can find Muslims and by extension radicalized, militant Muslims all over the world. As of right now, the number of terrorists who conducted the actual attacks in Paris is EIGHT. On 9/11, it was NINETEEN and Al Qaeda tried to send TWENTY SIX in total. That’s it. Eight attackers in Paris and nineteen on 9/11. Think on this a moment: less than 30 people actively conducted attacks against the United States and France in those two incidents…and there are FOUR HUNDRED MILLION SUCH PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. September 11 revealed gaping intelligence holes and since then, our government has gone on a rampage of establishing invasive and onerous intelligence programs designed to get wind of future such attacks so that we can pre-emptively act to thwart them. Paris itself was attacked less than a year before by Islamic terrorists though and, presumably, France has similar efforts set up to monitor communications and try to identify and neuter such sinister efforts by would be terrorists. Western governments share information they gather and France would have received such information had national intelligence organs in the UK, US, Germany and other western nations twigged to an upcoming attack. The fact that France was caught totally unawares says that these terrorists met, plotted and coordinated in a way that was mindful of skirting the intelligence apparatuses of the western democracies. There was no acquired intelligence that any government was capable of gathering that would have warned French authorities in time to prevent these attacks. This leads to the conclusion:
Western governments and government in general is not the source for the solution to Islamic terrorism.
Earlier I identified the civil liberties conundrum: a government cannot pass laws or regulations that target all Muslims in their populations without shredding civil liberties laws. That said, that WOULD BE THE ONLY EFFECTIVE MEANS FOR A GOVERNMENT TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM. It would look something like this: label Islam as a hate group (much like the KKK which has Christian underpinnings), overtly make clear that national intelligence and police organs are actively keeping an eye on Muslims (like the FBI does with white supremacist groups and members), emplace and enforce laws that allow greater police latitude in dealing with such groups and members (relaxing 14th Amendment restrictions against unlawful searches, for example) and so on. The problem is that to do this, you pretty much have to shred the 1st Amendment’s prohibition about making any laws restricting the free exercise of religion. This, of course, cannot be done. So, if government can’t do the job, who can? Well, think a moment: who stands to lose the most if Islamic terrorism goes unchecked? Not western democracies because once fundamentalist Islam gets big enough to actually threaten the existence of nations, they get big enough to get dealt with militarily. Not the suicide terrorists themselves. They’ve already accepted death as their ultimate reward for their actions.
The real player who must act in their own self interest against fundamentalist Islam…is the rest of Islam itself.
The lack of electronic intelligence that preceded this attack means that the plotters likely met in person, probably many times, to scheme and plan their villainy. Western intelligence organs already know this (especially the French) but for the rest of society: where can a bunch of Muslims meet, talk, go someplace secluded in our midst where they can exchange ideas for how best to slaughter their neighbors without fear of being detected or leaving a telltale electronic trail? Their local mosque. In fact, authorities have already identified a mosque in Belgium where, they say, most attendees were radical, fundamentalist Muslims. This means that the would be terrorists do a fair amount of their organizing and plotting within the confines of their local mosque…in close proximity to other, non-radical Muslims. Thinking about your own church (for those of you who go) we all know the “normal” folk and we all know who the quiet, distanced, or angry and strident members are. We know who are new attendees and who are old familiar faces. In other words, the rest of the attendees would have a fairly good idea who, in their midst, would be likely to be plotting mayhem and mass murder. The real issue then is: what can government or society in general do to encourage moderate Muslims to police their own ranks and out these murdering bastards before they strike? The answer would be: when society in general comes to regard ALL Muslims as criminals and terrorists and shuns them and excludes them accordingly. In other words, when society begins to discriminate against all Muslims because of the actions of a few of their number. And this WILL end up happening eventually. Just because our leaders are so concerned with political correctness that they refuse to identify our foe doesn’t mean that individuals in society who do won’t eventually become the majority. A Charlie Hebdo cartoonist draw a series of panels on Instagram this past Friday night (same night as the attacks) and he said in part in one panel “Terrorism is not the enemy. Terrorism is a mode of operation. Repeating ‘we are at war’ without finding the courage to name our enemies leads nowhere.” This is a fundamental truth: we cannot begin to act against those who would deny us our freedoms and our lives if we can’t even collectively scrounge up the testicular fortitude to point at our victimizer. What needs to be understood is this: there are still too many among us that are willing to trade insipid Tweets or Facebook posts or leave flowers or a teddy bear or a burning candle in a pile on the ground and think that such will do a single damn thing about the problem. The time for “saying a prayer” or “standing with” the victims or our leaders “deploring” or being “shocked” and every other single inane and ultimately useless statement or gesture needs to come to an end. Substituting grim and resolute action with inanities and symbolism only says to the terrorists, “you haven’t yet slaughtered enough of us for us to get around to dealing with you effectively”. It’s us saying “the lives of the victims didn’t matter because we’re not outraged enough to effectively and seriously act”. More people need to die for us as a collective society to actually act.
The solution, then, is to act individually.
It’s time to quit being cowed by those who would call a person a “racist” or an “Islamophobe” for deciding to shun or avoid the company of Muslims because they (the Muslims being shunned) refuse to collectively act to police their own community. It’s time for the rest of us to effectively say “if you refuse to scour your community for these assholes and serve them up to our collective societal justice system, then you’re condoning their actions…agreeing with what they’re doing…and in so doing, you’ve decided to side with them against the rest of us”. For myself, if someone sides against me, they’ve pretty much removed themselves from my social circle and I need have nothing to do with them. I write this having friends who are Muslims and this troubles me for saying it. But the point at which society will finally, collectively act will cost too much in the lives of past, and worse future, victims for me to wait. If you’re Muslim and you’re reading this: I’m sorry. So very sorry. But Muslim voices ARE and have been silent on this. You practically never hear about a terror plot being foiled by other Muslims coming out and reporting the would be killers of innocents. You know who those people are in your community and your silence is their cloak of anonymity. They actively use you and yours as shields to their activities…and you allow it. This is a choice YOU need to make: side with our collective society and act to protect it…or side with them. You are best positioned to do this. It’s finally time you stepped up and took responsibility.
My name is Euroranger and I approved this post.