The recent massacre at the Charlie Hebdo publication in Paris struck an unusually profound chord among the French public. There had been other terrorist attacks in France, but with this particular incident, some four million Parisians took to the streets, a public demonstration of solidarity with the victims on a scale not seen since at least WW2. They were demonstrating in solidarity with….what?
Before the massacre, this observer had never even heard of Charlie Hebdo. Upon examination, however, I discovered that this publication did not only lampoon Moslems. The cartoonists on staff also engaged in vulgar caricatures of Christians and Jews. It would seem that Charlie Hebdo was an equal opportunity disparager of established religion of any sort…and it was that which may have formed the core of identification between the Paris street and the slain cartoonists.
It is well-known that church attendance in West European countries is extremely low; it can be fairly said that the native populations of Western Europe are among the least observant in the world, at least outside of states such as Communist China where atheism is vigorously promoted by the government. What do West Europeans believe in? ‘Social justice’? Mostly, it seems, they believe in being comfortable. By and large, they certainly are averse to believing in anything that might require them to do something uncomfortable, such as confronting violent religious zealots in a way that might actually put a stop to this violent terrorism. For the self-styled ‘post-modern’ sophisticates that many Europeans apparently believe themselves to be, religious observance and belief are for chumps and simpletons, people who yearn for a child-like comfort in ‘fairy tales’. This attitude is not unknown here in the U.S.; in an unguarded moment on the campaign trail in 2008, Obama derided “bitter” Americans who were “clinging to their guns and religion”.
This lack of religious belief and commitment among Europeans has created an enormous vacuum; one might say that this is a vacuum of will.
There is nothing more impressive and intimidating to someone who believes in nothing, than someone who very fervently believes in something, to the point where the latter is literally willing to kill and die for said beliefs. It matters not how horrific the nature of the belief system in question; just the fact of this extreme moral and emotional commitment takes on the appearance of a justification of its own in the eyes of the nonbeliever. The casual nonbeliever might look at a suicide bomber, for example, and think to themselves: “What would it take for me to do something like that?? That level of dedication must mean that this person must be somehow justified in what they are doing in some way, and that their cause is somehow right, for how could someone convince themselves to do that otherwise?”
It was different when the terrorists were attacking Israelis; per the European mindset, the Israelis “deserved” this for being “occupiers”. It was different when the terrorists were attacking Jews; that was unfortunate, “…but since we all know the Jews support Israel, and well, look at what Israel is doing, can you really blame them?”
But the terrorists who gunned down the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo were attacking the standard-bearers for the ‘sophisticated’ Europeans who sneered at all who were ‘backward’ enough to take any established religion seriously. With this act, it became clear to Europeans that the terrorists would also target people like themselves, in a very deliberate manner…maybe even while they sipped their lattes and munched on croissants at their favorite bistro.
And so, the Parisians bravely took to the streets. It is not clear what action they were demanding, or if they would ever demand any decisive action against the purveyors of hate who executed their own in cold blood. To this writer, they might as well have been carrying signs that read, “I don’t believe in anything! Except for being comfortable! And sneering at anyone who believes in anything else! So please, oh please crazy terrorists, don’t take offense and don’t hurt me for that!”
The related subsequent attack on a kosher grocery store brought out the French army to guard synagogues and other Jewish institutions, but it would seem that the French authorities would do anything to protect their Jews except the one thing that might even work: supporting Israel (i.e., demonstrating commitment to a countervailing and just cause with a Jewish identity). It was the height of irony that these attacks took place only a week after France had cast a vote on the UN Security Council in favor of establishing a corrupt, apartheid judenfrei terrorist PA state. If there were any clearer demonstration of the irrelevance of the so-called “Palestinian problem” to the fact of Islamist terrorism, I can’t think of any.
One would hope that this event would be a turning point for European leaders, forcing them to reflect on the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy of the policies they have followed up to now with respect to dealing with Islamist-based terrorism in general, and their relations with Israel in particular. However, there have been other incidents of this type before, such as the Danish cartoon incident in 2006, the murder of a Dutch film maker who was critical of Islamic treatment of women, and others. So far, these seemed to have little impact on Europe’s seemingly incorrigible urge towards appeasing Islamist barbarians at the expense of Israel abroad, and even at the expense of the rights and safety of their own citizens at home.
Shouldn’t the Europeans, more than any other people, know that the oldest lesson of history is that appeasement never works? How many more Charlie Hebdos will it take for Europe to wake up to the obvious?
What it will take is for Europeans to really, truly find something to believe in that is worth fighting for about their societies, something larger than their own, individual puny lives, their own state benefits, etc. If they cannot bring themselves to do this – and this may include and even require a return to religion – it is doubtful that they will ever offer effective resistance to the jihadist menace.
January 25, 2015