By Jonathon Van Maren
It’s happened again—and who, really, is surprised? Ottawa, Colorado, Paris, and Paris once more—even the apocalyptic Mark Steyn could only write a column of resigned anger, betraying a palpable fatigue and an underlying worry that these sporadic explosions of bloodshed are simply now the way things are. French President Francois Hollande didn’t even looked shocked as he promised that France was now at war—and that it “would be pitiless.” A commitment made in justified anger. One only hopes it will outlast the new round of slacktivist hashtags.
After all, the French have been dealing with fast-growing and resolutely unassimilated Muslim population for years now. I recall being quite shocked when I arrived in Paris for Bastille Day in 2006. The crowds were cheerful, the Eiffel Tower was lit up spectacularly against the black cityscape, and armored vehicles rumbled down the cobbled streets, accompanied by machinegun-toting French security forces. There had been riots recently, a young Frenchman explained. Young, angry immigrants demanding more from a system they had no desire to contribute to. Thus the tanks and the guns and the soldiers, ensuring that Paris could still celebrate its freedom.
The reaction of the press has been tiresome, too. Amid the red, white and blue profile pictures stretching through my newsfeed are dozens of left-wing editorials reminding us not to blame this new massacre on Muslims, blaming the attacks on the West’s colonial misadventures in the Middle East, and even complaining that the petulant children launching their stupid protests at universities across America are having their demands ignored by the press, who are now preoccupied with the sight of bullet-ridden Frenchmen bleeding in the streets of Paris.
And then there’s the gallons of ink being spilt to assure us that terrorist attacks and the massive influx of migrants from the war-torn terrorist breeding grounds of Syria and Iraq are completely unrelated. Why is it so impossible to find a nuanced position after such horrors? Surely we can admit that while there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Syrians fleeing violence and who simply want a safe place to sleep, there are many others taking advantage of what is surely one of the largest mass migrations in recent history. Only an ideological fanatic would deny that ISIS and other groups who seek to make events like the Paris massacre a regular feature of European life are not seeking to infiltrate and join the migrant masses streaming into Europe via every imaginable mode of transportation.
The Left’s reaction to these religiously motivated murders is always strange. What common cause, one has to ask, do they find with a group of people who are anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-everything the Left stands for? If it were militant and misguided Christians who were gunning down concert attendees, we all know how the media would react, and we all know what the Left would say. Christians reject Islam because we believe it to be a false religion. That the Left is so defensive of Islam, often to the point of rejecting various violent manifestations of it as “not the real Islam,” is another of progressive ideology’s confusing paradoxes.
Indeed, the response of one artist from Charlie Hebdo, the satirical rag that saw much of its staff murdered by jihadists in January, was to beg the world not to pray for Paris. Religion, the cartoonist wrote, was the problem to begin with. “Our faith goes to music! Kisses! Life! Champagne and joy!” she wrote. As I wrote just after the January massacre, not only do we have no idea how to respond to these atrocities, we no longer even have a worldview capable of understanding and responding to the threat we face.
It reminded me of a brilliant column I read some time ago, titled “Europe is Partying Like It’s 1939.” Bemoaning the castrated reaction by European leaders to terrorist atrocities perpetrated within their borders, Kurt Schlicter asked where prescient men like Winston Churchill are today:
The blood of the likes of Charles Martel no longer runs in the veins of today’s café-dwelling Europeans. They sip coffee and their (excellent) wine and, in Spain, drink their bizarre cerveza/lemonade and rioja/Coca-Cola combinations, oblivious to what’s coming. Perhaps it’s mere ignorance, perhaps it’s a choice. It will end the same way regardless—in blood. When the time comes to choose between picking up a rifle and dying, we’ll find out if the human instinct for self-preservation has successfully been bred out of the men of Europe. I know where I’m putting my money…
Who in Europe today is crying, “To arms, to arms”? Who in Europe has been urging its people to take their own side in this fight? Who has been standing up against the new anti-Semitism? Instead of fighting, they choose to toss the Jews to the wolves, hoping this means they will be eaten last. In Europe today, Chamberlain II is a best-case scenario.
Assuming they even realize their danger, are they counting on America? On Barack Obama? Better they should simply pray—and there are plenty of churches, all empty except for tourists clicking photos of past glories, in which to do so.
Human nature hasn’t changed one iota. Thugs like Vladimir Putin and Islamofascists like ISIS understand the bloody mathematics of power in the way the espresso-sippers refuse to. Ukraine will fall. The Baltics will fall. Turkey will fall. The Balkans will fall. Europe will fall.
This is the fiesta before the storm, and Europe is busy partying like it’s 1939. These are the New Wilderness Years, except this time the bad guys are going to win.
Whether or not Europe is finally ready to stand up and wage war against their enemies like Francois Hollande has promised, they already know they cannot count on Barack Obama, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to pull Canadian fighter jets out of the fray against ISIS. When I spoke to 95-year-old Holocaust survivor and member of the British House of Lords George Weidenfeld some time ago about his mission to rescue Christians from the genocide unfolding in the Middle East, he unexpectedly and bluntly laid the blame for much of what is going on at Barack Obama’s doorstep. While he was uncomfortable criticizing a foreign leader, Lord Weidenfeld told me, it was the palpable weakness of Obama that had helped create the hellscape of today’s Middle East.
When we cannot even discuss the religious motivations of murderers without being called racist, we have no resolve. When we look at the barbarism of ISIS and refuse to respond with force, we have no resolve. When we cannot ask if jihadists may be piggybacking the Middle Eastern migration into Europe, we have no resolve. And when we respond to machine gun fire and blood running through the streets with a tip of a brimming wine glass and a declaration that we will live on as if there were no threat at all, we have already ceded defeat.