17 November 2015

After the bloodshed comes the bullshit

As the details of the ghastly attacks in Paris grew clear last week, one thought I had was that this should, at least, build more sympathy for the waves of Syrian refugees who have flooded into Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey (and, to a much lesser extent, into Europe).  Of course Syrians are fleeing a country where the same maniacs who carried out the Paris attacks are running rampant, killing at will, because in many areas they actually rule, not just raid!  How could anyone not be understanding of the human need to get the hell out of a situation like that?

This was na├»ve, of course.  I should know by now that there's no limit to the dishonesty and depravity to which demagogues will sink in the cause of promoting their obsessions.

In Europe, governments are quite rightly increasing security in the wake of the massacre, but the usual rabble-rousers who have been trying for years to turn Europe's Islamic-extremism problem into a "clash of civilizations" have naturally seized on this as well, not at all concerned that success would mean driving hundreds of thousands of victims of ISIS back into its arms.  The refugees themselves seem to understand the problem better than a lot of pundits do -- but then, they come from a place where demagoguery and demonization of "the other" are a lot more common than they are, or are supposed to be, in Europe these days.

If the rabble-rousers succeed in demonizing and alienating the Muslim and Muslim-descended populations of European countries, they will actually make Europe much more vulnerable to terrorism.  Over the years European countries have gotten better and better at thwarting planned terrorist attacks before they happened. The most important factor contributing to these successes is the good relationships most European police departments have built up with the mainstream Muslim communities in Europe. Most Muslims in Europe desperately do not want to see Islamic terror attacks occur -- aside from anything else, such attacks provoke hostility among the general public against the whole Muslim community (and Muslims are just as likely to be victims of the terrorists as anyone else -- one coffee-shop attacked in Paris was owned and staffed by Algerian immigrants). Muslims are often in the best position to get wind of something being planned and tip off the police. If the crazies succeed in turning the fight against terrorism into a general crusade against Muslims and immigrants, the police would likely lose their best tool for learning about attacks and stopping them before they happen.

In the US, 25 state Governors (24 of them Republican) have come out against accepting Syrian refugees, apparently unable to differentiate perpetrators and victims of terrorism if they come from the same region.  Americans sometimes read stories of the US and other countries in the thirties and forties turning away Jews fleeing from Germany, and ask how such a thing could have been possible.  Well, now we know, I guess.

Bizarrely, some Republicans seem obsessed with demanding that Democrats speak certain designated phrases as if they were magical incantations.

The most irresponsible reactions have come from the Christian Right, also amping up the "clash of civilizations" rhetoric in an effort to create the kind of mass feeling of siege and general hysteria in which extremism of all kinds, including theirs, flourishes best (and we're already seeing hysteria turning into action).  Perhaps most disgusting of all are the words of arch-fundies Sean Harris and William Sturm:

STURM: I do not feel pity for a godless society that is now eating the fruit of their own ways. I feel pity for my brothers and sisters who are in Paris who are partakers of this.

HARRIS: Sure, sure. It's hard not to say "You're reaping what you sowed".....

They suggest that the West deserves, or at least will naturally suffer, such attacks because of its acceptance of gays, secularism, and their various other bogeymen.  In this they echo the notorious remarks of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson after 9/11 -- and the words of ISIS's own official statement claiming credit for the Paris attack, which denounced France as the "capital of prostitution and obscenity".  Whether Christian or Muslim, religious extremists are cut from the same cloth -- anyone who doesn't conform to the primitive taboo systems of their barbaric religions is ripe for slaughter.

It must be recognized, of course, that not all religious people are extremists.  Muslim leaders and spokesmen all over the world have vociferously condemned the Paris attacks (found via Progressive Eruptions) and in France, there was this, but as with previous terror attacks, this has gotten much less attention in the US media than it should -- enabling the wingnuts to once again wail that "Muslims won't condemn terrorism" and demand that they do what they are, in fact, already doing.

The thing I'm most thankful for is that our leader right now is President Obama who, rather than indulging in macho posturing and dramatic but ill-thought-out action as irresponsible Republicans would prefer, is continuing the kind of informed and well-considered strategy that offers the best hope of actually defeating ISIS -- letting the Middle Eastern peoples who have the most at stake take the lead in fighting ISIS, while providing tactical support such as airstrikes.  To "bomb the shit out of" vast areas of Iraq and Syria without regard for civilian casualties might be emotionally satisfying, but it would throw away our alliance with the Middle Easterners who have, by far, suffered the most from ISIS's atrocities and are most determined to defeat it, while re-igniting the public sympathy for the terrorists which they have largely lost over the years since 9/11.

John Kerry's words yesterday were very important:  "This is not a clash of civilizations.  These terrorists have declared war against all civilization."  He's showing that the US government understands what is really going on.


Blogger Ahab said...

The callousness, hatred, and willful ignorance of American right-wingers in the wake of the Paris attacks is disturbing. Their inability to distinguish between victim and perpetrator, or between ally and enemy, does not bode well for the struggle against extremism. Let's hope cooler heads prevail.

17 November, 2015 05:09  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Thanks for this post. I've linked to it on my blog.

A short trip around the swamp of T-GOP blogs reveals their ignorance and unAmerican solutions to this complex problem. Yes, rational people are thankful that Mr. Obama is not a hot-headed, shoot first, ask questions later leader. The nutcases, of course, see this as weakness, being unable to understand anything more complex than 1 + 1 = 2.

18 November, 2015 06:00  
Blogger Unknown said...


Egberto is right on the topic here.

22 November, 2015 16:52  

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