After Paris: No more politeness, the time for action is at hand

Once again alarm bells are ringing throughout the West.

The terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the subsequent huntdown and elimination of the perpetrators indeed gets attention – especially media attention.

Conservatives are saying the equivalent of “I told you so.” Bluntly, their concerns have proved valid, not racist Islamaphobia.

Liberals are offering dithering equivalents of “Don’t overreact.” And, as always, there is an undertone intimation that Charlie Hebdo was playing Russian-roulette with its satirical-style provocation of Islamic fanatics with its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The same platitudes are burbled: “Islam is a religion of peace”, poverty/social deprivation has caused these attacks; etc.

Enough already.

The time for fibrillation has passed; the time for action is at hand.

Opposing viewpoint: David Kilgour

Different cultures are best served by more understanding, not hatred

First, we must accept that we are at war. A long, brutal war is in the offing, during which we will have a substantial reservoir of citizens that hate our societies nested firmly within them. Your standard Islamist simply believes that Western societies, with their emphasis on free speech, religious toleration, gender (including LGBT) equality and democratic exchanges are Satanic.

We have bent over backwards not to “overreact” there has never been an equivalent of World War II concentration camps for Japanese citizens bruited about for Muslims. Instead, we have coddled our Muslim citizens (and in France created the equivalent of “no-go” zones in various parts of the country that now holds over six million Muslims in its 66 million population).

The reaction in these communities has been mixed at best. In WWII, Japanese males rushed to defend the United States; they were “Americans” and Japan their enemy. They fought heroically to prove their patriotism even while family and friends were in concentration camps. Today it is far different. There is no substantial Muslim-Islamic presence in our armed forces (and several instances in which Muslims turned their weapons on fellow soldiers). If not silent, the mullahs damn Islamic terrorism with faint damns. One retains the impression that their hearts are not in their remonstrations, that they offer sops to Cerberus, lip-service rather than real service. And that they would happily accept a sharia-controlled North America.

This is certainly true in France, where the ability of the terrorists to obtain AK-47s and at least one BMP grenade launcher could not have gone unnoticed in their community. These are not trivial, improvised weapons, nor should anyone assume it was unique to this terrorist cell. But who said anything to police?

Once again, we face the conundrum between security and freedom. I, for one, vote for security and defiance:

We need to reinstitute laws removing citizenship for any naturalized citizen that fights for a foreign entity, whether the Israeli Defense Forces or ISIS;

We need to ban travel to conflict areas: Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan;

Any U.S. resident identified as participating in conflict abroad should be seized and subjected to a minimum of 15 years incarceration when apprehended (15 might temper the passions of youth);

• Surveillance of the internet must be intensified, “sting” operations need be expanded, individuals with Islamic proclivities identified, arrested, and incarcerated. Bad words equal bad deeds. Individuals on associated “watch” or “no fly” lists need to be located and incarcerated.

The multi-million-person Paris-style Je suis Charlie march was a feckless “feel good” exercise. There yesterday, gone today, terrorist attack tomorrow.  

Will these actions restrict freedom? Yes, but most such regulations were the norm in the past. I would rather see freedoms restricted than attend funerals of those killed by fanatics. The Israeli state has decided that it can live with an Arab minority and a Palestinian West Bank population but only under intense controls. Is it fun to be an Arab Israeli or a West Bank Palestinian? No, but it is a lot safer to be an Israeli than was the case during and after the intifadas. And Israel remains the most democratic, human rights respecting state in the region.

The multi-million-person Paris-style Je suis Charlie march was a feckless “feel good” exercise. There yesterday, gone today, terrorist attack tomorrow. What is essential is to end our cowardly self-censorship. With few exceptions, North American publishers religiously avoid publishing satirical cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad. There are scores of rationalizations including avoiding gratuitous offense to a sensitive minority  but the essential reason is pure, cowardly concern that an Islamic fanatic cares less for your life (or his) than you do.    

Every media outlet  newspaper, Internet blog, Twitter account, YouTube video  needs to include a daily satirical cartoon featuring the Prophet Muhammad. Free speech dies when only safe targets are chosen.

We need to wake up and smell the sewerage.

(Photo courtesy AP Canada)

David T. Jones is a retired State Department Senior Foreign Service Career Officer who has published several hundred books, articles, columns, and reviews on U.S. - Canadian bilateral issues and general foreign policy. During a career that spanned over 30 years, he concentrated on politico-military issues, serving as advisor for two Army Chiefs of Staff. He has just published Alternative North Americas: What Canada and the United States Can Learn from Each Other.