France’s Socialist President, Francois Hollande, didn’t mince words about who was responsible for the deadly terrorist attack against the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. “We are at war with radical Islam,” Hollande declared.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama seemed to have trouble assessing blame for the terrorist attack in downtown Paris. Although he blamed terrorists, he failed to mention their extreme religious ideology. Neither Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris for an international conference, bothered to attend a mass demonstration that attracted more than 40 world leaders to denounce terrorism and violence. The White House issued a half-hearted apology.
Journalists issued clarion calls for press freedom using the slogan, “We are Charlie Hebdo.” But New York Times token conservative columnist David Brooks demurred in a column titled, “I Am Not Charlie Hebdo.” “It’s inaccurate for most of us to claim, ‘I am Charlie Hebdo,’” Brooks wrote, “because most of us don’t engage in the sort of deliberately offensive humor that newspaper specializes in.” Brooks opined if Charlie Hebdo had tried to publish on an American university campus over the past two decades, “It wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds” because student and faculty groups would have accused them of “hate speech.” So much for free speech.
Nationally syndicated conservative columnist Michelle Malkin went even further, accusing the mainstream media of journalistic hypocrisy. Referring to a New York Times editorial defending free speech, Ms. Malkin noted the Times refuses to publish any of the allegedly offensive cartoons that provoked the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo.
“We do not normally publish images or other material deliberately intended to offend religious sensibilities,” the Times explained, but Ms. Malkin pointed out the Times “blithely published a Catholic-bashing photo of the Virgin Mary covered in elephant dung and defended the taxpayer-funded ‘Piss Christ’ exhibit.”
All of this looks like a flagrant double standard to me. We’re supposed to tread lightly when writing about or commenting on radical Islam, but Christians and Jews are fair game. Anything goes. “The Religion of Perpetual Outrage hates all infidels for all reasons for all time,” Ms. Malkin added. “The targeting of Mohammed cartoonists is a convenient excuse to feed the eternal flame of radical Islamists’ hatred of the West.” She concluded by asserting “press pontificators . . . demand that the rest of us pledge fealty to their selective multi-cultural sensitivities lest we be branded as ‘Islamophobes.’”
“Whether we recognize it or not, we are in a state of war openly declared,” wrote my Paris-based friend, journalist/songwriter Jack Robinson, whom I replaced at the Carson City AP bureau in 1962. He went on to note “60 percent of France’s prison population are Muslims who are being cajoled into thinking they’ll fall into the arms of 72 virgins in Heaven if they carry out atrocities in the name of Allah here on Earth.” Well said.
Amb. Marc Ginsberg, a Mideast scholar and former U.S. envoy to Morocco, called for an end to hand-wringing about the root causes of terrorism. Noting Atty. Gen. Holder has advocated an attack on the underlying causes of Islamic radicalism, Ginsberg asked, “Isn’t that what we’ve been doing, obviously ineffectively, for the past 14 years?” The Obama administration’s answer to this question will be a February White House conference on extremism (not Islamic extremism). Oh good, another boring conference featuring the usual Washington, D.C. suspects mouthing endless platitudes.
Let’s stop sugar-coating this issue and call it by its real name: Islamic radicalism or more accurately, Islamo-fascism.
Guy W. Farmer is a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer.