The shocking events in Paris should come as no surprise. The earlier massacre at the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo achieved strategically all that the Islamic Jihad would have desired. That was the climax of Stage I. Mission accomplished.
Hang on there, you may object. Yes, the massacre was awful, but then Charlie Hebdo had overstepped the bounds of polite discourse. Maybe those cartoonists and writers provoked the attack? This, so the reasoning goes, was a warning to others not to engage in “hate speech”, whatever that is supposed to mean. In Western countries, supposedly the bastions of free speech, the definition has been left in the hands of un-elected quasi-judicial bodies, which are ever-so-sensitive to the hurt feelings of Muslims. As we should recall, the staged march of solidarity on a Paris street by world leaders in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre included not only representatives from Islamic states committed to the advance of Sharia and the elimination of free speech, but also Western leaders, who despite their hypocritical protestations for the occasion had presided over a shrinkage of Western freedoms and values — curtailments of traditional liberties inflicted in the interests of appeasing a vocal and permanently aggrieved minority.
Perhaps even more depressing were the supposed mass demonstrations of solidarity with the slain editors. Instead of holding up cartoons of Muhammed, which would have been a true demonstration of strength and resolve, the crowds displayed meaningless “Je suis Charlie” posters with their drawings of pens. Such a sign of cultural flabbiness was not lost on the hard men in the Islamic world. And when the surviving editors of Charlie Hebdo announced that they would publish no more Muhammed cartoons, Islamists needed no further proof that they had won another round against a crumbling West.
Seen in the context of a longer timeline, the Charlie Hebdo massacre was a mopping-up operation in the Islamists’ cultural and ideological war against Western freedom. Recall that after the Danish newspaper, Jvllands-Posten, published those famous Muhammed cartoons, a coordinated campaign of mass demonstrations (including a riot in Sydney) combined with threats and intimidation convinced the overwhelming majority of media outlets in Western countries that self-censorship was the path to safety. This mass cultural surrender made it all the harder for the West’s few and true defenders of liberty, such as Canada’s Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, who were hauled before quasi-judicial tribunals devoted to fighting “hate speech”. This particular “lawfare” offensive, which sought to use the authority of Canada’s provincial and federal governments to punish and bankrupt those who dare speak their minds, was directly inspired by the complaints, lobbying and influence of Canadian Muslim organisations.
The terrorist horror in Paris is Stage Two of the Islamist assault. The mass Muslim invasion of Europe by so-called refugees from the Middle East is a nightmare for security agencies, which are unable to conduct any meaningful screening for terrorists. Judging by the passport found with his remains, at least one of the Paris butchers arrived in Europe as a recent “refugee”. Allah only knows how many other terrorists and sympathisers seized the opportunity to bring their hatred into the very heartland of the enemy they despise.
French President Francois Hollande has declared war on the Islamic State. Presumably this will entail military action of greater substance than the desultory campaign mounted by the US and allies so far. If the West is induced to take more robust military action, this would be a positive outcome from this atrocity. No doubt, there will be more resources made available to intelligence organizations in all Western countries. Being able to better detect terrorist plots in our midst is critical, but this focus on actions is only half the battle, as it ignores motivation.
The French killed eight terrorists, but only after more than one hundred innocent civilians were slain. Vast resources were deployed, the capital locked down and borders closed. The asymmetrical assault was successful in terms of Islamist goals and objectives. The fact that terrorists were killed or captured is largely irrelevant. Given that he number of aspiring Islamist “martyrs” is legion, the eight lives exchanged for such carnage and turmoil must be considered a winning ratio. Moreover, the latest Paris attack underscores Western vulnerability, which is not only physical but, more important, cultural. Long before France was obliged to declare a state of national emergency, the first since 1945, the West had lost the initial rounds to the Islamic invasion, a defeat abetted by the endorsement of Muslim mass immigration in the name of multiculturalism.
Whether through terrorism or lawfare, the central aim of Islamists is the West’s surrender. Terrorism works precisely because our Islamist enemy believes that we have lost our civilizational confidence and can be expected to renounce our values in return for peace and so-called community harmony.
We must fight back. We must regain territory lost. Tony Abbott’s surrender to the Islamic community on the repeal of Section 18C gained us nothing in terms of increased cooperation in the fight against Islamic terrorism. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull can sound off about the defence of Western freedoms all he likes, but those statements of alleged principle remain no more than hollow words while he continues to lead the government and the party which surrendered so shamefully on the matter of unfettered free speech. Worth noting is Turnbull’s earlier stated opposition to Section 18C — a commitment he immediately repudiated upon attaining the office for which he had so long schemed and plotted. Rather than defend free speech, Turnbull has parroted the familiar and comfortable falsehood that terrorists will never be allowed to succeed in their assault on our values. Oh, yes they have! Who now dares to draw or publish a cartoon of Muhammed? I rest my case. (editor’s note: Quadrant Online re-publishes those cartoons at every possible opportunity, as at left and right. To bowdlerise Sophie Tucker’s immortal quote, stuff ‘em if they can’t take a joke.)
We can talk all day about intelligence, detecting plots and apprehending, as Abbott put it, “the baddies”. But none of that will do the slightest good while Islamists continue to perceive our societies as weak, both culturally and psychologically. A renewed civilizational confidence is our best defence over the longer term.