First off, sorry for the no-posts – I was out of town for a week, so I’m a little behind the commentary curve here. On the other hand, it gave me time to better digest things – and see what everyone else is saying. And what everyone else is saying appears wrong to at least some degree.
Let us clear one thing up: we are afraid. All of us. We are all afraid of the radical Islamists. It would be the height of stupidity not to be afraid of them. They kill people at the drop of a hat, for crying out loud. Of course you’re afraid of people like that. I’m sure my dad was afraid of the Germans and the Japanese in 1944. Here’s the thing, though – in response to this terrible, heart-rending fear of what the Germans and the Japanese might do, he joined the United States Marine Corps. At the age of 17, I should add – you know, in our terms that means he was 9 years shy of being an adult. Still joined up. There were bad people out there who wanted to do horrible things to all my father held dear – his mother and his father and his brothers and his sisters and his country. Off he went. Fortunately to come back alive. A bit north of 330,000 men just like him – who were also afraid – didn’t come back.
That was a different America, of course. In 2015, we are seeing two different responses to the fear, both of them wrong.
On the one hand, we have our Ruling Class – especially in the MSM and including many on the right – who have decided that the best response to their fear is to try and hide. This is where you get the people who say, I love free speech, but… If you put a “but” after something, it probably means you’re full of it. If you love something – seriously love something – then the actual thing you are saying is I will kill and die in defense of it. Someone who says, I love my wife, but…is probably someone headed for divorce court. Such a person doesn’t really love his wife. He’s trying to get the credit which accrues to someone who shows willing to die for a person or cause without, you know, actually risking anything in defense of the allegedly beloved person or cause. Our Ruling Class – logically afraid of people who kill pretty much at random for no actually justifiable reason – wants the credit for being defenders of freedom, but doesn’t want to defend freedom, because defending freedom might get you killed. So we get these cowardly statements which essentially condemn the victims of the Islamist radicals – from the same sorts of people who are always saying Christians and Jews have to take it on the chin in the interests of free speech.
The other – equally wrong – response is to go about provoking these lunatics. Oh, I know – a lot of people who will, say, draw a cartoon insulting Mohammed will be all, “well, I got my guns; let them Islamists come at me!”. Well, what if they come after you at the mall and I’m standing next to you? What if I’m your neighbor and the Islamists get the wrong house? There’s plenty I’m willing to put my life on the line for but most assuredly not so that someone can hurl insults. Freedom is the ability to do the right thing – not the ability to do whatever we darn well please. It isn’t right to insult people. Ever. Not even if they are really mean and nasty people. Look at it like this – suppose I spent an hour just yelling at you all manner of disgusting insults and when you’ve finally had enough, you come at me…and then (by some miracle; and trust me, it would be) I beat you in the fight. Am I a hero? Did I do a grand thing? Nope. I just caused a ruckus – and I didn’t even get my proper reward for being a jerk. Yes, you are perfectly free to say or draw whatever pleases you as far as I’m concerned. I’ll agree to no law or regulation or anything which would get any government agency to stop you from saying what you please. But if you’re being an insulting jerk, then you’re being an insulting jerk – take the consequences…and for pity’s sake, take them when I’m out of range.
We do need to confront and defeat the Islamist radicals. It is a crucial campaign for the safety of our civilization – and, indeed, for the safety of Muslim civilization. What we should be saying is how we’ll get that job done. That is the proper subject for free people to discuss…not whether someone should draw a cartoon of Mohammed and whether or not free speech covers such a thing. Drawing Mohammed or condemning a drawing of Mohammed gets us nowhere. It neither builds public understanding of the threat we face, nor does it produce plans and means for defeating the threat. It gets us into an endless, pointless argument while the enemy builds his forces and perfects his plans for our undoing. In fact, all we’re doing right now is doubly playing into the Islamists hands – by drawing insulting pictures of Mohammed we feed his propaganda among the Muslim people and by craven condemnations of the drawings we explicitly state to the enemy that we’re a bunch of cowards, easy to beat.
We’ve got to get serious about this. The stakes are high – indeed, they are absolute. We win or they win. There’s no in between. We won’t win by being cowards on one hand and hurling mindless insults on the other. This is not about free speech. This is about a justified fear of a ferocious and determined enemy. What we do with that fear decides what happens. I guess dad could have drawn an insulting picture of Hitler, or explained away the Bataan Death March…might have occupied some time. But it wouldn’t have stopped the Japanese or the Germans.