Saturday, November 21, 2015

Here's Some Common Sense In An Era Of Nonsense

Have some vintage Eags (Timothy Egan) as he relects upon the events in France on Friday the 13th, 2015. The phrase, "clash of civilizations," has become the canard of our times. Eags speaks truth to nonsense and points out that the Dumbo antidote to terrorism is another version of le terrorisme and equally noxious. If this is a (fair & balanced) demonstration of good judgment, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
The Civilized And The Damned
By Eags (Timothy Egan)

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Earlier this year, before most of us started paying close attention, the death cult of the Islamic State released a video of two men being thrown from the rooftop of a building. They were executed before an approving mob for the crime of being gay — part of a systematic campaign to hunt down and exterminate suspected homosexuals.

At about the same time, a woman accused of committing adultery was stoned to death, an occurrence that rarely draws a second look inside the psychopathic bubble of the Islamic State. For that is a place of brutal, ritualistic rape of children, a place that released a manual explaining that it is permissible, under religious law, to “have intercourse with a female slave who hasn’t reached puberty.” Allah would approve, it claimed.

That’s who they are — a people who love death “like you love life,” as another Islamic State video aimed at France had it. After this confederacy of killers took credit for the slaughter of innocents in Paris, its reasons were in keeping with the anti-humanist hatred at the core of its beliefs. The Islamic State targeted the City of Light because it is “the capital of prostitution and vice,” in their words. And they gunned down music lovers because the victims were “pagans gathered for a concert.”

The massacre proved Voltaire’s observation — “those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

So when somebody says we’re in the midst of a clash of civilizations — as Senator Marco Rubio did in the days of hysteria following the Paris attack — it’s an insult to the civilized world. Framing it that way gives the barbarians of the Islamic State a narrative for the toxicants they spread in the guise of religion. The Islamic State is not, by any stretch, a civilization.

Civilization is that stadium of British and French soccer fans, arms linked, singing “La Marseillaise” — as stirring on a cold Wednesday night in London as it was when the refugees at Rick’s Cafe sang the same national anthem before grim-faced Nazis in “Casablanca.”

Civilization is boulevards of people sipping wine in cafes, or listening to secular music — both crimes in Islamic State-controlled territory. “They were trying to kill our very culture,” a young woman in Paris told my colleague Liz Alderman in The Times. “They will not succeed.”

Civilization is defiance, embodied in the words of President Fran├žois Hollande, directed at people who hate all that France stands for. “The terrorists want to erase everything: culture, youth, life, and also history and memory,” he said. “We will not yield to terrorism by suspending our way of life.”

But that’s what some politicians in the United States are pushing for — discarding the honorable in a tremor of fear. If anyone should be afraid of allowing more refugees into his country, it should be the president of France. His country has nearly five million Muslims, many living in slums that breed hatred and isolation. But Hollande said Wednesday that France would honor its commitment to those fleeing the barbarians of the Islamic State, allowing up to 30,000 refugees to settle in France, with proper vetting, over the next two years.

Civilization does not close its door to an orphaned toddler looking to start a new life in the United States, as Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has proposed. Civilization does not apply a religious test to victims of religious fanaticism, as Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, wants to do. Only those who pray to Jesus, in his plan, would be allowed to resettle the United States.

From a purely strategic point of view, saying non-Christians are unworthy of being given shelter in our country only feeds an Islamic State recruitment pitch. Sadly, it’s been done before, when a ship full of Jews fleeing certain death at the hands of the Nazis was turned away off the Florida coast in 1939, a move that reflected polls that most Americans wanted to keep them out.

A bigger fear than a homeless victim of a savage war is a homegrown crazy with an assault rifle. If only the two-year vetting process now applied to those seeking refuge were used to screen unstable Americans purchasing guns at the mall.

A great crisis can act as a valuable filter, a winnowing that separates true leaders from all the rest, the courageous from the cowards. Hollande, who has been impressive beyond expectations, has also called out the clash-of-worlds fear-mongers.

“We are not committed to a war of civilizations, because these assassins don’t represent any civilization,” he said. “We are at war against terrorism, jihadism, which threatens the whole world.”

The world’s worst terrorists are Muslim in name, and Muslim in warped practice, with Muslims as most of their victims. That truth should not be denied. They cite a holy book to do horrible things. They are damned today by all but a handful of nations. And they are doomed, as all hate ideologies eventually are, because civilization is more sustainable than a cult that worships suicide. Ω

[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]

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