Paris: Where to from Here?

The civilized world has been seized with revulsion over the recent slaughter in Paris, and there has been no shortage of pundits pontificating upon the motivations of the human monsters who planned and executed the attack. At the risk of offering just another opinion among the many, I am going to be arrogant enough to offer my own take on the situation.

First, I am struck by the political correctness that I have seen, the bending over backwards not to blame Islam as a whole for the events, and by the Democratic nomination seekers in particular not to call the perpetrators radical Islamists. Instead, they’ve simply referred to them as “jihadists”.

The specific, trigger motivations of the attackers probably span a spectrum, but the core of it all clearly and indisputably is religion. Let me be clear, however, that I do not single out Islam as the only cause of such behavior. Far from it, in fact. Consider the holy warfare of the Crusades, the self-righteous persecution of Jews by Christians during the Inquisition, and the Christian bigotry of the Ku Klux Klan, not to mention the increasingly bigoted and incipiently dangerous pronouncements of some on the religious right, who would create an American theocracy. This time, however, it is radical Islamism, and to soft pedal it in the interest of political correctness is to avoid confronting the larger issue of behavior committed in the name of religion, in general.

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, let me state clearly that I am not indiscriminately anti-Muslim. What I am, however, is adamantly against radical religious behavior regardless of its sect of origin. Thus, in the present case, radical Islam has become the justification for ISIS and Al Qaeda and their regional offshoots to commit aggression and atrocities on levels that demand both condemnation and active countermeasures. To see rape as a holy rite, to commit widespread and indiscriminate murder, and to glorify ignorance and bigotry is an obscene throwback to the dark ages warranting no sanctuary the modern world.

There are those in our country who now would have the U.S. engage much more actively in another hot war in the Middle East. If the lesson of Vietnam taught us nothing about involvement where we do not belong, however, then the Iraq war certainly should have. It most definitely has led us to the mess we’re seeing now, namely, a war unwinnable by us against committed forces fighting on their own ground. The answer, then, must come from nations in the region, with technical and material support from us. After all, we did lay the groundwork for the current chaos, and so have a degree of responsibility now for helping to end it. But we must not impose the clear provocation of placing American combat troops in the region, which will only make things worse.

What happened in Paris was barbaric and only the latest warning to humanity about the evils which can be justified by repressive, dogmatic, fundamentalist religion and the poverty, ignorance and bigotry it fosters. Our response, however, needs to be thought through carefully. Both political correctness and wholesale reactive and aggressive actions have no place in determining where we go from here, so let’s all take a deep breath and think this through, carefully and responsibly.

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