Sunday, November 15, 2015

On France

What's Wrong With the World has a post up about the ISIS attacks in France, and I would not for a moment want to detract from that. In fact, it exemplifies the response I am calling for in this post--namely, manly outrage and concrete suggestions as opposed to sentiment for its own sake.

The present post takes its point of departure from this rather depressing piece at National Review by Daniel Pipes. Pipes points out that a pattern has been repeated in the face of numerous terrorist attacks--namely, the leadership runs left while the voters run right. Says Pipes:

[W]hen it comes to the Establishment — politicians, the police, the press, and the professors — the unrelenting violence has a contrary effect. Those charged with interpreting the attacks live in a bubble of public denial (what they say privately is another matter) in which they feel compelled to pretend that Islam has no role in the violence, out of concern that to recognize it would cause even more problems. These professionals bald-facedly feign belief in a mysterious “violent extremist” virus that seems to afflict only Muslims, prompting them to engage in random acts of barbaric violence. Of the many preposterous statements by politicians, my all-time favorite is what Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, said about the Charlie Hebdo jihadis: “They’re about as Muslim as I am.”
This defiance of common sense has survived each atrocity, and I predict that it will also outlast the Paris massacre. Only a truly massive loss of life, perhaps in the hundreds of thousands, would force the professionals to back off their deeply ingrained pattern of denying an Islamic component in the spate of attacks.
More surprising yet, the professionals respond to the public’s move to the right by themselves moving to the left, encouraging more immigration from the Middle East, instituting more “hate speech” codes to suppress criticism of Islam, and providing more patronage to Islamists. This pattern affects not just Establishment figures of the Left but more strikingly also of the Right (such as Angela Merkel of Germany); only Eastern European leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban permit themselves to speak honestly about the real problems.  
(Interestingly, and in passing, Pipes links to a carefully documented post on the health problems being brought into Germany with the many "migrants," an issue that a leftist commentator recently scoffed at when I mentioned it. Dang those xenophobic facts!)

With decent evidence now indicating that at least one of the Paris terrorists came in through Greece posing as a refugee, I was just wondering how Angela Merkel was sleeping these last couple of nights. According to Pipes' evaluation, though, she is not racked with any thoughts of the "My God, what have I done?" variety but instead is planning to tell her people that the beatings will continue until morale improves. A suicidal approach indeed.

I'm afraid that Pipes is right. And, if my experience with Americans has any relevance to European attitudes, his pessimistic predictions--namely, that our leaders will learn very little from what has happened--may have their source in confusion among the voters as well.

As I've been taking a bit of the temperature on Facebook, I've noticed that there are those who are "in support of France," even doing that thing with the profile photo and the French flag that Facebook is encouraging, but remain highly ambivalent (at a minimum) about any negative take on Muslim immigration, including the current wave of alleged refugees which apparently included at least one terrorist. It was, in fact, almost inevitable that this would happen. We shouldn't even be surprised that it was predicted. The Greek migration minister said on Sept. 9 that it would be "foolish to believe that there are no jihadists among the refugees that cross into Europe."

But there is a huge amount of sentiment, and I'm afraid not only among the elites and leaders, against exercising common sense in the area of immigration. Part of the problem is that we hear "refugees" and assume, "Okay, this is a crisis, this is an emergency, all checks and prudence have to go to the wall, because we have to help people in danger." It's a generous impulse, but a wrong-headed one. To say, outright, "We do not have to welcome large numbers of immigrants from radically different cultures whom we have not had time to check for either jihadist ties, real identity, or health problems, and that our economy may not be able to support, and this is true even though taking basic steps of prudence will probably mean that some innocent people die one way or another" sounds harsh but is simply true.

What must be recognized is that the West does no good to the world at large by committing suicide through an excess of generosity and sentiment. Where will the refugees of thirty years from now, any of them, even a small number, turn to if Europe has become part of a Caliphate? How much can the U.S. help others or act as a beacon of freedom if its already weakened economy and infrastructure are further strained by bringing in numbers of people with problems we do not have the resources to handle? And as we turn into more of a police state in response to the terrorist threats we have fecklessly welcomed in, how much do we remain an exemplar of freedom to the nations and a place of safety for others to come to? And, finally, face this: The government of Germany, or the U.S., or France, has more of a duty to protect its own citizens from terrorist attacks than it has to welcome the destitute and oppressed from other countries. That's just a fact. There are concentric circles of duty, though it is politically incorrect to say so.

To his credit, Governor Snyder of Michigan has rescinded his previous eagerness to relocate a bunch of Syrian immigrants into his state. He said explicitly that his recent decision was made in light of the Paris attacks. Good for him. He's governor of Michigan, not of Syria.

What we need in response to these attacks is not sentiment but rather manliness. By manliness I do not mean hatefulness and cruelty, such as will come from the alt-right against whom I have been writing lately. I do mean the kind of concrete suggestions made in the W4 post--stop Muslim immigration (and especially stop the madness of these recent unrestricted waves) and take military action against ISIS. Also, recognize the blazingly obvious connection between Islam and Jihad and take this into account in public policy--something too many on both sides of the aisle seem unwilling to do.

It may be too late for Europe, though I hope not. It may be that even if the most allegedly "xenophobic" measures are taken concerning future immigrants, many more such terrorist attacks will be carried out, though I hope not. But one thing we can be sure of: If Europe and the United States do not wake up and start taking measures that represent bare common sense in these areas, things will get much, much worse. Pointing out that inconvenient fact is what "standing with France" should mean, even if it isn't what the President of France wants. I do feel anguish for the victims and their families. But more, I feel outrage that this was allowed to happen and outrage at the evil of man that brought it about directly. It is in that sense that I "stand with France." Not in the sense merely that I have warm and sad feelings. Not in the candle-lighting sense, but in the sense of a call for clear eyes and active hands. Let us be up and doing, and may God defend the right.

A collect to be offered in time of war and tumults:
O Almighty God, the supreme Governor of all things, whose power no creature is able to resist, to whom it belongeth justly to punish sinners, and to be merciful to those who truly repent; Save and deliver us, we humbly beseech thee, from the hands of our enemies; that we, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore from all perils, to glorify thee, who art the only giver of all victory; through the merits of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Bedarz Iliaci said...

The IS does not represent all Moslems. It is specifically and murderously anti-Shia. You are not thinking rightly if you seek to convert an operation against a particular limited enemy-the IS--into a crusade against all Islam. That one is unlikely to succeed and where will you find allies?

Lydia McGrew said...

ISIS _is_ anti-Shia, but it also goes about deliberately murdering lots and lots of people who aren't Shia Muslims. (Middle Eastern Christians and Frenchmen of all stripes, for example.)

If there is a feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys and the Hatfields come into my house (I not being a McCoy) and murder my family, then I try to stop the Hatfields at that particular moment. The statement that they are anti-McCoy is irrelevant to the question of whether *I* have a stake in stopping them and seeing them punished. I obviously do! Nor, for that matter, does the fact that it's the Hatfields who attacked me just now mean that I should let down my guard about the McCoys, who might also be murderous thugs. (Especially if I have evidence to that effect.)

So it is no criticism of anything that I suggest to say that ISIS is anti-Shia. Tell me something else I didn't know, and also something relevantly negative about what I propose. If your point is that the Shia are the "good Muslims" whom we should welcome in droves to our country, I will laugh.

steve said...

"I was just wondering how Angela Merkel was sleeping these last couple of nights."

The political class never loses any sleep over its policies because members of the political class rarely if ever have to experience the consequences of their policies. The political class is generally insulated from the consequences of the policies that it inflicts on the general public.

Bedarz Iliaci said...

Military actions were already ongoing against IS.
But the strategic jam USA finds itself in precludes doing more. This is a simple statement of fact which no amount of chest-thumping manliness can do anything with.
This article in NYT provides the strategic situation-

Your invocation of manliness is telling. This is what it leads to:
"Carson said this in a recent interview regarding the proposed Syrian no-fly zone:

If they come into that area, after you have given them adequate warning, after we have talked to Putin, you shoot ‘em down, absolutely.

When the radio host pointed out that the Russians would retaliate to the downing of their planes, Carson blithely replied:

Whatever happens next, we deal with it, but we can’t continue backing down because in the long run, that’ll hurt us."

Lydia McGrew said...

Any invocation of manliness can be said to "lead to" silly things or poor policies. I guess that means we should never invoke it, then.

But that's a very bad idea, too.

steve said...

i) On problem is that it's not generally possible to vet "refugees" to screen out terrorists. Although it's sometimes possible to identify a terrorist, it is usually impossible to disprove that someone is a terrorist. How do you do a background check on terrorists? It's not like accessing public records (e.g. school records).

And even if a "refugee" made comments on social media indicating his terrorist sympathies or intentions, what gov't combs through billions of comments made every day on social media?

ii) Many professing Christians who reject pacifism have never bothered to think through the alternative amounts to. Although they reject pacifism, their default position on war and counterterrorism is often indistinguishable from knee-jerk pacifism. They don't bother to figure out what is permissible or impermissible. Having rejected pacifism, they don't say where to draw the lines or why. What we get instead is emotionalism.

Lydia McGrew said...

I've often cynically thought that the talk of vetting refugees' background is just blowing smoke, for the very reasons you give. For one thing, the very sense of urgency concerning these large numbers of people seems to preclude taking a lot of time to vet them.

You make an interesting connection between pacifism and naivete in the area of immigration. I think there definitely is a connection, and I think that the social media posts I have seen from misguided Christians bear this out. In general, the notion seems to be that because we are Christians, we must be so warm-hearted that any sort of prudence that even _might_ exclude an innocent, needy person from our shores is wrong. Functionally, this is pacifism. This would seem to mean, for example, that anyone who comes to the door of your house telling a tale of woe and asking to be taken in must be taken in, even if you do not know him, he might be dangerous to yourself and your children, etc. Not to mention the sheer numbers. Are you obligated to try to fit a hundred needy people into your home? A thousand? At that point, will you be able to help them anyway? These sorts of questions seem so obvious to me, but I guess they sound "mean" to some Christians.

rockingwithhawking said...

Thanks, Lydia. A fine post!

I'd add (ask):

1. Why isn't a wealthy Muslim nation like Saudi Arabia taking in these Syrian refugees - at least the Muslim refugees? If the Syrian Muslims are mainly Sunni, then presumably a wealthy Sunni nation like Saudi Arabia would want to help fellow Sunnis? Yet, as far as I can tell, they're unwilling.

2. Instead, they're fine with letting Western nations bear the burden. However, from the perspective of Islam, wouldn't it be better to let fellow Muslims dwell among other Muslims than to let them settle in infidel lands? Aren't they always decrying our sins and so forth? How is this good for their fellow Muslims who, from their point of view, could be negatively influenced by corrupt Western culture and society?

3. If Western nations allow Syrian refugees into our nations, then isn't it failing to respect our allies like Israel who are at war with Syria?

4. This is more speculative. I've read Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan have taken in a lot of Syrian refugees. Let's take a look at Jordan, for example, which has historically taken in a lot of fellow Muslims as refugees (e.g. almost 50% of its population is "Palestinian"). How well have these Muslims assimilated into Jordan? Aren't at least a significant minority of Syrian refugees in Jordan today currently living in camps? If they can't assimilate well into a somewhat more tolerant Muslim nation like Jordan, then why not? Does it reflect something deeper about (certain) Muslims not being able to work well with other Muslims?

5. Are we coordinating immigration efforts with our neighbors to the north, Canada? Because even if we don't allow Syrian refugees into the US, if Canada does, then it's possible some ISIS or similar radical Muslims could cross over the relatively undefended border.

It'd be ideal to do this with our neighbors to the south, Mexico, too, but that's probably unrealistic.

6. I've read some pro-Syrian refugees proponents compare the anti-Syrian refugees positions to the anti-Semitism following WW2 when many nations didn't want to let Jews into their lands. There are many disanalogies. An obvious one is that the Jews have almost always assimilated well within their host nations.

Lydia McGrew said...

Rocking, I admit to not having studied enough of what the Muslim nations are doing to have a strong opinion, but I'm quite sure fewer people are going to them than to Europe. I've _read_ (but have not confirmed) that this is because they are concerned about terrorist extremism. That would be ironic, I suppose, and yet also make sense in a way. Turkish soccer fans booed a moment of silence for the victims in France and started chanting "Allah Akbar," but the Turkish government would still prefer not to have terrorism on its own shores. Both Jordan and Egypt have had great trouble with that.

Now, I need to add that the failure to assimilate in some cases among "Palestinian refugees" and their living in "camps" is largely due to their special treatment by the UN as "forever refugees," unto the umpteenth generation. That is a bizarre and destructive thing that the UN has done which makes it much harder for "Palestinians" to assimilate. They are presumably always supposed to be thinking of getting a "right of return" to Israel.

Lydia McGrew said...

If you've seen this article/video

you'll see confirmation that what we have here in many cases is not literally refugees who have nowhere else to go but rather an attempted people movement to countries seen as holding greater opportunity and better living. Hence the complaints. And because Europe and the U.S. are perceived as wanting to "take care of" them, they go there. I doubt Saudi Arabia has such a caring reputation, to put it mildly.

Lydia McGrew said...

I think that those of us (like me) who talk about the *sheer numbers* that we are being asked to take into our countries have to be willing to say that those *sheer numbers* of destitute, displaced people are going to be a problem no matter *who* they are and no matter what they are fleeing from. To that extent (I say this partly because I can monitor and not publish the anti-semites at this blog) consistency dictates that I say that America or Europe could not have been expected to take in all six million Jews threatened by the Holocaust, either, no matter how well they could have been expected to assimilate in time. That isn't anti- anything. It's just a recognition of the reality that a country can only take in so many displaced persons at once and do justice either to them or to its own citizens already in place. Issues of jobs, medicine, food, housing, etc., become overwhelming. To some extent, I suspect that the sheer horror of Hitler may have caused people to say that we should strictly disregard all such considerations, even as people are saying now about the Syrians. And to some extent I suspect that the reality of those considerations may have been used by actual anti-semites within our own countries. (But I have not researched this.)

Bedarz Iliaci said...

Dirt-poor Pakistan took 3 million Afghan refugees. Surely America is large enough and rich enough, not to mention empty enough to take 10,000.

Lydia McGrew said...

Actually, I have no idea whether that was a good idea for Pakistan to do. It may well not have been. (By the way, actual refugees are _supposed_ to stop in the "next safe country." That's even written in international law. So the fact that Pakistan is next to Afghanistan probably had something to do with this. And they may have been genuine refugees, whereas people who go on traveling until they get to the country where they'd kinda really like to live are not acting like genuine refugees but like wanna-be immigrants.) Our government leaders should make their own decisions for the country they are governing and to which they are responsible--in terms of health, safety, and many other issues. We do not _owe_ anybody to bring them here and help them. It isn't America's job to let itself be flooded with (supposed) refugees. Or to accept any, for that matter. It used to be that we wanted immigrants to be able to provide some kind of value to us; now we're being guilted into not providing sufficient value to enough of them.

We're a nation. We have borders. If we would rather not accept tens of thousands of refugees from other places, that doesn't make us evil. If you can't deal with that, too bad.

Bedarz Iliaci said...

"we wanted immigrants to be able to provide some kind of value to us"
The discussion is about refugees from Syrian War and in particular Christian refugees and not just any immigrants.

1) Refugees are not necessarily permanent immigrants. It is a different category altogether.
2) To provide asylum only to those that "provide some kind of value to us" is Saudi ethics. It does not comport with Western or Christian ethics I know of.
3) Excuses of poverty etc are absurd from the richest country in the world.
4) All this excludes mention of the American responsibility for the Syrian war in the first place.

rockingwithhawking said...

Great points. Thanks, Lydia!

rockingwithhawking said...

Bedarz Iliaci

"Surely America is large enough and rich enough, not to mention empty enough to take 10,000."

Let's say your home is "large enough and rich enough" to take in several permanent boarders. Should we therefore demand you must take in extra permanent boarders? No, of course not, it'd be unjust towards you. Yet you evidently have no problem being unjust towards America in demanding the same.

Lydia McGrew said...

To BI's

#1) Baloney. In practice, that is exactly what it means. "I can't go back. My home is destroyed, and I'd be persecuted" pretty much guarantees that, but what also guarantees it (so that it is causally overdetermined) is that that is *undeniably* the intention of the people coming. Indeed, the fact that they didn't stop in one of the many other countries they passed through shows that, as I mentioned above, they are behaving _precisely_ as immigrants rather than as refugees.

#2) Name-calling is pointless. We are a country and our leaders' first duty is to our citizens. America does not exist for the purpose of being the unlimited charity-giver of the entire world, though it does, in fact, give a lot of charity. It appears that the result of this is to treat immigration as an entitlement. Which is disgusting and not Christian ethics.

#3) See #2.

#4) Irrelevant. You don't destroy your own home and risk having your own family blown up because some other people with the same name did something dumb that indirectly resulted in the destruction of someone else's home ten years ago.

steve said...

Since Pakistan has been used as the standard of comparison, look it how quickly and badly it degenerated when Islamic purists got the upper hand:

rockingwithhawking said...

Bedarz Iliaci

"3) Excuses of poverty etc are absurd from the richest country in the world."

1. It's wrong to guilt others like you're doing. Emotional manipulation, etc.

2. It seems you're assuming income inequality is a vice. A vice which the US should rectify. Yet it's not as if you've provided an argument or rationale.

steve said...


How many Muslim immigrants have you taken into your home?