Andrew C. McCarthy:
I couldn’t agree more with my friend Charlie Cooke that the ineffable John Kerry’s remarks comparing January’s Charlie Hebdo massacre to the November 13 Paris terror attacks were despicable. What I don’t get is why anyone is surprised by Kerry’s sentiments. They perfectly reflect seven years of Obama-administration policy aimed at eroding the First Amendment in order to accommodate Islamic blasphemy standards.
As has been widely reported, Kerry initially said there was a “legitimacy” to the mass-murder of cartoonists and writers who satirized the prophet Mohammed. Instantly realizing he’d gone too far, Kerry watered “legitimacy” down to “a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, ‘Okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.’” By contrast, Kerry claimed, there really was no “this and that” to rationalize what happened in Paris November 13, a terrorist strike he described as “absolutely indiscriminate” and not done “to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong.”
Of course, this contention is as absurd as it is offensive. Both sets of terrorist atrocities were driven by Islamic supremacist ideology.
Kerry distorted the Charlie Hebdo episode as if it had involved only a reprisal over cartoons lampooning Islam. In fact, the jihadists shot and wounded a random jogger (consistent with the call to jihad against non-Muslims), killed a police officer (consistent with the ISIS call to assassinate Western security personnel as part of that jihad), took hostages at a kosher market, killing four of them (consistent with anti-Semitism, a core theme of Islamic supremacism), and took hostages at a printing factory (again, consistent with the call to jihad).
So looked at in its totality, the jihadist operations at and around the Charlie Hebdo attack were very similar to November 13, except in scale (17 murdered in the former; 130 in the latter). Neither atrocity was “absolutely indiscriminate,” except in the judgment of an administration willfully blind to the ideological underpinnings of jihadist terror.
As succinctly explained in Reliance of the Traveller, the authoritative 14th-century sharia manual endorsed by scholars at the ancient al-Azhar University in Cairo (among other influential Muslim academics), “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims and is etymologically derived from mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion.” The manual cites three supporting Koranic verses (among the many it could have chosen): “Fighting is prescribed for you” (2:216); “Slay them wherever you find them” (4:89); and “Fight the idolators utterly” (9:36). It further adds two authoritative hadiths (sayings and deeds of the prophet). The first quotes Muhammad instructing:
I have been commanded to fight people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform the prayer, and pay zakat [a portion of income contributed for the fortification of the ummah, the supranational Islamic community; as I’ve previously noted, zakat is often mistranslated as “charitable giving”]. If they say it, they have saved their blood and possessions from me, except for the rights of Islam over them. And their final reckoning is with Allah.
The second also quotes Islam’s warrior prophet:
To go forth in the morning or evening to fight in the path of Allah is better than the whole world and everything in it.
The manual goes on to recount that “details concerning jihad are found in the accounts of military expeditions of the Prophet . . . including his own martial forays and those on which he dispatched others.”
Simply stated, jihadists — e.g., ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Iranian regime — consider themselves in a jihad against the West. The mass-murder attacks are not indiscriminate. They have a solid ideological basis, and the fact that they are savage does not make them irrational. Indeed, in last week’s attack in Mali, jihadists asked their hostages to recite verses from the Koran; those who could were assumed to be Muslims and released, while 27 others were killed.
Yes, many Muslims and Islamic scholars disagree with the jihadist interpretation of Islamic doctrine. This, however, does not change the stubborn reality that (a) many Islamic scholars — who know a lot more about Islam than American and European politicians do — agree with the jihadists, and (b) it is not hard to understand why that is so, since the jihadists’ literal interpretation simply teaches that the scriptures mean what they say.
So putting aside for a moment how offensive Kerry’s remarks were, they were also utterly wrong. His comments reflect the continuing disconnect between the jihadist threat as it actually exists and the threat as Washington chooses to see it — notwithstanding that you cannot effectively fight that which you refuse to understand.
Now, let’s talk about the most disgraceful aspect of what Kerry said: the suggestion that because the Charlie Hebdo attackers were reacting to speech that cast aspersions against Islam — mainly, cartoons poking fun at the belief system for belligerence, intolerance, authoritarianism, misogyny, homophobia, etc. — that attack was somehow understandable (perhaps even “legitimate”) in a way the more recent Paris killings were not.
Perhaps Kerry (and the rest of the entire left) should realize that it is not unusual for someone to get mad about something. Even REALLY mad. What is unacceptable is to KILL PEOPLE because you got mad at them. Usually, we reserve such actions as that for self defense or crimes in which you want no witnesses. No simply because someone upset you.
Even Hitler, who was itching to the opportunity to conquer territories for expansion, concocted the “excuse” of the Poles attacking a German radio station. As weak and lame as that pretext for war was, even HE wasn’t comfortable with, “the Poles have made me angry, so I must kill them”.
Liberals, that is not a justification to kill someone and those that think it IS are crazy. CRAZY.
From Charles Cooke’s article:
What does Charles Cooke not understand about the fact that Kerry himself clarified his words at the very moment he spoke them?
Would a definition help?
rationale — a set of reasons or a logical basis for a course of action or a particular belief.
The rationale behind the Charley Hebdo attack was a perception by Muslims that their religion and prophet were being repeatedly and deliberately insulted. Whatever else they were wrong about, that assessment was accurate. However crazy and reprehensible their response might have been, it was at least a response having a particularized focus on the source of a specific provocation.
The Paris attack was completely different. There was no particularized focus and no specific provocation. Lethal violence was directed at anyone and everyone in front of them. None of the victims could be perceived as being guilty of anything or of having deliberately offended anybody.
This is an important and a highly significant distinction. It’s indicative of a ratcheting up of extremist lunacy outside of the Middle East. I don’t know how anyone could take issue with what Kerry is saying.
Cooke at least placed the words in their fuller context before proceeding to encourage misunderstanding. Frankly, I thought Cooke was a bit sharper than this analysis would indicate:
Wrong. There WAS particularized focus and specific provocation: those killed dared not to be Muslim. And, that’s all it takes.
These same people will kill you if you draw a picture. If you are rude. If you happen to be female and you do not cover yourself or, worse, if you happened to get yourself raped.
Starting to see it yet? They will kill YOU just because you are YOU.
Everyone knows there are such people. Such people are a subset of Muslims. Recognizing that requires a person to analyze and make distinctions. You want there to be no distinctions made of any kind. We’re to assume that all motivation is the same, and that all Muslims are inclined to the same extreme responses.
This sort of thinking does not provide a clear understanding of reality.
@Greg: OK, you provide the reality… which ones are they?
If there were a quick and obvious answer to that question, our problems could easily be ended. I believe those who pretend such an answer exists are doing the nation a disservice. They could lead us to less effective responses, or into far greater danger. Getting sucked into another interminable ground war in the Middle East could be a catastrophe. Our NATO relationships could be a setup for disaster. It’s like a box of mousetraps that a malicious party could try to set off with a few carefully calculated attacks. People need to calm down. We need to elect leaders that aren’t hotheads, whichever party they belong to. A reluctance to go to war is better than an enthusiasm to get on with it.
@Bill: It is quite obvious that Greg like the rest of the radical left will never understand that the Hebdo and the Paris massacre are just another battle to eliminate and terrorize non-believers. The sad part is that Obama and Kerry still fail to understand. I think it has to do with their clinging to an ideology that prevents them from rational thought.