Rheims Massacre: Unbowed By Terror, West Must Stand Firm

WITH REPORTS flooding in that two of the suspected gunmen responsible for the slaughter of staff at French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo have now taken hostages to use as human shields, it is more important than ever that Western nations remain resolutely unbowed — and unchanged in their way of life — in the face of increasing atrocities committed in the name of Islam: a one-fingered salute is the only response such obscenities deserve.

I don’t intend to go to any great detail on this issue; the massacre of 12 staff on Wednesday at the headquarters of satire magazine Charlie Hebdo in Rheims in France was an unspeakable and unforgivable act of violence.

I simply want to make a few points, for as I write tonight there are fresh reports that two (of three) suspects being pursued by French Police in relation to Wednesday’s act of terror have now taken hostages to use as human shields; this issue has some way to run, and in posting this evening my intention is more to share some thoughts pending a more detailed response at some later stage.

But the attack — by three suspected Islamic fugitives, supposedly acting in the name of Allah — represents a more concerted and organised strike against a Western target than the so-called “lone wolf” attack in Sydney last month.

It also represents the point at which civilised Western societies can no longer ignore the barbaric threat of senseless violence imported into their communities under the auspices of “tolerance” and “compassion:” radical Islam, put bluntly, poses an existential threat to the Western way of life that must be erased from our midst.

The attack in Rheims was apparently made on a disturbing pretext: Charlie Hebdo is known worldwide for its parodies and satirical cartoons of Muslim fundamentalism (and a whole lot of other things besides) and the response, with guns and at the cost of a dozen lives, was a direct and contrived challenge to the right of free expression in free societies.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott — who first coined the phrase “death cult” to describe the barbarous junta that is Islamic State, presently laying waste to huge swathes of the Middle East to impose a strict interpretation of militant Islam — has again hit the nail on the head with his declaration that radical Islamic insurgents “hate” us, meaning the West: they hate our way of life, they hate our freedoms, they hate our secularity, and they hate our freedom of speech.

He has also emphasised the fact that Islamic State (and its adherents and followers, across the globe and embedded in Western societies) have declared themselves to be at war with the Western world: and this, in tandem with the very real and malicious hatred expressed toward us, means we cannot afford to concede anything in response.

He is absolutely right, and this mentality merits nothing more than a one-fingered salute in reply; as most readers know there has been an outpouring of rage in social media these past couple of days, but by far the best perspective I have seen is a simple one that conveys a message that few could quibble with.

SAGE ADVICE…the culture of violent, radical Islam has no place in free societies.

It’s been reported that one of the first responses from the deeply traumatised survivors at Charlie Hebdo — whose colleagues were apparently murdered for the “crime” of publishing cartoons that mocked the Islamic religion — was a vow to keep publishing the cartoons in question. And so they should.

Abbott, along with outraged leaders across the free world, has rightly made the point that to do otherwise would be to accede to the threat of terrorism and to reward those who instigate its foul deeds with victory; it is critical that free societies do not fall into the trap of censoring expression under the threat of violent retribution.

And there is another consideration: if harmless japes of the kind published by Charlie Hebdo are discontinued in the face of evil actions by organised, savage Islamic thuggery, what — with an eye to the strictest possible interpretation of the Koran — might follow?

Before long, everything from girls in bikinis to certain TV programmes, to restrictions on just about anything women can do and to the rights all free people enjoy under the rule of law — and anything and everything in between — will come into play, as yet more violence demands yet more concessions and appeasement to avert them.

Of course, any kind of censorship made under the duress of this kind of lawless viciousness would merely be the tip of the iceberg: and of Charlie Hebdo, and countless other publishing and media outlets like it around the globe, encouragement and applause — not cowering submission — is the message ordinary and decent folk must convey, along with their condolences, their grief, and their justifiably unbridled fury at the horror that has been done in France.

I want to share with readers an article that appeared in today’s issue of the Herald Sun in Melbourne today, which is basically a wake-up call to the finger shakers, the compassion babblers, the tolerance brigade, and the bleeding heart bullshit artists who preach “tolerance” toward the kind of people who were responsible for Wednesday’s horror in Rheims: these people are usually the first (and loudest) in their “compassionate” responses to incidents such as that which befell Charlie Hebdo and its tragic staff, but they are also the loudest — and often the most persistent — in their apologies for (and defence of) minority communities that breed the hatreds that lead to precisely the kind of thing we are now seeing with greater frequency, and on a more and more widespread basis.

But it could just as easily have appeared in the pages of an equivalent publication in Paris, or London, or Berlin, or New York: Western countries across the world are increasingly being confronted by the murderous excesses of radical Islam. And in every instance, there are apologists who would sooner concern themselves with the rights of bloody murderers than with the lives of those who have been imperilled and/or slaughtered with neither pity nor compunction.

In recent times, we have witnessed a “lone wolf” attack on Police in Melbourne; the siege in Sydney prior to Christmas; the beheading of a soldier in London; and now the attack on innocent journalists and their colleagues in France.

These cannot be regarded as isolated incidents, and — whilst they might lack the obvious forethought of, say, the Al-Qaeda plot that hit the United States on 11 September 2001 — they must be viewed as part of a series of co-ordinated attacks against Western targets that will only become more widespread if met with nothing more substantial than abject capitulation.

I will continue to watch the fallout from Wednesday’s atrocity and the unbelievable sequel that appears to be playing out, at the time of writing, through a hostage siege situation; this column minutes its condolences and sympathies to the families who lost loved ones in Rheims on Wednesday, but also to their surviving colleagues — particularly those who were forced to endure watching their friends and workmates being blown apart before their very eyes, and who now must live with the abominable memory of that event.

But the time for a wake-up call is now.

And I think we are at the point where — when it comes to nations who enjoy common freedoms and liberties, and whence no succour to tyranny and oppression is given — if one is attacked, all of us are attacked, and feel the wound just as keenly wherever in the world it has been inflicted.

Anyone who quibbles at the citizens of their own countries being jailed on their return from fighting “for Allah” in the Middle East — and other, similar measures aimed at rooting out the less desirable elements from the Muslim communities who are otherwise perfectly welcome — should take heed at what has happened in France.

Clearly, the ugly spectre of radicalised, fundamentalist Islam has no place in the decent societies of the law-abiding and the free.

This sleeper issue is about to become the elephant in the room in Western polities; and just as it must be repelled in practice — forcibly, if need be — it is also going to require mainstream political forces to adopt harder and more effective strategies to deal with it, rather than a form of words that urges caution, and understanding, but offers little by way of action to redress it.

If they don’t, there are plenty of extremist, far-Right organisations that will leap at the opportunity to take their place, however distasteful such opportunism in the face of senseless slaughter might be.

Just look at France’s Front National party, founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen and now led by his daughter, Marine. As perverse as it sounds, this racist right-wing lynch mob has had its best week this week for soliciting memberships in years.

And that — with similar developments elsewhere in the West — is a whole other problem altogether.