There’s something different … 

There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo [9 January 2015], and I think everybody would feel that.  / US Secretary of State, John Kerry, 17 November 2015, commenting on the terrorist actions in Paris on Friday, 13 November 2015

Well, obviously, the number of attacks and victims was markedly different.

But what else was different according to Mr Kerry?

There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of — not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.

Aha, so perhaps the January victims should be blamed?

What on earth could “this and that” be? Could it be exercising freedom of offensive expression? Could it be being openly Jewish, shopping at a kosher supermarket? Kerry doesn’t mention the supermarket. Perhaps he can’t even entertain the thought that Jew-hatred is a rationale “you could attach yourself to somehow”?

Or could it mean that ….

…Jews and Israelis don’t even count as victims?

They kill Shia. They kill Yezidis. They kill Christians. They kill Druze. They kill Ismaili. They kill anybody who isn’t them and doesn’t pledge to be that.

How chilling — and telling — that Jews and Israelis are not mentioned on his list of examples. A lot of lists of Islamist acts of terrorism have been published during the past week or so — with no mention of attacks on Israel or Jews.

The list makers, including Mr Kerry, seems to believe deep-down — and perhaps unconsciously — that Israel and Jews deserve being slandered, brutalized, injured, killed, and expelled from wherever they are.

Until 13 November, Mr Kerry’s classification terrorist targets could be neatly divided. Some are not quite innocent, but still victims. Some deserve targeting. After 13 November, he had to add another classification:

…(Western) innocents subject to “indiscriminate” slaughter

This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for. That’s not an exaggeration. …

It was to assault all sense of nationhood and nation-state and rule of law and decency, dignity, and just put fear into the community and say, ‘Here we are.’

And for what? What’s the platform? What’s the grievance? That we’re not who they are? They kill people because of who they are and they kill people because of what they believe. And it’s indiscriminate.

Mr Kerry doesn’t seem to grasp ISIL’s own narrative. The attacks are not indiscriminate because the people attacked are not considered innocent. The “this and that” that made ISIL “really angry” about Paris is what they see as decadence – and what many of us in the free world would describe as varieties of peaceful, joyous, creative co-existence.

And, of course, no attack on the infidels poisoning the world is complete without attacks on Jews. Let’s look at the targets.

“Random” soft targets? 

It takes a lot of work and resources to launch attacks. Even though appearances of unpredictability must be cultivated, ISIL has clearly selected targets with great care.

Football matches are a great target – people having fun in large groups.  If the terrorists assigned to the stadium hadn’t botched it up, they could have killed and maimed hundreds, perhaps thousands.

All of the cafes and restaurants targeted were in a neighborhood known for being hip and trendy — in other words, decadent. They are places where people of all creeds and colors are free “to smoke, to flirt, to sing, to dance, to laugh and to get drunk if they so wish”.

  • Boulevard Voltaire “represents the young, hip French person’s way of life.”  Here the terrorists targeted the Comptoir Voltaire.
  • One of the nearby targets, the Petit Cambodge, was especially attractive because of the large terrace and the big windows which could make it easier to kill and maim large numbers of people. Café Bonne Biere and Le Casa Nostra also have large terraces.
  • Bataclan, the concert venue where the highest number of casualties was concentrated, had been owned by Israeli-friendly Jews for several generations, being sold just a few months ago. Bataclan has been in the sights of violent anti-Zionists for at least eight years.
  • The other targets didn’t offer these efficiencies — but they were choice in other ways. Le Carillon, across from Petit Cambodge, was apparently the “best dive bar” in all of Paris, and it is owned by an Algerian family – apostates in the eyes of the terrorists? The majority owner at La Belle Équipe was Jewish Grégory Reibenberg – and this restaurant had just as diverse a staff and clientele as all of the others.

What is going on in the depths of John Kerry?

The day after Mr Kerry’s impromptu remarks in Paris, he read the following statement to an audience in Washington:

There are no grounds of history, religion, ideology, grievance, psychology, politics, economic disadvantage, or personal ambition that will ever justify the murder of children, the kidnapping and the rape of teenage girls, or the slaughter of unarmed civilians. .  .  . [T]his kind of atrocity can really never be rationalized; these kinds of actions can never be excused; and they have to be opposed with every fiber of our being. They have to be stopped.

Like many commentators I was struck by the contrast between what he apparently felt deep-down and the professional damage control. This is what I think was happening in Mr Kerry’s depths:

Many people can not bear the thought that really bad things happen to innocent people. I don’t recall Mr Kerry having expressed the belief that the January targets (may have) deserved what they got — until he was confronted with the fact that the “innocent” French nation had been hit.

For the moment, Mr Kerry seems to have resolved the cognitive dissonance by admitting that extremely bad things actually can happen to people who somehow don’t really seem to deserve it. But there are strong forces opposing this kind of a resolution.

The guilt-ridden forces

Many vocal people in the free world classify terrorism in a different way than Mr Kerry. The innocents to whom undeservedly horrible things happen are Helpless Underdogs. Nobody else can be considered a victim, because the Primary Rule of the Universe is that horrible things happen only to The Guilty. And the more horrible the deeds, the more deserving of punishment The Guilty must be — how could it be otherwise?

We see this in the conviction among some religious people that bad things only happen as retribution for sin – or as the fruits of bad karma.

And we see it within the free world where guilt-ridden people are sure that our world deserves to be punished for all of our past and present transgressions – both real and imaginary.

A dynamic of fear is increasingly being added to the guilt — maybe the favored Underdogs aren’t as Helpless as they seem, so appeasement is a wise course.

Alternatives to guilt and appeasement

A number of world leaders are now vowing to destroy ISIL and similar organizations. In my mind this is a healthier gut-reaction, but the implementation could create additional disasters. We are notorious for barging in unasked, helping insufficiently (if at all) when asked, and not “finishing the job”. It is all too easy to support the narrative that all-out war is being waged on Muslims.

But even if war against violent Jihadists is carried out with “pin-point precision”, it cannot stand alone. More than anything else, the free world needs to rehabilitate its faith in and commitment to our values — to make sure that our world is worth fighting for. The passion must be spread to everyone in the free world, not least the guilt-ridden and the young idealists searching for opportunities to create a better world.

PS. Not seeing the relationship to a face of Islam is criminally insane

And they carry with them the greatest public display of misogyny that I’ve ever seen, not to mention a false claim regarding Islam. It has nothing to do with Islam; it has everything to do with criminality, with terror, with abuse, with psychopathism — I mean, you name it.”…

Some of the individual murderers might be psychopaths — or victims with real grievances of all kinds — or both. But the ideology that drives their work is one of the many faces of Islam.

ISIL is one of the modern organizations that are rooted in 20th-21st century violent political Islam. Terrorism is one of the methods used to achieve their goals – over much of the world. All of these organizations are fighting to create a new world ruled by Islam as they see it.

Whether we are waging war or rehabilitating the free world, we have to be able to name and understand this. The ultimate “this and that” they are “really angry because of” is the very fact that other philosophies and ways of life exist and thrive.

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