Islamic sympathizers have had a hard time finding reasonable justifications for Wednesday’s terrorist attack on France’s Charlie Hebdo magazine. A few liberals have broken their rule of “never blame the victim” by insisting the magazine crossed the line in their religious mockery, but they’ve been roundly shouted down by champions of free speech.
That isn’t always the case. Since September 11th, we’ve bent over backwards to understand Islamic terrorism beyond the superficial. Are these attacks a legitimate response to America’s meddling in the Middle East? Does the West bring these attacks on by supporting dictators in oppressed countries? What about our treatment of terrorists in captivity; does not our “torture” of suspects prove that we’re no better than them?
These are the questions you’ll see regularly in the pages of leftist magazines, on the lips of university professors, and even from world leaders. And it’s one of the reasons we’re failing in the war on terror. In this global war, it is vitally important that we respond on every front we can. It’s beyond obvious that we’re not going to successfully kill our way to victory. The enemy is too secretive, too dispersed, and too many.
The Power of Information
North Korean defectors have said that sneaking Western media across the border into the black market is one of the most effective ways to bring about regime change in the hermit kingdom. Secluded subjects of Kim Jong-un purchase movies and TV shows from America and South Korea from dealers on the street, risking imprisonment and even execution to get a glimpse of the outside world. Activists hope that, given enough permeation, pop culture can effect change among those who know nothing beyond what North Korean state media feeds them.
The same approach may work wonders in the fight against Islamic terrorism. ISIS and Al Qaeda have proven themselves masters of social media. They have infected people across land and sea with their slick propaganda. One of the reasons they’ve been so successful is because the West has been loathe to present much of an alternative. After all, when half of America is crying about torture, Israeli occupation, and Guantanamo Bay, they’re feeding into the very machine used to radicalize these terrorists.
I’ll stop short of claiming America’s liberals support the same aims as Islamic terrorists, but they aren’t exactly on the opposite side either. And having a near-monopoly on the media, they are failing to provide a counterpoint to the claims of extremists. In their relentless attack on America’s economic inequality, police brutality, war crimes, and racism, they essentially tell any would-be radical, “Yeah, those guys in Al Qaeda might have a point…”
That’s no way to win a war. America has done more good for the human race than any other country in the history of the planet. If Muslims in the Middle East were to embrace the totality of Western culture, their standard of living would improve dramatically in the space of a generation. It’s time to stop pretending that every culture, religion, and country is equal. If we start telling the truth about the exceptionalism that made this country the greatest on Earth, we can prevent a future where the world is governed by Sharia law.