No witty title for this one.
And I’m not here to discuss things from an impartial perspective either.
Today, I want to talk about a great failure in the Left. It’s not a failure of conscience, of compassion, or any of what I might more often decry as failures of the Right.
It’s a failure of discrimination. A failure of logic, of the ability to separate one notion from another, one aspect from its fellows, and in the end it leads only to more tragedy. It’s a failure to distinguish between understanding and forgiveness. Between explanations and excuses.
The simple truth of the matter is this: Understanding the root of a behavior does not excuse it.
Perhaps growing up you were tormented by a bully. Every so often, that bully would rough you up a bit, steal your lunch money maybe, mock you publicly and make you feel small. Say you learn that that bully grew up in a broken home, and was treated by their parent as the sole obstacle between them and a better life, the millstone around their neck. So the bully, unable to address the source of that trauma, lashes out at others.
It explains the bully’s behavior. It does not excuse it.
You don’t have to forgive the bully. You can still hate them for what they did, still file charges against them if necessary. There may be a part of you that regrets the necessity of your actions, but you cannot allow that part to paralyze you, to truly make you into a victim.
I have this weird vision of the Left as the battered spouse of radical Islam. Every time one of these events happens, there’s always a flood of progressives pouring out of the woodwork to justify the event, to tell us how it’s really all our fault, and that we should forgive the radicals and give them another chance.
And I understand that perspective, I truly do. I know the history of the region, and the effects of Western meddling. I understand that punishment without rehabilitation is quite possibly going to accomplish nothing, that indiscriminate punishment will simply swell the ranks of the radicalized, and that the West is not, as yet, ready to commit to the sort of campaign that would be necessary to stabilize the region.
I also know that once you pay the Danegeld, you will never be rid of the Dane.
That if you capitulate to the demands of terrorists, that if you give them what they want, you simply encourage them. You transform yourself from target to victim, with but one inevitable consequence.
You can seek some sort of rapprochement with your bully after the fact, you can discuss why they act the way they act and what might be done to correct their behavior. Someday you might even become friends.
But the very first thing you need to do is establish that you are not prey. That you won’t tolerate their actions, and that you will take steps to defend yourself if necessary.
I am sick to death of the sort of victim-blaming hypocrisy that pours forth from the progressive Left during crises like this.
“Charlie Hebdo was asking for it. Did you see how short that skirt was! Disgusting.”
That’s what you sound like.
So what’s to be done then? If we’re not to forgive and forget, not to capitulate to the demands of terrorists, if we’re not to gather our Danegeld and gather it well, what then do we do?
I don’t know.
It’s not my job to know, quite frankly.
I know that the morality of responding to violence with more violence is murky at best, a quagmire in which we might drown. I know that the West is, as I mentioned, not ready to take the least awful path through that quagmire, but will instead simply dither around the edges of the swamp, accomplishing little and wasting time and treasure in the name of “doing something”, but never acknowledging that sometimes we have to sacrifice to get what we want.
I’m not one of those nutjobs that advocates glassing the Middle East, a final nuclear solution to the question of radical Islam. It’s certainly a solution, but one I pray we never seriously contemplate.
But I do recognize the cold truth that bombing campaigns and drone warfare will not solve the problem. That a short victorious war will not end terrorism.
War is never the long-term solution. War destroys.
But in destruction there is the opportunity to rebuild. To set right something that was constructed wrongly, and to fix problems that simply could not be remedied while the edifice stood.
The short victorious war is never the answer, but there are times when the rebuilding, the generosity of a gracious victor, and yes, the generation-long occupation of a conquered nation, can be.
And I fear that that might be the least awful path. I pray that I’m wrong, that there is some simple solution, some UN panel on terrorism that will find the solution to this Gordian Knot.