Monday, November 16, 2015
Anger is a funny thing. It gets a bad rap, but it serves a purpose.
I have written before that accusations of anger are a common device to delegitimize and dismiss opposing viewpoints. Similarly, you may have heard it said that the first man to raise his voice has lost the argument. That’s bollocks on stilts.
Wrath may be a deadly sin, but it’s not the same. Anger is a legitimate emotion, gifted to us for a reason, and hopefully deployed with just cause. Conversely, wrath connotes an unhinged, unfocused fury, also suggesting vengeance, which belongs to God.
Jesus showed anger. He also wept. He knew there is a time for each.
With a monsoon of respect for my newly tri-coloured friends all over Facebook, and the world leaders and private citizens repeating the “our hearts go out” mantra after the terrorist attacks in Paris, this is not a time to wallow in sadness. This is a time for anger.
As I type, the three days of mourning declared by French President Francois Hollande are concluding and his promised, pitiless ass-kicking has commenced. That is good.
What we need now is a controlled burn, a tempered rage, as we remember what was done to those poor souls in Paris, then look at our loved ones and recognize that, given the opportunity, our enemies will do the same to them.
This is not over, not by a long chalk. We must summon the will, and the anger, to end this war on our terms.
To begin, we must recognize what we are fighting. For many people, this is uncomfortable, and forces them to articulate truths they have been conditioned to believe are hateful or bigoted. But this need not be so.
We may acknowledge that our adversaries are human, and came into this world worthy of the love and dignity of every living person. As the poet Terence wrote, “Humani nihil a me alienum puto,” or, “I consider nothing that is human alien to me.”
But we must also realize that they are in the thrall of a great evil. Radical Islam is a powerful thing and, like other murderous ideologies we have known – Nazism and communism among them – it can seduce people by the millions.
If we accept the popular insistence that 90 percent of the world’s Muslims are not bent on jihad toward the West – or 95 or 99 percent, let’s say – then even a best-case scenario leaves us with 13 million people eager for our death. That’s several times more numerous than the largest standing army the world has ever known.
The hippy-dippy formulation that “religion” is to blame is willfully blind to the destructive tendencies of one religion in particular.
A friend of mine, whose views I respect in all areas except his snide denunciation of faith, posited that all those offering “prayers” for Paris should remember that “praying” is what motivated the terrorists in the first place.
Honestly, cut the crap. If, God forbid, you find yourself the victim of a suicide bomber or held hostage by a group of fanatics, you know damn well they won’t be Methodists.
Insisting on a false equivalence among every religion while placing yourself serenely above it all only makes things harder and causes you to look like a pompous dick.
Likewise, scolds who rush to tell us we shouldn’t condemn “all Muslims” are lecturing no constituency of consequence.
No one is condemning “all” Muslims (in fact, a number of people refuse to condemn any). But it is safer and easier to tut-tut the rest of us than to name and confront real evil.
To those people I would reply, instead of preaching and coming up with ways to make yourself look good, perhaps pitch in and help – because, like it or not, you’re in this fix with us.
It’s often said that politics is downstream from culture. Consequently, if men like Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau insist on chirping about “climate change” in this time of genuine crisis, it is because we allow it.
What we say to one another, and the things we believe in, matter a great deal. And so, if we allow ourselves to define our enemy in the form of radical Islam, we must then consider our side of the conflict.
What does our society stand for and is it worth defending? Are we nothing more than environmentalism, political correctness, and Caitlyn Jenner? If so, then let our surrender continue apace.
If, however, we maintain some flicker of the liberty bequeathed to us by generations past, and if we possess even a sliver of their courage, then I say that is worth fighting for. And I have a righteous anger at those who would take those things away.
I do not want this fight. I want to live in peace with my wife and family. But I am honked off that I will be leaving them a world less free and more unsafe than the one I have known.
Part of this fight is to be honest with ourselves, to afflict our own comfort. Hard decisions have to be made, both at home and abroad. Again and again, we will have to choose the lesser of two evils.
On immigration, for example, we must consider options that shake our sense of our own goodness, such as curtailing or ceasing the entry of people from Muslim-majority countries.
This includes the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees scheduled to receive asylum in Canada and the United States.
If it helps, consider that the United Nations has estimated that 75 percent of those fleeing Syria are men, and as many as 80 percent of the millions streaming across Europe are not Syrian at all, nor are they refugees. They are economic migrants, leaving nations where there is no civil war in order to find better lives in the West.
One feels empathy for such people, and guilt for denying them the opportunities of a society to which we had the great blessing to be born.
Nevertheless, we must proceed. Consider the number of hostiles outlined above. The risk is too great. As Mark Steyn notes of Paris, the barbarians are inside and there are no gates.
The imperfect but necessary solution to the refugee crisis is to establish safe zones in Syria and Turkey. This is accomplished as part of our overseas obligation: to destroy ISIS and take away its territory.
Western leaders are goaded by political adversaries and journalists with the shibboleth of favouring “boots on the ground” in Syria.
No sane person wants war. Even so, the correct response is yes, boots will be on the ground, in the air, and up ISIS’s ass, as necessary.
ISIS is not an insurgency. It is a state, controlling land across numerous countries, of the approximate size of the United Kingdom. This must not stand, and our response cannot be piecemeal. In the words of Napoleon Bonaparte, who knew a thing or two about military victory (and defeat), “If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna.”
Our military response must be overwhelming and sustained, until ISIS is destroyed in its lair. In so doing, we will kill those who would kill us.
It is supposed that Islam grew from the God of Abraham revealing Himself to a new people. If that is so, then that God knows that sometimes, bad guys have to die. You can look it up.
Most important, we need to remember that this is a war of ideas, and we must be fearless in defence of ours. We believe in freedom and the value of all human life (don’t we?). We reject cruelty and subjugation, and those who would impose the mortal supremacy of their beliefs on others deserve the business end of our might and anger.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself a victim of radical Islam, avers that, “European governments must do their own proselytizing in Muslim communities, promoting the superiority of liberal ideas. This means directly challenging the Islamic theology that is used by the Islamist predators to turn the heads and hearts of Muslims with the intent of converting them into enemies of their host countries.”
Just so. But to this, I would add that the conviction and strength of all of us is what shapes this fight, and informs what governments will do.
We elect leaders of disparate skills and character, and in time they all come and go. But what each of us believes and what we can bear – that is what will decide this conflict.
As the lyric goes, we have to choose to win or lose – and it’s time we started winning.
Theo Caldwell is damn mad. Contact him at email@example.com