[quote author=“TomChicago”]As Rauch points out, the Rushdie fatwa was analyzed, rather dimly, as a free-speech issue, while the murder of VanGogh is more clearly recognized as one of a series in the current torrent of grotesque, faith-based murders. Perhaps the lukewarm response in the case of VanGogh is due to an unhappy recognition of the futility of discussion with his murderers. We may have become too frightened to reply.
I think you’re onto something here—although it bears remembering that both the Rushdie affair and the Van Gogh murder are free speech issues. After all, if murdering a man for making an “offensive” film isn’t the ultimate form of censorship, what else is it?
I think the moral paralysis arises from the realization that it’s not just a free speech issue. That, as you said, discussion with fanatical murderers is futile. Like the Terminator, they cannot be reasoned with, and they absolutely will not stop, ever, until secular liberalism is dead.
The recognition that Islamist violence is not fundamentally a respose to something the West has done wrong, but rather an expression of hatred for something we’re doing right, forces progressives to question their own lazy orthodoxies. Admitting that radical right-wing Muslims hate us for our good ideas and not our bad policies means admitting that a fundamental tenet of our worldview might be wrong. As does admitting in the first place that events like 9/11 and the Van Gogh murder are right-wing at all, far more so than even George W. Bush on his worst day.
Most people, being only human, cling to their comforting orthodoxies in times of crisis; hence, the silence, particularly on the Left, over the murder of Van Gogh, and the reflexive regurgitation of words like “imperialism” and “blowback” when confronted with the phenomenon of clerical fascism and its expeditionary death squads.
This reactionary impulse—found among all True Believers of any political persuasion—helps explain, as well, the willingness of many “radicals” to believe that 9/11 was perpetrated by the CIA, or somehow “played right into their hands” (whoever “they” are), or resort to talk of roosting chickens come home at last. It’s an abject refusal to look reality in the face, to admit that there really is something worse than the West.
And what’s more, that it’s coming for us.