The butchery at Charlie Hebdo and at the Hyper Cacher market in Paris has been called France`s 9/11. And the reason for it is that while America’s 9/11 attacked the world’s centre of commerce, the attacks in Paris violated the world’s historical centre of freedom. These were attacks, co-ordinated attacks, on those who practice freedom of speech and on those who were just born Jews. Two ways of dying under fascism. The two things these terrorists cannot abide. Free speech and free Jews.
I use the word fascism because that is what France’s leading public intellectuals have used. And France, for all its failed appeasing foreign policies, is perhaps the last western nation where public intellectuals do move policy. The leading French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, the head of what has been called “les nouveaux philisophes,” shamed France into action in Libya. He has used that word –fascism - this week. And he went further. He reminded international audiences that after the Second World War, leading French intellectuals like François Mauriac and Albert Camus were asked whether it was worse to have been killed by Nazis for fighting for freedom or for being a Jew. Levy said their answer was that being free and being a Jew were one and the same thing.
Levy said this moment in French history - a million people marching in the streets of Paris, President Hollande and Prime Minister Netanyahu entering the Grand Synagogue of Paris. young Muslims holding “Je suis Charlie” and “Je suis Juif” signs and the French Prime Minister stating that “France without Jews would be a failure” - was a moment when, “France took back its destiny with its own hands.” He pointed out the significance of Secretary of State John Kerry speaking to the people of France in French was only the second time that an American leader spoke in French since President Roosevelt did so in Nov.1942 on General de Gaulle’s Radio Free France. The significance of this moment has not been lost on the world.
It is to be hoped that Levy is right. It is to be hoped that we bring to an end the west’s politically correct tolerance of the intolerable. For in this century, as we have bitterly learned, Canada is not immune from Islamist terror. Those who would still opine about “root causes” should now be clear. There is only one root cause. Hate. And it is time to stop looking for logic or for “strategic goals.” Canadians must understand that “total evil” - to use YairLapid’s phrase – exists. Evil for the sake of evil. Evil that is satisfied only with blood. There can be no room for moral relativism or political equivalency.
The liberal west has now lived through two generations of the propagation of these myths. This affect of attempted egalitarianism has been proven time and again to be bankrupt and foolish. It has produced, for the most part, intellectual eunuchs - devoid of moral compass or conscience, wallowing in immoral intellectual license - buttressed by structures that make no demands for account. It is a wake-up call. It is time for hard truths.
When Al-Qaeda and ISIS and Hamas and Hezbollah make pronouncements about seeking total Islamic hegemony over a liberal pluralist west, we should take them at their word. They cannot compete on the battleground of liberty. Their compulsion therefore is to annihilate freedom.
Violent and murderous attacks by Islamist jihadists will continue. It is to be hoped that the images that came out of France this week – the horrid and the hopeful – will help all free people to marshal vigilance and resolve and beat back the new fascism. They are the mirrors of darker evils from the mists of history.
We must send forth our word, from dozens of directions-- from whom we engage with in business, to whom we ally with in politics-- that as free people, we shall no longer acknowledge as legitimate, we can no longer abide as tolerable and we will never acquiesce as debatable, such infamous acts.
Our actions can make the difference. We must make it clear, in word and deed, that even if perverted and put-upon in every corner of the earth-- freedom of thought, the prerogative of private judgment and the conscience of uncompromised truth—may always direct their course to, shall never be compromised in, and will always be championed by, our pride as free people.