Every think tank blog or communique today ought to begin with these words. We who represent the essence of free speech need to mourn, honor and stand with our fallen comrades.
The same should be the response by all media outlets. Each of them needs to respond to this atrocity with the same courage and defiance of religious zealotry displayed by Charlie Hebdo. As Ralph Peters opined last night, every newspaper the world over, but particularly those in the U.S. and Europe, needed today to carry a full page cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed.
We must recognize also that the attack in Paris was not an isolated incident, even if the perpetrators were not part of any organized Islamic terrorist organization. This attack was but the latest incident in what has been a decades-long war on free expression as it relates to Islam and Sharia law. We can look back to the decades-old fatwa against Salman Rushdie. There was the assassination of film maker Theo Van Gogh. The pattern is clear: to question, criticize or satirize Islam is to risk one’s life.
The so-far tepid response by the media and blogosphere also sheds light on the difficulties faced by those seeking to have an open discussion of religion, politics and culture in the Muslim world. Attempts by some to impose anti-blasphemy laws on the international community in the interest of protecting Islamic sensitivities send precisely the wrong message to the world. The ease with which such attempts are labeled anti-Islamic globally and subject to potentially lethal sanctions locally has suppressed almost all political-religious reform in this part of the world.
The Obama Administration hasn’t helped the situation with its failure to accept the reality that this is a global war between all free thinking people and a global ideology that seeks, at a minimum, to impose its values on the world. What we are facing is not just terrorism, it is war.
Moreover, despite President Obama’s best efforts to claim mission accomplished, it is not a war we are winning. The Islamic State has recruited some 30,000 fighters and controls a caliphate the size of the state of Texas. Islamic radicals have destabilized Libya, Yemen and Somalia. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan and recently conducted mass casualty attacks in Pakistan. If this is the President’s idea of victory then heaven help us.
So today I say again that I am Charlie Hebdo. We all should say it. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, we should highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. The war against radical Islam should begin here and now.
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