Here are some wonderful passages from Goldberg’s fully wonderful column.
So Charlie Hebdo is selling like hot cakes, giving new meaning to the Profit Mohammed. And, just as I suspected, the images are pissing off lots of Muslims who aren’t terrorists. And, again just as I suspected, the New York Times et al. can’t help but make that the real story. No doubt millions of people hashtagging “Je Suis Charlie” were sincere — or thought they were — but the real reason that slogan spread into nearly every ideological quarter is that sympathizing, empathizing, and leeching off the moral status of victims is the only thing that unites Western societies these days. Celebrating winners is divisive. How long did it take for the Sharptonians to leap on the Oscar nominations?
What is remarkable is how short the half-life of solidarity for Charlie Hebdo was. The moment it dawned on people that there must be consequences to theHebdo attack, not just group hugs and hashtags, the divisions, gripes, and handwring[ing] re-emerged.
Our reaction: Uhhhhh… Yep.
And so before the street-sweepers even put a dent in the discarded “Je Suis Charlie” signs, the media was already on the prowl for signs of Western overreaction. The New York Times editors warned that “perhaps the greatest danger in the wake of the attacks” was a backlash against Muslim immigrants.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want an anti-Muslim backlash, but in all of this talk of Islamophobia, it seems the most acute and relevant phobia is the fear our elites have of their own people. The rabble can’t be trusted to keep things in perspective. While the story was still unfolding in Paris, Steven Erlanger, the New York Times’s London bureau chief, was invited on Shep Smith’s show for a “phoner.” Erlanger couldn’t resist starting the interview by warning Fox about how “careful” it needs to be covering the story. The Eloi must be ever vigilant not to arouse the Morlocks, don’t you know. It was this sentiment that no doubt motivated the Times to edit its own reporting on the attack, removing any reference to the fact that one of theCharlie Hebdo attackers spared a woman’s life — and advised her she needed to convert to Islam. You can almost hear the editors saying, “Look, if we leave that in, the little people might get the impression this had something to do with Islam. We know it does, but we can handle that truth. The flyover people might miss the nuances.”
Is that last sentence (red highlight) perfectly on the nose, or what?!?
By the way, how much have you heard about the anti-Muslim backlash over the last decade and a half? Well, here’s a fun fact. In every year since 9/11 the number of anti-Jewish hate crimes in the U.S. has dwarfed anti-Muslim hate crimes.
…when was the last time you heard a reporter from the New York Times fret over the need to be careful lest we encourage an anti-Semitic backlash?
I’ll take my answer off the air.
(One hilarious tic of the anti-Islamophobia brigades is they can’t even use the right words. Technically, bigotry against Muslims is anti-religious. But denouncing bigotry against religion creates too much cognitive dissonance for a crowd that routinely denounces Christianity. It’s too risky to set that precedent. So instead they use “Islamophobia” whenever possible and “racism” whenever they can get away with it.)
Here’s a very, very good point that Goldberg doesn’t follow through with. Technically, “Islamophobia” means fear of Islam or, in its more practical meaning, fear of muslims in general. In this, when the left coined the term in order to avoid the anti-religious meaning, they accidentally got it partially right.
Only partially, because a phobia is an irrational fear of something. Triskaidekaphobia — the fear of the number 13 — is irrational(1). Fear of muslims, whether one likes it or not, is perfectly rational. There are thousands of goons — possibly hundreds of thousands of goons — scattered around the world hoping for the opportunity to kill someone who looks like you or me. Remember sleeper cells? How about those hordes of “lone wolves?” How about the hordes of Europeans running away to join ISIS? Where is the lack of logic in being a tad nervous of that? The favor that the left did for us was to name what they consider “racist,” a … fear.
By accident the left got it just right: it has nothing to do with race, or with anti-religiosity, in this the least racist, least prejudiced country on the face of the earth. Rather, it has everything to do with the fact that there are tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of goons out there willing to kill you or me in the name of islam… and millions of other muslims out there ready to cheer the atrocities.
No, fear of islam — and of muslims — is absolutely, completely, no-doubt-about-it, perfectly logical, and … rational.
Here’s some more from Goldberg:
THE EVIL LOGIC OF EVIL-LOGIC ARGUMENTS ABOUT EVIL LOGIC
I don’t dispute that Islamist terrorist attacks threaten to give Islam a bad name. (Actually, that ship probably sailed a long time ago for lots of people.) What I don’t get is why Muslims should have blanket immunity from the rules that apply to everyone else. If Israel does something bad, Jews are expected to condemn it — and they do. When a pro-lifer goes vigilante and blows up an abortion clinic, you can be damn sure that pro-life leaders are expected to denounce it — and they do. More to the point, the entire liberal establishment gets their dresses over their collective heads about the need to hold larger communities accountable. Just ask tea partiers, Evangelical Christians, gun-rights advocates, and my other fellow Legionaires of Doom.The entire edifice of supposedly sophisticated left-wing thinking is about collective responsibility. For instance, The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote an impassioned case for reparations last year. Whatever you think of his argument, two things are indisputably true: (1) The piece was universally praised on the left (and parts of the right) and (2) slavery reparations amount to collective punishment. You might say that slavery was collective punishment — and you’d be right! But there are no living former slaves in the U.S. (not counting refugees) and there are no living former slave owners of the Confederacy either. Moreover, there are quite literally hundreds of millions of people who have little to no tangible connection to slavery — even by lineage. There are over 40 million foreign-born Americanstoday. Why should a Vietnamese immigrant be asked to pay for 19th-century slavery? My mother is half of southern heritage and half of northern, but my dad’s side of the family were all refugees from the pogroms. Do I pay a quarter reparation?
Forget reparations. What about correcting “white privilege,” taxing the “1 percent,” and denouncing all cops for the actions of a few? These, along with critical legal studies, critical race studies, and vast swaths of feminism, Marxism, post-colonialism, and other bits of wreckage from the overturned manure truck of left-wing thinking all depend, in one way or another, on notions of collective responsibility. Moreover, they depend on them not just in a communal or political sense, but as a matter of metaphysics. White people owe. Men owe. The wealthyowe. The West owes. They owe because the goddess “social justice” demands it. And this particular goddess is Crom-like in the sense that she cares not whether you were born in poverty or what good works you have done in your life. You don’t matter. All that matters is the eternal them and they owe by virtue of their identity.
Again… Yep. And we’ve been saying these things for a very long time. However, it’s the following that shows that the great Mr. Goldberg reads the output of our increasingly influential (and growing) think tank.
MURDOCH IS GALLIC FOR MORDOR, RIGHT?
I bring all of this up because I found the hissy fit over Rupert Murdoch’s tweet last week pretty hilarious. Murdoch wrote:
Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible. [Editor’s Note: Who was it who said nearly this very same thing (here, and here and here… oh, and here)? Goldberg then elaborates as only he can.]
Now, I might have phrased that differently, but you have to suffer a kind of anti-Murdoch dementia to not get his point. He was not calling for drone strikes on 1.6 billion Muslims. He was saying the Islamic world has to confront the problem in its own community, as he explained here.
But for those who feel awkward and uncomfortable denouncing Islamic terrorism (people might get the wrong idea!), denouncing Rupert Murdoch is like curling up by the fire in warm footie-pajamas. It is ground zero of the liberal comfort zone. Chris Hayes called Murdoch’s tweet evidence of “A disgusting, vile sentiment, whose logic is ghastly.” He added:
Now, in a seminar, it’s absolutely true that one can do a little dance at the chalkboard and explain why the language of Murdoch’s tweet can by syllogistically compared to the “logic” of terrorism. But in reality, the real evil here is playing word games that fuzz-up the differences between an utterly defensible tweet and the mass slaughter of innocent people by large groups of people determined to kill more and, ultimately, erase Western civilization and all the liberal and “liberal” values progressives hold dear. What I mean is jihadism is at war with both my kind of liberalism — free minds, free markets — and Chris Hayes’s kind of “liberalism” — gender norming, sexual liberation, etc. But confronting that truth is hard. It’s so much easier and more satisfying to whine about Rupert Murdoch because “Fox News!!!!111!!!
And then this is a cosmic confluence of two of the finest pundits who ever lived: Jonah Goldberg and Kevin Williamson. It results in a few of the more sublime bons mots ever penned (I’ve highlighted the greatness in red):
Kevin Williamson got this very well in an excellent piece on the use and abuse of ideological extremism. Just because you can do the logic chopping dance and compare different kinds of “extremism” that doesn’t make them equivalent in the real world. Here’s Kevin:
As the slaughter at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris reminds us, the phrase “religious extremism” is useless in that it is almost entirely devoid of content. It matters — and it matters a great deal — which religion is under consideration. The world does not have much of a problem with Quaker extremism, Mormon extremism, African Methodist Episcopal extremist, Reform Jewish extremism, Zen Buddhist extremism, Southern Baptist extremism, etc. We’ve seen, over the past few decades, scattered paroxysms of Hindu extremism and Sikh extremism (India), Buddhist violence (Burma), quasi-Christian cult violence (Uganda, Sudan), etc., but the big show in terms of violent extremism is the never-ending circus of jihad.
Juan Cole, in a particularly dopey moment, compared Sarah Palin, of all people, to the sort of people who just carried out a mass murder in Paris. “The values of [John McCain’s] handpicked running mate, Sarah Palin, more resemble those of Muslim fundamentalists than they do those of the Founding Fathers,” he wrote. “What’s the difference between Palin and a Muslim fundamentalist? Lipstick.”
Lipstick and 3,000 corpses in lower Manhattan, hundreds of thousands more around the world, and a dozen new ones in a Paris magazine office.
I am sure there is something that passes for an “extreme Unitarian” but I would feel much safer around one than an avowed “extreme Wahhabist.”
The Unitarians are coming! Eeeeeeee!!! Run for your lives!
(1) Here’s how Wikipedia refers to phobia:
“In clinical psychology, a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational.”