The pair of deadly shootings on Saturday in Copenhagen–one at a free-speech debate, one near a synagogue–reprise last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris by targeting journalists and Jews once more. If, as suspected, the shootings are the work of Islamic terrorists, it is clear that the West faces an enemy determined not only to kill, but to destroy our core values. That, in turn, means that the West must wage ideological war against radical Islam. “Pinpoint” air strikes are not enough.
The type of equivocating, navel-gazing response offered by President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast is also woefully inadequate. The president’s attempt to mollify the Islamic world by drawing a moral equivalence between radical Islam and medieval Christianity suggests a kind of paralysis that encourages the radicals to believe they are winning. They compare their own religious fervor with the West’s self-doubt, and feel assured that the balance is tipping in their favor.
Moreover, when the President of the United States cannot even bring himself to identify the victims of an antisemitic terror attack as Jewish, that sends a signal that the West secretly holds Jews in contempt, too. That, in turn, may encourage radical Islamists to feel assured that by targeting Jews they are, in a sense, liberating the West–an idea that jibes with the many conspiracy theories of Jewish control that the Muslim world has imported from Europe over the past century.
Certainly the president has, in the past, spoken out in favor of free speech and against antisemitism. Yet his defenses of free speech are often linked to admonitions against blasphemy–“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam”–and he has at times accompanied criticism of antisemitism with disturbing hints of moral equivalence. Radical Islam must be defeated militarily–and it also must be confronted with an unapologetic defense of freedom and tolerance.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak