A gaffe is “when a politician tells the truth,” as per Michael Kinsley’s apt definition. Yesterday’s gaffe by Secretary of State John Kerry claiming that the Charlie Hebdo attacks had “a legitimacy” – he quickly corrected himself to say “a rationale” – reveals such gross misunderstanding of the threats our country faces that he simply must resign.
Let’s be kind and say “legitimacy” wasn’t a Kinsley-style gaffe but just a poor word choice that doesn’t reflect the Secretary’s beliefs. His substitute term “rationale” is hardly better.
Criticism of Kerry’s remarks has largely focused on his excuse-making for the Charlie Hebdo attacks – that the shooters were “really angry because of this or that.” But his rationalization of anti-cartoonist violence is not nearly as troubling as his befuddlement regarding why our enemies in the Islamic world would want to massacre Westerners “indiscriminately.”
(At this point, I hereby give the requisite disclaimer that not all Muslims are terrorists, and not every interpretation of Islam supports violence. Whatever.)
Muslim terrorists mowed down theater-goers, bombed a sports stadium, and shot civilians in the street while shouting “Allahu Akbar” because they hate the West and what we stand for. They found sick emotional and cultural satisfaction in the immediate pain they caused innocent people, and especially in the terror that followed. The violence was not “absolutely indiscriminate,” to use John Kerry’s phrase.
In fact, the attackers were quite “discriminate” in their actions. They didn’t bomb halal restaurants. They didn’t bomb Qatar or Bahrain. In fact, the site of the worst terror, where Muslim radicals took dozens of concertgoers hostage and executed them one by one, was well-known as a “Jewish” theater because until a few weeks ago it was owned by two brothers who were vocal supporters of Israel.
Further, Friday was the first day of the Islamic battle month of Safar, traditionally associated with attacks on foreign peoples. Waddaan, Mohammad’s first military campaign, took place in Safar. And Muslims fondly remember that during the Safar Battle of Bi’r Ma’oonah, a man who opposed Islam was literally stabbed in the back.
The Islamic State and its allies hate the West because we support individual liberties for people to make their own decisions without religious compulsion enforced by a totalitarian police state. In France, women drive. People draw cartoons of whomever they want. Girls attend school. Nobody throws gay people off the roof.
And let’s not kid ourselves: Muslim radicals also hate Jews, and the fact that Europeans and Americans include Jews as equal members of society. While French anti-Semitism has been rising, France also emancipated the Jews as early as the 1790s, becoming the first nation to welcome them to the modern world with equal rights and responsibilities as citizens.
The 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal contains this memorable like: “Until you name me, you can’t tame me.” This administration has been utterly unable to state outright that our civilization is threatened not by “violent extremists” nor by “lack of tolerance” – but by radical Islam.
Friday’s attack happened because large chunks of the Muslim Middle East are led by men who wish to intimidate us before they destroy us. We can’t resist their intimidation if we don’t understand it.
And that, Secretary Kerry, is why you must go.
David Benkof is Senior Political Analyst at the Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.