First let me say this: Mes condoléances vont aux victimes de la Nice attaque.
Here we are … again talking about another terrorist attack in France. French authorities are working under the presumption that this was a terrorist attack, but are being circumspect as to why they think it was terrorism. President François Hollande basically said that the terrorist nature of the attack was self-evident. Applez-moi un sceptique, Monseiur President. Western governments need to be perspicacious about why they consider certain attacks terrorism. If we’re viewing terrorism as an act of war against Western values, but failing to get the consent of the governed to extend states of emergency ad infinitum, then the terrorists are winning this fucking war.
Terrorism is ideological warfare reified. Islamists are not content to allow the merits of their religious ideals to sell themselves. They will use violence to spark fear which leads to the questioning of essential civil liberties. I remember the odious responses to the Charlie Hebdo massacre such as “What did you expect? You depicted Muhammed, of course you’re going to be gunned down by terrorists.” Such an opinion ignores the integral role of freedom of expression in the functioning of Western democracies while also assuming that Muslims are both uncivilized and uncivilizable. It’s the epitome of bigotry, which dissolves under the most cursory scrutiny.
If I were wanting to drive otherwise sensible Muslims into the arms of extremist religious dogma, the French government’s extension of the state of emergency is precisely the reaction I would want to elicit. Extending a state of emergency which curtails civil liberties otherwise enjoyed by all is exactly what terrorists want to happen. It allows Islamists to draw a contrast between the contingent ideals of Western philosophy to what they view as the essential and immutable truths of Islamic theology.
Of course none of this would matter if it weren’t for a tacit bigotry against Muslims in the West. Note, this doesn’t include criticism of Islam, but a palpable albeit tacit bigotry against Muslims as people. That we regard Islam as a race instead of a religion not only highlights are own stupidity, but also betrays the fact that there are definitely racial elements in the West’s animus towards Muslims. We are actively isolating Muslims from our democratic process, and pushing them more towards the terrorism that ISIS and their ilk romanticize as righteous jihad.
That being said, Muslim immigrants need to know that our Western civil liberties are non-negotiable for a reason. Freedom of expression and the separation of church and state are essential in hashing out disagreements and moving towards détente and civility. We don’t need to agree on everything to live together, but we must be civil. Terrorism is the antithesis of civility, but so too, is the reactionary nationalism of Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen.
I certainly don’t have to agree with the insane bullshit that come out of these two people’s mouths to defend their right to say it. It is Western civil liberties which allow us to opine and discuss such incivilities, and these civil liberties make our democratic process transparent, but messy. There’s an argument to be made that we need the insanity of Le Pen and Trump if only for the sheer reason that we need examples of dangerous thinking to demonstrate what is dangerous about such thinking.