By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
“Pray for Germany,” read one meme floating around on Facebook. But I’m not praying for anyone and you shouldn’t either. “Thoughts and prayers have become the easy “get out of taking this seriously,” response to every mass murder terror attack motivated by Islamist extremism. It doesn’t matter how many people the new Nazis, the new KKK, murder, the response is always “pray.” Pray for what? For a quick death? For the victims? They don’t need our prayers, they need protection. They need better intelligence services working together to find, detain and hopefully kill, terrorists.
Thoughts? Thoughts do nothing.
Here’s the US State Department’s usual blather, after the Berlin atrocity. “We are deeply saddened by today’s horrendous events at a Christmas market in Berlin. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family members of those killed, and we hope for a speedy recovery for the many injured.”
Der Spiegel has reported that 12 people were killed and 48 injured after a truck purposely drove into a crowded Christmas Market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church near the Zoologische Garten train station.”German police have reported that one suspect has been arrested and that he is believed to have been the truck’s driver. Berlin public radio station RBB has reported that the suspect detained in the incident is a Pakistani national who is believed to have entered Germany as a refugee in 2015. Police have confirmed that a passenger in the truck, identified as a Polish national, was killed.” As of Tuesday afternoon, December 20, the police could still not fully confirm if the original man detained was the perpetrator, but they still think it was terror related.
The attack reminds many of a similar truck attack in Nice in July 2016 on Bastille Day in which 86 were murdered and 400 injured. The perpetrator of that attack was Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a 31-year-old man from Tunisia. It reminds many of the “new normal” in Europe of mass murder by intolerant, bigoted, hate-filled, murderers, inspired by religious extremism, with much in common with the Inquisition and the KKK. Madrid (2004, 192 murdered), London (2005, 56 murdered), Toulouse (2012, 8 murdered), Paris (18 murdered, 2015), Paris (2015, 137 murdered), Brussels (2016, 35 murdered).
These attacks pall in comparison to those in New York (2001, 2996 murdered), Bali (2002, 202 murdered), Netanya (2002, 30 murdered), Djerba (2002, 19 murdered), Tel Aviv (2003, 23 murdered), Quetta (2004, 44 murdered), Breslan (2004, 385 murdered), Bali (2005, 20 murdered), Imam Abbas-Iraq (2007, 70 murdered), Iraq-Yazidi (2007, 500 murdered), Al-Hillah Iraq (2007, 120 murdered), Mumbai (2008, 168 murdered), Baghdad-Shia pilgrims (2009, 46 murdered), Khazna (2009, 28 murdered), Baghdad-Catholic Church (2010, 51 murdered), Baghdad (2010, 57 murdered), Baghdad-Shia mosque (2010, 69 murdered), Kampala (2010, 74 murdered), Kabul-Shia mosque (2011, 60 murdered), Marrakesh (2011, 17 murdered), Mogadishu (2011, 100 murdered), Alexandria Church (2011, 23 murdered), Nairobi (2013, 71 murdered), Peshawar Church (2013, 127 murdered), In Amenas (2013, 37 murdered), Beirut (2013, 27 murdered), Tripoli (2013, 42 murdered)Beirut-Bir Hassan (2013, 22 murdered), Kunming (2014, 33 murdered), Peshawar School (2014, 145 murdered), Kano (2014, 120 murdered), Kuwait City (2015, 27 murdered), San Barnadino (2015, 14 murdered), Tunisia-Bardo (2015, 22 murdered), Bamako (2015, 20 murdered), Kenya-Garissa (2015, 147 murdered), Tunisia-Sousse (2015, 39 murdered), Baga (2015, 150 murdered), Lahore (2016, 75 murdered), Gaziantep (2016, 51 murdered), Ivory Coast Hotels (2016, 16 murdered), Dhaka (2016, 29 murdered), Istanbul (2016, 36 murdered), Orlando (2016, 50 murdered), Mogadishu (2016, 29 murdered), Baghdad (2016, 250 murdered), Cairo (2016: 25 murdered).
Each time we hear “thoughts and prayers.” We have candle light vigils when we should have more vigilance. We hear statements about “senseless act of violence” and “random people killed” or how “lunatics” and “madmen” massacred people. Another “tragedy.” Even as the list of victims grows and grows. Instead of recognizing the threat and paying attention as the forerunners of ISIS committed hundreds of attacks in Iraq in 2007-2009, especially targeting religious and ethnic minorities, there are more “thoughts and prayers.”
When this pattern of Islamist violence began; based solely on the worshipping of murder within religious extremist communities, based solely on the daily inculcation of hatred for the “kuffar”, hatred for the other; we were are told to be shocked. But then after decades the idea was to inure the public to it, the way the public in Baghdad or Pakistan or other places was supposed to just go on about one’s daily life, with mass murder always around the corner. The public is supposed to wander on with zombie-like indifference as if predestined to accept this fate.
Every time there is mass murder there are excuses and rationalization and obfuscation. It’s because of “this” or “that.” The victims are actually at fault for “alienating” the murderers. Or the security is at fault. A SkyNews “security expert” claimed that “Christmas Market should have been shut,” because of warnings. Because the answer to the KKK and Nazis is to shut down black churches and synagogues, right? Because the answer to Islamist terror is to hide and close everything us. Never, ever, to say “No.” Never, ever, to say “no, this is unacceptable.”
Because the reaction is always a candle light vigil and “days of mourning.” Never, ever, to say we will have zero tolerance for intolerance, we will force young people to learn to accept diversity and tolerate others and if you preach hate you will be immediately deported or jailed. Because no, we must not violate “freedom of speech.” Of course not.
The whole world is threatened by the cancer of religious-inspired hatred, a new imperialism of mass murder. The western commentators would have you believe it is always “lone wolves” and “random.” It’s not “random”. It targets Bastille day, the national day, it targets religious events, such as Christmas, it targets a kosher deli, it targets a Shia mosque, a Sufi shrine, it targets Coptic Christians in Egypt, it targets Shabak and Yazidis in Iraq, it targets Kurds, it targets synagogues, it targets foreigners, it is solely inspired by religious hatred. When the murderers in Mumbai and Westgate and Dhaka lined up the hostages they tortured and murdered those of the “wrong religion.” It’s not random. It’s planned. It is thought out. It is premeditated. The murderers love bathing in blood, they love genocide and mass rape as they did in Iraq and Syria. They love deciding when others will die. They are not “poor and alienated.” They are middle class, just like the Nazi SS volunteers, they are middle class zealots who hate others and are raised either in classrooms teaching hate, in families who teach them hate, in communities who teach them hate. They have networks. The Islamist murderers in Mumbai were in touch with their Pakistan handlers up to the moment of death. They proudly broadcast the killings.
“Let’s pray for the victims.” The victims don’t want prayers. They want to be alive. Just like the people stuffed into gas chambers at Auschwitz didn’t need prayers, the black men lynched in the Old South didn’t need prayers, the Salem women accused of “witchcraft,” didn’t need prayers, those murdered by Anders Breivik didn’t need prayers, the women burned at the stake or tortured by the Inquisition didn’t need prayers; they need protection, they have a right to life. The “thoughts and prayers,” dismiss the right to life. The Vietnamese massacred at Mai Lai didn’t need “thoughts and prayers”, they needed men like Lawrence Colburn who died on December 17th, the door gunner of a US helicopter who helped saved lives and stop the massacre after 500 had been murdered.
Don’t give them your thoughts and prayers, give them a proper defense. Give them a shield against intolerance, hate, bigotry, genocide, and mass murder. Say no to religious extremism, Islamist hatred. Demand zero tolerance for hate preachers, for everyday hatred, for people that fly ISIS flags and excuse ISIS and Al Qaeda and other groups. There is an octopus of extremism all over the world and every country is a victim and everyone is inured to it. There is no attempt to truly roll in back, in the opposite it grows everyday and everyday people say “oh, this lone wolf on this senseless attack.” The violence has sense, just like the Nazis were not “senseless” as they rounded people up. The only cure for Nazism or the KKK, is the cure of eradicating it. Entirely. The only cure for Islamist terror is to go down to the roots and fight it everyday in society.
Thoughts and prayers are a form of surrender. An acceptance. Appeasement. They are like the response of the conscientious objector to Nazi conquest. Those who are silent in the face of hatred are collaborators. The aphorism, evil triumphs because good people do nothing, is exactly right. But good people don’t do nothing. Good people don’t say “thoughts and prayers” as people are carted off to Auschwitz, they have a duty to fight against the carting off. Those in Mosul had a duty to resist ISIS, not just look on as women were photographed, enumerated like animals, and sold. And those who do not do their duty are part of the problem.
The West is cowardly in the face of ISIS and extremism. When an ISIS flag is raised no one protests. When their friends talk about glorying in murdering the “infidels,” they remain silent. When their friends share hate-speech, they do not speak out. They don’t demand tolerance of asylum-seekers. If those seeking asylum hate the cultures, religions and countries they are demanding asylum in, they should be rejected. Migrants should be forced to learn tolerance first and take responsibility for being tolerant. Those who support executing others for “blasphemy” and support persecuting others for their religions should not be received as “refugees,” when they are in fact causing others to be refugees.
The world must say that it refuses to live as it has lived for the last two decades, under the constant threat everywhere of mass murder. First the world must care more for the victims. Don’t turn the perpetrators into the victims. Second, stop saying “thoughts and prayers” and start demanding that hatred and intolerance be confronted and not coddled. Third, stop tolerating the endless mass murder, be angry and offended, don’t light candles and just mourn, demand concrete actions, stop accepting that having security everywhere is the “answer” to terror, that for every attack the “answer” is more and more security and accepting that what was once taken for granted, the peaceful life, will be discarded. The Nazis and the KKK and the Islamists don’t get to win and deprive the world of security. More security at black churches was not the “answer” the KKK bombings, it was going deep after the roots of the KKK. The answer to the Nazis was not more Maginot lines, but eradicating them. Living in a fortress is not an answer to Islamist extremism, putting up more walls and having lumbering police with guns everywhere. That’s just playing defense. You have to demand offense, if people don’t want to be tolerant,deport them. Societies have to actively fight against extremist hatred, not just accept it as a new normal. If you don’t struggle against it, you have given up.
I will pray for you.