Wednesday, January 7, 2015

An Attack on Freedom

When I woke up this morning, I switched on my TV to get caught up on the news and was greeted by a reminder of something we should never again allow ourselves to forget.

It was the early reports of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly newspaper, in Paris that left 12 dead (so far) and nearly as many injured.

I won't go into details about Charlie Hebdo because those already have been reported by every journalist in the free world today.

Folks who are familiar with my blogs know that I am a journalist, a veteran of daily newspapers; this kind of thing cuts to the very core of things in which I believe — like freedom of the press and freedom of speech, both of which are threats to those who would impose a totalitarian system on others, as the terrorists seek to do. Satire is especially threatening to them because satirists hold nothing sacred and religious extremists hold nearly everything sacred — except for free speech.

What happened in Paris today was nothing less than an attack on freedom. It was an attack on every newsroom in the free world — and, as such, it was an attack on free speech.

The pillars of freedom.

It wasn't an attack on French newsrooms — or France — alone.

From what I have read and heard, the plot probably was carried out from a region near Paris that is primarily occupied by Muslims. If that is true, it is also probably true that the terrorists have allies in that area, like–minded individuals who helped them prepare for what was clearly a coordinated attack. How long were the ones who carried out the plot hiding in plain sight? How long will those who helped them hide in plain sight, perhaps to help carry out another such plot in the future?

Do you think this can't happen here? That the ocean that separates us also protects us? That is what they thought before World Wars I and II.

What proportion of the population in your city is Muslim? Most are probably peaceful, but a few may be radicals, keeping it hidden from view. I used to cover the police beat, and one thing I noticed was that, inevitably, when someone was convicted of a violent crime, the people who knew him when he was growing up would say, "He was always such a good boy." It was always a surprise to them that he would do something like that.

In spite of what the administration wants everyone to believe, we are still at war with supporters of radical Islam. We may have stopped, but they never will, and that's a problem for this president. It really shouldn't be, but it is.

Somewhere along the way, Barack Obama got the idea that a president has the power to live in a world of his choosing. Obama wants a world where those who are entrusted with protecting Americans cannot be given certain kinds of information about suspects because that amounts to profiling.

That's nonsense. Presidents cannot choose the circumstances in which they serve, only how they respond to those circumstances. It is their duty to protect their people from whatever threatens them — be it disease or violence.

Failure to protect a president's people is negligence, yet Barack Obama is hesitant to confront the threat of radical Islam. He would probably prefer that the more rational elements of Islam would crack down on these extremists. His problem: How do you persuade the moderates to take action?

It is appropriate that the 40th anniversary of "The Godfather Part II" came along a couple of weeks ago because it offers some instruction here.

I direct your attention to the scene early in the movie in which Fredo's wife was drunk and making a scene, and Michael sent one of his henchmen to Fredo to tell him "Take care of this or I have to."

I know that not all Muslims are radicals, that only a small percentage fit that description. I know that the teachings of Islam are peaceful, but all religions have their extremists, the ones who have twisted the teachings of their faith.

The president of the United States, in spite of his personal feelings, must tell the cooler heads in the Islamic world that they have to take care of this — or we will have to.

Because this is the kind of thing that will spread if it is not checked. If it can happen in Paris, France, in the middle of a work week, what is to keep it from happening in Washington, D.C., or New York or Los Angeles — or Wichita, Kansas?


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