Our flight from reality
In my desire to make sure that we were not just reacting to the outrages of the left and thereby ignoring what Mel Gibson said, I may have been too dismissive of David B’s point yesterday about the liberal double standard in the treatment of Gibson. As a friend pointed out to me today, at the very moment the media are screaming to the skies about Gibson’s anti-Jewish comment, they have been virtually ignoring the anti-Jewish murder and attempted multiple murder at the Jewish center in Seattle by a self-described angry Muslim seeking vengeance against Jews. There is something seriously amiss when the raving drunken words of a movie director spoken to two officers in the back of a police car are treated as vastly more important than the fact that we have let millions of Jew-hating, Christian-hating Muslims into this country, one of whom, every few weeks it seems, acts out his jihadist rage with actual murder.
To repeat: we now have jihadist murders taking place regularly in this country, and we have tens of thousands of potential jihadist murderers walking around at liberty among us, but what we obsess about is a single unhinged comment by one celebrity who has never done anything to hurt Jews.
Here from the Seattle Times is a detailed account of the Seattle attack. While the article makes compelling reading, it is still bizarre in what it omits. It quotes the shooter Naveed Haq’s statement to a 911 operator during the shooting, “These are Jews. I’m tired of getting pushed around, and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East,” yet it never mentions who “our” people are; the words Muslim and Islam do not appear once in the story. The article says that Haq has been charged with a hate crime. The implication is that his “hate” of Jews is a purely personal prejudice that has nothing to do with the fact that he’s a Muslim, even though he himself said repeatedly that he was doing this as a Muslim.
There’s another thing about this terrible crime that is both deeply disturbing in itself and emblematic of our civilizational crisis. The killer Haq got into the Jewish Federation offices by holding a gun to the back of a 14-year-old girl who was visiting her aunt who works at the Federation. The girl let him in with her, then she went and locked herself in a stall in the ladies’ room, from which safe location she heard the shots, including the shots that killed Pamela Waechter. While the girl’s behavior is understandable,—could any of us say for certain that we would have behaved differently?—she is now going to have to live with the fact that she let Pamela Waechter die so that she could live.
Part of the horror of coming under the terrorist power of Muslims or Nazis is that it forces such choices on the victims and so breaks them down morally as a people, rendering them unresistant to the ruling power. “Don’t let me die, let someone else die.” Thus Winston Smith cries at the climactic moment of 1984:
“Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!”This response does not occur only in reaction to the threat of physical torture and death. When people refrain from naming Islam as the problem, in order to avoid being attacked as “anti-Muslim,” they are doing the same thing. To protect themselves, they are letting our whole civilization come under the murderous power of Islam.
And this is what is actually happening to us as a people and a civilization, even as we continue to obsess about Mel Gibson.