Herbert London: The Horror Before Us And The Sound Of Silence
Simon and Garfunkel sang about “the sounds of silence,” that moment when you want to shriek in the face of conspicuous silence. Alas, we are experiencing this condition as the West intentionally reverses its gaze from the horrors committed in the name of Allah and cannot summon the voice to say “no.” We are reliving the late 1930’s – 1940’s when the world refused to acknowledge the bloodshed foisted by every step of jack-booted Nazis.
The cover story of an American journalist beheaded by an ISIS adherents prompts an automatic response. I observed a middle aged man looking at the photos of the assassination shaking his head and saying to no one in particular “this makes me sick.” It makes me sick as well.
I am filled with rage over the death of a man I do not know. What I do know is that he is an American and I know, as well, that we in this nation once defended Americans.
In Africa, BokoHaran kills with impunity. ISIS sports the heads of victims like bowling balls. This is a part of the world gone mad. Or perhaps we are mad for being silent over these monstrous acts. There is a naïve but pervasive belief among Americans that most people are like us, what I call “mirror imaging.” However, it should be patently evident that is not true. We value life; they, the purveyors of destruction, value death. We believe in rational judgment; they accept only mystical dogma.
An Arab women burned to disfigurement after an Israeli attack in Gaza sought assistance in a Israeli hospital that specializes in skin grafts. For hours Jewish doctors worked to restore her skin never asking or even thinking that she was an enemy combatant. Several days after her release she returned to the hospital. This time wearing a belt of explosives designed to destroy the very same hospital and doctors that virtually saved her life.
What does this incident convey? There isn’t any gesture of gratitude; there isn’t the slightest sense of humanity on the part of this Arab woman. In fact, we in the West find ourselves baffled by the level of intolerance and hatred. We don’t get it!
Christians are killed by Muslim extremists for no other reason but their faith. The slaughter occurs across the globe from North Africa to northern Nigeria. Of course there is the occasional op.ed which points to the horror and a stentorian voice in the House of Representatives floor expressing indignation. But by and large, the response is not commensurate with the crime.
The rise of anti-semitism across Europe has been observed and chronicled, but here again the specter of another holocaust is played down. Outrage is restrained. Many Jews are told, “don’t overreact.” Yet the knives are unsheaved and the ignorant invective is visible on signs, and billboards e.g. “Hitler didn’t finish the job. We will.”
Silence didn’t work in the past and, as I see it, it isn’t working now. The drumbeat of hate is deafening; the reaction hesitant, even silent. Is it fear that defines contemporary America? Intimidation? Or the belief that we can negotiate our way out of the morass?
Keep in mind that the enemy defines silence as weakness. An unwillingness to confront the horror isn’t perceived as thoughtful restraint, but as cowardice. Three thousand women are being held captive by ISIS in northern Iraq where they are raped and sold as slaves. This group of barbarians blatantly argues its enemies are Christians, Jews and Americans.
Savagery has returned to the age of reason. And where is the sophisticated West? Insulated at the moment from the horror, texting its way to oblivion and ignoring the monster that may soon be on its doorstep.
Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries atwww.londoncenter.org
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