Who does not love Paris? Puritans do not love Paris. Puritans hate, music, song, dance, poetry, fun and love. Today, such people are represented above all by extremist Muslim doctrinaire fundamentalists. They seem to despise women without veils; call music Satanic; regard painted images as an insult to an angry God; consider football a sin, and a restaurant serving wine as the embodiment of evil. They do not respond to a life-affirming bustle and the ideals an open, tolerant, democratic, liberal, humanitarian, egalitarian West.
When Sir Karl Popper wrote, at the end of the Second World War in 1945, his two-volume classic, The Open Society and its Enemies, he laid bare the evils of totalitarian systems, both left and right — Communism and Fascism. He would never have guessed that soon a Third World War would be taking place between radical Islam and the West.
Last week, the City of Light went dark. In January of this year, some Islamist gunmen had attacked the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and another had gunned down shoppers in a kosher supermarket. U.S. President Barack Obama, in an interview with Matt Yglesias, commenting on the supermarket attack, glossed over the motives behind it: “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.” [Emphasis added]
Two days after last week’s attacks, when reporters asked Obama if he would consider additional action against The Islamic State (IS), he declined to give a straight answer. The killings, he said, were “based on a twisted ideology.” As so many times before, Obama would not define what ideology — the belief system of radical Islam, based on violent passages from the Qur’an and Hadith, and modelled on the jihadist actions of generations of Muslims, beginning with Muhammad himself.