Reprinted from City-Journal.org.
Liberal ideology conceives of “safe spaces” in the context of alleged white patriarchy, but there was a real need for a “safe space” in Britain’s Manchester Arena on May 22, when 22-year-old terrorist Salman Abedi detonated his nail- and screw-filled suicide bomb after a concert by teen idol Ariana Grande. What was the “progressive” answer to yet another instance of Islamic terrorism in the West? Feckless calls for resisting hate, pledges of renewed diversity, and little else.
A rethinking of immigration policies is off the table. Nothing that an Islamic terrorist can do will ever shake the left-wing commitment to open borders—not mass sexual assaults, not the deliberate slaughter of gays, and not, as in Manchester last week, the killing of young girls. The real threat that radical Islam poses to feminism and gay rights must be disregarded in order to transform the West by Third World immigration. Defenders of the open-borders status quo inevitably claim that if a terrorist is a second-generation immigrant, like Abedi, immigration policy has nothing to do with his attack. (Abedi’s parents emigrated to Britain from Libya; his immediate family in Manchester lived in the world’s largest Libyan enclave outside Africa itself.) Media Matters ridiculed a comment about the Manchester bombing by Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt with the following headline: fox news host suggests ‘open borders’ are to blame for manchester attack carried out by british native.
Earhardt had asked how to prevent “what’s happening in Europe, with all these open borders, they’re not vetting, they’re opening their borders to families like this, and this is how they’re paid back in return.” Pace Media Matters, a second-generation Muslim immigrant with a zeal for suicide bombing is as much of an immigration issue as a first-generation immigrant with a terrorist bent. The fact that second-generation immigrants are not assimilating into Western culture makes immigration policy more, not less, of a pressing matter. It is absurd to suggest that Abedi picked up his terrorist leanings from reading William Shakespeare and William Wordsworth, rather than from the ideology of radical Islam that has been imported into Britain by mass immigration.
The Washington Post, too, editorialized that “defenders of vulnerable immigrants and asylum seekers, who in Britain as elsewhere in the West remain the targets of populist demagogues, could take some comfort from the fact that the assault apparently did not originate with those communities.” Well, where did the assault originate from—Buckingham Palace?
Since liberals and progressives will not allow a rethinking of open borders policy, perhaps they would support improved intelligence capacity so as to detect terror attacks in the planning stages? Nope. The Left still decries the modest expansions of surveillance power under the 2001 Patriot Act as the work of totalitarianism. Former New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly sought to gather publicly available information about dense Muslim neighborhoods in New York in order to monitor potential radicalization; his discontinued initiative is still denounced as anti-Muslim oppression. Internet companies protect encrypted communications from government access, to the applause of civil libertarians and the mainstream media. The National Security Agency’s mass data analysis, done by unconscious computer algorithms, is still being challenged in court.
What about using ordinary police powers to try to hinder terrorism? Islamic terrorists in Europe have moonlighted as crooks, engaging in drug dealing, robberies, vandalism, and theft. The U.S. should have zero tolerance for any criminal activity committed by aliens: break the criminal law and you’re out of here. Deporting alien criminals is both an anti-crime and an anti-terrorism strategy. Yet mayors and police chiefs in sanctuary jurisdictions across the country continue to release alien criminals back into the community from jail in defiance of requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold the criminals briefly for removal proceedings. The New York Police Department defied every ICE detainer request it received in the first four months of 2017, instead releasing 179 alien criminals back into the streets, according to the New York Post.
So what does the progressive and liberal bloc offer? Treacly bromides, combined with fatalism about the necessity of adjusting to future attacks. A day after Manchester, the Washington Post admonished:
As nations across the West have learned, it is not possible to prevent all such terrorist attacks, especially when they are staged by homegrown militants. What is possible is a response that focuses on uniting rather than dividing a diverse society. That’s what was happening in Manchester on Tuesday, as thousands of people of all races and faiths gathered for a vigil in the city’s Albert Square. “I’m not here as a person with brown skin or someone born Muslim,” a man named Amir Shah told a Guardian reporter. “I’m here as a Mancunian.” If that spirit prevails, the terrorists will have failed.
No, the terrorists will have failed if they can no longer slaughter children. They don’t care if a terror attack is met with candlelight vigils; they care if border restrictions and law enforcement make it impossible to destroy lives.
The flip side of the Post’s “terrorists will have failed if we light candles” conceit is the ubiquitous meme that the “terrorists will have won” if we modify our intelligence strategies or immigration policies in any way. The New York Times editorialized after the Manchester bombing: “It is important to recognize this attack for what it is: an attempt to shake Britain—and, by extension, the rest of Europe and the West—to its core, and to provoke a thirst for vengeance and a desire for absolute safety so intense, it will sweep away the most cherished democratic values and the inclusiveness of diverse societies.” This response is narcissistic. The attack was an effort to kill British girls and their parents, period. The terrorists win every time they pull off such massacres. They are not monitoring the legislative process and plotting how to move the needle on Western security protections in a way contrary to their own self-interest. If a society were exclusively Christian, Jewish, or even Muslim, it would be just as much the target of attack by ISIS or al-Qaida as a more “diverse” society.
Moreover, how would the New York Times distinguish a terror attack that seeks to “sweep away . . . the inclusiveness of diverse societies” from one that was merely intended to kill? Any terror attack carries some chance (albeit an increasingly de minimis one) that it will result in a tightening of immigration or security policies, but that does not mean that such tightening is the goal of the attack.
Perhaps aware that the “candlelight vigil” strategy for fighting terrorism may seem a little wan, progressives make passing reference to actual security measures, but couched in such broad terms as to be almost meaningless. And they are only faking it, because those security measures would violate core tenets of progressive ideology.
Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, for example, invokes the usual weak remedies: she calls for “community solidarity, things like the mass vigil that took place in Manchester on Tuesday night, or the offers of tea, blankets and bedrooms extended to people stranded by the attack.” But then, so as not to sound too soft, she also suggests “better policing . . . as well as the forthright teaching of British values in British schools.” If “better policing” means more surveillance of, or interaction with, suspicious individuals, good luck with that. One can already hear the cries of “racial profiling.” As for the “forthright teaching of British values in British schools,” where does Applebaum think we are—the 1920s? Forthright teaching of Western values went out decades ago as an anti-minority, anti-immigrant violation of multicultural relativism.
Even more hypocritically, the New York Times intones that “maximum vigilance is needed, and . . . public spaces must be made as safe as possible.” Never mind that the Times led the fight against NYPD Commissioner Kelly’s neighborhood-mapping program that tried to maintain “vigilance” against nascent radicalization. Never mind that the Times rages against any police effort to increase the safety of “public spaces,” whether via pedestrian stops or Broken Windows policing.
The contrast between the Times’s attitude toward domestic policing and its attitude toward Islamic terrorism is striking. When it comes to terrorism, the public should “recognize that more attacks will very likely occur, despite our best defenses,” the Times says. It is also “critical that immigrants, especially Muslims, are not stigmatized.” If the Times were talking about police shootings of black males, it would never counsel acceptance of the alleged inevitability of more shootings. As for not stigmatizing an entire group for the actions of a few, when it comes to the police, there has been no shriller a stigmatizer than the Times. It has crusaded against cops in the most inflammatory terms, accusing the police of systemic bias against blacks. Unlike a terrorist, an officer almost never initiates an interaction with a civilian with the intention to kill, unless he is confronting a suspect who poses a deadly threat. True, a few individual officers have made horribly wrong judgments about a suspect’s threat level. But those misjudgments do not occur out of homicidal animus. Regarding Islamic terrorism, the Times intones that “Understanding is critical” and inveighs against “whipping up divisive ethnic, racist and religious hatreds.” The Times has never tried to “understand” why officers are more likely to use force in high-crime, gang-ridden areas or why officers try to restore order there (answer: because the law-abiding residents of those anarchic neighborhoods beg them to do so).
Applebaum warns against “politicizing” the “natural” emotions triggered by the attack—“horror, anger, sadness, fear, revulsion.” Why shouldn’t those emotions be politicized? Every left-wing cause, especially the anti-cop crusade, is the result of politicizing an emotion. When it comes to terrorism, however, a country is apparently not allowed to say: “Enough is enough, the status quo is not working, we need to rethink the policies that have allowed this mayhem to flourish.” Mob justice, of course, is abhorrent, and any changes of law must follow the normal deliberative process. But the public should not have to resign itself abjectly to future attacks.
Islamic terrorism in the West is an immigration problem. Until we have the law enforcement and intelligence capacity to detect terror plots, immigration policy has to change, both in Europe and in the U.S. European security forces are unable to track the militants in their populations, so large are their numbers. The United States must not end up in the same situation. We need lower immigration levels and much tighter screening. The Manchester bombing vindicated President Donald Trump’s March 2017 executive order briefly limiting travel to the U.S. from half a dozen ISIS- and al-Qaida-riven countries, including Libya, while the administration reviews security screening in those countries. Yet three days after Manchester, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down that order, claiming that it “drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.” This judicial crusade against Trump’s travel pause cripples the executive’s ability to protect the country from attack, by exporting phantom constitutional rights to the world. Progressives’ passivity in the face of Islamic terrorism is not a consistent philosophy. It is rather the outcome of their commitment to open borders at any cost. That ideology has taken too many lives and must be overcome.