Religious affiliation?

If we’re all supposed to take the president at his word that he’s a Christian (and that seems like a reasonable thing to do), why shouldn’t we take Abubakar Shekau‘s word that Abubakar Shekau is a Muslim? Because no true Muslim would do the things he does? Maybe the leader of Boko Haram is somehow a Muslim who practices another religion.

President Obama routinely denies that people are Muslims, in spite of their emphatic declarations to be so; but at the same time it’s supposed to be a big outrage when someone says she doesn’t know whether Barrack Obama is a Christian. Not only is Barack Obama the only man who can say whether Barack Obama is really a Christian; apparently he’s the only man who can tell if anyone is really a Muslim.

War, maybe

Measured, proportional response? No.

“Get a real coalition together. Exterminate Islamic State in Libya, with a ruthlessness and thoroughness that would terrify the foes of ancient Rome. Impose order on Libya. Take sides. Shoot until the bad guys stop moving. Sign a paper and take some pictures. Keep a head-busting squad on standby. Recognize that peace doesn’t keep itself, and do what’s necessary instead of complaining about it.

“No, Barack Obama isn’t capable of any of that.” — Now Egypt joins the air fight against Islamic State – in Libya, by J.E. Dyer

Can’t see any of that happening.

“What about the Jews?”

As ever, some people have taken the latest Islamic massacre (the one in France, not the one in Nigeria) as an opportunity to compare the actions of Islamic terrorists with the actions of the Israeli Army in Palestine. Why, they ask, should European Muslims be expected to distance themselves from The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, any more than European Jews should distance themselves from Israel? Here’s why: The actions of the terrorists and of the Islamic State are entirely consistent with Islam. The actions of the Israeli Army and the Jewish State are entirely consistent with the actions of nation states.

Deliberately killing innocent people is a problem when anybody does it. Shooting back at people who are shooting at you seems only to be a problem when Israel does it. If Israel were Turkey, there wouldn’t be any non-Jews in the area that would be the area formerly known as Palestine. If Israel were Germany, or France, or China, well, the reader can guess based on history. If Israel were the US, maybe the Palestinians would have a profitable gambling concession in Gaza.

Terrorism and law enforcement

They weren’t running away.

“It turns out that the media have misunderstood what was going on since the initial attack by the Kouachi brothers and their accomplice on the Charlie Hebdo offices.

“The elusive Kouachis have not been fleeing from the police, in the manner of the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston. They were fighting their way around Paris to the scene of their next attack — and apparently being assisted by others in a terrorist cell.”

It’s not a job for the police, because it’s not law enforcement. We should not be militarizing the police and curtailing civil liberties. That’s fighting the enemy with his own weapons. We should fight the enemy with our weapons.

“In the last century, we have been preparing ourselves to accept sharia, by insisting on centrally supervised uniformity of thought and vision about all public and moral issues. We have forgotten the strength that comes with decentralization, true tolerance, and the moral dignity of the individual.”

“We must cease using our governments to harass people into conformity on disputable matters.”

There are a few other points, and J.E. Dyer’s Paris attack: The West’s time for choosing is well worth reading. The only problem I can see with the authors recommendations is we would need a population of grown-up citizens to implement them.

Using the enemy’s weapons

Chesterton thought it was a bad idea:

“Whatever else is right, it is utterly wrong to employ the argument that we Europeans must do to savages and Asiatics whatever savages and Asiatics do to us. I have even seen some controversialists use the metaphor, ‘We must fight them with their own weapons.’ Very well; let those controversialists take their metaphor, and take it literally. Let us fight the Soudanese with their own weapons. Their own weapons are large, very clumsy knives, with an occasional old-fashioned gun. Their own weapons are also torture and slavery. If we fight them with torture and slavery, we shall be fighting badly, precisely as if we fought them with clumsy knives and old guns. That is the whole strength of our Christian civilisation, that it does fight with its own weapons and not with other people’s. It is not true that superiority suggests a tit for tat. It is not true that if a small hooligan puts his tongue out at the Lord Chief Justice, the Lord Chief Justice immediately realises that his only chance of maintaining his position is to put his tongue out at the little hooligan. The hooligan may or may not have any respect at all for the Lord Chief Justice: that is a matter which we may contentedly leave as a solemn psychological mystery. But if the hooligan has any respect at all for the Lord Chief Justice, that respect is certainly extended to the Lord Chief Justice entirely because he does not put his tongue out.

“Exactly in the same way the ruder or more sluggish races regard the civilisation of Christendom. If they have any respect for it, it is precisely because it does not use their own coarse and cruel expedients. According to some modern moralists whenever Zulus cut off the heads of dead Englishmen, Englishmen must cut off the heads of dead Zulus. Whenever Arabs or Egyptians constantly use the whip to their slaves, Englishmen must use the whip to their subjects. And on a similar principle (I suppose), whenever an English Admiral has to fight cannibals the English Admiral ought to eat them. However unattractive a menu consisting entirely of barbaric kings may appear to an English gentleman, he must try to sit down to it with an appetite. He must fight the Sandwich Islanders with their own weapons; and their own weapons are knives and forks. But the truth of the matter is, of course, that to do this kind of thing is to break the whole spell of our supremacy. All the mystery of the white man, all the fearful poetry of the white man, so far as it exists in the eyes of these savages, consists in the fact that we do not do such things. The Zulus point at us and say, ‘Observe the advent of these inexplicable demi-gods, these magicians, who do not cut off the noses of their enemies.’ The Soudanese say to each other, ‘This hardy people never flogs its servants; it is superior to the simplest and most obvious human pleasures.’ And the cannibals say, ‘The austere and terrible race, the race that denies itself even boiled missionary, is upon us: let us flee.'” — G. K. Chesterton, Humanitarianism and Strength

If this seems offensive, remember that Chesterton was a man of his time, and so took for granted that cannibalism was bad.

Anyway, it’s counterproductive to fight terrorists with their own weapons. We’ll do better if we fight them with our own weapons. Four other things we should not do:

  1. Respond to attacks proportionately; this is a variation on fighting with our enemy’s weapons, and it’s a fool’s game. We should instead respond disproportionately. [updated for clarity] If someone beheads an American, we should bomb an oil refinery.
  2. Lie about Islam. Islam is “false in its claims and pernicious in its moral and political consequences.” Our leaders should not try to ingratiate themselves with middle-eastern fanatics who want us converted or dead, or with their better-dressed apologists in our own country who ultimately want the same thing.
  3. Give money to our enemies, whether buying stuff from them or giving them “humanitarian aid” so they can buy bullets.
  4. Reward our enemies and punish our allies, ’cause that’s just stupid.

Americans died while the state collected taxes

on whiskey

“The Whiskey Rebellion, or Whiskey Insurrection, was a tax protest in the United States beginning in 1791, during the presidency of George Washington. The rebellion was provoked by the imposition of an excise tax on distilled spirits.”

Maybe there should not have been and should not be an excise tax on whiskey; but there was, and President Washington enforced the law. That’s what presidents, governors, and mayors are supposed to do.

More on law enforcement

“The Pentagon Finally Details its Weapons-for-Cops Giveaway.” See what your town got.

There are legitimate concerns about militarizing our police forces, but I’m not against dispersing surplus military weapons all over the country. It gives us a little defense in depth, and local law enforcement is local. We have more say in what our Sheriff does than in what the FBI does. Granted it would be better if the DOD would make military weapons available cheap to gun clubs or individuals generally, with minimal requirements. In fact if the federal government were sane they would give tax breaks or even a small stipend for ammo to any law-abiding citizen who would maintain an M-14 and shoot it every month. But if I could change one thing about law enforcement today it wouldn’t be the weapons. I’d get rid of civil asset forfeiture.