"Once again we've seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians. This is an attack not just on Paris, it's an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share."
As the atrocity in Paris was still ongoing, President Obama took to the podium in the west wing of the White House to make a statement. He looked exhausted and besieged. The quote above was the key takeaway from his remarks. It is a sentiment that one hears often after these types of terrorist attacks from politicians from both sides of the aisle. It is also blatantly false.
I am old school enough to think it unwise and unpatriotic to use the event of a terrorist attack to score points against your political opponents, so let me emphasize here that this has nothing to do with our President. Rather, it is a what I see as a deadly flaw in our collective political thinking when it comes to the very nature of the existential conflict in which we find ourselves. To the President and anyone else who agrees with the sentiments above I ask this simple question...
Please list for me exactly the universal values which you believe that all of humanity shares?
More specifically, which universal values do we share with ISIS?
Western civilization is in the midst of a death struggle with radical Islamic jihadists for the precise reason that we do not share the same values. Nothing could be more self-evidently true. When your enemy can throw a seemingly unending supply of volunteers into the fight who eagerly await their chance to martyr themselves, we can't even rely on the universal value of the desire for self preservation. And yet, after every Paris, a tide of self-loathing Western elitists scramble to the nearest microphone to contextualize the evil, eager to place their own free countries into the dock along with the terrorists. It is maddening and utterly predictable.
What way forward? I have no idea. Confronting and defeating a belief system like radical Islamist jihad has no simple solution, no painless remedy. But a good place to start would be to rid ourself of the dangerous and naive notion that all of humanity shares universal values. To use such imprecise language may make us feel better by creating safe spaces in our minds, but in the real world it is a dangerous delusion.