Much to the chagrin of many, the American comedian Anthony Jeselnik likes to have a bit of sport with tragedies on Twitter. At the end of his most recent comedy special, Thoughts and Prayers, Jeselnik explained that his reason for doing so wasn’t to belittle the victims but to lampoon the millions who take to social media to express their “thoughts and prayers” for the victims, which—according to Jeselnik—amounts to nothing more than empty self-aggrandizing. Being that I am not quite that cynical, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, though admittedly I keep a light social-media profile. I certainly have no problem with people expressing their opinions on social media so long as they are informed opinions (I’m naïve). Looking over my Facebook feed this morning, most of my online (and some real-life) friends are genuinely upset over what took place last night in Paris. Many differ on what those attacks mean and what the proper international response ought to be. Certainly the tragedy will have power political ramifications for both France and the European Union as a whole. The ongoing refugee crisis will likely worsen and further attacks are inevitable.
And yet, according to some online pundits and self-anointed moralists of the Left, Europe—and the rest of the world—must take care not to jump too any conclusions or, worse, “politicize the tragedy.” Already the “Religion of Peace” rhetoric is starting to fly, along with stern reminders that Christians, Jews, and Hindus “do bad stuff, too.” (Atheists are always left off of these lists.) Some want to cast last night’s attacks as part of a larger tale about “victims”—not just those killed or wounded in Paris, but all victims everywhere. If Europe could just find it in its heart to not be so mean to refugees (some of whom aren’t even refugees) and the rest of the world would just help “peaceful democracy” spread to countries which have never known it (and arguably have no use for it), then 130+ people would still be alive this morning. We shouldn’t be angry at the ones taking credit for the attacks, the so-called Islamic State. We should shake our fists at Obama, Hollande, Merkel, Assad, Putin, and so on and so forth. We should shake our fists at ourselves for clearly the decadent West alone is to blame.
The funny thing about this line of moralizing is that it does have a ring of truth to it. The West is decadent. It is fueled by passion and guided by consumption, comfort, and greed. None of that means that the West, or any part of the world, “deserves” to be hit by terrorist attacks. And none of that means that Islam is what we’re supposed to believe it is. By Christian lights—the only lights that matter—Islam is evil. It is a false religion built around a false god, brought into the world by a false prophet who deserves nothing but humanity’s contempt. If we cannot begin with that truth then there is no way to make sense of what has happened in Paris and will continue to happen all over the world. Instead, we all scramble about looking for political, sociological, and economic explanations when in reality the only explanation that means anything is religious. Maybe more people are aware of this than I assume. Perhaps that is why so many are expressing thoughts and prayers for France. They know that only God can save Europe now.