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U.S. Couple Murdered by ISIS Fell Victim to Left’s Fantasy World

The story has invited more derision than sympathy for the victims: a couple that ridiculed the idea that “the world is a big, scary place” was murdered by Islamic State (ISIS) jihadis while biking through Tajikistan. But those who are mocking Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan for their naivete are being too harsh.

The responsibility for their deaths lies not just with ISIS, or with this starry-eyed couple, but also with the Leftist world in which they moved and lived. The Left’s leaders constructed a fantasy world, because Leftist ideas are dead on the drawing board without it.

In their fantasy world, Islam is peace. Borders and nation-states are unwelcome relics of a bygone age, because people are good everywhere -- with the exception of Donald Trump and the “far-right.”

Austin, an employee of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Geoghegan, who worked at Georgetown University, decided two years ago to leave their jobs and go on a bike ride around the world. They kept a blog about their journey, on which Austin wrote last April:

You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. People are axe murderers and monsters and worse.

I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own -- it’s easier to dismiss an opinion as abhorrent than strive to understand it. Badness exists, sure, but even that’s quite rare. By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind. No greater revelation has come from our journey than this.

Yes, Austin and Geoghegan were unwise to carry this Pollyannish philosophy into Muslim Central Asia, but they didn’t originate it. In this sad episode, ISIS is not the only one with blood on their hands.

Where did Austin get the idea that “evil is a make-believe concept"? Perhaps in today’s universities, which are saturated with moral relativism, contemptuous of absolutes, and dogmatically convinced that there is no dispute between people that can’t be settled by mutually respectful “dialogue.”

This perspective dominates contemporary culture, and is taken for granted even at the highest level. When Barack Obama and John Kerry entered into negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, they were working upon the assumption that it was wrong to think that people “are not to be trusted” and that “people are evil.” Obama and Kerry were essentially embracing the idea that “evil is a make-believe concept.” That the mullahs were perhaps “self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes,” but ultimately good-hearted. The Leftist intelligentsia was and still is unanimous in applauding that initiative.