Belmont Club

Immunity Zone

A Texas event attended by Pamela Geller, Geert Wilders and Robert Spencer was attacked by an undetermined number of persons.  Two of the suspected assailants were killed and one was injured by the cops.  A police officer was also wounded, but not critically.  The scene is still being combed for explosives and evidence.

There are probably many pundits who are comforting themselves by thinking: “I’m not Pamela Geller and therefore I will be safe.  I don’t say what she says.  I don’t know who she knows.”  Therefore this trouble will pass me by.

But the truth is, no one is safe.  Not left-wing artists in Europe nor Nigerian schoolgirls nor high school students in Pakistan.  Not agricultural college kids in Africa nor Yazidis in their remote mountain villages. Not people working a regular day in Manhattan on bright September days.

No one is safe.

Last weekend 6,000 people were rescued from boats trying to make their way from North Africa to Southern Europe.  A quarter million people have died in Syria.  Yemen is now writhing in what one would in an earlier day call “war” — suffice to call it the other cross border incursion —  apart from Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

These facts, by themselves, are unremarkable.  What is truly astounding is the dogged evasiveness with which the administration and most leaders of the Western world are determined not to see them; the insistent will to maintain the atmosphere of “business as usual”.  Ed Miliband, the head of the British Labor Party, wishes to criminalize “Islamophobia” and President Obama has repeatedly declared the “war on terror” is over.

All the best places chorus, “what me? Worry?”  There is no war.  There is no problem that a little silence, a little censorship and a little John Kerry won’t amend. Yet no one is safe.

At this point no one expects Western leadership to have answers. But the public can reasonably expect the leadership to ask questions, at the least to face the facts.  No one wants war.  But speaking of which, though some have been brought to an end by surrender, and others by victory, never in the annals of history has one been concluded by denial.

Everyone who thinks “I am safe” should remember that if the storm that is manifestly brewing on the horizon should rise to its full towering force and strike no one will be spared.  To close or to open your eyes: those are the only alternatives on offer.

There is the notion, widespread among the public, that there exists a correlation between “what you do” and “what happens to you”. According to that theory, what occurred in Texas was somehow occasioned by what Wilders or Geller said. But that causality only holds in times of peace.

What distinguishes conflict is that this causal linkage is suspended. We see this empirically time after time. For example, those killed or maimed in the Boston Marathon bombing were not interested in politics but that did not keep them from getting blown up. In conflict the vast majority of people who suffer will bear no personal guilt. Yet as with the Boston marathon casualties, innocence will not save them, because they are in the way of some poorly understood historical dynamic careless of individual fate; which for the time being has forgotten names, faces and homes.

This condition must be met on its own terms and the problems, larger than life, resolved so that individuality can exist again. So that faces, homes and professions; so that innocence and guilt may emerge anew. Until then we are trapped on an impersonal stage where the main thing to achieve is survival and, if possible, victory with justice and mercy, not because it is good, but because it is less bad than defeat.

Leaders knew how to keep the peace once, and failing that win the war. Now we seem to have forgotten how to do either; trapped in a Twilight Zone of our making, unable to see, and yet alas, too easily seen.

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