In the wake of the Paris massacre, John Kerry went out and made a fool of himself. There’s nothing new there, but I did want to comment on something I did and to explain why I did it — or more accurately, why I didn’t do something that every other commentator did. My point in writing this is to prove that I’m not quite the half-wit people may have assumed I am.
Let me begin with Kerry’s words:
In the last days, obviously, that has been particularly put to the test. There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for. That’s not an exaggeration. It was to assault all sense of nationhood and nation-state and rule of law and decency, dignity, and just put fear into the community and say, “Here we are.” And for what? What’s the platform? What’s the grievance? That we’re not who they are? They kill people because of who they are and they kill people because of what they believe. And it’s indiscriminate. They kill Shia. They kill Yezidis. They kill Christians. They kill Druze. They kill Ismaili. They kill anybody who isn’t them and doesn’t pledge to be that. And they carry with them the greatest public display of misogyny that I’ve ever seen, not to mention a false claim regarding Islam. It has nothing to do with Islam; it has everything to do with criminality, with terror, with abuse, with psychopathism – I mean, you name it.
Everybody and his uncle latched onto the first part of that paragraph, in which Kerry seemed to say that satirical journalists and Jews were legitimate terrorist targets. I went in a different direction and focused on the second part where, in keeping with the Democrat-party line, Kerry again denied that massacres — whether ten months ago or a week ago — have anything to do with Islam. It occurred to me later that some readers might have thought I was stupid, careless, or otherwise deficient for not lambasting Kerry for his bizarre statement about legitimate and illegitimate terrorist attacks.
All I can say is that I’m not as stupid as I look. I actually had an analytical framework that I’d completely clicked through by the time I sat down and wrote. I’d processed Kerry’s remarks, and concluded that the most important part was his denial about Islam’s role. Everything else was just Kerry’s generosity in giving us an opportunity to see his obtuse brain working through a problem.
The way I saw it after think about Kerry’s painful inanities (and isn’t it embarrassing that our Secretary of State is so moronic?) is that Kerry’s operating thesis, the one that underpinned everything he said, came not at the beginning of his statement, but at the end. That thesis is that “It [one massacre after another] has nothing to do with Islam.”
The problem for Kerry is that, once you deny Islam’s role in all these massacres, then you have to come up with a credible reason each time people professing to be Muslims, as Kerry said, keep “indiscriminately” killing people. Even the meanest intellect (that means you Secretary Kerry) has to have noticed that the “lone wolf” attacks by people who are coincidentally Muslim are escalating in number. Moreover, the great minds in the State Department must also have noticed that, with more coordinated attacks showing up in the news, the lone wolves aren’t so lonely anymore. They’re running in packs — but it’s still a coincidence that both packs and loners cite to chapter and verse in the Koran to justify this slaughter.
Still, Kerry knows that Islam is irrelevant. That thought was at the front of his brain when he tried to figure out what would motivate killers who most emphatically were not motivated by Islam. What Kerry’s lumbering brain can comprehend is the notion of responding to a direct insult. Even though the Charlie Hebdo massacre had nothing to do with Islam, Kerry dimly understand that the killers were subject to a direct provocation: a crude picture of a cartoon figure coincidentally denominated “Muhammad.”
As an aside, since we have no idea what Mohammed looked like, I can assert that the following picture is of Mohammed, no offense meant:
As Tweedle Dee would illogically have said, “If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”
But back to our bovine-brained Secretary of State. Sticking to his thesis, he’s figured out and voiced a legitimate reason for a mass shooting that, while centering on Muhammad, nevertheless had nothing to do with Islam — it was all about an insult, and there’s the legitimacy he was looking for. As for the Jews killed in the kosher market — well, Kerry doesn’t have to speak aloud the motivation there. Margot Wallström, fellow traveler and Swedish Foreign Minister did it for him. Although she was speaking in the context of the most recent round of Paris attacks, she articulated precisely what Kerry must have been thinking about the “legitimate” insult that would justify Muslims to open fire on a kosher market for reasons other than Islam: “Here, once again,” she said, “we are brought back to situations like the one in the Middle East, where not least, the Palestinians see that there is not a future. We must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”
So, Kerry’s little brain has already worked through two problems. Islam had nothing to do with it. And it’s legitimate to kill people if they insult you for reasons that relate to the Koran but actually have nothing to do with Islam. Now, though, Kerry has a big problem: What in the world did all those seemingly random people in Paris do to deserve being shot if Islam and its exhortations to jihad had nothing to do with it? And lo! The answer presents itself: These were mean people. They didn’t need an excuse like pictures or Palestine. They’re just mean. They’re not mean because of Islam, of course. They’re just bullies who, coincidentally, are Muslims.
And that’s why I didn’t mention the part about the Charlie Hebdo attack being “legitimate.” Everything Kerry waffled on about was a subset of one dominant trope: That Islam is innocent and unrelated to the waves of massacres rippling throughout the world, whether in America, Europe, South America, the Indian subcontinent, the Malaysian island chains, or Australia. Instead, these are all legitimate reactions to offensive pictures that have nothing to do with Islam, Jews who have nothing to do with Islam, or just plain meanness that also has nothing to do with Islam. Knowing this, I therefore didn’t focus on the moronic details that passed through Kerry’s mind. Instead, I focused on what was, to me, the key issue.
UPDATE: Here’s an excellent essay by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which folds Kerry’s stupidity into a larger, dangerous, antisemitic, immorally relativistic pattern. (That phrase “immoral relativism” comes from the essay and is so good, I’m going to keep it.)