We have before us an interesting example of a political argument, proceeding from a prediction of fact to a prescription of policy. Let us take them in order.
“If your intention is to stop terrorism”, you are an idiot. Religious terrorism, inaugurated by the Jews two millennia ago, has been with us ever since. Modern state terrorism, consecrated on 7 May 1794 by Maximilien Robespierre, has integrated itself into the arsenals of democracy along with lesser regimes. There is no reason to expect the Global War on Terrorism, construed as a repugnant military and/or political tactic, to succeed, where the War on Poverty, construed as a regrettable human condition, and the War on Drugs, construed as a class of noisome substances, have failed. In particular, as Muslim terrorism continues unabated, why “[should we] not try to blame the whole population of Muslims for it”? The causal effects of organized religion are grounded in doctrine and witnessed by fact. Whether or not certain charges leveled against this or that religion amount to a just indictment or merit dismissal as scurrilous slander, must therefore be determined through analysis and observation. Are the Catholics cannibals as self-confessed consumers of the true Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist? This is mostly a matter of doctrinal analysis. Do the Jews sacrifice Gentile babies to consume their blood in their Passover repasts? This is mostly a matter of factual investigation. Does the Quran require Muslims to kill infidels? This is a question equally dependent on doctrine and fact. Foreclosing its study in deference to political reasons serves no real interests at stake.
To the extent that the question of the Muslim mandate to kill infidels can be answered in the affirmative, can the ensuing blame of the former by the latter stop terrorism? Even assuming that such blame is bound to radicalize more Muslim terrorists, there is no reason to conclude that it cannot simultaneously precipitate an overwhelming repudiation of terrorist violence in the remainder of the Muslim community. On the other hand, even supposing that such radicalization overwhelms the Muslim community at large, yields no practical reason to abstain from factually warranted blame, political censure, or even military extirpation of Muslim doctrines and practices.
In his Life of Caesar, 15.3, Plutarch observes: “For although it was not full ten years that he waged war in Gaul, he took by storm more than eight hundred cities, subdued three hundred nations, and fought pitched battles at different times with three million men, of whom he slew one million in hand to hand fighting and took as many more prisoners.” The Gauls presented no further military threat to Rome ever since.
According to the contemporary account of Josephus’ De bello Judaico 6.9.3, Caesar’s Flavian successors, faced with the very archetypes of religious terrorism known as the Zealots and the Sicarii, killed no fewer than 1,197,000 Jews in the siege of Jerusalem and its aftermath, in the course of just five years of the Jewish wars from 68 to 73 CE. (It bears notice that two centuries later, Tacitus’ History 5.13 counts but 600,000 Jews killed. Make what you will of this discrepancy.) Still, the Chosen People weren’t done asserting themselves against their Imperial hegemons. It all came to a head a few generations later, in the Bar Kokhba revolt fought circa 132–136 CE. According to Dio Cassius’ Roman History 69.13-14:
Fifty of their most important outposts and nine hundred and eighty-five of their most famous villages were razed to the ground. Five hundred and eighty thousand men were slain in the various raids and battles, and the number of those that perished by famine, disease and fire was past finding out. Thus nearly the whole of Judaea was made desolate, a result of which the people had had forewarning before the war. For the tomb of Solomon, which the Jews regard as an object of veneration, fell to pieces of itself and collapsed, and many wolves and hyenas rushed howling into their cities. Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war. Therefore Hadrian in writing to the senate did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors, “If you and our children are in health, it is well; I and the legions are in health.”The Jews presented no further military threat to Rome ever since. In fact, they presented no military threat to any other nation for nineteen centuries thereafter. If you think the same fate cannot or will not befall this or that Muslim nation, or even the Ummah in its peace-loving entirety, you are kidding yourself.
Nous voulions être là, parmi ceux qui ont vu ces choses atroces, pour dire que nous allons mener le combat, il sera impitoyable, parce que quand des terroristes sont capables de faire de telles atrocités, ils doivent être certains qu’il y aura en face d’eux une France déterminée, une France unie, une France rassemblée et une France qui ne se laissera pas impressionner même si aujourd’hui elle exprime une émotion infinie à l’égard de ce drame, de cette tragédie, qui est une abomination, parce que c’est une barbarie.
We wanted to be here, among all these who saw these atrocious things, to say that we are going to fight. And our fight will be merciless, because these terrorists that are capable of such atrocities need to know that they will be confronted by a France that is determined, unified, and together. France will not let itself be overawed, even if today it is expressing an infinite amount of emotion at this drama and this tragedy that was an abomination and a barbaric act.