The other day, a friend told me of an exchange with his progressive brother regarding the terrorist attacks in Paris. “My brother said we have to keep the attacks in perspective, and that 130 dead people is only a minuscule percentage of France’s overall population. So we can’t let it color our thinking with regard to refugees.”
In a better world, such callousness would be astonishing. Certainly 130 dead and 350 injured can be viewed as a mathematical equation, but what of the thousands of relatives and friends directly devastated by that atrocity, or the millions who must once again come to grips with Islamic barbarity?
One might think the brother’s sentiments were an anomaly. Think again. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank indulges the same callousness for the same reason. Even worse, he presents it as an “evolution” of his thinking between 9/11 and the Paris attacks. “After the 9/11 attacks, I dutifully stocked up on rolls of duct tape and N-95 masks, as the government recommended,” Milbank writes. “I bought one of those ‘escape hoods’ they stockpile in the White House and Capitol and, after my colleague across the aisle opened an envelope with white powder, I talked my doctor into prescribing me a just-in-case supply of Cipro. The Post, helpfully, handed out survival kits containing whistles and small pouches of water. To blow off steam, I threw a party and handed out petri dishes filled with vodka Jell-o and test tubes of Bubonic Tonic, Pox on the Rocks, Cipro Sippers and the Evil Dewars.”
Of course he did. For many progressives, blowing off steam was all they had to fall back on when their “good and evil are relative” worldview blew up in their faces as nearly 3,000 people were executed, and the largest buildings in Manhattan came down.
Now, however, Milbank has a daughter to protect. “But parents can’t indulge our fears,” he states. “We’re supposed to make our kids feel safe, even if we don’t feel safe ourselves. I told my daughter that terrorists would love to attack Washington, but we, unlike the French, are an ocean away from Syria, that lots of smart people are working very hard to stop the terrorists, and that these terrorists are not very sophisticated. Even if they did attack here, I told her, the risk to her was tiny. One hundred twenty-nine people died in Paris, but that means 99.999 percent of people there survived. The talk seemed to soothe her. Unexpectedly, it also soothed me.”
It gets worse. Milbank highlights the following exchange between a Paris father and his son captured on video. It was taken at a makeshift shrine and quickly went viral:
Boy: Bad people aren’t very nice. And you have to be very careful because you need to move house.
Father: No, don’t worry, we don’t have to move. France is our home.
Boy: But what about the baddies, dad?
Father: There are baddies everywhere. There are bad guys everywhere.
Boy: They’ve got guns. They can shoot us because they’re very, very bad, daddy.
Father: They’ve got guns but we have flowers.
Boy: But flowers don’t do anything. They’re for… they’re for… they’re for…
Father: Look, everyone is laying flowers here.
Father: It’s to fight against the guns.
Boy: Is it for protection?
Father: That’s right.
Boy: And the candles too?
Father: They’re so we don’t forget the people who have gone.
Boy: Oh. The flowers and candles are there to protect us?
Journalist: Do you feel better now?
Boy: Yes, I feel better.
Milbank then captures this denialism in a single sentence. “That father-son exchange is a more powerful answer to Islamic State than any missile strike,” he states.
Furthermore, Milbank takes pride in his “rationality,” which helps him to “recognize when others aren’t — such as those hysterical over the danger posed by Syrian refugees. Certainly, this is a risk. But there’s a greater risk that war-on-Islam rhetoric will radicalize more would-be terrorists at home and abroad.”
Milbank and a substantial number of Frenchmen apparently believe terrorists can be neutralized with flowers and candles. And if that doesn’t work out, wanton slaughter committed by Islamic terrorists, or radicalized refugees, will be dismissed as statistically insignificant.
In 2001 the population of New York City was 8.063 million people. Two thousand seven hundred fifty-three were murdered at the World Trade Center. If one assumes every one of them were New Yorkers, “only” 0.034 percent of the population was slaughtered. If we rightly assume people from Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester County, and other nearby environs are included, we get a percentage that would undoubtedly be even more amenable to Milbank and his fellow travelers.
It might be worth asking Dana, or Democrats, or President Obama, all of whom embrace insufficiently vetted immigrants from terrorist hot zones being brought to the United States, along with open borders and sanctuary cities that also engender dead Americans, a simple question. At what point do percentages cross into the unacceptable range? How many deaths will it take before those who deny the blatant nexus between Islam and terror, lest it energize “would-be terrorists at home and abroad,” decide flowers and candles are no defense against AK47s and suicide belts?