Terrorism as Rorschach Test

Pretty much everyone in the world is opposed to terrorism in principle, or pretends to be, so the interesting part of anyone’s response to a terrorist atrocity is not the initial condemnation, but what follows after. Most such reactions are predictable. Conservatives generally say, so what are we going to do about it? Liberals generally say, but it has nothing to do with Islam! But some people can’t help themselves: their obsessions are so strong that every event, even a terrorist attack, is an occasion to air them.

A grotesque example is this piece in Salon by one Elias Isquith, titled “Ted Cruz & the new McCarthyism: Inside a dangerous response to the atrocity in Paris.” There is hardly a conservative anywhere in the Paris story: not the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, not the terrorists, not France’s socialist government. Only an obsessive could look at these Islamic attacks and think that somehow, the story is all about Ted Cruz.

Isquith begins with two long paragraphs of what he admits is ritual condemnation of terrorism, beginning with: “Here are a few sentences I should not have to write but apparently must, all the same.” Then it’s on to the real story–McCarthyism!

[F]or far too many people, it is seemingly impossible to hate the cartoon but love its creator. It’s a mindset that reminds me of nothing so much as McCarthyism….

Huh? Why? This is never actually explained.

Even some journalists who present and think of themselves as on the liberal side of the debate over radical Islam could not help but frame the killings as just one small part of a larger, epochal struggle. …

Considering this is the rhetoric coming from the folks paid to ruminate and write, you can probably imagine the stuff coming from Congress. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — who, others have noticed, bears a striking resemblance to “Tail-Gunner Joe” — proclaimed in a press statement that the murders were “a reminder of the global threat we face.” On Facebook, he said that they should be considered “an attack on us all.”

So, that’s it? Ted Cruz said that the Paris murders are “a reminder of the global threat we face,” and are “an attack on us all”? How is that different from anything that was said by Barack Obama, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton or anyone else? And what on God’s green Earth does it have to do with Joe McCarthy? Nothing, obviously. But liberals apparently had a meeting a year or two ago and decided that they would try to neutralize Ted Cruz by constantly comparing him to McCarthy–not for any particular reason, just as a smear. So this is out of that playbook. Still, you have to be far gone in obsession to think that the great significance of the Paris terrorist attacks is that they reflect badly on Ted Cruz.