There is an iconic and chilling scene in “The Dark Knight” where the
Joker tells Batman about his faith in mankind – faith that principles
and values go out the window when the pressure is on. “Their morals
and code? It’s a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble,” he
says. “They are only as good as the world allows them to be. When the
chips are down, these civilised people will eat each other.”
Those words ring in my mind when I think of Nice, and the fear and confusion that has gripped citizens across the world. Similar to the Joker, terror groups are trying to challenge and denigrate the world’s faith in the motto of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity – the secularist faith. With this latest attack on humanity, right-wing political factions across Europe and the United States are trying to prove the Joker’s point by denouncing the ethos of multiculturalism.
The attack in Nice, Paris, Brussels, Charlie Hebdo and the Orlando
shooting are designed in part as a psychological strike to pit people
against one another. Look no further than the growing debate in Europe
and the United States over whether to accept the millions of refugees
that have flowed out of Syria and other war torn nations.
The leaders of France’s Front National, Britain’s UK Independence Party, Poland’s Law and Justice party and Hungary’s Fidesz party, all have said that the refugees pose a significant security risk to Europe, arguing how ‘Islamisation’ is a threat to European values. In the United States, Republican candidate Donald Trump has called on the US Congress to reverse its decision to allow Syrian refugees into the country while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich went a step ahead, demanding US authorities test and deport those with a Muslim background who believe in Sharia law.
This is clearly what the terrorists want: Create suspicion and worry about Muslims living in or entering the West in hopes of alienating and radicalising some of them. This is the time for governments to aggressively defend the secularist faith of their constitutions to counter the narrative of the right, which is being baited by terror groups.
The French government’s appeal for national unity and
political cooperation is a message to all terrorists that it will not
be cowed, namely President Francois Hollande’s statement that, “France
will always be stronger than the fanatics.” It’s an encouraging – and
courageous – message to the rest of the world as well.
At the same time, the European governments can no longer tiptoe around the menace of homegrown terror. There are repeated calls for curbing alienation in society and improving intelligence gathering, but world leaders cannot fear talking about Islamic extremism for the sake of political correctness.
The fallout of that attitude has been that the
extreme right is controlling the whole argument, and their narratives
are emboldened by ISIS and other terror groups.
(The writer is a senior news editor at CNN-News18. He can be reached at @Jamwalthefirst. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)