November 14, 2015

Daniel Pipes: Why the Paris massacre will have limited impact

Rebel Staff

(This article by Daniel Pipes originally appeared in National Review Online, on November 14, 2015.)

The murder of some 127 innocents in Paris by a jihadi gang on Friday has again shocked the French and led to another round of solidarity, soul searching, and anger. In the end, however, Islamist violence against Westerners boils down to two questions: How much will this latest atrocity turn public opinion? And how much will it further spur the Establishment to deny reality?

As these questions suggest, the people and the professionals are moving in opposite directions, the former to the right, the latter to the left. In the end, this clash much reduces the impact of such events on policy.

Public opinion moves against Islamists specifically and Islam more generally when the number of deaths are large enough. America's three thousand dead on 9/11 stands out as by far the largest mortality but many other countries have had their equivalent – the Bali bombings for Australia, the railroad bombing for Spain, the Beslan school massacre for Russia, the transportation bombings for Britain.

Sheer numbers are not the only consideration. Other factors can multiply the impact of an assault, making it almost the political equivalent of mass carnage: (1) The renown of those attacked, such as Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands and the Charlie Hebdo office in France. (2) The professional status of the victim, such as soldiers or police. (3) High-profile circumstances, such as the Boston Marathon bombing.

In addition to the over 27,000 attacks globally connected to Islam since 9/11, or more than 5 per day (as counted by, a huge increase in illegal immigration from the Middle East recently exacerbated feelings of vulnerability and fear. It's a one-way street, with not a single soul ever heard to announce, "I used to worry about Islamism but I don't any more."

These cases make more Westerners worried about Islam and related topics from the building of minarets to female infibulation. Overall, a relentless march rightwards is underway. Surveys of European attitudes show 60 to 70 percent of voters expressing these concerns. Populist individuals like Geert Wilders of the Netherlands and parties like the Sweden Democrats are surging in the polls.

But when it comes to the Establishment – politicians, the police, the press, and the professors – the unrelenting violence has a contrary effect. Those charged with interpreting the attacks live in a bubble of public denial (what they say privately is another matter) in which they feel compelled to pretend that Islam has no role in the violence, out of concern that to recognize it would cause even more problems.

These 4-P professionals bald-facedly feign belief in a mysterious "violent extremist" virus that seems to afflict only Muslims, prompting them to engage in random acts of barbaric violence. Of the many preposterous statements by politicians, my all-time favorite is what Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, said about the Charlie Hebdo jihadis: "They're about as Muslim as I am."

This defiance of common sense has survived each atrocity and I predict that it will also outlast the Paris massacre. Only a truly massive loss of life, perhaps in the hundreds of thousands, will force the professionals to back off their deeply ingrained pattern of denying an Islamic component in the spate of attacks.

That pattern has the very consequential effect of shutting out the fears of ordinary voters, whose views thereby have negligible impact on policy. Worries about Shari'a, rape gangs, exotic diseases, and bloodbaths are dismissed with charges of "racism" and "Islamophobia," as though name-calling addresses these real issues.

More surprising yet, the professionals respond to the public's move to the right by themselves moving to the left, encouraging more immigration from the Middle East, instituting more "hate speech" codes to suppress criticism of Islam, and providing more patronage to Islamists. This pattern affects not just Establishment figures of the Left but more strikingly also of the Right (such as Angela Merkel of Germany); only Eastern European leaders such as Hungary's Viktor Orbán permit themselves to speak honestly about the real problems.

Viktor Orbán's Hungary may not last long in the EU. Or maybe he is the group's future leader?

Eventually, to be sure, voters' views will make themselves heard, but decades later and more weakly than democratically should have been the case.

Placing the murderous rampage in Paris into this context: it will likely move public sentiments substantially in one direction and Establishment policies in quite the opposite way, therefore ultimately having only a limited impact.

Mr. Pipes (, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2015 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

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commented 2016-02-21 17:58:02 -0500
Don’t paint all Moslems with the same brush, Canada has many good Moslems who thankfully are starting to speak out. Without their help we are handicapped, If they do not want Canada to become the country they fled, then they need to report the hatefilled Imanas who preach in the Mosques (which are many), and these Imans should automatically be deported. It will only be then that Islam can live side by side in peace in Canada. Until they realize this, the fear against the jihadists will only increase and all Moslems will be the target of hate.
commented 2015-11-17 12:22:47 -0500
Moral Equivalence eh Andrew?
Just friggin lieberal la la land stuff . . . insane ! ! !
What is clear though . . . is when we bring them to our part of the world . . . they work very hard to change it into what they left behind.
Check out “” . . . an eye opener even for a clueless lefty . . .
commented 2015-11-17 11:46:34 -0500
Nice try with the liberal logic Andrew. We are not fooled by your immoral equivalency. The difference is millions of Muslims sympathize with the terrorists, or want to introduce female genital mutilation and other Islamic niceties to our shores. Don’t be so purposely daft.
commented 2015-11-17 10:11:11 -0500
Paul Bernardo is white, so was Timothy McVeigh. therefore I suggest we deport all those awful white people to Antarctica before one of them does something else horrible.

Ridiculous? Yes. But so is painting a billion people with the same brush used by a few problematic individuals.
commented 2015-11-16 14:26:27 -0500
Instead Germany is run by a truly evil self serving Islamist in Merkel. Our leaders live safely in their gated communities. How about they invite the Jihadis to their living rooms?
commented 2015-11-16 00:31:45 -0500
Sean Penson Europe has been appeasing for a while now, where did that get them? Please tell me one time in history where appeasement worked?
commented 2015-11-15 19:50:13 -0500
Mr. Pipes I think you are absolutely right.
As are some of the comments below.
I think The West is committing cultural suicide.
commented 2015-11-15 18:32:52 -0500
SEAN PENSON Well one thing for sure sean it isnt time to be a useful idiot for islam like what you try so hard to be. Time to be a man sean hard as that may be for you,
commented 2015-11-15 18:31:08 -0500
Sean do you really believe that Isis deserves compassion, if you do I feel very sorry for you, and this is most defiantly the time we need a Sir Winston Churchill
commented 2015-11-15 18:12:05 -0500
I cannot believe how many ghouls there are on this site. Compassion is mercy is needed, not hate and condemnation. This isn’t time for a Putin or a Winston Churchill
commented 2015-11-15 16:20:40 -0500
Don’t forget, Iraq invaded Kuwait and the US had no choice put to take Saddam out. The problem is and we saw it in the Arab Spring is that a power vacuum was created. There are many Waring entities that will move in to tjat vacuum. The Middle East is always going to be in turmoil. Sometimes Dictators are a necessary evil to keep order. We in the West don’t seem to understand that.
commented 2015-11-15 16:09:44 -0500
William Wiser;
I agree that the Iraq war was most likely a big mistake. We will never know for sure but it seems clear it was justified on false intelligence. With that said, I completely disagree that it somehow follows that the current problems in the Middle East and with radical Islam is the fault of the USA. This is basically the same logic that the Nazis used to justify the second Great War. If we allow ourselves or people to justify evil (taking the lives of the innocent) because of the mistake or wrong o of another when will the barbarism stop?
My solution to all of this is an immediate stop of all humanitarian aid to the ME with the exception of Israel and those fighting ISIL. All western democracies cease using ME oil. Impose crippling embargoes on Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other countries that sponsor terrorists. A strategic military offensive the likes of which has never been seen in my life time to go after ISIL and other terrorist groups.
Either, democracy, freedom, Judeo-Christian values, rule of law, and the west are superior to tyranny, sharia law, Islam, anarchy, and the culture of the mid-east or it is not. There is no middle ground. This is a religious war and a war of values and philosophy. Not recognizing this, taking a passive approach, ignoring the problem, political correctness, and a liberal progressive approach are all complicity with the terrorists. I think Daniel Pipes would agree.
commented 2015-11-15 15:59:00 -0500
William Wiser: Thank you. You clearly answered my questions.
commented 2015-11-15 15:28:22 -0500
The problem is that to win a war you have to be more like Putin or historically like Churchill. Neither leader are loved by progressives and there you have the problem. Unless it gets so bad that the ‘silent’ majority wakes up will there be nothing more than talk.
commented 2015-11-15 14:41:46 -0500
Islamic State needs to be stopped but I believe the burden of ensuring it’s annihilation should be placed on the ones who helped facilitate it’s creation. Cleaning up ones own mess so to speak. Similar to how many of us believe how we shouldn’t be taking in all those Syrian refugees. They aren’t our problem either.
commented 2015-11-15 14:33:28 -0500
Evelin Cooper, the current situation in the middle east is a direct result of the U.S. wars and foreign policy in said region. There actions allowed Islamic State to take root and expand in the region. The Iraq war was probably the biggest reason for this happening which thankfully Canada was smart enough to not get involved with. The U.S. made this mess so why should Canada be expected to risk the lives of it’s citizens to help clean it up? Whatever happened to taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions?
commented 2015-11-15 14:29:36 -0500
“Any group or nation that would fund these terrorists either directly or indirectly is just as guilty as Islamic State in my opinion. Cut off the money, equipment and weapons to these murderous barbarians and you neutralize their ability to wage war.” A statement I can agree with. Problem is, we may have to endure WW3 before the Islamists can be stopped in their tracks!
commented 2015-11-15 14:24:26 -0500
Rick Plesnik, in order for Islamic State to even attempt to create a world caliphate I think we both would agree they would need vast amounts of money, weapons and equipment. Many would say that they already have access to those resources. My question is from whom? They’re in the middle of the desert, where did they get all these weapons and equipment from? It either occurred through strategic actions or gross incompetence, both equally unacceptable. I know they are in control of numerous oilfields which are generating millions of dollars a day to finance their jihadist attacks, my question is who are they selling this oil to and why is the coalition allowing this to continue? Any group or nation that would fund these terrorists either directly or indirectly is just as guilty as Islamic State in my opinion. Cut off the money, equipment and weapons to these murderous barbarians and you neutralize their ability to wage war.
commented 2015-11-15 14:22:06 -0500
William Wiser: So does this mean you support the new Canadian policy to avoid conflict and to “run away”? You prefer a world where friends will stand by and watch a close acquaintance get mugged and likely murdered, and do nothing because it’s not their problem and they don’t want to get involved. They prefer to remain righteously neutral? Yet I bet they’re screaming for help when somebody attacks them! Is this the Change that Canada supposedly has been asking for?
commented 2015-11-15 13:51:06 -0500
William Wiser said: “Judy, I would say the biggest reason Switzerland hasn’t been targeted by these islamic terrorists is because they haven’t been bombing them.” That won’t last. The goal, as confirmed by the Islamic State itself is a world caliphate!
commented 2015-11-15 13:36:29 -0500
When the public believes that the ruling elite do not share or even respect as valid, their wants, absolutely they will look elsewhere, and in the case of Europe, I do fully believe that we will see a decisive move to the right. When you have a media, as in Canada with the CBC, that forces a narrative and censors anyone that doesn’t support that narrative, people will look to other avenues for their information and exchange of ideas. What the media and elite are probably too self absorbed to realize is, they are in fact, expediting the process.
commented 2015-11-15 13:30:39 -0500
Judy, I would say the biggest reason Switzerland hasn’t been targeted by these islamic terrorists is because they haven’t been bombing them.
commented 2015-11-15 12:48:02 -0500
Mary Ruth Olson said: “Sean Penson, you are exactly the kind of idiot in denial that Mr Pipes describes in this article. Wake up and quit getting your pablum news from the likes of the CBC. Wait until this type of muslim terrorist carnage hits our shores; will you still be so loving if they wipe out your family and friends?” Like all lefties, blame will be placed on Harper! One cannot be objective in a fog of doobie smoke!
commented 2015-11-15 12:47:13 -0500
Here’s a related phenomenon that reinforces this topic. As of Friday 13th, a new fad that’s appearing on Facebook and other such sites is people inserting a French Flag into their profile picture, to show support for Paris, etc. Isn’t that sweet; but isn’t that simply self-serving BS. I’m sure Parisians are thrilled with the love and support (?) being sent their way !!
Of course the politicians play this “we feel bad for you” game. That’s just the hypocrisy we expect from them. The problem is that all this heart-felt shallow support amounts to nothing in the way of correcting or preventing these tragic events. Most of the do-gooders who wave the flag so that others will recognize them for being so caring and such good people, at the same time are supporting (by not opposing) the inaction and/or idiotic and dangerous policies of their Government. And of course the classic example is Canada’s decision to refrain from actively supporting the war on ISIS and the ill-thought through decision to rapidly import thousands of potential terrorists (shall we say ghettos) into the country – and now, apparently, declaring that this is a plan to strengthen our economy.
If the bleeding hearts with their French flags aren’t also lobbying their MP and letting the liberal media know of their concerns about the Government’s lack of a constructive policy and strategy to prevent terrorism, and especially in Canada, then the French Flag wavers are simply part of the problem and ignorant of their own hypocrisy.
commented 2015-11-15 12:04:49 -0500
France should send an aircraft carrier off the coast of Syria, along with its largest gun gunships. Then bomb the hell out of ISIS. No one will stand in its way.

We have seen over the past four decades a slow but ever growing level of Islamic based terror, murder, violence and (dare I say) bombings. The Koran states time and time again to colonize, rule over, and annihilate unbelievers. With every shuffling of the feet by Western leaders, the violence grows.

There is a fear by many, honestly come by because of the inherent violence to others in the Koran, that when expressed results in labeling; using such terms as Islamophobia, racist, bigot, or (heavens!) right wing. Then there is the fear of opening your mouth and literally being physically attacked. The wrong words out of a politician’s or artist’s mouth and there are riots in the streets.

Leaders don’t want to think about the no-go areas of Europe and the slowly developing of such areas in North America. Rather than shut these down, government would rather ignore the problem than resolve the problem from fear of backlash. So what if ordinary citizens suffer, such as the 14,000 rapes by Muslims in one town in England, by a conspiracy of turing a blind eye by authorities. After all, these are ordinary citizens; they must pay the price for keeping the so-called peace.

But the West demands to be Politically Correct, right into a cultural grave. Multiculturalism has mutated from how it was sold to us. It is now us giving up our traditions and beliefs for immigrants, some who refuse to adapt to their new homes and expect us to do the adapting. That is not how it is supposed to work. Unfortunately, this is what has lead to Quebec’s Bill 59, where you can’t criticize Islam in any way. Once the Bill passes, what I have written above, even on the Internet, would land me before the Human Rights office – or jail.

With Trudeau Jr. as our far from fearless leader, expect what is happening in Europe and events such as what just happened in Paris here on our streets. Unfortunately, we have to wait four years before something real can be done – that is if we do not vote in airheads again.
commented 2015-11-15 12:03:40 -0500
Until the bleeding-heart, panty-waist lefty/progressive feels the knife thrust of the Islamic savage in his loins, he will continue to mollycoddle, aid and abet that savage and destroy Canada in the process.
Empathy and compassion, or narcissistic self destruction?
Liberalism is a mental disorder.
commented 2015-11-15 11:37:21 -0500
The western world has become weak and pathetic. The socialist progressive ideology has been allowed to run wild in our schools and universities. Not to mention these Human Rights Commissions or should I say the total abuse of the HRC’s. “Oh you hurt my feelings” you should have to spend the next year and thousands of dollars defending yourself because I’m a pathetic POS.
Progressive Values? What’s that, hiding in our safe space and hope the bad man won’t come get us. Well Sean when the bad man comes to get you, me and my little friend will be protecting my own family, your on your own. Maybe JT can come comfort you in your safe space.
Where is the outrage? The French nationals should be rioting in the streets for their Government get off their sorry asses and act. No lets just stand around and sob. Let just talk about solidarity and how were not afraid. But god forbid if we actually do something about it. Progressives would rather deny there is a problem.
As for Canada, lets import 25,000 unscreened refugees form radicalized infested countries by Christmas, oh did I say Christmas, I’m so sorry hopeful the HRC doesn’t tie me up for the next year.
Bottom line. Progressives would rather give up their sovereignty than fight for it.
PS Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas!
commented 2015-11-15 10:55:48 -0500
I think Sean is a single issue voter around legal and abundant weed the LPC promised.
commented 2015-11-15 09:31:59 -0500
SEAN PENSON, I’m not upset, just disappointed.
commented 2015-11-15 09:08:57 -0500
Exactly Darryl Teskey!