Karl du Fresne calls out the left over theirÂ unwillingness to confront evil.
It’s hard to think of a more challenging conundrum than the one posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).
Labour leader Andrew Little was right last week to describe Isis as evil. It’s a word seldom heard these days because it implies a moral judgment, and moral judgments are unfashionable. But “evil” is the only way to describe men who coldly behead their captives, and then amp up the shock factor by burning one alive.
There is an element of gleeful sadism in their barbarism. Last week they pushed a gay man from the top of a tall building – reportedly the fourth such execution for homosexuality.
As with their other atrocities, they posted pictures and video online, a gesture that was part boast, part taunt. In doing so, they were saying to the world: “Look what we’re capable of. There is no limit to what we will do.
“Norms of civilised behaviour don’t apply to us. In fact we hold the civilised world in contempt. You know, and we know, that you are too weak and divided to stop us.”
And these were merely the more flamboyant examples of Isis’ depravity – the ones calculated to get our attention and fill us with fear, horror and anger.
Almost unnoticed in the background, Isis is proceeding with its grand plan to establish an Islamic caliphate, which means systematically slaughtering or enslaving anyone who stands in its way. No-one, then, can dispute that Isis is evil. The conundrum is what the rest of the world should do about it.
I wish there was a pat answer, but Isis presents a unique challenge because it stands apart from all norms of combat or diplomacy.
It has no regard for human lives, including its own members. It acknowledges no rules, it has no interest in negotiation and its adherents – who seem to include a significant number of thugs with criminal records – are said to be happy to die for their cause because it will ensure entry into paradise. How do you fight such an enemy?
Yet doing nothing is not an option. Either we believe civilised values are worth defending and that vulnerable people deserve protection from mass murderers, or we don’t. And if we do, we can’t just whistle nonchalantly while looking the other way and pretending it isn’t happening.