In view of (yet another) grotesquely inhumane attack it is worth pondering the very old interplay between France, Islam, and Liberty. I was in Nice two days ago and the immediacy of all this makes me humble.
This is Bastille day, after all, the celebration of the triumph of republican liberty over the forces of brute authority. America galvanized France into the event France celebrates today, as France enabled the victory we Americans celebrated 10 days ago.
And yet the specter of Islamist illiberalism hangs above it all:
Ambassador Abdarahaman of Tripoli said in 1784 that it was their Koran-inspired "duty" to kill or enslave infidels, a sentiment repeated by ISIS in almost exact terms in this day of butchery.
Jefferson advocated military intervention to stop the predation by "piratical Islamic powers." In fact the USS Constitution, bathed now in semi-mythological glory, was built expressly for this purpose, though often forgotten today.
John Adams tried to caution Jefferson away from the militant confrontation with Islamist powers, saying, "We ought not to fight them at all unless we determine to fight them forever."
Well, it appears that Adams was probably right: we will be fighting them forever or at least until such time as freedom can flower in the Islamic world again.
Perhaps Muslims can shake off their awful stranglehold and someday celebrate, on their own "Bastille Day", the triumph of Liberty over brute tyranny. God help us all.