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Where Is the West? By: Thomas Sowell
The Washington Times | Thursday, November 16, 2006


European nations protesting Saddam Hussein's death sentence, as they protested against forcing secrets out of captured terrorists, should tell us all we need to know about the internal degeneration of Western society, where so many confuse squeamishness with morality.

Two generations of being insulated from the reality of the international jungle, of not having to defend their own survival because they have been living under the protection of the American nuclear umbrella, have allowed too many Europeans to grow soft and indulge themselves in illusions about brutal realities and dangers.

The very means of their salvation have been demonized for decades in anti-nuclear movements and protesters calling themselves "antiwar." But there is a huge difference between being antiwar in words and being antiwar in deeds.

How many times, in its thousands of years of history, has Europe gone 60 years without a major war, as it has since World War II? That peace has been due to American nuclear weapons, which was all that could deter the Soviet Union's armies from marching right across Europe to the Atlantic Ocean.

Having overwhelming military force on your side, and letting your enemies know you have the guts to use it, is being genuinely antiwar. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement brought on World War II and Ronald Reagan's military buildup ended the Cold War.

The famous Roman peace of ancient times did not come from negotiations, cease-fires or pretty talk. It came from the Roman Empire's crushing defeat and annihilation of Carthage, which served as a warning to anyone else who might have had any bright ideas about messing with Rome.

Only after the Roman Empire began to lose its own internal cohesion, patriotism and fighting spirit over the centuries did it begin to succumb to its external enemies and finally collapse. That seems to be where Western civilization is heading today.

Internal cohesion? Not only does much of today's generation in Western societies have a "do your own thing" attitude but defying rules and flouting authority are glorified and Balkanization through "multiculturalism" has become dogma.

Patriotism? Not only is patriotism disdained, the very basis for pride in one's country and culture is systematically undermined in our educational institutions at all levels. The achievements of Western civilization are buried in histories that portray every human sin found here as if they were peculiarities of the West.

The classic example is slavery, which existed all over the world for thousands of years and yet is incessantly depicted as if it was a peculiarity of Europeans enslaving Africans. Barbary pirates alone brought twice as many enslaved Europeans to North Africa as there were Africans brought in bondage to the United States and the American Colonies from which it was formed.

How many schools and colleges are going to teach that, going against political correctness and undermining white guilt? How many people have any inkling it was precisely Western civilization that eventually turned against slavery and began stamping it out when non-Western societies still saw nothing wrong with it?

How can a generation be expected to fight for the survival of a culture or a civilization that has been trashed in its own institutions, taught to tolerate even the intolerance of other cultures brought into its own midst, and conditioned to regard any instinct to fight for its own survival as being a "cowboy"?

Western nations that show any signs of standing up for self-preservation are rare exceptions. The United States and Israel are the only Western nations that have no choice but to rely on self-defense -- and both are demonized, not only by our enemies but also by many in other Western nations.

Australia recently told its Muslim population that, if they want to live under Islamic law, they should leave Australia. That makes three Western nations that have not yet completely succumbed to the corrosive and suicidal trends of our times.

If and when we all succumb, will the epitaph of Western civilization say we had the power to annihilate our enemies but were so paralyzed by confusion we ended up being annihilated ourselves?

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Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.


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