I made the drive up the coast tonight to see Dennis Prager speak at the University of California Santa Barbara. He was invited by the College Republicans, and he did not disappoint. This week is an emotional one for the college left - the bubble they live in has been punctured by an army of eloquent conservatives fanning out throughout the country to unveil a sensitive topic - Islamofascism. The crowd that packed Girvetz Theatre was amazingly behaved, and much of the credit for that has to go to Prager - he charmed the crowd into submission, and a wry smile came to his face when the last questioner of the night complained that she “didn’t like being manipulated.”
His speech centered on the values America must believe in to beat radical Islam, and the first 25 minutes were spent prying the word fascism from the scabbard of the Bush haters. There was a palpable angst in the room as he pounded home the message that Islamofascism was the description of 10% of the Islamic community (which was still 100 million, he said), not every Muslim, and to insist that Islamofascism Awareness Week was simply a “smokescreen” for an all out assault on Islam was purposefully simplistic. He then took the opportunity to lecture the students on just how insular the university environment was. They only heard one side of any issue most of the time, and that in terms of wisdom, they were just large kindergartners, a critique that sent nervous laughter around a room full of puffed up kinder-llectuals. Continuing, he said that this controlled environment led to a distorted understanding of morality, and ultimately the West needed to believe in its moral system if it was ever to stand up to extremist Islam. The dwindling influence of Western values on immigrants in Europe was a testament to this kind of impotence. He wrapped up the hour long soliloquy with a message to the Muslims in the audience. He said that liberalism was no friend to the cause of moderate Islam. The left had let millions of Muslims die in Afghanistan, and would do the same with those being murdered in Iraq and in the Sudan - history proved that. Today’s Left befriended them now because it was politically advantageous to do so. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is how they saw things - they hated Bush, Muslims should feel victimized by his war against Islam - it was a match concocted by the jaundiced. Normally the left should be outraged by the sexism, oppression and homosexual intolerance found widespread in Wahhabi Islam, but they were silent in the face of actions that ought to horrify them. Hatred of President Bush had frozen the moral compass that traditionally led the idealistic liberal.
The question and answer period was an hour long and it sure felt like it. Dennis Prager sailed through it, shifting from pointed argument to playful bantor regardless of the hostility rising from the interrogator; it was fun to see those that obviously despised his message chuckle at his word play. But the challenges were predictable. When the lines formed after the speech, every green shirt in the crowd looked to be standing with notes in hand (green was the color of dissent). The first question came from a Muslim student - he railed against the fascist label and insisted Israel and America were the fascist aggressors in a world otherwise peaceful. The next man at the mike was a disheveled suit waving a book emblazoned with the title “The Israeli Lobby.” He said he would follow Dennis around until he interviewed the authors on his show about the fact that Jews were running American foreign policy and that Jews like Dennis formed a “fifth column” loyal only to Israel. Dennis took it well, but called the man an antisemite for such ignorant views, which so enraged the man that the police officers who were at every exit slowly moved to surrounded him. Someone yelled “Don’t tase him, bro!” and everyone laughed. Then Dennis yelled “Tase him, tase him!” and the laughter doubled.
Students were hung up on the Islamofascist moniker - in their minds there was only one fascist in the world today, and he was sitting in the white house. They wondered why Dennis was trying to slander the whole Islamic religion, and why he dismissed the Israeli hunting of innocent Palestinians and the support by Christians of Bush’s war on Iraq as not equal to the “overhyped” reports of Muslim violence in the Western media. Dennis demolished such relativistic notions of morality, explained that he viewed the Iraq war as a moral war, and explained again the import of unhinged reactions by Muslims over a cartoon whereas Christians endured a crucifix drowned in urine with only calls for a boycott. Moderate Muslims needed to take back their religion, he repeated, and groans erupted as the green bandannas around the room shook their heads in disgust. When another dismayed student bemoaned our loss of support from the international community, Dennis slammed the international community as a moral vacuum, having done nothing in situations of such depravity that failure to confront them proved utter corruption or cowardice. The crowd was buzzing when he announced that in those cases where evil ran rampant, the only ones to step up were decent countries willing to pick up arms and confront it, and that included America, and that was why America was superior to so many other countries. Such appeals to ‘jingoistic militarism’ had peaceniks gritting their teeth, but the rest of us applauded his words.
There was the obligatory global warming nutburger who found yet another chance to remind everyone that we’re all gonna die, and the antisemite burst through his J.C. Penney suit once again over a pointed remark by Prager about the prospects for peace depending upon Palestinians stopping the indoctrination their children with morning cartoons teaching them to kill the Jews, who “were the offspring of monkeys and pigs.” Aside from a few shouts and fists raised above heads as if in celebration of ‘Hamas power,’ the students at UCSB were great and the night came off without a hitch.
After reading Blackfive’s review of David Horowitz at Michigan, I really wondered what we expected to accomplish this week confronting Islamofascism. Was it enough to bring to a intellectually stale university environment the news that there is an evil portion of Islam running rampant, and that decent people ought not to fear grabbing for their weapons in defense of freedom? This war against extremism is in many ways a defensive war against a brooding, calculating enemy, and it’s difficult to see the sacrifices made by our bravest being diluted by media bias or clever insurgent public relations. Ultimately we need Muslims to resolve the murderous streak that runs through their religion, we can’t do it for them. Moderate Muslims must take back their religion. Having speakers like Dennis Prager remind us all that the Western values of freedom, respect and tolerance are worth inculcating is an important first step.