Any postmortem on the worldwide fracas over the Danish publication of some relatively innocuous cartoons about Muhammad would have to admit that t much of the West has chosen unilateral surrender on this issue. The Danish paper abjectly apologized. In France an editor who reproduced the offending images was quickly sacked. The White House issued a craven “we feel your pain” statement (directed to the offended Muslims, not to any intimidated believers in free expression). An editor of UK’s The Guardian, explaining his decision not to print the cartoons, said absurdly that Britain and America were taking this high road because they followed “John Stuart Mill, not Voltaire” – the implication being that Mill was some sort of equivocating pragmatist when it came to freedom of speech.
In a publication called Open Democracy the author Neal Ascherson huffed: “Freedom of expression has to be fought for an defended, in every European generation. But freedom should not be defended by a ‘neocon’ doctrine of pre-emptive strikes. Anyone who can read knows that portrayals of the prophet, even without insult, are profoundly upsetting to pious Muslims who are not necessarily at all ‘extreme’ or ‘Jihadist.’ What Jyllands-Posten [the Danish paper in question] did was to publish something it knew would provoke Muslims… in order to flaunt its own ‘liberal’ credentials. That was unforgivable.”
The fact that it is an obscure paper’s decision to publish contentious cartoons that is described as “unforgivable,” while Muslims who use the cartoons as an excuse for acts of violent rampage are seen as the level-headed ones, shows the absurdity of the accommodationism that has characterized this debate. The reference to the allegedly ‘neocon’ aspect of the brawl is especially stupid and offensive, given that the Bush administration performed exactly the sort of supine apologetics the author obviously wishes upon us all. If Ascherson thinks the attitude he recommends will invite mutual tolerance, rather than leading to renewed demands on the part of the totalitarian Mullahs, he is deluding himself.
Surrender to the frothing Mullahs, even under the guise of forming a more perfect multicultural union, will do nothing to ameliorate the problems revealed in the Muslim response to the cartoons, and will ultimately make things even worse for all of the Muslims worth saving from the Dark Ages. But even here the author does his purported constituency a profound disservice, though he may actually have done his readers the favor of clarification. For it is true that the masses who turned out to protest the cartoons, who burned European and American consulates all over the Muslim world, who carried banners promising butchery to anyone bold enough to break a ludicrous religious taboo – all these angry young men and women were surely not all jihadists in the Zarqawi sense, nor were they “extreme” in that they represented a departure from the average Muslim’s view of things.
What the cartoon fracas has revealed is both much more and much less than a “clash of civilizations.” In a way it is simply an updated example of civilization versus barbarism, the former represented by a flawed but ultimately decent secular modernity which enshrines skepticism and doubt and does not think societies should be organized around sacred texts written for tribal peoples millennia ago. The latter deifies suicide murderers, enslaves its women, and publishes routinely in both private and state-run presses the most vile slanders and caricatures on Jews and Hindus. “Clash of civilizations” assumes that two civilizations of equal status are in conflict. But the sad truth is this: a people, jihadist or not, that cannot read something offensive to its faith without resorting to an auto-da-fe, is not civilized.
We in the West must insist that our civilization, whose cornerstone is free speech and free inquiry, is worth defending, and that if the natural reaction of Muslims to seeing Allah or Mohammed ridiculed is holy war, then it is a holy war they shall have. If I believed in God, I would say that he sent us this conflagration in righteous wrath because we did not learn the proper lessons from the Rushdie affair. The cartoon jihad makes clear once and for all that the primary task for the Western world in the coming decades is not to clean up the environment; not to pour trillions into a global Marshall Plan; not to rid the planet of nukes. These all may be noble goals, but our basic task is to insist, odd as it may sound now, that we are as willing to go to war over our right to publish caricatures of Mohammed as Muslims are to punish apostasy. We must not be afraid to tell the Muslims living in our nations that there can be no such position as “caught in the middle” – that when it comes to this, yes, you are either with us or with the terrorists.
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Behind the cartoon controversy lurks a daunting fact: there is in fact an integrative project for Europe currently in competition with the EU – the Islamic one. As of today, it is winning. European elites do not admit it, but most Muslims who live within their borders desire the eventual Islamic conquest of Western Europe (they know they can achieve it there, unlike here in North America) and the imposition of shari’a law over the entire continent. Even if Israel and all its inhabitants were transferred en masse to Montana tomorrow, and every American soldier packed up from the Middle East and sailed home, this would not buy Europe even a minute’s peace from the designs of radical Islam. In their hearts, where they keep secrets they dare not admit, most Europeans know this by now.
European freedoms, wealth, liberal institutions – all are held in contempt by the Muslim immigrants who condescend to profit from them. Generous welfare states, which Europeans see as symbols of their superiority over the U.S., are routinely abused by phony “asylum” seekers and their extended, for whom such cash transfers, as well as the rash of muggings they have brought your cities, are simply the currently viable form of the dhimmi tax that all non-Muslims will one day be required to pay them. Arab males in Europe are brought up to regard Jews as subhuman, and the liberated, unveiled women as whores deserving of rape. And how have European political leaders responded? By calling for another Euro-Arab dialogue, another committee to be appointed. After all, there is a vast silent majority of moderates who we do not want to scare back into their shells.
Where are these fabled Muslim moderates? They do not exist, at least not in Europe. What elites there regard as “moderate” is simply the large category of European Muslims who are not actively planning to blow up the Eiffel Tower, or fly a 747 into the Tower of Pisa. But do these “moderates” actually support liberal democracy? The separation of church and state? The equality of men and women? Don’t they consider it an affront to see a cross or a Star of David, to have to read Voltaire and Rousseau and Spinoza, to have their daughters be informed by infidels that they might be more than baby-making machines?
Europeans intellectuals complain about Bush’s religiosity, evidence that we are a nation of bible-thumping missionary dolts. Is America controlled by a “religious right?” Not in the same sense that Europe is – and not nearly the same type of religious right. In Islamicized pockets of France (the cradle of secular universal education!) Jewish children, during Intifada II, were afraid to go to school for fear of the ceaseless taunts and physical assaults they were to endure, all at the hands of Allah’s “peaceful” children, supposedly multiculturalism’s great triumph. This behavior is unimaginable even in the most benighted Southern corner of the United States.
Universal conquest, humiliation, subjection, Nazi-level anti-Semitism, and the reversal of centuries’ progress in the liberation of women and homosexuals: the agenda of the European religious right is not hidden. It is there for all to see, preached daily in mosques, by the frothing Mullahs Europeans have invited in, plied with state largesse, and invited to enter “dialogues” and government itself.
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Is it America’s foreign policy that is hostage to the apocalyptic fantasies of the religious? Ssuch an accusation is far more applicable to EU foreign policy, focused obsessively on Israel and the Palestinians, apathetic toward the plight of Christians in Muslim countries, supinely serving the Arabs who promise, consistently and straightforwardly, the destruction of Israel and the expulsion or conversion of its Jewish inhabitants.
Why have European political leaders staked whatever moral capital they ever had on cravenly worshipping a nationalism whose culture is based on suicide terrorism, and who openly wishes genocide against the Jews – and all this put in place only a generation after the holocaust? Is Israel such an uncomfortable reminder of the first European scheme to destroy the Jews that it must be gotten rid of? Or compared, ridiculously, with Nazi Germany itself? I do not believe that the European majority hates Jews, or is even particularly “anti-Zionist” (a term with less and less practical meaning). So why has its political and intellectual elite propounded such a lopsided, tendentious, and culturally suicidal view of the conflict?
In Eurabia, the brave writer Bat Ye’or says that it was a conscious decision, undertaken to ensure the compliant flow of oil and to fashion a political counterweight to America I think something deeper may be going on. Europe’s second betrayal of its cultural Jewish brethren is likely one of the more pernicious legacies of ’68, of its unreflective tiers-mondisme, its radical chic embrace of the newest non-white megalomaniac, from Guevara to Mao to Arafat. The ‘68ers went into government, where they figured out they could be comfortably paid for their pseudo-rebellious posturing.
But even by 1968 the Marxist-Leninist dream of the industrial proletariat as universal revolutionary class had long since evaporated, under the weight of Stalinism and the Western economic miracle. The students needed something to replace it, and they settled on third world peasants, along with whatever glorified tribal chieftain happened to be leading them into battle at the moment. It was to salve the guilty consciences of the privileged that the few remaining outposts of white versus nonwhite became the new, post-Marxist keys to historical salvation – South Africa, Vietnam, Gaza. But only blind worship of Arab-Muslims lasted through the years. This is all the more quixotic because the Palestinians, in whom these redemptive dreams are most firmly invested, had neither a Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, nor the military bravery and Spartan egalitarianism of the Vietcong to recommend them.
In fact, they had nothing but hatred and resentment. The entire concept of Palestinian nationalism is a recent invention, and one clearly not believed in by either Hamas or the various Arab strongmen and homegrown Mullahs who have preached it inside Europe’s borders. There is no such thing as nationalism, liberal or otherwise, for the harbingers of shari’a law – and Hamas, remember, is simply a local branch of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. The dream is an Islamic empire stretching from Casablanca to Jakarta (and now, to Copenhagen and London), within which any true traces of Palestinian “national identity” would have to be quickly extinguished. From Ottoman rule they came, and to a new Ottoman rule, even less Enlightened than the first one, they will be returned, independent “state” or not.
The Vietcong, at least, were faithful to the radical dream – it was a false dream, as it turned out, and a murderous one, but it had some inkling of humanism and liberal reasoning behind it. It came, indeed, from our civilization, and so we must own up to it, the same way we must own up to Hitler’s dream of Europe. What do Europe’s romanticized Arab fighters have? Nothing: the Qu’ran in one hand and a bomb in the other. There may in fact be plenty of European Muslims who do not believe in such barbarism, but they have either been cowed into submission or have chosen to keep quiet, and it will be no use asking for their aid when the time comes. The half of their population that, at heart, probably wishes to question the centuries-old raw deal, are typically imprisoned at home, married off to some brutal peasant at 14, and beaten into silence. This is the future of Europe’s granddaughters, if current trends are any indication.
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Why, despite all the rhetoric about Bush waging “war on the Islamic world,” are the Muslims in the United States, or the vast majority of them, peaceful, law-abiding and content, while the majority in European cities are potential criminals under the sway of the local Mullah? Why, despite Europe’s best efforts to mollify the Arabs since 9/11, have trains and buses been bombed, scores of cars set ablaze, churches and synagogues torched, neighborhoods filled with rioters shouting Allahu Akbar! … in Western Europe but not in the United States?
Our economy and society are more open to immigrants than Europe’s, , and the plurality of our immigrants are not Muslim but rather Mexican and East Asian. We do not have them cluster in urban ghettos, and then pay Imams to channel their seething discontent into radical Islam. But economic explanations do not take one very far. The plain fact is that Muslims in the United States are not a problem because we have consistently affirmed that we are proud of our culture and are not willing to surrender it. President Bush, despite his numerous flaws, has at least said clearly and consistently that America’s response to being hated and attacked will be to fight back and kill our enemies. Our entire political class, Republican and Democrat, essentially agrees with him on this point, even if there is tactical disagreement.
In other words we still have a fighting faith, and one that, despite caricatures, is only tangentially attached to Christianity. And even if it were only based on Christianity, it would still be preferable to the unilateral civilizational surrender essayed by the elites of Europe. A civilization that is confused about its values is in bad enough shape, but a civilization that actively hates its own values, that slanders its own history while ludicrously praising the far darker history of the Other – that civilization is not long for this world.
So what should Europe do? First, tell the truth about its civilization and its history – teach it not only to your children but also to their children. Yes, force them to be free, as Rousseau put it: otherwise they will force you to not be free, as in many ways they already have. Though “multiculturalism” as a political and educational ideology has made certain pernicious inroads in the United States, on the whole both our children and our immigrants are taught, without necessarily sugarcoating the past, to be proud of our nation’s values and its accomplishments. This is reasonable and right.
What is taught in Islam? Despite the millions of euros poured into conferences and dialogues, the same thing that was always taught: vicious anti-Semitism, death to the infidels, the rape and murder of liberated women, the subordination of man’s law to Allah and the Qu’ran, the superiority of Islam to the “decadent” West and the eventual Islamic conquest of the world.
It is time to speak truth to their power. What kinds of culture have their endless reams of Qu’ranic commentary generated? Sterile, oppressive ones, good only at overproducing angry young men who can be conditioned for jihad. While the West had a Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment; political, scientific, and commercial-industrial revolutions; Marxism and nationalism and psychoanalysis and existentialism; arguments about universal suffrage and the liberation of women and slaves – what of Islam? What has it accomplished in eight hundred years?
And yet, despite this lopsided ledger, a good half of the West could be delivered into Islamic domination by the end of the 21st century. It will take not just tinkering at the margins but a revolutionary sea change in Western attitudes to arrest and reverse the current trends. Yes, Europe needs to open up its economies, rethink its welfare state structure, and press for a more American-style integration policy. But such damage has already been done that I doubt such measures will solve the problem. In the end, European leaders must expel all anti-Western Muslims (a larger number than they care to contemplate) and tell their native populations to start having more babies who will be brought up to believe in freedom and liberal democracy. Otherwise, the game is over. Britain may survive, as it always has; Spain, France, Italy, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Belgium and Holland will be gradually Islamicized, with large areas of them subject to at least de facto shari’a law.
Germany is a question mark. It has Western Europe’s largest economy and largest population, but is at the same time the country most congenitally afraid of demonstrating anything like “national pride.” It is thanks to Hitler that European bien-pensants now fear being called a “racist” above literally anything else, and will do almost anything to prove they are not – even surrender outright to forces that are just as intolerant as the Nazis. All this despite the fact that Islam is a religion, not a race, with specific tenets that can and should rationally be criticized.
Germany has been afraid of itself, and its neighbors afraid of its potential hegemony, for 50 years, and not without reason. It is time for this to stop. An Arabophile France has been allowed to shape the ideology of Europe for far too long, largely because France was the default option after Germany. But Europe now faces a far worse potential hegemony than the German one, and I say this as someone whose bloodline was almost wiped out by the SS. If Germany regains its fighting faith, and reinvests it in freedom and democracy, it just might – with the aid of the English-speaking nations on one side, and the Slavic ones on the other, manage to drive the mad mullahs from the continent, when it comes to that. Otherwise, darkness awaits – and perhaps, decades down the road, beleaguered pockets of Westerners will plead, once again, for the U.S. and Russia to march in and liberate them.
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I propose the following joint statement on the part of the United States and Western Europe: at the moment that any native-born Western citizen is obligated to live under any of the dictates of shari’a law, NATO will destroy the cities of Mecca and Medina from the air.
Pause a moment before you accuse me of racism, or intolerance, or a genocidal impulse, or of living in some bizarre militaristic fantasy. Think back to those who won the major conflicts in the history of the free West. Would they have been inclined to promise any less? Did Winston Churchill, while the Luftwaffe and the RAF were dogfighting over London, allow Goebbels’ propaganda ministry to set up schools and community centers in British cities? Was his first reaction to the terror bombing of Coventry a speech about the historical mistreatment of Germans, accompanied by stern warnings against a potential “anti-German” backlash?
As our commentators over here keep telling us, the fear of what one dirty bomb smuggled into one unprotected port could do should keep us all awake at night; and as one who lives a short drive from Long Beach harbor, I appreciate their vigilance. But, to put the battle in perspective, Western technology could easily destroy Islam’s entire civilization. They should be made to know this. They should hear that we desire not to ever have to resort to such measures, but that if sufficiently provoked we will do it, and we will not be sorry afterward. You are fighting for Mecca and Medina, for Qom? They will not even be a memory.
Not a single important politician in the Western world has had the courage to speak in this language – not even those, like Bush and Blair, who are willing to fight. Since de-colonization, it has always been an open question as to whether or not Western power would be willing to stick it out long enough, in distant and febrile places, so as to impose our preferred solution. But even those who thought we shouldn’t care whether or not Vietnam went communist, or which specific Arab despot controlled the Gulf’s oil – even they surely would have been expected to care whether France went Bolshevik, or whether Amsterdam fell to the Mullahs.
Even the politicians willing to stand up and fight, as I’ve said, feel the need to openly qualify their war stance. Islam is a “religion of peace,” we’re just pruning off a few bad apples, elections in Baghdad will transform the entire Muslim world, what we need is to identify the Imams we can work with, etc. Rhetoric about fighting to save our civilization from envelopment is considered to be extreme, counter-productive.
Everyone is always initially shocked when when artists such as Theo Van Gogh are murdered, when buses and trains blown up, when whole neighborhoods set afire. Partly, I assume, this is because the European cultural and political elite, despite mouthing the multicultural slogans, does not have much contact with the actual Muslims who live in their cities. They deal far more with the various sheiks and monarchs, the scions of oil wealth, who spend their unearned billions shopping in Paris, who speak the language of diplomacy, who send their children to Oxford and Cambridge. Perhaps it is these Muslims, usually tractable and buyable, who have given unimaginative men like Javier Solana the wrong idea about Islam. They pay two-faced “dialogue” scholars like Tariq Ramadan to put a decent gloss on the latest outrage, lest their own shady dealings at home be called into question. But these are not the Muslims who are driving your masses into the streets to call for death to the infidels, and they would be unable to stop the tide even if they were so inclined. Their domestic compromise was always a house of cards, and their time will soon be up.
Indeed, if you compare the sensibilities of such men with that of the average French-imported Algerian peasant, you will see that it is nonsense to believe that, after 30 years of Euro-Arab dialogue, the majority of Muslims have become even slightly “Westernized.” They have gone in quite the opposite direction. It is instructive to note that the most complete and enduring example of Muslim Westernization – that of Kemal Ataturk’s Turkey , now itself threatened – was put into place almost a century ago, at the crest of the wave of Western world dominance. Nothing like it has happened since, and in the places where lesser imitators have tried, like Nasser’s Egypt or Shah Reza Pahlavi’s Iran, a furious fundamentalist backlash followed. The lesson seems to be that a civilization whose self-confidence is receding should not bank on emulation, however positive the values it is offering.
Islam can Westernize, because our values are superior to theirs, and our societies quite obviously more successful – but it will not Westernize simply because of this. It will have to Westernize, indeed, despite the currently ingrained opposition to such a process by its clerics and most of its people. (I mean, of course, its men. Who can tell what the women actually believe?) Rather than requiring more patience and understanding, this will in fact require a great deal more self-assertion on our part than is currently in vogue – on both sides of the Atlantic, but especially in Western Europe. We need thousands of Nicolas Sarkozys and Pim Fortuyns.
But what, these days, gets European protestors out of bed? Certainly not, so far as I can tell, the oppression of homosexuals in the Palestinian territories, nor the enslavement of women in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, nor the revelations that the latest Saddamite mass grave uncovered in Iraq was financed by the E.U – nor even the epidemic of Muslim rape of unveiled European women. On the other hand, Ariel Sharon erects a security wall that radically attenuates the Islamikaze massacre of Jews, and all hell breaks loose. European students line up side by side with their angry, ranting Muslim neighbors, little suspecting that they can see into their own bleak futures by just glancing aside. Why do your placards say, “Stop the occupation” while theirs say “Death to Israel,” or “Hitler didn’t go far enough”? Do you really think you inhabit the same moral universe?
One wonders why, after 13 centuries of missionary warfare in which it subjugated populations as far apart as Nigeria, Central Asia and Malaysia, Islam would waste so much energy on one tiny sliver of Jewish-reconquered land. The vestiges of Jewry have certainly been destroyed everywhere else in the Muslim world. So why the elders of Zion obsession, the fanatical anti-Semitism? Why not gloat about the victories achieved thus far and be done with it?
Because, as with any totalitarian ideology, there is no done with it. The existence of unsubjugated populations anywhere is an affront, especially if those populations are proud of their values and unashamed of their power (as are the U.S. and Israel).
Islamic dominance? We will not accept it! It is a path to retrograde darkness. This is why I am not willing to say “to hell with Europe,” as many Americans currently are, and more and more will be in the future. Of course I may simply be, like a modern Caligula, declaring war against the tide. But let history not say that free Europeans went down without a fight, nor that the United States looked on, with a mixture of schadenfreude and true apathy, while they fell. Let history not say that we missed our chance to turn back the tide of totalitarian Islam, with overwhelming force, with friendship, with pride in our values. Let not the coming revisionist historians in the house of Islam say, with disdain, that we lost Rome without unsheathing our swords.
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