On the surface, the support offered to Islamist fanatics by Western intellectuals appears baffling: Those privileged to speak out in safety are cheering on men who would gladly cut their throats.
The reason goes back to the maxim that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."
Flanking the international insurgency of Muslim extremists is a global insurgency of frustrated intellectuals. Western civilization's rise to power shamed the failed cultures of the Middle East, while America's exposure of communism and socialism as deadly, incompetent systems robbed the intelligentsia of its dearest fantasy.
Global intellectuals and Islamist terrorists share common enemies — the United States, Israel and the West in general. They're unified by a disdain for freedom, capitalism and democracy — especially the latter. Religious extremists and the international intelligentsia alike distrust the will of the people at the ballot box.
Islamist fanatics are willing to kill millions to fortify and purify their religion — just as intellectuals excused Stalin's purges and Mao's mass slaughters in the name of building communist utopias.
Whether the standards are taken from the Koran or the Politburo, there's always someone with an impure faith who needs killing.
Eventually, of course, the secret policemen or the terrorists come for the intellectuals, too. But the key to understanding intellectuals — defined as those who elevate theory over reality — is that they're unified only by causes, not by loyalty to each other. They'll rationalize away every name they betray to the state's murderers or their terrorist captors. And their egos are so enormous that they'll go into their death-cells believing it's all a mistake soon to be rectified.
The classic example of a post-modern intellectual is the anti-American Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier. He's never visited the United States and claims he doesn't want to. Von Trier doesn't really make films about America. He films his sickly fantasies of America. Reality doesn't interest him. It's America as the symbol of all evil that quickens his shrunken European soul.
Of course, other intellectuals adore his films.
After destroying their communist-socialist dream-world, perhaps the cruelest thing Americans have done to intellectuals is to ignore them when things get serious. Oh, America's latest Belgian critic may get a nice review in the New York Review of Books, but the average American refuses to get down on his or her knees to worship anyone who insists they're too brilliant for the rest of us to understand.
If they want our respect, people have to produce. And production means work. And that's the last thing you'll ever get from an intellectual. They may drone on about the workers of the world, but they sure don't want to become one.
Islamist terrorists at least have the courage of their convictions. They'll sacrifice their lives for their perverted faith. Anti-American intellectuals wouldn't sacrifice a tall latte to save a continent from genocide.
Yet, in its perverse way, the global insurgency of anti-American intellectuals may be more pernicious even than al Qaeda. We can fight the terrorists. But the international intelligentsia spreads its poison without fear of penalty. Thanks to us.
The tacit and active support our "thinkers" provide to religious thugs who practice blood sacrifice evokes the single word "irresponsible." It should be branded into their foreheads — backward, so they can read it in the mirror.
Let countless others die, if only the theory holds. Excuse genocide, if it frustrates Washington. Paint faith-maddened murderers as freedom fighters, if it somehow embarrasses America. Deny that the wretched of the earth might desire human rights and freedom. Betray the weak. And vilify anyone who takes America's side.
The problem with intellectuals is that they don't really think.
From the 1920s right through the 1980s, Communist regimes could count on smitten fellow-travelers for support. Few of Moscow's, Beijing's or Hanoi's defenders actually went there, of course, and fewer still stayed to help build the workers' paradise. Physical evidence, no matter how grim, was a distraction to be avoided. Theories were always better than flesh and blood.
Now the lethal terrorists confronting civilization have managed to recruit their own legions of fellow travelers — without even trying. Bin Laden, Zawahiri, Zarqawi & Co. must be astonished by the support provided by Western intellectuals. Whether or not any god's on their side, The New York Times certainly is — just as it idealized Stalin's regime while millions of Ukrainians starved in a man-made famine.
We'll prevail against the terrorists. And after we've triumphed again, our domestic intellectuals and their foreign brethren will find new monsters to worship.
Ralph Peters' latest book is New Glory: Expanding America's Global Supremacy.
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