Can we face the threat of Islam?
A healthy culture is able to respond and adapt in the face of challenges. The rot within any culture is often unseen until a crisis. The Islamic threat exposes our culture’s weakness: we are in denial of the threat (“It’s only a few extremists”,) sit in fear of the future (“Nothing can stop a suicide bomber”,) and blame ourselves for the problem (“Why do they hate us? We broke Iraq, etc.”)
As we’ve pointed out, denial is an overwhelming problem that stems from multi-cultural relativism on the left and an ecumenical respect for all religion on the right. Despite the administration’s claim that “fighting terrorism” is a war, not a criminal matter, our leaders proceed as if they are fighting the Muslim Mafia—not a broad religious ideology that is undergoing a revival. They’ve assumed if we dismantled Al Qaeda and removed the Baathist thugs, all would be well. Well it hasn’t worked out that way. The problem remains; indeed it is growing.
Mainstream political and intellectual writers are unable, on principle, to face the barbarian nature of the enemy’s culture. Instead, they blame America. Both Democrats and Republicans argue over who can engineer a better world in Iraq and win “the hearts and minds” of the Islamic world. It’s we that have to change, not Muslims. We’re the problem, according to this analysis. If they haven’t embraced the liberal democracy that we’ve patiently and generously offered, we must have did something wrong. (Too few troops, too many troops, not enough U.N. troops, too much humiliation, too little force, too soon, too late, etc.)
The complete blindness to the inherent failure of Arab societies is captured in Colin Powell’s quip on Iraq: “we broke it, we own it.” If Saddam’s Iraq was Colin’s idea of a working nation, let’s hope we never have Powell as a President. Iraq, like Arab and Islamic nations everywhere, are dysfunctional, backwards, and impoverished (without the help of the oil windfall.) Let’s face it: it is them, not us.
Our culture is changing.
Polls show an increase in the number of people who believe that Islam underwrites the barbaric behavior of jihadist terrorists despite being told, over and over again, that such thoughts are bigotry. It’s hard to ignore the nature of a religion that motivates its members to kill over a cartoon. It’s painful to see that even with all our help, the Afghanistan government would execute a man for practicing his religion, if that religion is not Islam. It’s sobering to see the broad embrace of the jihadist spirit as “moderate” nations like Egypt praise suicide bombers and “allies” like Qatar broadcast vicious beheadings by devout jihadists.
We’ve been extremely generously in trying to establish liberal democracies in two Islamic nations. We’ve been told that the religion isn’t an obstacle. It is clear to many people now that is most certainly is. It’s become clear that the standard grievances are nothing but rationalizations. As people realize the old clichés don’t explain the continuous worldwide jihadist assault, people are ready for the real explanation. A growing literature (see also this, this, and this) now explains Islam without the politically correct party line.
Our hope lies in our greatness.
If we are to face today’s threat we need to take stock in our distinctive core values. What made America, and other European societies, able to emerge from the religious Dark Ages in the West, establish sustainable liberal societies, and withstand the temptations of secular collectivism? It may seem that we don’t have the capacity to face today’s Islamo-fascist threat as our parent had when facing the totalitarian threats 60 years ago. But that internal strength lies dormant. Our ability to withstand external threats depends on our ability to re-affirm our core principles, re-affirm the pride in our achievement, and hold on to the aspirations to furthering those principles.
The key to our civilization is that we are nations based on individual rights where reason, not force, is the means we deal with each other. This is our founding principles which we’ve held as an aspiration and have realized to a great extent. This involves respect for the sovereignty of each individual, an embrace of self-reliance, and a liberal free-market economy. It’s true that there’s been a significant erosion of these principles but they still have broad appeal.
Islamic culture, on the other hand, is based on faith, submission, and renunciation of this life in favor of the afterlife. Force, not reason, is the dominant means of dealing with differences and bringing others into submission. The individual is disposable, in the cause of Islamic imperialism and global domination. At root, Islam is a warrior religion. Individual differences are intolerable and must be suppressed for the mission: bring the world under Islamic domination.
We should remember that our most precious liberties have had opponents even within Western culture. Individual thought was subordinated to dictates of Church authorities during most of Western history. Starting from the 12th century Renaissance, reason has supplanted dogma in a slow and less than steady process. After the religious wars of the 17th century, religious toleration found several forceful spokesmen. In the 18th century, British liberalism was put into practice on both sides of the Atlantic. However, the 19th century saw the rise of a counter movement against individualism. Its impact was felt in the 20th century with the rise of totalitarian movement in continental Europe.
We, in the Anglo-sphere, have maintained the core principles of individualism and reason in human affairs. And we’ve maintained the spiritual and material capacity to withstand the totalitarian threat. If we are to fight the Islamic threat, we again have to renew that sprit and revive the capacity to fight the enemy. This is where we stand today.