Jihad Blotter

With a double hat-tip to Dymphna and the Baron at Gates of Vienna, here are several items of interest on the clash-of-civilizations front.

First, Geert Wilders is in town, fresh from being turned away at the door by the supine and craven British Government. He paid a visit to TV host Glenn Beck, and you can watch the interview here.

Next, some recommended reading from a trans-Atlantic conference last fall in London on the accelerating erosion of free speech and other cultural norms as the suicide of the West proceeds apace. The theme of the conference is laid out on the pamphlet’s title page:

FREE SPEECH, JIHAD AND THE
FUTURE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION

The goal of the conference was to provide an anatomy of those efforts to suppress free speech, to examine the way such actions aid and abet the spread of radical Islam and further the aim of instituting Shariah law in the West, and to consider some possible responses, legal as well as journalistic, to the threats they pose.

The conference was organized by the Center for Security Policy together with The New Criterion, the Hudson Institute, the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, and the Centre for Social Cohesion.

The publication offers transcripts of three speeches, by Roger Kimball, Douglas Murray, and Mark Steyn (who was under indictment in Canada for “crimes against humanity” for having written a magazine article deemed insufficiently considerate of Muslim sensitivities).

In the first item, Roger Kimball laments the capitulation of Western publishers and governments to the threat of accusations of libel, and the contortions they voluntarily undergo to avoid giving offense:

One of the most dispiriting examples of this head-in-the-sand species of diplomatic delusion is the State Department’s and the Department of Homeland Security’s increasing reluctance to face up to reality and call things by their correct names. Remember “Newspeak”? That was the term George Orwell coined in 1984 for a mode of speech that would enforce a politically correct thinking by promulgating a vocabulary that gave “exact…expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings…. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained or unorthodox meanings.”

…Of course 1984 is a dystopian fantasy. But those agencies of our government charged with combating Islamic radicalism seem to have taken a few hints from its pages. Reports issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department are urging its employees to refrain from using such terms as “jihad,” “mujahedeen,” or even “Islam” or “Muslims,” especially in conjunction with al Qaeda. This past winter the Department of Homeland Security issued a document called “Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims.” [You can read it for yourself, here. – MP] While you ponder why the Department of Homeland Security is gathering recommendations about how to combat radical Islam from American Muslims, let me mention a few things this document recommends.

Because we are supposed to be “communicating with, not confronting,” Muslims, the document advises us not to “insult or confuse them with pejorative terms such as ‘Islamo-fascism’ which are considered offensive by many Muslims.” The word “progress” is OK, but — George Orwell, where are you? — “the experts consulted” rejected the word “liberty” “because many around the world would discount the term as a buzzword for ‘American hegemony.’”

Breathtaking, isn’t it? Those leading the fight against terrorism assure us that “the fact is that Islam and secular democracy are fully compatible — in fact, they can make each other stronger.” But where is the evidence of that? In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, President Bush went to a mosque and told his audience that “Islam” meant “peace.” Perhaps that was an emollient thing to do. Unfortunately, it is not true. Islam means “total submission to the will of Allah” and, absent that submission, what Muslims give us is not peace, but jihad.

While emissaries from the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are making Herculean efforts not to do or say anything to “offend Muslims,” radical Muslims are busy extending the list of things they are offended by while also seeking new ways to insinuate elements of Shariah law into the West—a mode of theocratic imposition that, far from being “fully compatible” with secular democracy, is something closer to its antithesis.

It is worth keeping these homely facts in mind. The issue is not only the external threat of radical Islam. There is also the internal threat that revolves around the West’s faltering commitment to its own animating principles. For the last few decades, the intelligentsia in the West has been preaching the creed of multiculturalism and cultural relativism. Politicians, pundits, and the so-called cultural elite have assiduously absorbed the catechism. Its chief tenet is that all cultures are equally valuable and, therefore, that preferring one culture, intellectual heritage, or moral and social order to another is to be guilty of ethnocentrism and racism. Of course, it’s actually not quite as egalitarian as it looks, because you soon realize that the doctrine of cultural relativism is always a weighted relativism: preferring Western culture or intellectual heritage is culpable in a way that preferring other traditions is not.

The rise of multiculturalism in the West — and note well that it is almost exclusively a Western phenomenon — betokens not so much greater sympathy for other cultures as a loss of confidence in our own. Only a few years ago we were invited to contemplate the pleasant spectacle of the “end of history” and the establishment of Western-style liberal democracy, attended by the handmaidens of prosperity and rising standards of health care and education the world over.

Things look rather different now as the re-tribalization of the world proceeds apace and a variety of centrifugal forces threatens to undermine the sources of national identity and, with it, the sources of national strength and the security which that strength underwrites. The threat shows itself in many ways, from culpable complacency to the corrosive imperatives of multiculturalism and political correctness. The multiculturalists claim to be fostering a progressive cultural cosmopolitanism distinguished by superior sensitivity to the downtrodden and dispossessed. In fact, they encourage an orgy of self-flagellating guilt as impotent as it is insatiable.

The crucial thing to understand is that “multiculturalism” is not about recognizing genuine cultural diversity or encouraging vibrant pluralism. It is about undermining the priority of Western values not only in our educational system but also in society at large. As the political scientist Samuel Huntington put it, multiculturalism is “anti-European civilization… It is basically an anti-Western ideology.”

It is in this sense that multiculturalism and political correctness have been critical intellectual and moral enablers for the agenda of radical Islam. They justify civilizational impotence as a form of moral beatitude. The Danish cartoons, the foot baths in Western universities, the special accommodations for Ramadan, the terror lest we be guilty of “Islamophobia”: where does it end? My current favorite item in this lexicon of capitulation is the decision by Gordon Brown’s government to rename Islamic terrorism “anti-Islamic activity” in order to “woo Muslims.”

In the interest of brevity I will not excerpt Douglas Murray’s or Mark Steyn’s essays; you should read them yourself. Find the whole thing here.

To end on an encouraging note, over at Norman Geras’s excellent website Normblog I found this link to a story about imprisoned al-Qaeda founder Sayyid Imam al-Sharif’s change of heart; he now lays the blame for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan not upon the West, but upon al-Qaeda itself:

Twenty years ago, Dr Fadl became al-Qaeda’s intellectual figurehead with a crucial book setting out the rationale for global jihad against the West.

Today, however, he believes the murder of innocent people is both contrary to Islam and a strategic error. “Every drop of blood that was shed or is being shed in Afghanistan and Iraq is the responsibility of bin Laden and Zawahiri and their followers,” writes Dr Fadl.

The terrorist attacks on September 11 were both immoral and counterproductive, he writes. “Ramming America has become the shortest road to fame and leadership among the Arabs and Muslims. But what good is it if you destroy one of your enemy’s buildings, and he destroys one of your countries? What good is it if you kill one of his people, and he kills a thousand of yours?” asks Dr Fadl. “That, in short, is my evaluation of 9/11.”

He is equally unsparing about Muslims who move to the West and then take up terrorism. “If they gave you permission to enter their homes and live with them, and if they gave you security for yourself and your money, and if they gave you the opportunity to work or study, or they granted you political asylum,” writes Dr Fadl, then it is “not honourable” to “betray them, through killing and destruction”.

Norman sums it up nicely:

Hey, he could be on to something, you know. You read too many liberal op-ed columns and you can begin to think that by hitting back at people who are cross you only make them more cross. Here we have a different concept: if you hit them hard, it can hurt.

Related content from Sphere

7 Comments

  1. Court says

    Hello Malcolm, on Wilders: a couple choice caveats gleaned from The Daily Beast:

    First, the obvious problem with his European First Amendment plan: Wilders has called for banning the Koran entirely. How does he reconcile this position with his new party platform as free speech martyr?
    “I’m the one who normally opposes the banning of books, this looks very contradictory,” Wilders acknowledged. However, he explained, “the left” and “liberals” applauded a ban on Mein Kampf and the Koran should fall under a similar category.

    And:

    “If (Muslims) commit a crime and commit it again they should be sent away, even if it means they should be denaturalized and stripped of Dutch citizenship,” Wilders said.

    He speaks for himself, doesn’t he? You’re not going to keep the fundamentalist beast at bay by unleashing one of another stripe.

    I reiterate that I think it was cowardice of the British to refuse to allow him entry, and I’m glad the USA has not done the same. But I think it is mistake to lionize this fellow. Personally I found his film to be unwatchable agitprop.

    One of the prices of living in a free society is allowing zealots among you; including Wilders and Muslim fundamentalists. You are required to act against them only when they violate fundamental civil rights or collude / accomplish criminal acts. But then, I’m a First Amendment fundamentalist, myself. Sharia law or other forms of irrational medievalism have no place in that society, I should add.

    Thanks for the links.

    Posted February 24, 2009 at 10:11 pm | Permalink
  2. JK says

    Well, I for one am happy to be reminded Thai Stick remains available. Hopefully in a less high-caloric form.

    Posted February 24, 2009 at 11:34 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Court, I agree with you that banning books is not the right answer, and is inconsistent. But it is insufficient to guard only against overt criminality: what do you do about defending a small nation against a demographic revolution? Geert Wilders insists, plausibly enough, that Islam is, at a fundamental level, alien to Western culture. Holland is a tiny country, and the Muslim population is growing faster than any other group. If the trend continues, the Muslim minority will gain increasing political power, and once a majority is in place, will be in a position to entirely rewrite the country’s laws, introduce Shari’a, etc.

    This is in no way an unrealistic scenario. It is, in fact, happening before our eyes, and is the avowed purpose and ambition of Muslim ideologues in Europe — a purpose every bit as explicit, and every bit as dangerous, as the call for Lebensraum in Mein Kampf. Indeed, as Mark Steyn reminds us in his essay (I do hope you have read the linked document), the governing caucus of Brussels is already majority Muslim.

    There are already lots of Muslim countries. Geert Wilders would like there to continue to be one small country in the world that is culturally Dutch; a Europe that remains culturally European. I think that in this he is a voice of reason in a continent that has gone suicidally mad.

    What do you recommend?

    Posted February 24, 2009 at 11:35 pm | Permalink
  4. Court says

    Malcolm, I read Steyn’s essay. Reminded me of the early 20th-century fears of the “yellow hordes” of Chinamen and other barbaric Asiatics that would soon be overwhelming America. Funny how he thinks the remedy to “not doing things for fear of offending Muslims” is … more fear. Of Muslims.

    I’m taking the long view on this, I guess. The “Christian” civilization (I use those quotes because, really, how much did medieval society resemble Christ-like behavior) that defeated the Muslims at Poitiers would be unbearably barbaric to any sane 21st century Westerner. I suspect that societies 12 centuries hence will be equally unrecognizable to us. Cultures change, civilizations change. Maybe Europe will become more Muslim-like in that time. Maybe it will become something totally different. 12 centuries before Poitiers, that very spot was the abode of tribes the Romans considered savages, was it not?

    If you really think the West is somehow losing influence in the world, you haven’t been to east Asia recently. For every British Muslim marrying his cousin, there are 100 Thai and Chinese and Korean kids scrabbling all over each other to emulate Western lifestyles. The axis of world civilizations is indeed tilting, but not only in the way Steyn thinks. Perhaps the ultimate torchbearers of Western civilization will not live in the geographic West. That’s alright. How many “Westerners” are there in the Bible? A few tyrants, as I recall.

    Btw, this article is a far more laudatory take on Wilders, if you haven’t seen it.

    Posted February 25, 2009 at 2:45 am | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Court,

    I don’t share your blithe unconcern for the issues raised by Wilders, Steyn, et al. First of all, despite what you say, there is a genuine and important distinction to be made between seeing ideological Muslims as representing a dire and clamant cultural and political threat to the West, and a jello-kneed fear of offending them. Simply lumping the two together as “fear” in order to breezily dismiss both is just a way to avoid serious consideration of the issue.

    Likewise, whether the 8th-century Franks would have been looked upon by modern Europeans as somewhat barbaric is not the point here either, nor is the fact that Asia has absorbed some Western cultural influences (and it is arguably the shallowest and coarsest aspects of Western culture that seem to be its most popular exports over there).

    No – the question I asked, which you did not answer, is what is a Dutchman who likes living in a Dutch culture supposed to do to preserve that culture in the face of an alien demographic invasion that threatens to destroy it, and has already made significant progress in doing so? As I said above, there are lots of Muslim countries, but the distinctive cultures of Holland, Sweden, Belgium, England, etc., face extinction by a fast-breeding, invasive cultural species.

    Perhaps the ultimate torchbearers of Western civilization will not live in the geographic West. That’s alright.

    No, that’s not alright; Europe is worth defending.

    Posted February 25, 2009 at 11:01 am | Permalink
  6. Court says

    Malcolm – I don’t know.

    Posted February 25, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Right.

    Well, Geert Wilders does.

    Posted February 25, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Permalink