The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

With a Whimper

Victor Davis Hanson, is, in my opinion, one of the most insightful commentators on our war against Islamofascism and the Islamic/Arab culture in the Middle East. In a recent article posted at Real Clear Politics and entitled “The Dark Ages -- Live From the Middle East!” he argues that Islamofascist elements throughout the Middle East are reintroducing us to the “nightmarish” world of the dark ages.

Only 10 years ago, most of us in the West would have believed that the horrors of the dark ages -- barbarity and beheadings, the complete subjugation of women, violent repression of free speech, and of course, rabid hatred of Jews -- were long gone. They have returned.

But many in the West refuse to acknowledge their currency, attributing these modern horrors to “oppression” or “humiliation” or anything that obfuscates the truth.

Hanson sees it very clearly:
Since Sept. 11, the West has fought enemies who are determined to bring back the nightmarish world that we thought was long past. And there are lessons Westerners can learn from radical Islamists' ghastly efforts.

First, the Western liberal tradition is fragile and can still disappear. Just because we have sophisticated cell phones, CAT scanners and jets does not ensure that we are permanently civilized or safe. Technology used by the civilized for positive purposes can easily be manipulated by barbarians for destruction.

Second, the Enlightenment is not always lost on the battlefield. It can be surrendered through either fear or indifference as well. Westerners fearful of terrorist reprisals themselves shut down a production of a Mozart opera in Berlin deemed offensive to Muslims. Few came to the aid of a Salman Rushdie or Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh when their unpopular expression earned death threats from Islamists. Van Gogh, of course, was ultimately killed.

The Goths and Vandals did not sack Rome solely through the power of their hordes; they also relied on the paralysis of Roman elites who no longer knew what it was to be Roman - much less whether it was any better than the alternative.

Third, civilization is forfeited with a whimper, not a bang. Insidiously, we have allowed radical Islamists to redefine the primordial into the not-so-bad. Perhaps women in head-to-toe burkas in Europe prefer them? Maybe that crass German opera was just too over the top after all? Aren't both parties equally to blame in the Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan wars?

I would urge those

  • who make excuses for Islamofascist behavior,

  • who use moral equivalency to equate a legitimate defensive (or offensive) reaction to terror as the same thing as terror,

  • who argue that our multicultural sensibilities demand that we avoid criticism of Islam,

  • who suggest that we should grant rights to those who have no intention or desire to grant reciprocal rights
to reread Hanson’s words and consider them carefully.

Whether you realize it or not, the liberal freedoms you hold so dear are being eroded, not by the evil Bush administration or an intrusive FBI or CIA, but with the “whimper” of those who refuse to see the danger we all face.