In the 1930’s Adolph Hitler made no attempt to conceal his ambitions. Mein Kampf spelled out a dark strategic vision. Yet the West chose to either avert its gaze or deny reality. The prospect of fighting a major war so soon after the horror of World War I catalyzed the rationalizers. Some said Hitler was engaged in mere bravado; others said, he was a reflection of German national sentiment, not imperial ambition.
Whatever the rationalizers said, they stood tremulous in the face of Hitler’s goals. Now the West is engaged in its latest act of denial vis-à-vis radial Islam.
The civil libertarians contend any modification of our laws in order to hunt down and destroy these shadowy killers in our midst represents a threat to the nature of our government and the Constitution. Therefore fighting an all-out war only damages our side.
The second group of deniers might be called “the rationalists” who assume there is a justifiable hatred directed at the West because we invaded Iraq, support Israel, have a degraded popular culture or some other reason which, if only corrected, would lead to peace and harmony.
The third is composed of those who actually hate the West even as they derive the blessings of an open society. Michael Moore serves as an exemplar of this position. In the view of self haters any position which undermines the status of the U.S. and the West is desirable. This is “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” syndrome.
Each stance, in my judgment, is deeply flawed. The civil libertarians ignore American history which suggests that even though President Lincoln abrogated habeas corpus during the Civil War, it was restored immediately thereafter. And while the U.S. took steps to intern Japanese citizens during World War II in order to prevent espionage activity, restitution occurred once the war was over.
If the Patriot Act helps ferret out those who want to kill Americans, it may be a desirable short term measure even as the civil libertarians speak glibly about the threat to our Constitutional liberties. So far more than 165 violent acts against the U.S. have been thwarted by the Patriot Act according to the Justice Department.
The “rationalists” suffer from post hoc analysis. We invaded Iraq; hence radical Islamic violence has increased. Overlooked in this exegesis are the many violent acts which occurred before the invasion in Iraq, e.g. the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, Khobar Towers, U.S.S. Cole, the missions in East Africa, etc.
It is as if the rationalists suffer from historical amnesia. After all, they note, “there must be a valid reason for this hatred directed at the West.”
The idea that people hate us for who we are rather than what we do is a condition the rationalists cannot accept. Theirs is what I call the Enlightenment flaw: there must be a rational answer for all events.
Rationalists also contend that only a tiny fraction of the Moslem world shares extremist sentiments. That is true of course, but it glosses over a key fact: radical Islamists may represent an insignificant percentage of Moslems, but every terrorist is a Moslem. Even if one percent of that population which numbers 1.3 billion is extremist, more than a million Moslems can cause a lot of death and destruction.
Last, are the subversives from within who detest America so much they would prefer to see Osama bin Laden as president rather than George Bush. One might assume these people aren’t taken seriously; alas they shouldn’t be taken seriously, but in some circles they have influence.
So filled with hate is this group that they do not even respect the laws that offer their freedom to resist. Herbert Marcuse offered an explanation for the haters when de described America as the land of “repressive tolerance.” I wonder how this group would react to Sharia law. Can you imagine Jeanine Garofolo in a burkha?
These three groups may always be present in nations that promote self examination and allow protest. But when one considers the nature of the present threat, these groups can jeopardize national security or undermine our defense. The West should value its freedom, but first it should fight for survival, notwithstanding all the doubting in our midst.