While American forces are on the battlefield in Iraq to thwart the influence of radical Islamists, the West seems to be engaged in a form of preemptive surrender.
Targeted assassinations in the Netherlands have intimidated Dutch leaders.
The British in one provincial government are voluntarily covering porcine images fearing some offense against Muslims in their midst.
American military leaders were engaged in a thorough examination of allegations about urine splattered Korans in the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Four people died in Alexandria, Egypt when a stage play deemed offensive to Muslims was recorded and distributed on a DVD. Five thousand Muslim rioters rampaged through two predominately Christian neighborhoods.
Although the French government was primarily concerned about Muslim garb in this ostensibly Christian nation, it banned all religious displays so that Muslims would not consider themselves targeted.
The willingness of radical Islamists to employ violence in response to real or perceived grievances is a tactic that has intimidated many leaders worldwide. There is scarcely a Western leader – I cannot think of one – who has been critical of Islam’s violent Koranic characteristics.
By contrast, when a soi disant artist plastered elephant dung on a portrait of Madonna in the Brooklyn Museum most establishment figures defended the artist’s right of expression. I can only imagine what would happen if a likeness of Prophet Mohammed were treated in similar fashion.
Where, for example, are the demonstrations of the movie industry over the murder of the Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh by a Muslim extremist? It is instructive that these same film makers are still aggrieved over the stifling tactics of Joseph McCarthy in the 1950’s, but cannot marshal indignation when one of their brethren is murdered for a film about Islamic women. This can only be described as the silence of intimidation.
For Muslim extremists a willingness, alas an eagerness, to die offers them a distinct public advantage over Westerners who put a justifiable premium on life. As one Muslim critic asked of his detractors in Europe: “Are there causes for which you would die?” In secular societies the answer is increasingly “no”.
Many American students who don’t know that the American Revolution preceded the French Revolution and wear Che Guevara tee shirts with pride would never consider a disparaging word about Islam. They have been trained in incapacity and assume that any form of discrimination is wrong.
The West contends that the separation of church and state is an overarching characteristic of stable societies. For Islam, there is only Sharia, religious law, which transcends governmental decisions. As a consequence, Islamists have great difficulty with the secularization of the laws. Allah is not merely a focus of worship, but the inspiration for all legal and governmental matters.
As Hegel noted, the state is secure when citizens can engage in the renunciation of appetites in behalf of the law. In the West, law is abiding because the law abides. But what emerges when religious fervor doesn’t permit limitation? What happens to Western permissiveness when a sub-culture refuses to embrace the secular dimensions of the law?
The answers are already apparent. Islam is treated as special, a state of religion different from the others. Western authorities avert their gaze from the horrors in their midst. They refuse to consider the necessary steps for stability such as forced deportation. They are confused by religious zealotry at the very moment they have lost their own religious impulses.
We have come to tolerate an intolerant, totalistic sub-culture that prospers in liberal societies that offer ideological cover. Now we must experiment with techniques to control the enemy from within. Thusfar, the score card is not in our favor. Can this condition be reversed? Will the West come to appreciate the threat to their democracies? The future of the West depends on answers to these questions.