Today in a 647-word editorial the New York Times has strikingly exemplified the West’s misunderstanding of and impotent response to the threat posed to it by a resurgent, expansionist Islam:
Each new attack, each new convulsion of fear, horror, grief and anger is a progressively greater test of enlightened civilization’s commitment to its core values. …
But whoever struck the blow, whatever its malevolent purpose or toll, the response cannot be to abandon the respect for human rights, equality, reason and tolerance that is the aspiration of all democratic cultures. Though it has become almost a cliché to argue that the goal of terrorists is to bring their victims down to their moral level, it is also a truth, and it must be reaffirmed after every attack.
First, the misunderstanding. The perpetrators of these murderous attacks can’t be “trying to bring us down to their moral level,” because they believe they are on a higher moral level than we are. They are not trying to make us give up our moral principles, which they think are stupid anyway. Rather, they are trying to demoralize us, to terrorize us, to paralyze us so that we will not strike back. To create chaos. To make us see how powerful they are. To make us appease them. To make us submit.
The editors of the Times would have us stress ‘tolerance’, according to the perception that Islam is a religion like any of the attenuated religions with which we are familiar, a sort of liberal Protestantism or Reform Judaism where they go to mosque on Friday. And if this were a correct characterization of Islam they would be right. But Islam is not a religion in that sense. It is a religion-based ideology, and two of its fundamental principles are that Islam must a) spread throughout the world, and b) become politically dominant wherever Muslims live.
Marxism-Leninism and Nazism were also expansionist ideologies that had a hold on large numbers of people, although without involving religion. The religious basis of Islam only makes it much more effective in gaining and keeping adherents, a task at which it is unmatched. The collection of ideas that make up the Islamic ideology has possibly been the single most effective ‘memeplex’ in human history.
The wave of Islamic conquest that began in the 7th century was a straightforward military campaign. Defeat the infidels’ armies, kill their leaders, enslave or convert the population to Islam, impose shari’a (Islamic law), and move on to the next conquest.
Today the balance of military power is such that the infidels can’t be confronted head-on. But the jihadists understand the weaknesses inherent in Western societies. They believe that they can be cracked into pieces over time by terrorism and taken over by subversion. And the Western leadership often plays directly into their hands
For example, there is no recognition on the part of Western elites that Islam is anything more than a ‘religion’ in the most trivial sense; and therefore it would violate our ideal of freedom of religion to interfere with it in any way. So, although they admit that there is such a thing as ‘radical Islamism’ which engages in terrorism, it is considered wholly separate and distinct from ordinary Islam, which is peaceful and harmless.
They refuse to see that the ideology that is Islam is pervasive; the difference is just that for whatever reason – temperament, practical considerations, degree of commitment – ‘moderate’ Muslims do not engage in violent activities. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of support in the overall Muslim community for extremists, who are often seen as ‘more devout’, better Muslims because of their zeal.
Religion in the West is exempt from criticism, and in the US it receives exemption from taxation as well. Ideology and politics are not so protected. It isn’t considered bigotry to oppose Marxism or Republicanism, and political contributions can’t be deducted from income on American tax returns. The problem is that the pernicious political ideology of Islam rides along with its religious underpinnings.
Criticism of Islam is systematically suppressed by being called ‘hate’, ‘bigotry’ or even ‘racism’. Organizations like the ADL or the Southern Poverty Law Center see ‘Islamophobia’ as a form of ‘hate’, along with anti-black racism or Jew-hatred. Although it should be obvious that one can be opposed to the ideology inherent in Islam without hating Muslims, and certainly without being a racist, this distinction is never drawn.
Because it ignores the ideological nature of Islam, the West does really stupid things. For example, the US allows foreign interests in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iran to pump huge amounts of money into mosques and Islamic centers in America. These institutions teach both the religion and the ideology – they are inseparable – convert Americans to Islam, engage in ‘educational’ enterprises in their communities, support friendly politicians, squelch criticism of Islam, and so forth. And of course they pay no taxes.
Foreign money also goes into educational institutions, endowing Middle East Studies departments that are little more than mouthpieces for pro-Islamic propaganda, giving grants to academics for helpful research, and – to a shocking degree – influencing the content of textbooks used by American grade school and high school students.
In what must rank as one of the most foolish acts in history since that Greek horse was allowed to enter Troy, US prisons provide taxpayer-funded Muslim chaplains who teach Islam, organize worship services and help inmates convert to Islam. Thus some of the most violent elements in society are indoctrinated with an ideology that lends itself to violent extremism!
So what should the Western response to Islamic terrorism be?
- First and most important, we must recognize that Islam is not merely a religion that should be given the benefit of ‘tolerance’. It is an ideology that is opposed to the basic principles of the democratic, enlightened West, and should be treated as an enemy.
- We should stop shutting down criticism of Islam, an ideology, on the grounds that such criticism is the same as irrational hatred of a person because of his ethnicity or race. Criticism of ideologies is entirely legitimate.
- We should treat Islamic institutions as (anti-Western) political institutions, not religious ones.
- We should understand that foreign money supporting Islamic causes in a Western country constitutes subversion, and take steps to control it.
- We should ensure that the history and philosophy of Islam as an expansionist ideology is taught in schools in an honest way (e.g., the primary meaning of ‘jihad’ is not ‘an inner struggle against evil’).
- We should monitor Islamic institutions for subversive activities.
- We should not encourage immigration of Muslims to the West.
- We should eliminate Muslim chaplains in prisons.
The Times concludes thus:
What threatened nations and their leaders can do is to firmly instill the idea that the only sure defense is to stay true to what democratic societies really stand for.
What the editors of the Times intend, of course, is that the West should not allow Islamic provocations to cause us to treat Muslims any differently than anyone else. And they are correct that we should always protect human rights.
But it is not a human right in the West to espouse an ideology that embraces conquest and destruction of Western civilization. Such an ideology contradicts “what democratic societies really stand for,” and tolerance for it is no more justified than tolerance for smallpox or polio. It is suicidal.