Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The War: What If Islam Triumphed?

Ed Cline joins the ranks of those appalled by the murder of Theo van Gogh.

The grisly, broad daylight murder and near-decapitation in Amsterdam last week of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim “suicide” jihadist is a new and ominous twist to Islam’s war on the West. It portends something worse than the massacre of commuters in Madrid and of adults and schoolchildren in Beslan. The publicized beheadings have usually been staged and filmed somewhere in the anonymous hovels of Baghdad, and the victims’ bodies unceremoniously dumped in ditches or beneath overpasses on the outskirts of the city for American troops or Iraqis to find. Then, miraculously and shortly after the event, Al-Jazeera receives videotapes of the murders and gleefully broadcasts them to an appreciative Arab “street.”

No such scoop, this time, for Matt Lauer and Diane Sawyer’s Mideastern counterparts to report, not unless the murder was captured on camcorder by the killer’s cohorts and the tape surfaces some time in the future.

Another unique aspect of the murder is that Dutch investigators subsequently found evidence of a conspiracy -- chiefly a hit list -- to murder any Dutch citizen who was critical of Islam, the Koran, or Muslim society. Several prominent Dutch citizens have received letters threatening them with the same bloody fate, among them the mayor of Amsterdam, a deputy mayor, an immigration official, a television talk show host, and Ayaan Hirsi, a former Somali Muslim and member of the Dutch parliament who produced a movie with van Gogh about the Islamic oppression of women.

Matthew Campbell, writing in the London Times on November 7th, noted that, as a consequence of the van Gogh murder, “All over Europe media pundits, entertainers, and politicians were forced to ponder the chilling possibility that cross-border cooperation among closely connected jihad cells might mean that they, too, were threatened by the new terror.”

Why such surprise?

For over a generation, those jihad cells have been maddeningly and surreptitiously established all over Europe, ever since the first train and plane hijackings of the 1970’s and the murder of Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics. The Netherlands, a small country residence to one million Muslims, is now feeling particularly vulnerable. But the same thing can happen in Germany or Italy. In France, Jews and Jewish-owned property are more and more the targets of Muslim crime, and French girls are raped by Muslims for not wearing veils in public, even though they are not Muslim.

Just as the Democratic left is wondering what went wrong when, despite all its expensive and extralegal efforts, Americans reelected George W. Bush and endorsed the war on terror by a margin that could not be questioned or spun out of context, many Europeans are beginning to wonder what they did wrong to earn the enmity of the alien culture in their midst whose proclaimed end, according to its numerous imams and mullahs, is to end Western civilization. The terror they face cannot be questioned or dismissed as anomalous.

After all, if Europeans are willing to “tolerate” a religion and subculture fundamentally antithetical to Western values and mores, and demonstrably hostile to them, why could not that society reciprocate and “tolerate” their host cultures and all that they hold dear? Such as freedom of thought and speech, private property, individual rights? The rule of reason? The rule of law? The glorification of man?

Perhaps because those countries have systematically denigrated those values for more than a generation in their laws, universities, newspaper columns, and arts. Perhaps because Europeans established welfare states to spare themselves the risks and rewards of living without a “safety net.” Not to mention developed an antipathy for the work they themselves, spoiled by that welfare state, by unions, by protectionist policies, and by an inexplicable sense of superiority, did not care to do. The Europeans invited unwashed millions from impoverished Muslim countries to pick up their garbage, dig their ditches, and clean their commodes.

In the name of multiculturalism, diversity, toleration, and non-judgment, the Europeans have allowed their societies to become infiltrated by an enemy bent on their conversion or conquest.

Campbell wrote that “many of Holland’s 1m Muslims consider the Dutch government to be depraved in its acceptance of ‘abominations’ such as drugs, prostitution, and gay marriage. They want nothing to do with it.”

Perhaps not. But, overall, drugs, prostitution, and gay marriage are minor bogeymen in the Islamic worldview. Muslims have their own peccadilloes they would rather not have discussed in public, least of all by Western infidels, such as honor killings, bestiality, ritual rape, and a concept of “family” that makes Mafia solidarity look like a friendly tea-and-crumpets soiree after a cricket match.

No, the chief abomination -- indeed, the principal nemesis -- in the Islamic worldview is man the unbowed, man astride a world he has mastered, man a being proud of his existence and of his achievements, man the rational being. Man who indignantly refuses to degrade himself by groveling five times a day to bang his head on the ground in ritualistic submission to a ghost and its prophets, never daring to think outside the sealed envelope of Sharia law. Man who scoffs at and dismisses the irrational. Man the being who sends probes to wander over Mars, plunge into the atmosphere of Titan, and collect atoms of the sun. Man who creates new medicines, and new materials, and new wealth from the raw material of the earth, so that he can live happily on it.

Europe has been invaded many times. Most prominently by the Huns. And, now, for a third time, by the Muslims.

It is intriguing to speculate on the status of Europe if one imagines that Charles Martel and his Frankish infantry failed to stem the Muslim tide of invasion at Tours in 732. There is a sub-genre of such hypothetical literature, some of it meritorious, much of it silly. If the Allies had let Hitler overrun Russia to defeat Stalin and his communist dictatorship, and if we had not propped up Stalin with Lend Lease, would the Germans have been able to hold onto that conquest? It is doubtful. We certainly would have been spared the Cold War if that had happened. Not to mention a two-timing Vladimir Putin, whose KGB would have perished along with Stalin and the Politburo. Churchill and Patton would have smoked a box of cigars each in celebration of that collapse.

However, if Martel had been defeated at Tours by Abd-er-Rahman’s 60,000 Saracen horsemen, there was little that could have stopped the Muslims from adding all of France and then the rest of Western Europe to their conquests. Nothing could have kept them out of Germany, Italy and Greece. There would have been no Charlemagne, no Middle Ages, no Renaissance, no Enlightenment. Just a continuation of the Dark Ages.

A European caliphate would not have begrudged tactful rational inquiry, as the Catholic Church did, even for its persecution of freethinkers and heretics. There would have been no corrupt Catholic Church for Martin Luther to revolt against, and no Martin Luther. No Vatican, no Michelangelo, no David of Florence or Sistine Chapel, no Leonardo da Vinci. No Copernicus, no Galileo. No arts, science or literature as we know them.

Perhaps the Scandinavian kingdoms would have proven too chilly for the Muslims. No problem. Exact a tribute from them, in the great tradition of the Barbary pirates, in exchange for a promise not to lay those lands to waste or raid their commerce on the high seas for loot and hostages.

No Queen Isabella of Spain to send Columbus across the Atlantic. No Columbus, and no discovery of America. No Shakespeare, if the Muslims ventured across the Channel. No John Locke. No London, or two British empires. No Declaration of Independence. No United States. No Beethoven, or Liszt, or Rachmaninoff. No Industrial Revolution. No New York City. No moon landings, no Voyagers hurtling through interstellar space.

Muslim science? An oxymoron. Science requires a population of free minds. Islam does not tolerate free minds. Where it has tolerated them in the past, and where it does at present, such as in Indonesia or Malaysia, it is only on conditional sufferance.

A European caliphate would have smothered any political, intellectual, or religious move to freedom, or postponed it for at least another millennium. Frankly, there would have been no “Europe.” It would have become a collection of forested provinces governed by satraps of the Grand Caliphate in Mecca or Medina.

Is this too severe a judgment of Islam? Islam means “submission.” Period. No questions asked or tolerated. There have been exceptions to that rule, but they are exceptions, and they disappeared almost as quickly as they occurred. Once the Muslims had settled into a conquered Spain and accomplished the necessary “submission” of its inhabitants, one or two of its governors tolerated inquiry beyond the bounds of the Koran and orthodoxy, and even left Christians and Jews alone, as long as they avoided trouble and kept to their places, in uncharacteristic experiments in “toleration.” They gave us algebra, more efficient numbers, and unearthed Aristotle. But Aristotle proved to be incompatible with Islamic orthodoxy, more than he ever was with the Catholic Church. Better the faithful stay dumbed down.

The conflict could not last. The Koran is inflexible. It demands absolute orthodoxy, an unconditional acceptance by its adherents of its mythology and official history, requiring an abject, voluntary surrender of the mind graphically described by Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Instead of demanding that one love Big Brother, it demands that one love Allah. The Koran is riven with contradictions, the most prominent of which is a declaration of war on all unbelievers, sanctioning their murder, extermination or enslavement. Those imperatives render superfluous any afterthoughts in the text about peace, charity and tolerance.

Contradictions cannot long cohabit in a dogma; one or the other must give way. The Islamic creed is fundamentally a creed of war, of conquest, of submission. President Bush would do his country a great favor if he would grasp that Islam is not a “religion of peace.” If Muslims ever disavowed the totalitarian elements of their religion, that would be the end of it. Muslims then may as well convert to Methodism, or join the Amish.

Europe is now reaping the fruits of its policy of “toleration” of the irrational in more respects than one. The one that will capture the headlines will be the demand for self-censorship of Europeans regarding their Muslim neighbors and citizens. Dare to question the wisdom of the Koran, or satirize Muslims, or claim that the rule of law should supersede the primitive, concrete-bound precepts of Islam, and the censor may be a man with a carving knife, ready and willing to silence the offender forever. Europe has been put on notice: Heads will roll. Literally.

Can it happen here, in the United States? Possibly. Canada is already showing signs of surrendering to its Muslim activists in the field of law. Our own multiculturalists and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, among others, are working on the terms of surrender here.

Will Europe take action to preserve its civilization, or will it tolerate this new brand of terror at the price of being assimilated by its barbarian “guests”? Will Theo van Gogh serve as the modern Roland of Roncesvalles, or will Europeans blink if Michelangelo’s David is smashed by Islamic puritans in a campaign to eradicate infidel idolatry?

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