"Rather, we lazily allow Islamist fundamentalists to equate our culture with trashy television programs about penile implants rather than Bach, Rubens or Mozart, Newton, Pascal or Einstein. As the philosopher Roger Scruton has written, we should be more careful about what image (and reality) of ourselves we project into more traditional societies."Translation: We should strive to assure "moderate" Muslims that we are not "profiling" their barbarous creed, and that we really don't believe the jihadists and suicide bombers and ranting imams among them are practicing that creed in its most fundamental terms or are in the least representative of Islam in its ideal state.
Given that Europe is now populated with about 50 million Muslims, I don't think anyone needs to be reminded of their existence. They have invaded and invested Europe, and have established a foothold in the U.S. Their agent provocateurs here are busy testing the legal waters to see if this country is as weak and accommodating as Europe. They are fashioning nooses with which to hang us from the hemp of multiculturalism and tolerance.
(For an excellent appraisal of Europe's future prospects vis-à-vis the Muslim Borg, articulated by German author Henryk M. Broder, see "The Rape of Europe" by Paul Belien in The Brussels Journal of October 25th.)
Conceding that contemporary Western culture is predominantly "trashy" - a appellation that can be applied to most modern art, literature, and music, as well as to television - what would be gained by projecting a better "image" to insular tribal societies such as that of the Muslims? It can't be that Muslim rank-and-file or their fire and brimstone clerics care a fig about Bach, Rubens, Newton or Einstein. Islamists wish to conquer and eliminate the civilization that produced such creators and thinkers. Islam in its "at rest" state is a model of smug, conscientious, cultural stagnancy. It has no room for, and can never produce, the likes of Michelangelo or Jonas Salk. Islam makes no distinction between the Rolling Stones and Berlioz. In Islam's miasmatic, anti-life ethos, all such Western values are decadent and corrupting.
In response to Burleigh's proposed policy of patronizing vacillation, I posted a comment in the reader's column that more or less said:
It is not possible to win the "hearts and minds" of dedicated, or even semi-dedicated Muslims. Islam is one of the most "heartless" of religions. It tolerates good will among only Muslims, and even then it is conditional. As for kaffirs and other non-believers, it is open season on them at the whim of Islam's clerics and rulers.
And as for "minds," Islam is more hostile to them than is Christianity. It is a "God says so because Mohammad said so" faith from top to bottom. This is why one rarely hears from "moderate" Muslims. They are caught between allegiance to the rational and allegiance to the utter irrationality of Islamic tenets and dictates, their convictions divided between remaining loyal to Allah and heeding Mohammad and being loyal to some semblance of wanting to live on earth (just as many Christians are, but much more pathologically).
Unlike Christians, devout Muslims can't pigeonhole their religious beliefs and get on with life. Unlike Christians, they can't spend one morning in mosque and then live on earth the rest of the week without so much as a nod to Mecca; Islam requires their daily expression of submission. Understand the ubiquitous presence of Big Brother in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and what the totalitarian Party expected of its members - which was unswerving, unthinking, goodthink obedience in all things - and you will understand Islam and Muslims.
So, it is futile to attempt to persuade Muslims that theirs is a fatal dichotomy, and to boast of all the wonderful things Western culture has produced and which they, too, can share and appreciate. Reason is the enemy of faith, not its occasional handmaiden (the assertions of Pope Benedict to the contrary notwithstanding), and the truly faithful of any creed are beyond rational persuasion. Since a Muslim possesses the attribute of volition, it is he who must exercise it (and a very, very few have).
I could have added: And they don't care, either. If the works of Beethoven, Shakespeare, or Newton were to suddenly perish, or the statue of David in Florence or the Statue of Liberty was blown to bits by "disenchanted" fellow Muslims, do you think we would witness "moderate" Muslim men and women in Baghdad or Dearborn or London's East End writhing and wailing in hysterical grief? Not likely.
An interesting post followed in the Daily Telegraph on December 1st, in apparent answer to Burleigh's encomium on reciprocity and "reaching out." There was no attribution or credit; it simply appeared on its own page, under the same title. Its theme is that the West should not rush to win Muslim "hearts and minds" when Muslims are the victims of natural disasters, such as the recent Indonesian tsunami and the Pakistani quake.
"...When such a calamity strikes a Muslim population, whom are we trying to rescue? We are rescuing our future murderers. The suicide bombers on the London Tube came from Pakistan. [Actually, they were British citizens of Pakistani origin.] They were the kin of those whom we rescued in Muzafarrabad." [Actually, their more animated spiritual kin.]Although much of the anonymous post is rambling, it does make a few trenchant observations and draws some legitimate parallels. The best one is this:
"Muslims have always attacked those of their adversaries who have been struck by a natural disaster. When a sandstorm struck a Sassanid Persian army at the battle of Quadisiya in modern day Iraq, the Arab Muslim attackers took full advantage of that Persian discomfiture and slaughtered the entire retreating Persian army."
A little research provided some historical context which the anonymous writer did not establish. The Persian Sassanian Dynasty established an empire in the Mideast between AD 244 and 651, most of which fell to Arab conquerors in 640. Mohammad died in 632, and until then was battling for Arabia, so he can't be blamed for that particular conquest, although his followers can be, busy as they were spreading the faith by sword. The Quadisiya sandstorm debacle probably occurred in the reign of Khosrow II, the last Sassanian king, who died in 628. On his death, the empire quickly disintegrated and became easy pickings for Mohammad's followers. Its capital, Ctesiphon, was taken by them in 637.
Elsewhere in the article, the anonymous writer recommends that the West adopt the same Islamic tactic that has been used against the West, even to the point of adapting the Islamic ultimatum: Abandon Islam, or die. He more or less has the same advice that another correspondent proffered, to wit, that if Mecca and the Kaaba were reduced to molten glass and tens of thousands of pebble-throwing pilgrims vaporized in a small nuclear detonation, nothing would happen. Allah, who does not exist, would neither prevent the attack nor avenge it.
Countless Muslims worldwide would subsequently experience such a crisis of faith that most would adjure Islam. And that would be the end of that. The "war on terror" would be won. As my correspondent noted, this recommendation also came from an ex-Muslim. "The fellow who suggested it was adamant that this would indeed demoralize the Muslim world and convince them that they are not going to inherit the earth."
Nuking Mecca, Medina, Riyadh, Damascus, and Tehran to demoralize Muslims would be an exercise in preemption, certainly heartless but one way of appealing to minds otherwise insensate to reason by way of the primary goal of defending ourselves. After all, Ahmadinejad is promising us the same apocalyptic destruction.
By all available evidence, however, our political leaders are staring straight into the sandstorm of pragmatism, appeasement, wishful thinking, and diplomacy. Taking the moral high ground in a preemptive strike against our enemies is not in the cards. Neither President Bush, nor Secretary of State Rice, nor Prime Minister Tony Blair, nor the Iraq Study Group, nor any European leader can take a moral high ground. They are all value-negating multiculturalists. Since the moral is to defend and preserve a value, their minds are shut to the necessity of defending any Western value.
And while our leaders are being blinded by a sandstorm of their own making, thinking they are constructing a Roman aqueduct when they are actually digging a shallow ditch, our enemies are not only chortling over the dilemma in which the U.S. finds itself in Iraq - an occupation to win Muslim "hearts and minds" by not fighting a true war - but preparing to fight over the spoils. The Persians and the Arabs are again maneuvering to contest control of Iraq. "Saudis and Iran prepare to do battle over corpse of Iraq," reads the headline of the Sunday Telegraph (December 3).
"In Tehran, Iranian leaders have made clear that they believe they are the big winners from America's involvement in Iraq. 'The kind of service that the Americans, with all their hatred, have done us - no superpower has ever done anything similar,' Mohsen Rezal, secretary-general of the powerful Expediency Council that advises the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei, boasted on state television recently."In the meantime:
"Saudi Arabia, America's closest ally in the Arab world, is considering backing anti-U.S. insurgents because it is so alarmed that Sunnis in Iraq will be left to their fate - military and political - at the hands of the [Iranian-backed] Shia majority." Vice President Dick Cheney flew to Riyadh last week to discuss the matter.
An ally so close that he can stick a dagger in our hearts - again. It isn't enough that the Saudis can hold the U.S. hostage with its confiscated oil wealth and produce suicide bombers with which to attack our cities. Now they want to pay "insurgents" to kill American soldiers. I suspect they have been doing this all the while, helping to bankroll Sunni "freedom fighters" in Iraq, and that the Bush administration has known it all the while. But, in the rarefied, oxygen-short realms of diplomacy, it isn't tactful to identify or acknowledge a truth. Two plus two can be any sum one wishes, and somehow translate into "stability" on the ground.
In the meantime, there is to be a "meeting of minds."
"...In a break with previous policy, Mr. Bush will meet tomorrow in Washington with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a party closely tied to Iran."
That, one supposes, to paraphrase Mr. Burleigh, is the political way of "somehow communicating with moderate, non-violent Muslims." Only it is the Islamists who are reminding Bush of their existence. The last vestige of Bush's moral stature, such as it was, has gone up in a little puff of smoke.
Stay tuned, if you can stomach it. The sandstorm can only get worse.