August 30, 2005
We could lose everythingBy Jonathan David Carson
We must, it is said, 'win the battle of ideas' with the terrorists. In the minds of many people, this equates to 'winning the hearts and minds' of Muslims, which in turn equates to doing what they want.
The first battle of ideas we must win is with these false equations, which turn the struggle for freedom and democracy in the Islamic world into appeasement. The battle of ideas takes place as much in the West as in the Islamic world.
The battle of ideas in our homeland is surreal. On the side of the terrorists is respectable society; against the terrorists are arrayed the terrorists.
Newsweek, to take a familiar example, publishes a false story of Koran abuse at Gitmo. The Secretary of State says that the story has done grave damage to the national security of the United States. The author of the story, concerned only with the damage to his reputation and to the reputation of his employer, calls the false story a 'blip,' and the rest of the mainstream media searches desperately for anything it can portray as evidence that the Newsweek story is fake but accurate. Victory for the terrorists.
Meanwhile, terrorist sympathizers riot, with consequent loss of life, and the American people, perversely from the point of view of respectable society, show little concern for abuse of terrorists and their book, and many turn on Dick Durbin when on the basis of a single uncorroborated report, he likens Gitmo to Hitler's concentration camps, Stalin's gulag, and Pol Pot's killing fields. Then the terrorists bomb London. Defeat for the terrorists.
As has been documented scores of times by The American Thinker, the homeland battle of ideas is an attempt by the mainstream media, the academic world, government schools, textbook publishers, establishment churches, wealthy foundations, city governments, Hollywood liberals, State Department bureaucrats, the Ivy League playpen at the CIA, pop stars, rap artists, civil libertarians, and other assorted noisemakers to mislead the public about the nature of the enemy, an attempt repeatedly frustrated by the enemy himself, who reveals his nature with every attack.
The 'war on terrorism' is thus a shooting war with Islamofascist terrorists and a battle of ideas with respectable society, which, for its own truly perverse reasons, at best exhibits a dull—witted indifference to the terrorist threat to our lives and way of life.
It is a war that we could lose—and with it everything. Which is harder, publishing a false story about Koran abuse or undoing the damage a false story causes? There is one Condoleeza Rice; there are countless Michael Isikoffs.
Since the war is a two—front war, a shooting war and a war of truth against falsehood, it is a war that our armed forces cannot win by themselves. Every American has a responsibility to the truth. Abdicating this responsibility and forcing the military to fight alone is stupid, selfish, self—defeating, shortsighted, and immoral.
If we do not fulfill our responsibility on the homefront, we will lose the war, no matter how brave our soldiers are. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will be no more.
The enormous pressure to hide the truth about Islam can be seen from the fact that our most stalwart champion in the shooting war, the President of the United States, who, thank God, is not fully respectable in certain quarters, has repeatedly made the preposterous statement that Islam is a 'religion of peace' and the only slightly less preposterous claim that the terrorists have hijacked this religion for their own purposes, as if the deliberate murder of civilians were a rare event in Islamic history. If such a determined opponent of the terrorists is willing to make excuses for a religion that will never cease its attempts at world conquest and has no scruples about the means it employs, how can we expect opponents of the shooting war to condemn it?
The President does not want to fight the entire Islamic world, which is only prudent; "respectable" society does not want to fight any part of it, which is cowardice. Each characterizes Islam in such a way as to justify itself: the President justifies his prudence; respectable society justifies its cowardice. Both mislead the public. Neither has found a way both to tell the truth about Islam and to take the desired action. There must be a way for the President to analyze the threat soberly without provoking war with more than a few Islamic nations at a time; there is no way for respectable society to justify surrender.
The President is taking the traditional role of inspiring confidence in victory. We should not expect him to do otherwise, but we have to fight as if we could lose—or we will lose. Victory will require changes that people are reluctant to make. They will not make them unless they are convinced that our survival depends upon them.
The most important of these changes is the recognition that we are in a war that we cannot run away from or win in our lifetimes. No strategy, no combination of policies, no leadership, can change the ugly facts. We will suffer no matter what we do. If we blame our inescapable suffering on President Bush or on any other president, we will suffer much more than we have to.
Human nature being what it is, we are reluctant to undertake the arduous tasks before us, tasks that we did not expect to have to undertake and that no one could wish for. It is this reluctance that respectable society exploits. We have a hard message; they have a soothing one. We tell people that they have work to do; they tell people that they can take it easy.
The good news is that though we will not survive as a people without a thoroughgoing transformation, we would need that transformation even without the threat from Islam, and we will be better off for having made it.
Either we throw off the rule of respectable society, or we die. We will have more life, more liberty, and more happiness—or death.
But why would so many Americans side against their country in this battle of ideas, a battle they themselves recognize as essential to winning the war against terrorism? Do they think they will be spared? Have they forgotten Michael Moore's lament that most of the victims of 9/11 were Democrats?
Respectable society sides against the country it presides over for the same reason that many in the West have propped Islam up throughout its history: there have always been people in the West who fear the West's defenders more than they fear Islam's attackers or think that they have more to gain from impeding the West's defense than to lose from aiding Islam's attack. The more things change....
According to Bernard Lewis in From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East, Saladin defended his policy of trading with the enemy by saying that 'there is not one of them ['Christian states'] that does not bring to our lands his weapons of war and battle, giving us the choicest of what they make and inherit':
Arms sales to Saddam Hussein, Lewis observes, had ample precedent in European history.
So Christian merchants calculated that the opportunity for trade with Islam was greater than the increased threat from Islam that that trade would bring. Protestant nations and Italian banks thought that they had more to gain from selling arms to Islam than to lose from placing those arms in the hands of Europe's enemies. Europeans decided to sell arms to Saddam Hussein for the same reason.
Respectable society thus weighs the threat to its position stemming from the war on terror and the threat from terrorism and sides with the terrorists. The decision is easier if it can delude itself that the threat from terrorism is illusory.
One way our betters conceal the peril from themselves and others is to call it Bush's problem. 'Report: Iraq poses problems for Bush,' headlines USA Today. 'Photographs of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners pose a major problem for President Bush,' says the Associated Press.
Twenty Marines die in Iraq; Cece Connely says their deaths pose a big problem for Bush. One might think that the deaths are first of all a problem for the dead Marines and second for their loved ones, that Zarqawi's car bombs are a problem for the United States and the rest of the world, that they are, in other words, a serious problem. But if they are Bush's problem, and Bush is evil, they must in some sense be good, or if a problem not a serious one.
This psychological short—circuit works for domestic policy too. 'High gasoline prices are vexing problem for Bush,' says the Indianapolis Star, as if President Bush has to chip in a few extra dollars every time one of us buys gas. 'Bush's Big Problem' is Social Security, says the Washington Post, apparently under the misapprehension that the President faces a poverty—stricken old age.
It should be obvious even to intellectuals that George Bush's neck did not bleed when terrorists beheaded Daniel Pearl, so respectable society must have a more fundamental interest in deluding itself and the rest of us than mere contempt for Mr. Bush. This interest must be an exceedingly powerful one to overcome the fear and anger that people naturally feel when skyscrapers are toppled and subways bombed and to overcome the horror and revulsion that, to be fair, even respectable people feel when adulterers and homosexuals are stoned, thieves punished with amputation, girls sold into polygamous marriages, priceless works of religious art dynamited, black Africans murdered by the millions or held as slaves, women summarily executed for dress code violations, and so on, and on, and on.
So what is this powerful interest? What do reporters, academics, artists, intellectuals, mainline Christians, government functionaries, liberal politicians, and the rest of the defenders of the sorry status quo share? Hostility to Christians who seem actually to believe in Christ. And what is the reason for this hostility? A guilty conscience.
It might seem that respectable people have more to fear from Islam than from Christianity. Christians do not stone adulterers, after all, or put blasphemers to death. Islam is remote, however, and Christians frighteningly near.
Do not underestimate this irrational fear, this spiritual rebellion, the utter dismay that those without consolation feel as they become aware of their minute and evanescent place in the universe, the despair that seizes them when they contrast their grandiose dreams and sordid reality, the terror that strikes them when they consider the possibility of divine judgment.