September 28, 2006
The Dark View of Islam and the American StreetBy Thomas Lifson
Private conversations and correspondence indicate that I am far from the only person who has recently been giving more credence to what Max Boot of the Los Angeles Times calls 'a dark view of Islam.' The furious, sometimes violent, and often abusive response of much of the Muslim world to the Pope's mere quotation of a Byzantine emperor's question has sparked another round of doubt that the fine words we hear about Islam being a religion of peace do not correspond to the reality of today.
But political correctness has stifled the open expression of the questions, reactions, and opinions that must be held by large numbers of Americans. We have all been exposed to a large dose of street theatre, courtesy of the legendary Arab (and Muslim) Street. The message is so clear, and so widely publicized that a large portion of those Americans who pay attention to the news have gotten it.
In fact, we have moved beyond mere street theatre into the realm of real life drama, played on the global stage, and featuring plot elements and dramatic stakes that would defy the skills of even the best playwrights. And we have so far seen only Act One.
A highly revered Western religious leader, the Pope, still fairly new to his job and still mildly bathed in the fading glow of his historic predecessor's funeral, speaks certain words in an academic lecture. The words, if applied to Christianity, Jesus, or the Pope, would not stir up homicidal rage in any Judeo—Christian mass context.
The words do, however, occasion an outpouring of the most extreme invective imaginable on the part of not just rioters, but also some political and spiritual leaders of the Muslim world. Words and images designed to be maximally painful are abundatly displayed.
Violent attacks occur, a few of these fatal to Christian innocents. For heightened innocence, there is nothing quite as good as a nun devoting her life to the care of poor people of another race. There is some real dramatic flair at work.
As the curtain falls on Act One, questions abound as to the motivations, sensitivity, and even the intelligence of the revered Western religious leader, while criticisms of the Muslim masses is muted to a barely audible buzz, from the standpoint of major media.
We are now awaiting Act II, in which the plot line will revolve around whether or not the Pope carries through his planned visit to Turkey. Public calls for his assassination while visiting that Islamic Country, which, coincidentally or not, was the seat of the very same Byzantium that supplied the plot point for Act One, have been given wide publicity, in Turkey and the West alike.
Every drama needs a villain. The Muslim street has stepped forward and walked right into the conventions of dramatic villainy. There is a word in the English Language for someone who goes around hurling at others both insults and physical attacks, but who, when subjected to some of his own medicine, cries out in pain, and says that it just isn't fair. The proper word for such a character is a 'bully.'
If the drama were being played out on the 19th century American stage, this would be the moment for the villain to twirl his handlebar mustache and for the audience to enthusiastically hiss and boo, like the audiences for dramatizations of Uncle Tom's Cabin expressing their hatred for Simon Legree.
But of course political correctness keeps most of this sort of invective out of the mainstream. The mass media approaches it gingerly, often in terms like Boot's, where the spread of a suspected dark view is seen as an impediment to winning the war on Terror, as it may in fact be, when the geopolitics of our situation are fully grasped.
Real tragedy, in the Greek sense, requires a fatal flaw to play out its inevitable horrid consequences. Pride in its extreme form, hubris, is a classic device. The ongoing drama provides two forms of fatal pride.
The first is that of the Islamists. Their own absolute sense of superiority, however much it may be called into question by the realities of the modern technological power of the non—Islamic West, blinds them to any consideration of the reactions of heathens. That fits right in with the bullying role.
But the other more complex tragedy lies closer to home, with the enforcers of PC orthodoxy. Their own hubris blinds them to the dangers of Islamism affecting them. For them, there can be no life and death struggle to the end, despite explicit Islamist rhetoric to the contrary. That is simply unthinkable. They take for granted their own power to manage the struggle. There is no war with a victory or a defeat. There is only a conflict resolution process to be managed. It is unhelpful, therefore, for us to aggravate matters by fighting the enemy. Bush's War is the problem.
Political correctness has cut off a vital source of feedback to both the Islamists and the so—called progressives of the West. They are blind to the realities of the American Street. Gradually, more and more Americans are beginning to entertain the concept that drastic measures may well be necessary to ensure our survival. It is only a half—thought position, outside of the circle of passionate advocates who write on the web or occasionally break into media notice on talk radio or a cable news channel. But it is part of a growing acceptance that we might need to go a bit Roman, or at least contemplate the exact mechanisms which brought an end to World War II, our most recent war fought against an existential threat.
America is generally slow to awaken to danger, but once roused it is a fierce fighter. A few voices are warning our potential foes. But they are not listening.
Those of us who do not want to see a convulsive death struggle play out on the world stage, who want to see the drama go from a tragedy to a farce, have our work cut out.
Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of American Thinker.