Islam versus the West: Can the West win?
During a recent trip to a small neighborhood grocery and deli, I was afforded a rare opportunity to gain some insight into the state of political debate in America. A man, who appeared to be in his mid to late thirties, was shopping and chatting with his young daughter of three or four who was happily ensconced as a shopping cart passenger.
I happened to end up at the checkout counter as the man and his child were finishing up at the next station. While writing a check for payment I heard the young female cashier at the other register exclaim as she and her assistant laughed,
'George Bush is an a**hole!? Where did she learn that?'
To which the father replied,
'She's smart. No one taught her. I even voted for Bush!'
Whereupon the father once again teased the same response out of his daughter by asking her repeatedly, 'Who's George Bush?'
The cashier again laughed while saying how funny 'that' was, and all I could say to my cashier was, 'I think it's a damn pity.'
And a damn pity it is. No genius is required for comprehending the deplorable state of political discourse regarding the war in Iraq and the fight against fascist Muslims the world over. It's not about George Bush. It's not about Dick Cheney. Nor is it about Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby or any of the other Bush Administration officials who have been pilloried by the Democrats, their radical left—wing party comrades, the liberal mainstream media, the academic intelligentsia, as well as various and sundry foreign governments, overseas media pundits and NGOs.
It seems that ninety—percent of all criticism leveled by opponents of what the U.S. is attempting to accomplish in its fight against terrorists is ad hominem argument.
'Bush lied, people died' is the fundamental theme underlying opposition to the war in Iraq. And now it seems to have come down to having a young child repeatedly spout a pithy, anatomically metaphoric description of the sitting President of the United States.
What's more the pity, is that it seems nearly impossible to get any discussion or argument about radical Islamic fundamentalism started that will even include many of the issues critical to understanding the ongoing and evolving conflict between the West and Islam.
'Can the West defeat the Islamist threat? Here are ten reasons why not.'
One of those reasons is that all those groping descriptions of the Islam we love but fear — 'radical,' 'fascist,' 'fundamentalist,' 'jihadist' — may very well already be included within the term 'Islam.' Islam as a 'religion of peace' may be a true oxymoron. As he says:
... It is neither a 'religion of peace' nor a 'religion hijacked' or 'perverted' by 'the few'. Instead, its moral intransigence and revived ardours, its jihadist ethic and the refusal of most diaspora Muslims to 'share a common set of values' with non—Muslims are all one, and justified by the Koran itself.
Islam is not even a religion in the conventional sense of the term. It is a transnational political and ethical movement that believes that it holds the solution to mankind's problems. It therefore holds that it is in mankind's own interests to be subdued under Islam's rule. Such belief therefore makes an absurdity of the project to 'democratise' Muslim nations in the West's interests, an inversion that Islam cannot accept and, in its own terms, rightly so.
Other than what Muslim and non—Muslim apologists have had to say about this 'religion of peace' concept, is there any evidence to support it? In nearly every corner of the world where Muslims come into contact with other religions there is conflict. Be it Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Thailand, the Middle East, Chechnya or various countries in Europe, Muslim tectonics are at work. That is, the places where the Muslim plates come into contact with the 'Infidel' plates the resultant friction and subduction create violent eruptions. And do so in circumstances that often have little or nothing to do with the 'Little Satan' or the 'Big Satan,' Israel and the United States.
Of course, if you keep your head buried in the sand you're not likely to realize that there is any tectonic slippage or see it coming. Mr. Selbourne describes the intellectual perch of the left, whether, I would think, leftover or new, as follows:
The fifth disablement is to be found in the confusion of 'progressives' about the Islamic advance. With their political and moral bearings lost since the defeat of the 'socialist project', many on the Left have only the fag—end of anti—colonial positions on which to take their stand. To attribute the West's problems to our colonial past contains some truth. But it is again to misunderstand the inner strength of Islam's revival, which is owed not to victimhood but to advancing confidence in its own belief system.
Moreover, to Islam's further advantage, it has led most of today's 'progressives' to say little, or even to keep silent, about what would once have been regarded as the reactionary aspects of Islam: its oppressive hostility to dissent, its maltreatment of women, its supremacist hatred of selected out—groups such as Jews and gays, and its readiness to incite and to use extremes of violence against them. Mein Kampf circulates in Arab countries under the title Jihadi.
Hmmm. Has Hitler has been reincarnated as a Muslim? There's some grist for the conspiratorial mill.
Mr. Selbourne also discusses the impact of Western disunity and lack of commanding leadership on our capacity to confront the challenges of present—day Islam. Many conservatives and readers of American Thinker no doubt feel that President Bush is providing that leadership. Personally, I think he's failed in that regard. There's a long list of issues on which he's backpedaled, thereby weakening himself and the Presidency.
Perhaps the most egregious example is the 'Plamegate' nonsense, where for three years the President failed to counterattack against Mr. Wilson and his 'supporters' — Mr. Bush's and the 'war's' political enemies. To let Mr. Wilson's lies stand unchallenged, even after the Senate Intelligence Committee's report in July of 2004 directly contradicted his most flagrant assertions, seems political insanity. So much for the 'political genius' of Mr. Rove's advice.
David Selbourne is a historian who taught for two decades at Ruskin College, Oxford. He is also a freelance writer who has written for The Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent, New Statesman, and India Today. Among his many books are 'The Principle of Duty' and 'The Spirit of the Age.'
He certainly has the credentials to lend weight to his work. His thinking is little tainted by political correctness. I fervently hope that Mr. Selbourne's Times article will be much more widely read and heeded than his book. Perhaps the Times piece will stimulate sales of the book which is currently ranked 4415th at Amazon, but comes in a tad lower at 268,839 over at Barnes and Noble. This is most unfortunate as Mr. Selbourne appears to have the most realistic and incisive understanding of what this 'battle of civilizations' is about that I've managed to come across these past five years. The same five years since the nineteen highjackers, most of whom were 'friendly' Saudis, decided that landings were, in contravention of an old aviation adage, just as optional as takeoffs.
Dennis Sevakis is a frequent contributor.