But once we have prayed for the dead, and grieved with the living, we have every reason to consider the implications of this slaughter — not so much for ourselves, since most of us are doing fine, but for the next generation of Europeans and Americans who will have to face a continuous escalation of Islamic self-assertion. The signs are clear: In just one day, the New York Times reported that (as columnists here had glumly predicted) politicized, intolerant Muslims now dominate the Egyptian revolution, and that the last batch of secular officers had resigned from the Turkish military, freeing its pro-Sharia president to remake that NATO member (and would-be EU member) as a militant Muslim state. Two countries which the U.S. had counted on bastions of moderation and allies in the “war against terror” are now being transformed in the image of Saudi Arabia and Iran. Syria, whose despotism for self-serving reasons has long protected some religious minorities, is sliding toward the brink of collapse, whose outcome will be a Sunni sharia state. Terror attacks continue to escalate throughout the world, from Nigeria to Pakistan, while radical clerics exploit Western liberties to remain at large.
Meanwhile, the peaceful efforts of patriotic citizens of Western countries to limit the assertiveness of orthodox Muslims who favor sharia have come under a terrible, blood-red cloud thanks to the actions of a single, vain pseudo-intellectual, who was willing to kill in order to draw attention to himself and happy to tarnish the reputations of dozens of non-violent writers and activists, whose ideas he shoplifted to provide himself with a manifesto. Just as Nat Turner's (much more justified) rebellion set back by decades the cause of anti-slavery activists in the South, so Breivik's murders have for the moment threatened to smear us all with his gore.
Robert Spencer has shown by example the right response: Express honest horror at the attacks, point out how they were in no way grounded in anything any reputable counter-jihad scholar or activist has ever written, and refuse to play the game of media hacks who are trying to silence us. Just as Martin Luther King did not fold up his non-violent movement when some black nationalists shot at cops, so we will not shelve our pens because some sociopath took up his gun.
Does the fact that some maniacs will murder for a cause spoil it? Think back to John Brown, who butchered pro-slavery activists in their beds; to the U.S. soldiers who as they crushed the army that raped Nanking collected human skulls as souvenirs; to the anti-Communist death squads funded by the CIA; to the city-busting thermonuclear missiles that targeted hundreds of millions of Russian civilians, preventing Soviet conquest and deterring World War III. Men have used dubious means to promote every cause in human history; was every cause thus unjust?
One of the things we so object to about Islam is that its own sacred scriptures endorse, even enjoin, the use of such evil means. To reject them for a Muslim is to make himself a heretic. That simple, ugly truth is so shocking to Western sensibilities that slothful citizens and cowardly politicians find it more convenient to pretend it isn't so — to claim that when freedom-fighters like Robert Spencer, Bat Ye'or, and Geert Wilders simply report on acts of violence or their origins, they are inciting similar violence. Afraid of the mortal message, dhimmis would kill the messengers. In fact, they know perfectly well that real counter-jihadists aren't dangerous. (No editor lives under 24-hour guard for publishing a Robert Spencer cartoon.) We are, in cold fact, a religion of peace — and we won't kill you for saying otherwise.
I have seen some men on our side slide close to despair, or calculate that they must save their skins in the current purge by denouncing innocent allies. Some commenters on this site (Jihad Watch, where this article first appeared) have openly wondered if Islam might not be doomed in fact to win. So Whittaker Chambers feared of Communism during the Cold War. When our own society is fractured and unsure of itself, and its elites are dominated by those who seem sympathetic to the enemy, it is easy to conclude that the totalitarians will prevail. They are so much more disciplined and motivated. They are willing to die for their cause; on our side, men are frightened to write a letter.
But consider how hopeless the following good men's causes seemed at various low points:
- William Wilberforce, as he fought entrenched financial interests, attempting to end the British slave trade, only to be slapped down again and again in parliament and find himself vilified as the enemy of his country's prosperity.
- Ludwig von Mises, who had demolished socialism intellectually in the 1920s — as he watched the Soviet Union expand, and new forms of collectivism rise to power all across Europe, while “planned economics” became the new orthodoxy in the democracies.
- Charles de Gaulle when France surrendered, and Britain sank its fleet in 1940.
- Cardinal Mindzenty, after the Soviets crushed the Hungarian revolution, who sat for decades watching Communist tanks from the windows of the U.S. Embassy.
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, as he wrote little scraps of The Gulag Archipelago in a Soviet labor camp.
- Lech Walesa, when the Polish army cracked down on Solidarity.
- Ronald Reagan, who began fighting Communism among the Hollywood labor unions in the late 1940s—and was ridiculed, blackballed, and shunned for his efforts without ceasing, right up through the second term of his presidency. (Remember how “mainstream” analysts denounced his “Evil Empire” speech as a piece of warmongering madness?)
The strength of totalitarians is always much more brittle than it seems. Also, and this is central to remember: Our goal is not to persecute Muslims or drive them out of their faith. If demolishing a 1.5 billion man world religion were our goal, we might indeed be right to throw down our arms. By contrast with Islam, Communist ideology was always a fragile fantasy. Marx's messianic dream was incompatible with our species. In its promises to blow up the cornerstones of human society—private property, religion, the family, the nation and the state — it wrote its own epitaph. Islam is a profoundly corrupt theological compromise with the vices of Wrath, Vanity, Greed, and Lust — all of which it “baptizes” and directs against unbelievers, promising jihadists rewards for conquest, subjugation, looting, and the taking of sex slaves. In this sense, it is far less delusional than Communism, and more resembles the Nazi ideology — which promised its adherents not an earthly utopia but piles of loot and peasants to plunder. The Communist ideal demanded that man (at the point of a bayonet) remake himself as an angel. Islam reaches down to groom and congratulate the thuggish primate inside each one of us. It will likely prove as stubborn as slavery.
But our success does not depend on reforming Islam from the outside, or winning Muslims for Christ or Richard Dawkins. We simply seek to contain it, in the hope that its adherents in the West will somehow make their peace with pluralism and learn how to live in our midst as non-aggressors.
What we fight is something much more bizarre, unnatural and fragile than Islam: We are fighting Western dhimmitude, and the multiculturalism that enables it. It is not in fact natural for men of one race and religion to surrender their country to another. It is profoundly uncharacteristic of Frenchmen, Germans, Englishmen, Dutchmen, etc., to pervert their legal systems to suit the crude mores of alien colonists. It is not typical of Christians to water down their creed to the point where they imagine real common ground with intolerant, apostate-murdering Muslims. It does not come naturally to feminists to cooperate with wife-beating, honor-killing polygamists, nor for Jews to apologize for defending themselves from mobs intent on pogroms. The psychological games such people are playing on themselves are surely exhausting — as wearisome, finally, as denying Stalin's terror famines and defending his purge trials proved to Western Communists. As pessimistic as Orwell's 1984 was, doublethink is not sustainable for the masses over the long haul. It cannot even endure forever among elites. Just as so many liberals “mugged by reality” turned into neo (or even real) conservatives, and so many Communists hit the breaking point and “flipped,” so we will keep on reaping a steady stream of educated defectors to freedom's cause. Meanwhile, the voters in one Western country after another will get their fill of national masochism, and rally for faith and fatherland.
We must soldier on, keeping our hands clean and our hearts pure. We must preserve and pass along a sane and humane movement of Western self-defense that can channel popular feeling in peaceful directions that honor the rule of law. When madmen (or simply bad men) arise and do evil acts, allegedly in our name, we must simply denounce them and keep marching forward. We should treat the smears as what they are: psychological warfare. The sheer baroque complexity of the lies required to believe the dhimmi viewpoint metastasizes with every jihad attack, every “hijacking” of a “democratic revolution” by sharia. In the long run, it will prove as impossible for honest men to accept as the fabrications of Holocaust deniers, or the economics of Karl Marx. And as each such man wakes up, we will be waiting, to welcome him home.