Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Not a Clash, but a Rout

The always incisive Lee Harris argues that the uproar over the Danish cartoons does not represent a clash of civilizations because only one civilization, the Islamic one, is willing to defend its values in the conflict. European governments are all too willing to prostrate themselves before the Muslim mob.

But, again, to have a clash of civilizations, it is not enough simply to have one civilization that is prepared to fight tooth and nail to defend its own ethos; there must, in addition, be another civilization that is also prepared to defend, with the same depth of conviction, its own ethical principles. The evidence, unfortunately, is that the West is not even remotely interested in mounting a defense of its values in the face of Muslim fanaticism. Worse, there are signs that the West is even prepared to sacrifice some of its core values in order to appease those who have always despised these values — values such as the freedom of individual expression and the right of every man to hold views that others find offensive and even downright blasphemous.

Consider the reaction of the Danish government to the cartoon wars. Instead of taking a heroic stand and telling the Muslim world that in Denmark freedom of expression is every bit as sacred to them as Mohammed is to the Muslims, the Danish government has announced "that Danish courts will determine whether the newspaper [that] originally published the cartoons...is guilty of blasphemy."

Not so very long ago, the notion that a liberal Western nation, at the beginning of the 21st century, could threaten a newspaper on the charge of blasphemy would have seemed utterly ridiculous. It would have appeared unthinkable that any Western government would even consider using "the crime of blasphemy" as a method for censoring the freedom of expression that the West has struggled so ferociously to achieve. Indeed, every liberal Western nation would have immediately condemned the restitution of the charge of blasphemy as a throw back to a long superceded stage in the development of human freedom. Yet where in the West do you find any government attacking the Danes for having reintroduced a crime that the West ceased to take seriously since the age of the Enlightenment? If those who are trying to appease radical Muslims are prepared to bring back the Inquisition, all in the name of Islam, then where is the so-called clash between the Islam and the West?

Sadly, there can be little argument with Harris’s point. The United States has refused to defend the Danish paper – or the principle of freedom of speech. Britain, though talking (but not acting) tough toward some of the more violence-inclined Muslim protestors, will not defend the Danes either. The Muslims sense the intellectual weakness of the West. They sense the inherent crisis of cultural confidence brought on by decades of self-loathing inspired by a corrupted intellectual elite. They recognize "multiculturalism" for the Trojan Horse the left meant it to be, and are perfectly willing to use it, playing on Western guilt and self-hatred, to press their attack. With Muslim colonies growing in every European capital, and the real threat of Muslim violence, they know they have cowed the West in a way they could never do with mere physical weaponry. The West may have jets and tanks and computers and nuclear weapons, but Islam has brashness and self-confidence, and that alone gives Muslims enough of an edge for force the West to retreat from its values.


At 11:11 PM , Blogger Dennis Dale said...

The only objection I might manage to Harris' thesis is the characterization of our attackers as a "civilization."
I'm sure someone has already drawn the comparisons to the barbarian invasions of decadent Rome.

Thank you for the consistently keen-eyed analysis of this upheaval. The MSM is still shockingly timid in most instances, but here and there I've detected cracks in the edifice. Perhaps this whole thing will be a very necessary revelation, and not a moment too soon.


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