At the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, a very illuminating, must-read piece by Bruce Bawer regarding the West’s crippling reluctance to name and confront its Jihadist enemy. Others have written on this topic, but I don’t think I’ve yet seen a more comprehensive view of the problem and its many facets articulated so clearly, with reference to the many awful events of recent memory that underscore Bawer’s point.
Islam divides the world into two parts. The part governed by sharia, or Islamic law, is called the Dar al-Islam, or House of Submission. Everything else is the Dar al-Harb, or House of War, so called because it will take war — holy war, jihad — to bring it into the House of Submission. Over the centuries, this jihad has taken a variety of forms. Two centuries ago, for instance, Muslim pirates from North Africa captured ships and enslaved their crews, leading the U.S. to fight the Barbary Wars of 1801–05 and 1815. In recent decades, the jihadists’ weapon of choice has usually been the terrorist’s bomb; the use of planes as missiles on 9/11 was a variant of this method.
What has not been widely recognized is that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa against Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie introduced a new kind of jihad. Instead of assaulting Western ships or buildings, Khomeini took aim at a fundamental Western freedom: freedom of speech. In recent years, other Islamists have joined this crusade, seeking to undermine Western societies’ basic liberties and extend sharia within those societies.
The cultural jihadists have enjoyed disturbing success. Two events in particular — the 2004 assassination in Amsterdam of Theo van Gogh in retaliation for his film about Islam’s oppression of women, and the global wave of riots, murders, and vandalism that followed a Danish newspaper’s 2005 publication of cartoons satirizing Mohammed — have had a massive ripple effect throughout the West. Motivated variously, and doubtless sometimes simultaneously, by fear, misguided sympathy, and multicultural ideology — which teaches us to belittle our freedoms and to genuflect to non-Western cultures, however repressive — people at every level of Western society, but especially elites, have allowed concerns about what fundamentalist Muslims will feel, think, or do to influence their actions and expressions. These Westerners have begun, in other words, to internalize the strictures of sharia, and thus implicitly to accept the deferential status of dhimmis — infidels living in Muslim societies.
After each major terrorist act since 9/11, the press has dutifully published stories about Western Muslims fearing an “anti-Muslim backlash” — thus neatly shifting the focus from Islamists’ real acts of violence to non-Muslims’ imaginary ones.
So it goes in this upside-down, not-so-brave new media world: those who, if given the power, would subjugate infidels, oppress women, and execute apostates and homosexuals are “moderate” (a moderate, these days, apparently being anybody who doesn’t have explosives strapped to his body), while those who dare to call a spade a spade are “Islamophobes.”
By all means, do read the whole thing. Thanks to Instapundit for providing the link that brought Bawer’s article to my attention.