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September 22, 2006

Europe Caves In To Islamist Threat


In what I consider a mild rant, Gerard Baker weighs-in on Europe's failure to confront the Islamist threat, from opting out of a serious fight against the Taleban, sabotaging efforts to get Iran off its path towards nuclear status, pre-emptively cringing to Muslim intolerance of free speech and criticism, and a slow but insistent collapse of the European will - the steady attrition of the self-preservation instinct:

On Monday Jacques Chirac went to New York to upend the long, delicate diplomacy designed to deny Iran nuclear weapons. He said France no longer thought the UN should impose sanctions if Iran did not end its uranium enrichment programme.

Various explanations were offered by commentators for this volte-face -- from the thought that France might be fearful of the economic consequences of sanctions, to the possibility that M Chirac was trying to curry favour with sanctions-opposing Russia and China, to the suggestion that Paris worries that its new peacekeeping force in Lebanon might come under fire from Hezbollah if France acted tough with its Iranian sponsors.

Whatever the proximate cause of this latest French surrender, the basic reality is that Europeans have been extremely reluctant to press Iran with sanctions all along -- the same noises are coming out of Berlin now -- and are content instead to acquiesce in the nightmare of a nuclear-armed Tehran.

Then, of course, we have had the predictable European outrage following the latest apparent provocation of Islamic extremists by free speech in the West -- Pope Benedict XVI's remarks last week on Islam.

I actually heard a senior member of the British Government chide the Pope this week for what he described as his unhelpful comments. This minister went on to say that the Pope should keep quiet about Islamic violence because of the Crusades.

t was a jaw-dropping observation. If it was meant seriously its import is that, because of violence perpetrated in the name of Christ 900 years ago, today's Church, and presumably today's European governments (who, after all, were eager participants in the Crusades) should forever hold their peace on the subject of religious fanaticism. In this view the Church's repeated apologies for the sins committed in its name apparently are not enough. The Pope has no right, even in a lengthy disquisition on the complexities of faith and reason, to say anything about the religious role in Islamic terrorism.

Continue reading, "Confronted by the Islamist threat on all sides, Europe pathetically caves in."

Although I disagree with a comment Baker made in his piece about it being appropriate that Pope Benedict should have received such European opprobrium for his remarks (he apparently didn't read the Pope's lecture, didn't understand it, or is in fact a dhimmi himself and undeserved of pointing fingers at the European community for being dhimmis), Baker does a good job of summarizing Europe's unwillingness to confront the Islamist threat. In his piece, Baker goes on to note that the extent and effects of what amounts to a European moral crisis, can be seen not only in the political field, but in such symptoms as the startling decline of birth rates across the continent (while Muslim rates are large and growing) that represent a sort of self-inflicted genocide, and a refusal to confront what he calls the "harsh realities of a global economy." Although Baker has done a good job of calling attention to the symptoms of Europe's disease, he says little about the disease and its causes.

Fortunately, Dr Koenraad Elst, one of Belgium's best orientalists, has pinpointed both. Paul Belien discusses Dr. Elst's views in "The Brussels Journal":

Christianity in Western Europe has virtually ceased to exist. The spirit of secular relativism that originated from the French Enlightenment has persuaded Europe (including Europe's churches) to commit a protracted, two centuries long suicide, the symptoms of which were visible in Communism, National-Socialism and moral relativism in general.

Man is a religious being and needs religious faith. If European Christianity had still been healthy today it would have proselytized, it would have reached out with missionary zeal to the millions of Muslims who migrated to Western Europe since the 1970s, it would have offered them Christ. Instead, it's churches became bastions of religious relativism. Europe offered the newcomers only cultural decadence, from which decent people want to shield their children, and spiritual emptiness, which one can only despise.

The Europeans, who lost the missionary zeal to reach out to the immigrants, also lacked the zeal to pass on their own civilization to their offspring. Worse still, they lacked the zeal to have offspring. Since demographics is the mother of all politics, it is, barring a miracle, certain that Islam will become the old continent's dominant religion.

Drawing from Elst's views, Belien concludes that unless Europe rediscovers its will to survive - soon furious Islamists may be holding sway over Europe in much the same way as the Taliban did over Afghanistan, removing all visible remnants of pre-Islamic culture. He suggests that the Cathedrals of Europe may share the fate of the Buddhas of Bamiyan., and Christian works of art may be destroyed. A faith (Islam) that forbids the depiction of human figures will be offended by the Christian art of medieval Europe and the nudes of the Renaissance. Perhaps it is wise to seriously consider salvaging as many European cultural treasures as one already can, before it is too late, and bringing them to safety elsewhere.

But lest you be in total dispair, of note is the fact that Elst believes that Islam is also in decline and is presently going through its last upheavals:

... If a person is incapable of tolerating criticism, including mild criticism, and especially if he perceives criticism where there is none, this is often a sign of this person's deep psychological insecurity. Rude aggression and wild rage, too, are usually not the normal behaviour of a self-confident person, but rather of someone who knows that he will lose an argument unless he can bully others into silence. Last Sunday, Catholics going to Holy Mass in London's Westminster Cathedral were confronted by Christophobic Muslims, carrying hate posters such as "Pope go to hell," "Benedict watch your back," "May Allah curse the Pope," "Jesus is the slave of Allah, "Islam will conquer Rome," and the like. An English blogger has some photos here. What must one make of these Muslim protestors? Do they look like self-assured people?

It looks as if Muslims cannot cope with an open society and the modern globalized world. Should we interpret their aggression - the result of their inability to cope with the world - as a token of strength, or rather as a sign of inherent weakness - a sign, as Dr Elst says, that the decline of Islam has visibly begun?

So what's our real take home message here, and by "our" I mean people of all faiths, as well as Western civilization? I believe that Islam is indeed at war with itself, as well as with the modern world, that Islam is "losing its faith" to the extremists,and that we are seeing an Islam in dire need of reform. This has to come from Muslims themselves, and they either accomplish this before the West looses its patience, or they will find themselves being forced back, along with the extremists, "back to the holes" the extermists came out of.

On the other hand, Europe itself is in decline, from the reasons so well described by the authors herein referred to - moral relativism and spiritual decline. Indeed, man is a religious being and needs religious faith. Its time to reconsider the value of such relativism, juxtaposed with a spiritual emptiness, that so prevails in Europe today.

Rather than seek to convert others from their faith to our own, whether we be Muslim or non-Muslim, we need to each clean up our own houses, and not be so concerned about "winning over" converts from one faith to another. Such changes should come naturally, from discussion, example, and exposure with the right to decide without violence, without coercion, and without artificial and temporary spirtuality. In the meantime, Europe had better quickly reverse its current trend toward cultural and societal suicide, recognize the Islamist threat for what it is - a terminal disease.

In short, Europe must, as Belien suggests, discover its will to survive and do so quickly. This isn't done by caving in to Islamists. To get "there" from "here" begins with rediscovering Europe's spiritual roots, and discarding moral relativism. This formula works just as well for Muslims, since truly moderate Muslims and a spirtually revitalized Europe will find that they share much more in common, than they have differences between them.

Cross posted from Freedom's Zone

Posted by Abdul at September 22, 2006 12:15 PM

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