Are We Tired of Fighting?
The gradual betrayal of a once-robust conservative consensus.
June 4, 2013 - 12:18 am
In a June 9, 2005 speech in New York, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, praising what would turn out to be Israel’s disastrous unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, announced that “we are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies. … We want them to be our friends, our partners, our good neighbors.” This misguided gesture of reconciliation came back to haunt Israel in the form of thousands of rockets launched from Gaza upon Israeli population centers and a humiliating conflict with Hezbollah in the 2006 “Summer War.” Olmert is further on record as assuring us that “peace is achieved through concessions. We all know that.” Well no, we don’t. What we do know, or should know, is that the concessionary mentality without credible force to ensure reciprocity empowers tyrants and warlords. In such cases, peace now means war later. Or even sooner.
I refer initially to Olmert since he strikes me not simply as a failed and timorous Israeli leader but as a figure representative of our times. It is no secret that the liberal and “progressivist” echelon in the Western media and political circles long ago capitulated to our despotic and theo-totalitarian enemies, going soft on Russia and bending the knee to an aggressive and supremacist Islamic juggernaut. We can expect no better of a pervasive left sociopolitical orientation that envisages the erosion or supersession of the Western cultural heritage, including the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 which established the rule of nations, in order to promote the agenda of transnational governance and the oversight of the United Nations. Also under assault are the core principles of individual liberty (freedom of thought and speech, habeus corpus or freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom of assembly, and non-intrusive government), to be eventually replaced by certain precepts and maxims of Islamic law, not the least of which are the so-called “blasphemy laws.” Under the rubric of “hate speech,” it will become an indictable offencs to criticize Islam. Indeed, the media, political, and ecclesiastical effort to scumble and pardon the horror of Islamic ideology as it remorselessly encroaches has an evident purpose: to find a means of living with it, to posit distinctions that enable us to legitimize it, and thus to relieve us of the civilizational duty to confront the greatest menace of our day.
All this is standard fare. But what is profoundly shocking is the strange turn in the Western conservative consensus that has seen it veer into nominal alignment with the sensibility of its opponents on the left. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is also distressed by this unfortunate divagation, lamenting with respect to his party that “we’ve sort of lost our history.” What is one to make, for example, of a Republican senator like John McCain — a former presidential candidate to boot — leading the charge against Michele Bachmann when she called for an investigation into the problematic Muslim Brotherhood ties of Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin? This example serves as a good indicator of the extent to which liberal values — undifferentiated tolerance of the Other and ultra-sensitivity to charges of Islamophobia — have come to trump even national security at the highest levels of political authority.
I have seen this shift, this reversion or deflection, surreptitiously yet starkly — a truly troubling paradox — at work in a number of my own friends: a Red Tory behaving from one day to the next like a Blue Liberal; an intelligent poet (another paradox) suddenly casting aspersions at anyone voting Republican; an exceptionally talented writer and close colleague who, without the slightest warning, began denouncing Israel and celebrating Ramadan and who now appears to have converted to Islam; an apparently staunch conservative, and a friend of many years, at a convivial supper one evening, attacking Pamela Geller as “arrogant” and “a disgrace,” slandering “mosque buster” Gavin Boby as an unreconstructed bigot, tarring the brave and much-defamed Tommy Robinson of the English Defense League as a community-dividing fascist, expressing suspicion of Geert Wilders’ bona fides, and dwelling approvingly on the distinction between Islam and Islamism. What has happened?
It seems as if some sort of microbial agent has subtly infected their minds, manifesting as a falling away from an earlier critical outlook accompanied by a growing tendency to regard Islam as inherently peaceful, beneficent, and innocuous. Terrorist violence is to be understood as the tradecraft of an “extremist fringe,” conveniently known as “Islamists,” as opposed to the sociable and nonbelligerent character of the “moderate majority” and the living marrow of Islamic orthodoxy.
Pointing out that “moderate Muslims” are largely invisible in the public arena as a countering presence to their more enthusiastic brethren cuts no ice with these new proselytes. Suggesting that the “moderate majority” actually provides the religion of violence with the continuity and staying power that it requires, lending it viability and enabling its more extreme practitioners to carry out their scriptural mandate is dismissed out of hand. Showing that violence against the infidel and the apostate is intrinsic to the Koran, Hadith, Sira, and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) — the normative bedrock of the faith — and that jihad constitutes a bounden duty for all believing Muslims is equally ineffective. Limning the 1400 year history of civilizational warfare prosecuted by Islam, detailing the provisions of Sharia law insinuating its way into Europe and America, and alluding to the thousands upon thousands of Islamic-sponsored terrorist acts and attempts, from the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center to the Boston Marathon atrocity to the plot to blow up a VIA Rail passenger train over Niagara Falls to the beheading of a British soldier on a London street, has no impact on these insulated fantasists. After all, none of them has been singed by Islamic fire. They do not have to worry about mosques being erected in their generally tony neighborhoods and the ensuing thuggery forcing them out of their homes, as in many English working class districts. They have yet to confront bombs exploding at their festivities and communal events. They are not in wheelchairs but in Passats.
The gradual weakening and even betrayal of a once reasonably robust conservative consensus has begun to exert its influence even on those commentators and analysts whose acumen and traditional allegiances we have previously trusted. According to the swelling legion of propitiators and accommodationists, we must under no circumstances offend the community of “moderate Muslims” who presumably represent the last best hope for both Islam and for us — a hope, be it said, projected into a distant and Arcadian future. No matter. It is thus no surprise that a considerable number of our intellectual and social elite have been profoundly impressed by Bassam Tibi’s 2012 book Islamism and Islam, with its intent to bifurcate what is canonically one, and by Daniel Pipes, who insists on the same distinction.
Andy Bostom points out that Pipes in his earlier book, In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power, noted that Islam (not Islamism) was a political creed, and that, in Pipes’ words, “mainstream Muslims follow legal tenets so similar to each other that these differences can be ignored” — that is, the Sharia is incumbent on all Muslims. What new evidence has come to light convincing Pipes to change his tune? In a Washington Post article titled “Islam vs. Islamism,” Pipes argues that many Muslims understandably suffer from the trauma of cultural eclipse, that only a tiny percentage of Muslims support jihad (a recent Pew survey of global Muslim attitudes to jihad and Sharia law proves him utterly wrong), that Muslim anti-Semitism scarcely existed before the establishment of the state of Israel, that moderate Islam is the solution to radical Islam, and that “a modern form of Islam can emerge.” All the indices show that Pipes’ apologetic stance is a pure fiction whose only consequence is to give aid and succor to a determined enemy bent on our destruction. In an article titled “Islam vs. Islamism: A Case for Wishful Thinkers,” former Muslim terrorist Wallid Shoebat has effectively demolished Pipes’ warped and carious article, showing how his data are cherry-picked and his claims woefully unsubstantiated and decisively refuted by historical fact. This is no doubt why Pipes has just refused an invitation to debate Bostom on the subject.
Even a strong advocate of conservative causes, a brilliant historian and a loyal friend of Israel like Conrad Black does not seem to understand that the civilizational threat we are facing is not, as he claims in a recent interview with Newsmax, “radical Islam,” but Islam itself — for doctrinal Islam is nothing if not “radical.” (The merest perusal of Sura 9 of the Koran, Al-Tawba or “Repentance,” should be enough to send us to the barricades — or at any rate convince us to monitor the terror-spawning mosques, stop or drastically reduce Muslim immigration, and defang by law groups like CAIR, ISNA, the Muslim Students’ Association, and many others.) Black then ranges further afield, turning his attention to the many scandals that have engulfed the Obama administration, and in so doing reveals the ideological cataract occluding conservative insight. These scandals, he opines, would not be good for the U.S. “I don’t think this is, to be fair, a particularly scandalous administration,” he continues, “I don’t think it’s very successful, but I don’t think they’ve done anything that should cause the president to be under a moral cloud.”
Black’s myopia is both startling and symptomatic, not only with regard to Islam per se but to a demonstrably left-leaning, confiscatory, and pro-Islamic administration. Consider. Obama and his cohorts are not merely under a cloud, they are under a louring sky — the passing of the disastrous Obamacare legislation in the dead of night, the installation of the Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan at the cost of American lives, Fast and Furious, the move toward amnesty for millions of illegals, the Justice Department’s clandestine seizure of the telephone records of the Associated Press and Fox News, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the DHS advising deference to Sharia proponents, the empowering of the Muslim Brotherhood both at home and abroad, the administration’s deliberate decision to allow undefended Americans to be killed and maimed in Benghazi, to cite only the most opprobrious embarrassments besetting this president.
Black has somehow got it wrong. The Obama bunch is one of the most blatantly scandalous administrations in the history of the American republic. Black concludes by deploring that “you have a prosecutorial glasnost — and it’s out of control.” It is surely passing strange that an historian of Black’s caliber should forget that the Russian word “glasnost” means “transparency,” a positive political quality and a campaign promise Obama solemnly made to the electorate and then reneged upon, creating possibly the most opaque administration we have ever seen. Perhaps Black’s travails at the hands of the American justice system have rendered him particularly sensitive to anything that resembles prosecutorial fury.
After the dispiriting performances of erstwhile luminaries like Pipes and Black, we must be grateful for the warriors among us who refuse to give an inch, stalwarts like Pam Geller, David Hornik, Valerie Price, Geert Wilders, Victor Davis Hanson, Brigitte Gabriel, Robert Spencer, Gavin Boby, Diana West, the two Andys (Bostom and McCarthy), Bruce Bawer, Caroline Glick, Thomas Sowell, the redoubtable David Horowitz, and a few dozen others, including a small contingent of former Muslims such as Nonie Darwish, Ibn Warraq, and Wafa Sultan. They constitute a definite minority among our intellectuals and journalists. As I wrote in an article titled “Saving the Neighborhood,” “Unlike our cultural elect, they refuse to pay Dane geld to a supple and formidable adversary.” But this does not disguise the fact that there has been a grievous maceration of the will among the conservative opposition to the “unholy alliance” between Islam and the left. It appears that, suffering from an advanced case of Olmerta, we are tired, not only of winning but of fighting. The upshot of our weakness was clearly spelled out for us in Jean Raspail’s premonitory novel The Camp of the Saints: the churches transformed into mosques, the fellow-traveling of the political class, the blind approval of the media, the usurpation of democratic institutions, and the final ignominy, namely, the inexorable death of a culture and a civilization.
Olmert and his multifarious ilk signify everything we must struggle resolutely to reject. We cannot allow ourselves to waver in our determination to resist the insidious psychological debilitation of lazy naivety and false comfort. If we want our enemies to become our friends, we had better make sure to defeat them thoroughly or at least intimidate them into compliance. But if we are tired of winning, then we had better get used to losing. And if we are tired of fighting, then it follows that we are tired of living and are merely dead men walking. Let conservatives take note. They are the last line of defense against a confident and insurgent antagonist.