Robert Conquest, the preeminent scholar of Soviet Communist totalitarianism, in his elucidation of Western vulnerability to totalitarian ideologies wrote that democracy itself is “far less a matter of institutions than habits of mind” — the latter being subject to constant “stresses and strains.” He then notes the disturbingly widespread acceptance of totalitarian concepts amongst the ordinary citizens of pluralist Western societies:
Many in the West gave their full allegiance to these alien beliefs. Many others were at any rate not ill disposed towards them. And beyond that there was … a sort of secondary infection of the mental atmosphere of the West which still to some degree persists, distorting thought in countries that escaped the more wholesale disasters of our time.
But Conquest evinces no sympathy for those numerous “Western intellectuals or near intellectuals” of the 1930s through the 1950s whose willful delusions about the Soviet Union “will be incredible to later students of mental aberration.” His critique of Western media highlights a cultural self-loathing tendency which has persisted and intensified over the intervening decades, through the present:
One role of the democratic media is, of course, to criticize their own governments, draw attention to the faults and failings of their own country. But when this results in a transfer of loyalties to a far worse and thoroughly inimical culture, or at least to a largely uncritical favoring of such a culture, it becomes a morbid affliction — involving, often enough, the uncritical acceptance of that culture’s own standards.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich delivered a singularly astute and courageous address this past July 29, 2010. Reactions to that speech across the political spectrum, whether immediate or delayed, illustrate the contemporary equivalent of what Conquest appositely characterized as “mindslaughter” — a brilliantly evocative term for delusive Western apologetics regarding the ideology of Communism, and the tangible horrors its Communist votaries inflicted. What did Newt Gingrich have the temerity to discuss? In defiance of our era’s most rigidly enforced cultural relativist taboo, Mr. Gingrich provided an irrefragably accurate if blunt characterization of the existential threat posed by Islam’s living, self-professed mission: to impose Sharia, its totalitarian religio-political “law,” globally.
With vanishingly rare intellectual honesty and resolve, Gingrich described how normative Sharia — antithetical to bedrock Western legal principles — by “divine,” immutable diktat, rejects freedom of conscience, while sanctioning violent jihadism, absurd, misogynistc “rules of evidence” (four male witnesses for rape), barbarous punishments (stoning for adultery), and polygamy:
Sharia in its natural form has principles and punishments totally abhorrent to the Western world, and the underlying basic belief which is that law comes directly from God and is therefore imposed upon humans and no human can change the law without it being an act of apostasy is a fundamental violation of a tradition in the Western system which goes back to Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem and which has evolved in giving us freedom across the planet on a scale we can hardly imagine and which is now directly threatened by those who would impose it.
Moreover, Gingrich warned about efforts — deliberate, or unwitting — to represent Sharia as a benign system:
So let me also be quite clear that the rules are radical and horrific. I think again it’s fascinating that even when people go out and do polling and they say to, for example, Muslims in general, do you believe in Sharia, they don’t then explain what Sharia is. Sharia becomes like would you like to be a Rotarian and it sounds okay.
Gingrich’s unflinching portrayal of the existential threat Sharia represents — whether or not this totalitarian system is imposed by violent, or non-violent means — was accompanied by a clarion call for concrete measures to oppose any Sharia encroachment on the U.S. legal code:
Stealth jihadis use political, cultural, societal, religious, intellectual tools; violent jihadis use violence. But in fact they’re both engaged in jihad and they’re both seeking to impose the same end state which is to replace Western civilization with a [radical] imposition of Sharia.
The fight against Sharia and the madrassas in mosques which teach hatred and fanaticism is the heart of the enemy movement from which the terrorists spring forth. It’s time we had a national debate on this. One of the things I’m going to suggest today is a federal law which says no court anywhere in the United States under any circumstance is allowed to consider Sharia as a replacement for American law.
Reminiscent of Conquest’s earlier assessment of Leftist apologists for Communism — and anticipating reactions to his own speech, albeit from “See No Sharia” cultural relativists not confined to the Left — Gingrich also wondered:
How we don’t have some kind of movement in this country on the left that understands that Sharia is a direct mortal threat to virtually every value that the left has is really one of the most interesting historical questions and will someday lead to many dissertations being written.
The ensuing vitriolic, if predictable attacks on Gingrich, and/or anti-Sharia state legislative initiatives his speech tacitly endorsed (i.e., in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Tennessee), mirror analogous diatribes from Western Communist sympathizers and witless sycophants during the Soviet era. George Orwell trenchantly characterized this particular aspect of Western pro-Communist mindslaughter, and the attitudes it engendered towards those deemed “rabidly anti-Communist”:
The upshot is that if from time to time you express a mild distaste for slave-labor camps or one-candidate elections, you are either insane or actuated by the worst motives. In the same way when Henry Wallace is asked by a newspaper interviewer why he issues falsified versions of his speeches to the press, he replies: “So you must be one of those people who are clamoring for war with Russia.” There is the milder kind of ridicule that consists in pretending that reasoned opinion is indistinguishable from an absurd out-of-date prejudice. If you do not like Communism you are a Red-baiter.
Responses to Gingrich’s speech, when not ignoring the factual content of his presentation, or engaging in ridiculous casuistry (pretentiously, if clumsily put forth as [semi-]educated “nuance”), offered mendacious, bowdlerized portrayals of living Islamic doctrine and its historical consequences, past as prologue to the present. But a collective wealth of unambiguous evidence — readily available — reveals the breathtaking shallowness and intellectual dishonesty of these self-righteous attacks on Gingrich, and U.S. state anti-Sharia initiatives, including: objective, erudite analyses of the Sharia by leading Western scholars of Islam; the acknowledgment of Sharia’s global “resurgence,” even by post-modern, “anti-colonial” (i.e., against Western colonialism, not Islamic jihad colonialism!) academic apologists for Islam, combined with an abundance of recent polling data from Muslim nations, and Muslim immigrant communities in the West confirming the ongoing, widespread adherence to the Sharia’s tenets; the plaintive warnings and admonitions of contemporary Muslim intellectuals — freethinkers and believers, alike — about the incompatibility of Sharia with modern, Western-derived conceptions of universal human rights; and the overt promulgation of traditional, Sharia-based Muslim legal systems as an integrated whole (i.e., extending well beyond mere “family law aspects” of the Sharia), by authoritative, mainstream international and North American Islamic religio-political organizations.