Are We Tired of Fighting?
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?
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