Around two years ago my wife and I decided we’d had enough of big city living. The clincher was a massive construction project directly across the street that forced me to wear industrial-grade ear mufflers indoors in a feeble attempt to drown out the sound of blasting, hoe-ramming, drilling, power-shovel clanking and the crazy-making repetitive back-up beeping of tractors, trucks and cement mixers.
After some searching we found a house in the stunningly beautiful Thousand Islands region of eastern Ontario, and wasted little time moving in. The house was exactly what we had been looking for, set back from the road in a treed-in hollow that even visitors with GPS devices had trouble locating. But like any recently purchased dwelling it came with a range of small problems that needed attending. Within a few weeks everything had been more or less sorted out, except for an annoying electrical hum that rarely ceased and often kept us awake at night—another form of sound pollution that persisted in haunting us.
The dilemma was eventually solved by a local electrician, clearly a master of his trade, who almost immediately detected the source of our irritation, an innocuous air vent loosely fastened to the wall, whose grating vibrated in tune with the furnace fan. A turn of the screw, as Henry James might have appreciated, and the ghost was laid to rest.
There are many kinds of disruptive sounds, some heard, some unheard and yet audible in the chambers of the mind, which in their way are no less disturbing than the physical and domestic variety. A sound of this nature may be described as a form of psychological dissonance caused by social friction and cultural discord. It is a public vibration that may sometimes erupt in rumble and thunder but frequently sinks into the background as an ever-present murmur, distressing enough to keep one awake and ruin the harmony of a country retreat.
This is how I began to hear Islam, not as the muezzin’s call to prayer that Barack Obama registered as one of the loveliest sounds in the world, but as a vector-borne oscillation in the air, an electrical hum, always there even in the absence of sudden detonations, as it were.
No doubt I was primed for it. After years of studying Islam, following its bloody trail across the globe from 9/11 to the present day, experiencing a number of unpleasant encounters with Muslims asserting their sense of privileged inviolability, remarking the tsunami of migrants inundating Europe and gradually destroying its inheritance and cohesion, and now observing hundreds of these interlopers, aka “Syrians,” bivouacked not 20 miles from the house we bought, the hum of Islam is perpetually in our ears.
It is easy enough to lay the blame for our discomfiture on an irresponsible and mentally insolvent Liberal government that has rolled out the ceremonial carpet for a problematic cohort of refugees and asylum seekers whose culture and history are wholly incompatible with our own. Those of us who are still sentient know that Islam is a foreign body among us and that it is inherently destructive, irrespective of reformist efforts to achieve the impossible and which result only in creating an eidolon that Stephen Kirby has called “Fantasy Islam.” Islam itself cannot be fixed and to complicate matters, as Diana West writes in a fascinating Breitbart article, it is undergoing a “recurrent cycle of…expansionism into the wider West.”
But we must look to the people who elected the rash and short-sighted Liberal establishment that has abetted this expansionism. Our savior electrician was one of these voters. As we got to know him after several visits, the conversation turned to the political scene and the inevitable controversy surrounding Islam, a faith about which he knew absolutely nothing apart from the pap the mainstream press had fed him. As far as he was concerned, Islam was a “religion of peace” whose adherents would enrich our multicultural social fabric. 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam. The nearly 27,000 terror attacks since then were a figure of pure exaggeration. On the contrary, Muslims would add an element of vibrancy to our culture.
On one occasion, he reached into his pocket and extracted a sheet of foolscap on which he had scribbled the draft of a letter intended for the local newspaper, in which he offered to collaborate in a friendly way with the imam officiating at a mosque in a neighboring city. I suggested that before endorsing the tenets of a faith he had not studied, he actually read the Koran and consult two or three scholarly books on the subject by reputable and erudite authors, whose titles I jotted down for him. I also recommended that he invest a little time examining the social havoc caused by Islamic immigration into Western nations. Needless to say, this never happened, and his letter of sympathy and outreach duly appeared, parroting all the talking points with which the CBC, The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star had indoctrinated him. The irony was inescapable. He had solved one problem and improved our “quality of life” within the home, but had helped to create another that will make our “quality of life” within the nation a continuing distress.
I hope I won’t be misunderstood. Our electrician is a fundamentally decent man, as are probably the majority of his fellow citizens whose views are shaped by skewed reporting and yellow journalism, and who share the same erroneous beliefs. Moreover, many do not enjoy sufficient disposable leisure to research the topics and issues on which they vote. I suspect that even if they did, however, they lack the interest, desire and will to educate themselves, to acquire a historical perspective and a grasp of the less obvious details that ultimately impinge on their well-being. Vigilance is a desideratum of informed citizenship.
Even more dispiriting, many do not want to hear the Muslim hum for what it is, instead attributing it to other sources or re-interpreting it as something it is not. Perhaps the hum is only an auditory hallucination or, for those with ears differently attuned, the hum is “really” a sweet and appealing melody. Robert Spencer recounts a recent instance of such a convenient transposition, involving a young woman affiliated with Georgetown University’s Saudi-funded Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. She was photographed at a Washington demonstration carrying a sign reading: “I’m a Christian and I LOVE the Quran.” The woman presumably believes, Spencer comments, “that Jesus is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, who was crucified and rose from the dead for the salvation of the human race. Yet she is professing love for a book that not only denies all of that, but also insists that Christians are accursed, vile beings who should be waged war against until they submit to the hegemony of a group that believes differently.”
This may be an unaccommodating thing to say, but what one tends to find among the temporizers is a particularly daunting combination of ignorance, stupidity and self-infatuation. Such people do not want to recognize the peril before them since that would require the impulse to think, which is always hard, and the courage to act, which is never easy. Meanwhile, it’s obvious that ear mufflers won’t work against the Muslim detonations. Living beside a construction site is bad enough; living in a destruction site is infinitely worse.
Yet escape to the countryside, so to speak, is not a viable proposition either. There are fewer and fewer places to move so that we may go about our daily business without apprehension or tumult. Even in those places where we are not physically molested, the Muslim hum in the background or interstices of our lives is ubiquitous, and there is no lightworker that can still the malign resonance. As I mentioned, I hear Islam as a manifestation of sonic anxiety, not simply in the form of Arabic spoken in the marketplace or as heavily inflected threats delivered on the phone, but as a sort of aural disquiet, almost like highway hum.
In this case, the only expedient available to us may be not to move but to remove, not to relocate but to dislocate the origin of our malaise as best as we are able—that is, to shut down the terror mosques, deport radical imams, professors and government officials, furnish our intelligence community with the freedom and resources necessary to effectively police the jihadist network, investigate Middle East Studies departments in our universities with a view to disarming them, de-license the majority of Islamic organizations both on campus and in society at large, and rethink our immigration policies with the intention of closing loopholes and securing our borders.
Of course, a defensive policy of this nature, while it will not entirely expunge the threat we confront or damp the hum so that it fades into the realm of the subliminal and is no longer an impediment to our peace, demands a sensible and trustworthy executive and an enlightened electorate, neither of which are currently much in evidence.
Failing such measures, for those of us who have grown weary of the cochlear menace and enjoy the means and the opportunity, emigration to a Muslim-free zone, wherever we may find one, may be the only solution.