The video above emphasizes the contrast between two worlds. The men on the ground live in a world of wheelbarrows while their enemies circle the skies in million dollar helicopter gunships. Their respective physical worlds are separated by a vast gulf. But their mentalities are divided by an even greater distance: the men on the ground live in a culture where a boy can be asked to bring a length of electrical tape, or detonator — who knows what? — to daddy and his friends while they lay a bomb on the road, with the same casualness with which an American child might bringing a glass of water to someone mowing the lawn. And when the bomb went off prematurely did the survivors simply shrug their shoulders and dig another hole?
Cultures are self-reproducing structures. No culture can ever be defeated for as long as it retains the legitimacy to clone itself over and over again. The strategic center of gravity of extremism isn’t some bearded man living in a cave, nor even a group of such men gathered around a bomb. It lies in the prestige of its ideas; ideas the men in the sky are unable to even criticize for fear of giving offense. Every man on the ground must know ‘they do not fear our arms, they fear our God’. Recently a British judge commended a convicted rapist for converting to Islam, “Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC sentenced Stuart Wood for seven years for the attack, then told him: ‘You have turned to Islam and this promises well for your future, particularly as you are now an adherent of a religion which respects women and self-discipline.”
The judge said this two days before a child bride, aged 12, died in childbirth in Yemen, and heaven help the man who criticizes that. This raises the possibility that there is little use to establishing physical superiority over men with wheelbarrows using Apache helicopters if their chiefs are prepared to accept the superiority of wheelbarrow men’s beliefs without a whimper. The West has for too long believed that it was safer to puts its trust in weapons rather than in the power of its ideas. To credit Western culture, to admire the very ideas which gave rise to the million dollar helicopter, is regarded to be the epitome of bigotry; while to apologize for its history is ultimate badge of enlightenment. And yet no unease is felt among those who comfortably lever out the cornerstone while the roof above them gives them shelter. They won’t discover the connection until the last. Rudyard Kipling warned that culture mattered more than we think. It seems superfluous until we lose it.
For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard–
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!
A culture that can hurl down than iron shards from 10,000 feet yet finds itself unable to utter a single word of explanation in its defense is become a like a great, mute city from which the last living footsteps hasten away. What mercy? What Lord?