Winston Churchill 311.
(photo credit: Imperial War Museum Collections)
It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism, while
the wolf remains of a different opinion.
W. R. Inge, dean of St. Paul’s
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance.
If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not
prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant,
then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.
– Karl Popper, On
the Paradox of Tolerance, in The Open Society and Its Enemies, 1945 ...
Western Europeans, from the man on the street to the cop on the corner, from the
politician in Parliament to the immigration official at the border, have long
considered it their obligation... to tolerate intolerance.
“Tolerating Intolerance: The Challenge of Fundamentalist Islam in Western
Europe,” Partisan Review, 2002.
Across the Western world today, political
liberalism is undergoing a process of self-cannibalization. It is being
devoured by the very values which made it into arguably the most successful and
influential socio-political doctrine in modern history.
At the very
minimum, it is being complicit in actively facilitating its own demise though an
unrestrained and undiscerning compulsion to apply these values universally –
even when such application is not only inappropriate but detrimental to those
Acknowledging diversity is... diverse
Devotees of political
liberalism fervently advocate – quite correctly – the need to acknowledge the
diversity of humanity and to accept the existence of those different from us,
i.e., the “Other.”
However, they then go on to advocate – with equal
fervor – something that in effect empties the previous acknowledgment of all
significance, i.e., that we relate to all the diverse “Others” as
For what is the point of acknowledging diversity if we are called
upon to ignore the possible ramifications of that diversity and to relate to
those discernibly different from us as if they were essentially the same as us?
Prima facie, this is absurdly self-contradictory.
For surely the
awareness of difference raises the possibility that different attitudes (and
actions) toward the “Other” may be called for.
diversity necessarily negates equality, this does not a priori mean that “Ours”
is morally superior to “Theirs” – although the plausible assumption is that “We”
have a subjective preference for “Ours” over “Theirs.”
This, of course,
might entail certain practical ramifications for the preservation of “Ours” lest
it be consumed by “Theirs” – depending on “Their” appetites and
‘Us’ as an item on ‘Their menu
As the foregoing citation
from W.R. Inge underscores, it would be injudicious to relate to carnivores and
herbivores with an undiscriminating sense of egalitarianism. Indeed, if one is
not mindful of the differences between oneself and the “Other” (say with regard
to dietary preferences or predatory predilections), disaster may well be
Note that making such a diagnosis of difference does not
necessarily imply a value judgment as to the relative moral merits of eating
flesh or eating grass. However, operationally, it is a distinction that is
essential for the preservation of grass-grazers and – and no less pointedly –
for the shepherd charged with their welfare.
For no matter how
sympathetic to, or appreciative of, the untamed majesty of predators one might
be, the fate of the flock is likely to be grim if it is left to graze in
wolffrequented territory with nothing more coercive to protect it than an appeal
Now while I do not wish to push Inge’s ovine-lupine
analogy too far, those who would dismiss it as overly facile would do well to
recall that political liberalism has faced several challenges in the last
century from adversaries which could plausibly be viewed as predatory.
has had to contend with ideologies that were totalitarian, expansionary and
irreconcilably inimical to its core values of socio-cultural tolerance and
The ‘Other’ as... ‘Other’ There was, for example, the
kinetic clash with Nazism and the ideological clash with Communism. Political
liberalism withstood them and prevailed.
It is facing another fateful
encounter in this century: The existential clash with Islamism – a foe not less
totalitarian, no less expansionary and no less irreconcilably inimical to its
It is far from certain that this time it will
The major source of peril today is the reluctance – indeed the
resolute refusal – to acknowledge the emerging threat. True, there were
sympathizers in the West for both the Nazi and Soviet causes, which although
they viewed themselves as antithetically adversarial to each other, both strove
to eliminate our democratic freedoms and way of life.
However, the denial
we are witnessing today seems qualitatively different. Leading liberal
opinion-makers in mainstream intellectual establishment appear totally incapable
of conceiving (or at least, totally unwilling to acknowledge that they are
capable of conceiving) of the “Other” as anything but a darker skin-toned
version of themselves – with perhaps somewhat more exotic tastes in dress and a
greater penchant for spicy food, but with essentially the same value system as
theirs, or at least one not significantly incompatible with it.
there seems to be an overriding inability to admit the possibility that the
“Other” is in fact fundamentally different – i.e., genuinely “Other” – and may
hold entirely different beliefs as to what is good and bad, what is legitimate
and what is not.
A catastrophic corruption of the discourse
It is of
little practical consequence whether this is the product of an overbearing
intellectual arrogance, which precludes the possibility of any alternative value
system, or of an underlying moral cowardice, which precludes the will to defend
the validity of one’s own value system.
The result is the ongoing retreat
from the defense of liberty and tolerance in the face of an ever-emboldened,
intolerant Muslim militancy – not only across the Islamic world but within the
urban heart of many Western nations as well.
Even more serious, it has
undermined the capacity for honest debate, for accurate assessment of strategic
geopolitical shifts... and for formulating timely and effective responses
to deal with them.
Take the Arab Spring, for example, which much of the
mainstream media heralded as the dawning of a new spirit of freedom and
enlightenment from the Maghreb to the Persian Gulf. Almost a year since it
began, the results are hardly cause for optimism. In Tunisia and Libya, Islamist
governments have been ensconced by popular vote. In other countries, such as in
Egypt, the religious fundamentalists has been hugely empowered; in yet others,
such as Syria and Bahrain, similar outcomes have only been avoided – so far – by
Nothing that has occurred – or been prevented from
occurring – seems to vaguely justify the rosy forecast that accompanied the
initial stages of revolt as to the imminent emergence of Arab regimes founded on
values and systems analogous to those of Western democracy.
None of this
should have been unexpected.
The facts were available for anyone willing
to recognize them. On the verge of the Arab Spring (December 2101), the
respected Pew Research Center conducted a survey of popular opinion in several
The two countries included in the poll with relevance
for the Arab Spring were Egypt and Jordan. In both, massive majorities (over 70
percent on average for Jordan and over 80% for Egypt) supported:
• execution by
stoning for adultery;
• whippings or amputation of hands for theft and robbery;
• the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion.
then was the broad-based value system of the masses who drove the popular
uprisings across the Arab world, despite the external trappings of modernity,
despite the tweets, the smart phones and the social network
It is a safe bet that had such a poll been conducted in the
EU, North America or Australasia the findings would have been radically
So perhaps it is time that we begin to recognize that the
“Other” really is the “Other.”
Orwellian mind-control tactics
politically correct endeavor to shy away from harsh truths has introduced an
almost Orwellian atmosphere of 1984 mind control into the debate on the
ramifications of Islam for political liberalism.
Pronouncements almost on
a par with the “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery” and “Ignorance is Strength”
employed by The Party to control the dystopian state of Oceania in George
Orwell’s classic novel of pervasive dictatorship are emerging with disturbing
For example, US Director of National Intelligence James
Clapper in effect pronounced that “religious fundamentalism is secular” when he
characterized the radical Muslim Brotherhood as an organization that is “largely
A similar instance of convoluted, nonsensical gobbledygook came
from the Obama administration’s homeland security adviser James O. Brennan, when
he made the astounding claim that accurately defining the threat would
exacerbate it: “Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists, because
jihad is a holy struggle. [C]haracterizing our adversaries this way would
actually be counterproductive,” he said.
So by reorganizing the rhetoric
we will somehow dispel the misperceptions, from which the planners/perpetrators
of wholesale carnage in the name of Islam apparently suffer, as to the sources
of their beliefs and the nature of their motivations? But perhaps the pinnacle
of Orwellian endeavor came from then-British home secretary Jacqui Smith, who
took it upon herself to bring home to radicalized UK Muslims that they were not
who they thought they were. In a breathtaking stroke of self-contradictory
double talk, she presumed to dub the acts of terrorism perpetrated by Islamists
in the name of Islam as “anti-Islamic activity.”
Her 2009 interview with
Der Spiegel was shockingly reminiscent of the "mind control through language”
policy employed by Orwell’s Big Brother and his omnipresent
Clearly in an intellectual climate such as this – where truth is
condemned and dismissed as politically incorrect hate speech – no effective
response can be marshaled against the gathering storm facing Western
civilization and the values of political liberalism that underpin
Menace of Muhammadanism: Prescient premonitions
Such reticence and
evasion was not always prevalent. In an era long before political correctness
crippled the ability to articulate the truth in the public sphere, far-sighted
men warned of the impending clash.
Thus seven decades ago, Hilaire
Belloc, the prominent Anglo-French writer and historian, raised the trenchant
question: “Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the
menace of an armed Muhammadan world... reappear again as the prime enemy of our
civilization?” (The Great Heresies, 1938) He was not alone in his sense of
In the first edition of his The River War, published in 1899,
Winston Churchill set out a withering critique of the effect Islam has on its
followers, its debilitating effect on economies of nations that embrace it, and
the enslavement of its luckless women.
While he admits that “individual
Muslims may show splendid qualities,” he contrasts this with realities on
collective level, where “the influence of the religion paralyses the social
development of those who follow it.”
Few who page through the latest Arab
Human Development Report sponsored by the United Nations Development Program and
independently authored by intellectuals and scholars from Arab countries, would
dispute this today.
Churchill goes on to warn: “No stronger retrograde
force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Muhammadanism is a militant
and proselytizing faith... and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the
strong arms of science... the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell
the civilization of ancient Rome.”
But how long will the West remain
“cradled in the strong arms of science?” Might this question not help
concentrate minds over the latest IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program?
Let me conclude with the observations of a gay intellectual regarding
the propagation of Islam in Europe, where private Islamic academies – subsidized
by European governments – “reinforce the Koran-based...
at home that prescribes severe penalties for female adulterers and rape victims
(though not necessarily for rapists), and that demands... that homosexuals be
put to death.”
With some foreboding he remarks: “If fundamentalist
Muslims in Europe do not carry out these punishments, it is not because they’ve
advanced beyond such thinking, but because they don’t have the