The Moral and Cognitive Turpitude of the West
How are the mighty fallen and the weapons of war perished! So lamented David after the death of his beloved Jonathan, and so I lament when thinking how low liberal democracies have sunk.
Christians are decimated throughout the Muslim Middle East. Killed, expelled, crucified, they are even hurled overboard by Muslim migrants fleeing from Libya to Italy and harassed by Muslim migrants in German and Swedish refugee centres. Iraq is nearly emptied of its Christians. So too is Bethlehem under the active policy of the PLO thugs running the place from Ramallah. Christmas is only celebrated there under the protection of Israeli soldiers, while the scumbags who head the Palestinian Authority continue to proclaim themselves protectors of the Christian holy places of Jerusalem. And while all this is going on, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority calls upon so-called Palestinians young and old to kill Jews wherever they may find them in order to protect the Al-Aksa mosque that sits atop Judaism’s holiest site in Jerusalem from, in his words, the filthy defilement of Jewish feet.
Of course, for a hundred years the tribal leaders of Arab clans in British Mandate Palestine, the State of Israel and now Judea and Samaria have been peddling the lie that the Jews seek to destroy the Al-Aksa mosque. This lie has always been the prelude to riots and murder on the part of their too willing followers, increasingly steeped in the anti-Jewish animus that seeps from every pore of their cultural loudspeakers, from minaret to children’s cards, from press release to soccer fields. And if that were not enough, there is always the oft repeated policy of Mahmoud Abbas that should there ever be a Palestinian state not one Jew will be allowed to reside there.
The intolerance of the other marks the entire Muslim world from Egypt to Bangladesh. Saudi Arabia sent nineteen of its illustrious young to smash two planes into the Twin Towers and billions of dollars world-wide to build madrassas and mosques in western countries, but the Old and New Testaments are banned in that country, as are churches and synagogues. Copts are attacked in Egypt. Christians are massacred in Pakistan. Homosexuals are thrown from rooftops and routinely executed from Gaza to Teheran, while women who hold up half the sky are stoned for being raped. University professors in the Arab Muslim world spread blood libels about Jews. Journalists and politicians make wild accusations against Israel and the West, the most recent being that the latter created and run ISIS. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf remain best-sellers in the Arab Muslim world. And so it goes, on and on, the list as endless as it is despicable.
And what has been the response of the West to all this? The Pope does not, as once his predecessors did, call upon the Christian West to defend Christians from Muslim rampage, perhaps because he knows the West is not only no longer Christian, but not even liberal when it comes to persecution of Christians. Instead, like the President of the United States, he summons the nations of the world to protect the earth from climate change, a danger they both consider far graver than the massacre and displacement of millions of Christians. He also calls upon the West to open its borders to Muslim migrants, and this in spite of their sorry record of bringing rape, religious intolerance and Jew hatred to European cities. The Palestinian Authority may have depopulated Bethlehem of Christians and desecrated the Church of the Nativity, but that has not stopped the Vatican from recognizing a Palestinian state that does not even exist. And while Muslims have attacked and murdered Christians from Morocco to Pakistan, President Obama can only remind the citizens of the world’s foremost democracy that Christians did bad things too, citing the Crusades in his history lesson to a Christian breakfast club.
Although Boko Haram and its allies have yet to miss a year when they do not bomb or burn several churches during the Christmas or Easter celebrations, on Easter Day, 2012, after the organization had murdered 39 Christian worshippers, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said: "I want to take this opportunity to stress one key point and that is that religion is not driving extremist violence" in the Muslim-majority north.
- Raymond Ibrahim,
“U.S. at Easter: When Christians Are Slaughtered, Look the Other Way,”
The Gatestone Institute, March 27, 2016.
When it comes to Israel, though, the sins of the liberal West are even more egregious. When the fanatical theocrats who run Gaza rain rockets down on Israel and Israel sends in her troops to silence them, the UN can only respond by chastising Israel for using disproportionate force, as if the proper conduct of warfare were measured by body counts. When Israel responds to homicide attacks from the Arab Muslims inhabiting the towns and cities of Judea and Samaria, the U.S. State Department offers sympathy but cautions about preventive measures that would exacerbate tensions and impose hardships on the supposedly innocent families and neighbours who support these terrorists. When leaders of the Palestinian Authority glorify the wanton murderous attacks on Jews in Israel, the European Union funnels more money to help fund the Palestinian Authority, to promote illegal Arab construction contrary to the Oslo Accords, and to finance NGOs bent on sullying Israel’s reputation. Not content to make the Palestinian Authority never pay for its continuous incitement to violence against Jews and Jewish sites, leading members of enlightened Europe vote in international bodies like UNESCO to remove all traces of Jewish history from Jewish holy sites like Rachel’s Tomb, the Western Wall and even the Temple Mount. Then France holds an international conference to promote peace between Israel and her enemies.
Of course, it is not surprising that Europe continues to suck up to self-declared Palestinian nationalists and indulge their vicious mendacity, for even inside Europe much the same goes on when it is faced with the ravages of Muslim terrorism. Critics of European indulgence of Islam like Geert Wilders are hounded and dragged before the courts for hate speech crimes. The wilfully blind embrace of the ideology of multiculturalism blithely ignores the wilfully nasty attacks of Muslims on European women and men. Citizens who protest are scorned as racists, while more no-go Muslim areas proliferate across the European continent. Not for nothing do suburbs like St. Denis and Molenbeek shelter Muslim terrorists who stockpile weapons of mass murder at their ease. But European leaders do not miss a beat in condemning Israeli settlements as the root cause of so-called Palestinian despair and labeling Israeli products from Judea and Samaria to make it difficult for them to be sold in their cities. In so doing, of course, they feed the western movement of so-called Palestinian fellow travellers, Stephen Hawking among them, safely ensconced in their university posts, who promote the boycott not only of Israeli goods, but also of Israeli intellectuals. And what more telling picture of this topsy-turvy state of affairs can there be than the annual Gay Pride marches throughout the western world in which Queers Against Israeli Apartheid proudly carry their flags, while homosexuals throughout the Muslim world languish in prison when not executed, their genitals mutilated, their families disgraced by societies that practice apartheid now and in the world to come?
The crowning glory to this intellectual and moral debacle is the oft-repeated phrase of western leaders that Islam is a religion of peace. From George W. Bush to David Cameron we are treated to this fallacious mantra, which flies as much in the face of history as it does in the light of contemporary terrorism from Nairobi to San Bernardino. From its inception Islam was a religion of conquest, sweeping from its tribal home in Arabia to conquer lands stretching at one point from Spain to India. The people it subjugated were forced to convert or endure second class status with all its attendant penalties. Its preferred form of government was empire, an always brittle form that led to periodic instability and endemic cruelty. Saddam Hussein was but the last of many autocrats and dictators, which is all the modern Arab Muslim world seems able to produce in one form or another. Even Turkey is sliding back to its Ottoman past, rejecting its twentieth century attempt at modernization. Globally the Muslim world is mired in a pre-traditional society organized on kinship ties that resists all attempts at transformation to the structures of modernity. Indeed, the only quality that binds Islam to modern life is a resolute hostility towards it and a resentment at the West which embodies it. Not for nothing did the Egyptian press rail against both Condoleezza Rice and Israel for bringing prostitution,
“The Jew element is as Allah described it when he said: They disseminate corruption in the land…You see these people all the time, everywhere, disseminating corruption, heresy, homosexuality, alcoholism, and drugs. (Because of them) there are strip clubs, homosexuals, and lesbians everywhere. They do this to impose their hegemony on the world…All the signs indicate that the Jews have the most to gain from an explosion like that. They are the only ones capable of planning such acts…Jews control decision-making in the airports and in the sensitive centers in the White House and the Pentagon.”
– Sheikh Al-Gamei after his return to Al-Azhar University in Cairo from the Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque in New York City, following the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.
homosexuality and lap dancing to the Muslim world. This does not mean that Muslim leaders do not like whiskey, sex and money. It does mean they do not like personal freedom, the rule of law, and sexual choice for all, and are certainly not prepared to champion it for their societies.
In fact, the reverse is more the case. Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabaab in Somalia, Hamas in Gaza, Fatah in Judea and Samaria, Hizbollah in Lebanon and Syria, Al-Qaeda all over the place, ISIS too, Houthis in Yemen, Taliban in Afghanistan, Muslim fundamentalists in North Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Philippines and Central Asia, not to mention the homicidal bombers that grace western cities and the Muslim state actors that are every bit as violent and lethal in their words and deeds. Islam is a peaceful religion? I think not. Is the religion hijacked by extremists? I think not either, if PEW opinion polls are to be believed. Of course a majority of Muslims do not yet engage in the violent acts perpetrated by all these aforementioned groups and states. But a majority of Muslims world-wide subscribe to the views that they advocate. A majority support sharia law as the basis for social life. A tremendous number of Muslims world-wide believe the events of 9/11 were the result of a Jewish and/or American conspiracy. In countries like Egypt and Jordan that have peace treaties with Israel, over 90% of the people hold horrific anti-Jewish views. And even if most Muslims have not joined ISIS, far too many of them are secretly proud of that group’s ability to take on the West and punch it in the nose. Western media may have locked onto ISIS as the worst of the worst, but the Shiite militias helping to drive ISIS out of its Iraqi strongholds are no less cruel and lethal in their treatment of Sunni residents in those cities they are supposedly liberating.
Which points to the gruesome and depressing fact that the conduct of ISIS reflects business as usual throughout the Muslim world, amplified by the ongoing rain of intellectual and clerical diatribes that saturate their societies. The readiness to blame the Zionist entity for Middle East woes is endemic to the intellectual elites of the Muslim world, from Egypt to Bangladesh. Recent murders of gay activists, university professors and Christians in the latter country were attributed to Israel by the Home Minister. ‘I Hate Israel’ topped the pop song charts in Egypt some years back. In 2013 the Gazan winner of the Arab Idol contest sang of Israel as his country Palestine, called for Israel to be wiped out and for Arabs to return to Israeli cities. For that he was named an UNRWA ambassador and this in spite of his having dedicated his win to shaheed terrorists who murder Israelis and western citizens alike. In Jordan a university professor was fired from his post for teaching Hebrew to his students. Syrian textbooks have for years taught Syrian schoolchildren that the Zionist entity is responsible for all the Middle East’s woes, describing it as racist, illegitimate, intent on robbing the Arabs of the rest of the lands remaining to them. Does anyone seriously believe that Syrian migrants leave these beliefs at the door of western countries that welcome them?
The stream of religious rulings coming out of the highest Muslim institutes of learning are no less incendiary and intolerant. From the Sheikh al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars once embraced by then mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, who calls for Muslim terrorist attacks on Israelis as a religious obligation, to the chief cleric of Cairo’s Al Azhar University, the leading centre of religious learning in the Muslim world, who has blamed Israel and the West for the rise of ISIS and consistently opposed normalization of ties with the Jewish state, the message has been the same: sharia law must be upheld, Jerusalem must be reclaimed by Muslims and the Jews evicted therefrom, modernity is not to be embraced for it is infidel in every aspect. Al-Azhar is a hotbed of support for the Muslim Brotherhood, whose fundamentalist teachings have spread far and wide throughout the Muslim world. Had al-Sisi not overthrown the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover of Egypt, it is more than likely that Egypt today would have started to resemble Iran as a theocratic state emitting fatwas against all and sundry it deems hostile to Islam. Does anyone remember when Iran issued its fatwa to Muslims world-wide to kill Salman Rushdie for having written a book, the British government did not declare war on Iran but instead sent the author into hiding under police protection? Three decades later Muslim terrorists felt emboldened enough to bomb the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo for publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. This time the French president did declare war, but did not name the enemy, and like his western counterparts, insisted on proclaiming Islam is a religion of peace. President Obama even insisted on inviting the Muslim Brotherhood to his 2009 speech at Cairo University boycotted by then President Mubarak, the very same Muslim Brotherhood Secretary of State Clinton later described as the outcome of democracy. Chancellor Merkel, taking a page from this U.S. president who never fails to laud the Muslim contribution to America he never explains, recently claimed Islam is a part of Germany. Perhaps she was thinking of Hitler’s flirtation with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem under the British Mandate.
The latest formulation of western idiocy in response to Muslim terrorist attacks is to describe them as lone-wolf incidents. Knifings in Jerusalem, shootings in Tel Aviv, bombings in Paris and Brussels, murder at Fort Hood, San Bernardino and Orlando, the discourse always remains the same dreary pathetic search for individual motives and patterns of radicalization. From the authorities we hear vows to bring the perpetrators to justice, as if these atrocities were only the result of deranged psyches. The so-called Palestinians may have invented suicide bombings, but it has certainly caught on quickly throughout the Muslim world. Western governments, intellectuals and media persons are incapable of understanding that there is a pattern here, that the perpetrators of these attacks draw inspiration from a world-wide culture that is religious in origin, that the religion bears the name Islam and its name is invoked in every incident of this kind across the globe.
To make such claims, which are only claims of fact, opens one up immediately to charges of racism. To target Islam as an enemy of western democracy, it is said, is to discriminate against all Muslims. This, of course, sits uneasily with people in a modern society, which prides itself on tolerance and pluralism. “This is not who we are,” the President of the United States never tires of repeating, and his words find a warm welcome in the population he serves. But it is factually incorrect to conflate a religion with its faithful. Just as society is not made up of people, so a religion is not made up of its adherents. Rather it is made up of the communications that circulate within it, the combinations of texts that constitute church doctrine, which in turn generate expectations as to how the faithful are to comport themselves. It may well be that not all Muslims subscribe to the views that emanate from the Muslim clerisy. It is more than probable that not all Muslims were prepared to carry out the fatwa against Salman Rushdie issued by the Iranian mullahs. Not all Muslims are prepared to pick up an assault rifle and shoot up a gay nightclub. But it is clear that a vast majority of Muslims subscribe to sharia law and share other beliefs that are common currency in the Muslim religion, beliefs diametrically opposite to the cherished values of liberal democracy. Furthermore, the Muslim world has made it abundantly clear that it is at war with the West, even if the West argues the contrary. This war can take many forms, just as the war against Israel does: diplomatic slanders, economic boycotts, use of international tribunals dominated by Muslim countries, incitement to murder, Holocaust denial, funding of Middle East studies programs in western universities, and so forth. All this constitutes jihad, which some Muslim apologists go on to
“Will the black Rice free our Muslim world by the same method that Americans have used against Muslim prisoners in the Gangi fort in Afghanistan? Or the method used in Iraq, Palestine, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Algeria, and other Muslim states where it has killed millions, expelled and tortured many and violated their fundamental human rights? Will the black Condoleeza free our Islamic homeland with destructive calls for moral degradation through drugs, sex, AIDS and crime which have spread all across America?”
– Columnist in the Jordanian daily, Al-Dustour, reacting to Condoleeza Rice’s interview in the Financial Times calling for democracy in the Arab world.
define as a path to personal improvement. Presumably, young so-called Palestinians have learned in their mosques and summer camps that this path includes blowing yourself up in Israeli supermarkets and knifing Jews in Israeli streets. Just as other young Muslims in western democracies have learned that this includes opening fire on infidels in their places of work and amusement.
Since its inception in the seventh century Islam has been waging jihad against anyone who differs with it. It is not and never has been a peaceful religion. Of course, many other monotheistic religions have not been always peaceful. The historical record of Christianity itself is not very exemplary in that regard. One has only to think of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the witch-burnings that were once accepted as common practice. But with the advent of modernity the Church calmed down. In a modern society the Church no longer rules the roost, no longer can dictate to the faithful how to behave in all areas of social life, precisely because in a modern society each area of social life is insulated from the others, leaving people free to behave as they please without fear of social sanction. One is no longer penalized in the workplace for the way one votes or the sexual preferences one has. Separation of church and state is a fact of life. Not so in traditional society, and certainly not so in kinship structured societies. From Morocco to Pakistan Muslim countries are defined in religious terms. Islamic law is their constitutional bedrock. It is little surprise therefore that most Muslims subscribe to the views outlined above that make up the Muslim religion. That is why lone-wolf attacks are not lone-wolf attacks, but part of the structure of expectations that is common currency in Muslim society.
When western societies deny this they only reveal how cognitively blind they are. Paradoxically, this blindness stems from the very functioning of modern democracies. We too have our texts, secular though they may be. We too have beliefs that are transmitted through the communications that circulate in our society. They too generate structures of expectation that enable people to navigate in this society. Think of the American Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” None of this is factually true. Men, and women, are not created equal. No one is endowed with God-given rights to anything. Democracy is not government of the people, by the people, for the people, but the bifurcation of power at the top into government and opposition. And yet these self-evident truths are functional for our society. The belief in God-given rights and the inherent equality of all people, not to mention the idea that the purpose of government is to represent the people, drives modern society forward, opens it up more and more to hitherto excluded groups in society, and fuels the incessant demands for reform, change and progress that characterize it. Think, for example, of the miraculous transformation of civil rights in America for blacks, women and gays, to name a few constituencies. People look around and see that the society does what the self-evident truths proclaim; and if it does not, they call for further reform in the name of those truths.
But this process works the other way as well. If these are the truths of modern society, understandably people are reluctant to call out a religion, however hostile it is to the way of life they enjoy. To do so would run against the very logic that makes western democracies so pleasant: their tolerance, their pluralism, their inclusion of so much difference. And so, quite mistakenly, they appease a religion and its adherents who have made it clear they would like to see modern democracies disappear. Probably western democracies do not even see their accommodation of Islam as appeasement. They see it as remaining true to who they are, as people who do not discriminate against others, and also as protection of the rights and freedoms they enjoy. Thus do the self-descriptions of modern society help to torpedo it.
“I would like us to be capable of demonstrating that Islam, a great world religion and the second religion of France, is fundamentally compatible with the Republic, democracy, our values, and equality between men and women.:
- French PM Manuel Vallis in an interview published by Libération, on April 12, 2016.
In failing to tell it how it is, modern society is not doing itself any favours. Nor for that matter is it doing Islam any favours. It is said, for example, that any attempt to hold Islam’s feet to the fire would only serve as a recruiting tool for Islamic extremism. This argument is specious in the extreme. Islamic states and groups did not wait for the West to give them an excuse to attack it. Islam’s reasons for attacking the West are inherent in Islam itself and have been ever since Muhammed first wiped out the Jews and other tribes of Arabia that would not bow down to him. Islam’s conduct is entirely self-referential, however much it may blame the West for the situation it now finds itself in. If it can guilt the West out by screaming Islamophobia and playing to the fears of modern democracy, so be it. All’s fair in love and war, after all. But in acting as it does Islam is faithful to a cardinal principal of any system, namely that its first loyalty and orientation is to its internal structure and not to its environment. Islam may be fuelled by resentment, but that is the fault of no one but the selections the Muslim world has historically made in its encounter with the West. Other civilizations made different choices and joined the modern world. If young people stream to the banners of ISIS it is not because of what the West has done or not done. It is because they are responding to the structures of expectation that are endemic to the Muslim world.
Indeed, to indulge Islam in this way is to let it off the hook. It is a way of saying you Muslims are not like other human beings, not responsible for the choices you make. It is the worst form of discrimination, for it amounts to infantilizing them. Only children are not held accountable for their actions. Is the entire Muslim world to be treated like a minor child of humanity? Nowhere is this pattern more clearly observable than in the situation Israel faces every day. The entire so-called Palestinian society has been turned into organized child abuse. This is a deliberate choice on the part of what passes for leadership in the Palestinian Authority. But the West’s response has not been to hold that leadership to account, to insist it stop educating its children to become human bombs, stop using funds to support terrorist attacks against Israel, stop indoctrinating the faithful in its vicious propaganda of Jew hatred. Instead it claims that such actions are the result of despair and that despair is a product of Israeli occupation and settlements, another claim that has no basis in fact, however much people have come to believe it. And so instead of pressuring the so-called Palestinians to get serious about peace and building their state, the West pressures Israel to make concessions to the Palestinian Authority that no sane country interested in its own survival would make. This too is appeasement, moral abdication of the worst sort, to which a good number of Israelis also subscribe, blinded as the rest of the West is by their own shibboleths. Chief of which, of course, is the idea that if what our enemies do is the result of our past actions, then changing our actions will bring about a change in theirs. Perhaps that idea has somewhat of a chance in a modern society, where compromise is valued and promoted. Not in the Muslim world, where compromise is only taken as a sign of weakness and dishonour. The Israeli retreat from Gaza should have been enough to put pay to that notion. But functional self-descriptions do not die a quick and easy death.
The one that trips us up the most on this question is the idea that society is made up of people. Only in modern society does this idea gain ground. In archaic societies where kinship is the main line of difference, the idea of society does not extend beyond the confines of family, clan and tribe. In traditional societies distinguished by rank, society is confined to the upper strata, so much so that those who were excluded from it would attempt to buy their way in to the privileged circles of blue blood. In modern societies, structured by the difference of function, society seems to disappear. In its place are the multiple areas of social life, each pretty independent of each other, where people pursue whatever resource circulates therein, according to rules particular to that activity. Some people seek knowledge, others want to make money, still others concentrate on political office or a wild sex life. Everybody has a career of one kind or another and everyone is free to decide what that will be, no longer bound by restrictions of family or class. This state of affairs is a product of modern society. Indeed, modern society requires it, for there is no purpose in having a free market, a democratic polity, the proliferation of institutes of higher learning and research if there is no one to participate in these endeavours. A modern society, in short, has to be inclusive, has to draw more and more people into the diverse activities it makes possible. Its power, its wealth, its tremendous flexibility goes hand in hand with its extension of the franchise in every sense of that term. How could a modern consumer driven economy thrive if money and credit were restricted to the privileged few? How could space exploration exist if knowledge and competence were open only to the sons of the aristocracy and clergy and subject to the dictates of convention and religion?
To people living in a modern society, therefore, it seems there is only a lot of hustle and bustle, we the people busy exercising their freedoms and rights in an ever expanding trajectory. We the people busy dealing with problems. We the people in this all together, more or less the same, all seeking a decent life for us and our children, all willing to work things out in tolerance and compromise. This is not only who we are. It is also what we see. And so when we come up against a society organized along different principles that generate a totally different set of expectations for the people living within it, we do not see that society either. We only see other people, people like us. This is how modern societies become global, obliterating cultural and historical differences in the name of humanity. Hence President Obama’s remark that the mobs in Cairo’s Tahrir Square evoked Rosa Parks on a Montgomery bus, ignoring the world of difference between mid-twentieth century America, a modern society, and twenty-first century Egypt, which is still in many respects pre-traditional. And hence too the difficulty his fellow citizens have in believing that their counterparts in Muslim societies can actually want sharia law, can willingly embrace homicidal martyrdom, can mean it when they chant death to Israel and America along with a desire for running water, more money, and perhaps some freedom from arbitrary political authority. Instead they think such beliefs are subscribed to by only a few. The vast majority of Muslims must be moderate and peace-loving, however much the research surveys and the declarations of Muslims themselves indicate the opposite. But if we bear in mind that people are only the carriers of what their societies lead them to expect as the normal conduct of business, we would not be so quick to ignore the evidence at our disposal. Nor would we feel it is racist to state these simple sociological truths.
Instead, we conjure up the spectre of discrimination where none exists. After every terrorist attack western leaders and commentators warn their populations of the dangers of Islamophobia. Muslim leaders, from Turkey’s president to the Council on American Islamic Relations, jump on the same bandwagon, quickly passing from their tepid condemnations of terrorist attacks to their own offensive against putative western sins of condemning an entire religious group. In actual fact, instances of Islamophobia in western society are extremely rare in comparison to the terrorist attacks it has endured. Instances of Muslim racism toward the West, however, are only too numerous to count. Here again the blindspot of modern democracy kicks in and we find ourselves in Alice in Wonderland. Nowhere is this situation more flagrant than in the reactions of so-called Palestinians to the murder of Israeli citizens by the terrorists they have dispatched there. After a tardy and back-handed condemnation, the organs of the Palestinian Authority quickly move on to celebrating the “martyrs” and their deeds, congratulating their families, and condemning Israel for killing the children the Palestinian Authority has sent to murder its citizens. And what does the liberal West do? It calls on Israel to exercise restraint and help non-existent so-called Palestinian moderates find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
"The decision by the Israeli authorities today to revoke tens of thousands of entry permits could stoke tensions which could lead to a risk of escalation. We must be careful about anything that could stoke tensions,,”
- French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, June 10, 2016, following a terrorist attack on a Tel-Aviv cafe two days earlier in which a Palestinian from a town near Hevron killed four Israelis .
This is moral turpitude of the highest order. It is all the more flagrant in that we are willing to give Islam a free ride yet are quick to denounce the slightest vestige of disagreement with modernity on the part of Jewish and Christian groups within our own societies. Here too the distinctions of history and society are completely ignored. Once again there are only people, and all people, like all religions, have done bad things at some times. So who are we, the subtext goes, to draw attention to other people’s and other religions’ failings? Not a thought is given to the fact that were it not for the Old and New Testaments, which Martin Luther hurled against the Papacy, the Protestant Reformation would not have come about. Nor is much thought given to the fact that this was the seminal event in the emergence of modern society. Yes, it took two hundred years of religious warfare and rivers of blood, but in the end the idea took hold that people of different religious persuasions could inhabit the same country. This idea is still a novelty in the Muslim world with little prospect for success. But that fact counts for little in the minds of liberal democracies, whose governors and governed alike see only the moral equivalencies between all people. All people are of course similar in their capacity for good and evil, but all societies are not. It is the cognitive blindness to this fact that leads us into the inability to call contemporary evil by its name.
Thus does political correctness come into being. For political correctness is nothing other than society’s way of insulating itself from slipping back into a situation of less functional differentiation. In fifty years America has undergone a sea change in cultural attitudes. Racism of any kind is out, socially disapproved and economically penalized. No one wants to go back there, not even the intellectual elites who downplay this significance and misunderstand its wellsprings in the very functioning of modern society. The upshot is a liberal society without liberals. Discrimination, the ability to make distinctions, has been replaced by sloth. Islam cannot be criticized because to do so would force people to think about the role of religion in modern society, consider that some religions are safer than others today, discuss the issues facing us outside the comfort zone of left and right which bears little resemblance to reality. Instead we have a way of talking that runs roughshod over the facts as long as it confirms the society in its proper way of conduct. Social and political discourse has become in a sense bureaucratized. There is a kind of automatic response to certain issues that only points in one direction: greater tolerance, greater inclusion, greater pluralism, even if it seems at time that we are characters in our own theatre of the absurd.
It is somewhat understandable that the citizens of modern democracies are blind-sided by their own society’s functioning. It is a good deal less acceptable that the educated elites of this society continue to cling to these myths. But this is what comes from bad theory in the social sciences. The people whose job it is to observe society accurately - sociologists and historians in western universities - have turned themselves into ideologues, peddling a theory of modern society that was outdated when it first came on the scene. They still think of modern society as ruled by class and power, driven by a logic of domination that keeps the oppressed of whatever stripe down. Its reach is now global. Its embodiment is America. The rainbow coalition of the damned arcs from Muslims to the Earth itself. You would think you are listening to the rants of Iran’s Supreme Leader. Only a radical transformation of this society, even if piecemeal, would make it the perfect union it should be. The enemies preventing this outcome have to be ferreted out and denounced. The enemies must be domestic, because that’s where the source of the rot lies. Thus is it easier for them to denounce Christian evangelicals and Israel “settlers” than it is to challenge Muslims who are assigned a place among the disenfranchised. That the latter seek to destroy liberal society is of no consequence, because liberal society is a hoax anyway. That, after all, is what their theory tells them, although in their personal lives they do not hesitate to take advantage of all that modern life offers up. Thus they too are unable to see that modern society is in fact liberal, if by liberal we understand the sociological attributes of a functionally differentiated society. And if they do not see that modern society is in fact liberal, they will certainly not see that it is worth and in need of defending when it is under attack.
These professorial elites teach students who then move out into the world and take jobs in government, in the media, in think tanks, where they advise and explain to others the same gobbledygook they have learned at university. Sometimes their professors themselves do the same. Thus do the blindspots of modern democracy get reinforced by those whose job is to know better. Ironically, paradoxically, and even outrageously, these same educated elites do not hesitate to profit from the very society they misread and denounce. Like priests of old, they use their arcane knowledge to bludgeon the rest of us into their self appointed right way of thinking and acting. And like the aristocracy of old, they confuse themselves with society, at least with how they think it ought to be. But unlike the aristocracy, who rode to war and administered justice, our cultural elites only opine, which makes their sense of self bound up with the views they espouse. Hence their difficulty admitting they are wrong and their contempt for those who dissent from their views. Those who would question the absurdities of modern life are quickly denounced as heretics and deemed social outcasts, racism today being the most ready to hand charge with which to brand these people. Serious intellectual reflection is thus hammered out of existence. Sloth meets up with narcissism, though comeuppance arrives when their own students, in and out of the academy, now censor what is fit for intellectual thought and research. Then what do they say? Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do? Sin couches at the door, but you shall rule over it? Or do they simply cave and abdicate, hoping the society they cannot see will take care of the problem without their having to rethink anything? Shall that too be our response as we continue to get blown up? Will we also say, as former Secretary of State Clinton said to a senator grilling her on the Benghazi debacle, what difference does it make? Or will we indeed change our ways because it makes all the difference in the world?