The difficult process of seeing and speaking clearly is well underway

The West is in the process of a fascinating change in perceptions. This change has been taking place over the last five years, ever since 9-11. At that time, not one in a hundred Americans, and few in the West generally, could make any sense out of militant Islam. For the most part, people had no idea what guys like bin Laden were talking about. It just sounded soooo crazy and far out. Surely it was only a tiny group of lunatics that saw things this way.

Slowly the West has been going through a transformation. Slowly the West has come to understand militant Islam. The process is not yet complete, but it has come a long way. We wrote about this previously. The West went through its “religion of peace” phase in the days immediately after 9-11, and its “fantasy ideology” phase for the next year or two, when the enemy were reckoned in small numbers. Then came Iraq, with its daily bombimgs surpassing the wildest totals in Israel. Some saw this as all Bush’s fault, and though there are no doubt those who still sincerely believe this, that number diminishes every day — in part because almost no one in the world actually thinks that if the US left Iraq tomorrow, religious and totalitarian violence would cease because of the US departure.

Then came the election of Hamas, the rise of Ahmadinejad, and in between all the bombings and killings and plots in Bali and Egypt and Jordan and Darfur and Nigeria and Afghanistan and Turkey and Somalia and the US (UNC, LAX, Beltway Snipers, and thwarted plots) and England and Spain and France and Canada and Denmark and the Netherlands and elsewhere. And then the Cartoon Riots and more bombings and embassy burnings and all the threats to behead — not to mention the actual beheadings of Nick Berg and Danny Pearl and Ken Bigley and Eugene Armstrong and Paul Johnson and all the rest. And it’s Allahu Akhbar all the time with these guys, like in that video of the Iraqi insurgent sniper drawing a bead on a US soldier; Allahu Akhbar, Allahu Akhbar and on and on and on. All the time, Allahu Akhbar. And then the MSM worthies come on the TV and say none of it has to do with religion.

There’s really only so much of this a person of average intelligence can stand. And so we have begun to see the different perspective emerge, as people begin to face what they were afraid to face, and they begin to insist that all people live by the standards of the civilized world, or else. The ‘or else’ hasn’t been fully developed, of course, but that is most likely just a matter of time as critical mass is created on both sides of this conflict. Our way of measuring progesss in this cultural and critical evolution in the West has several elements, including this: what number of Muslims do people in America and the West think are actual or potential problems for America and the West? This went from almost zero on 9-12, to numbers that are quite startling today, at least to us. We heard Mary Mataliin the other day estimate the number of deranged and dangerous Muslims at anywhere from 140 million to 200 to possibly 300 million. Today we heard John LeBoutillier use the figure 1 billion with regard to Muslims with strange practices or are somehow out-of-control. We don’t mean particularly to single out these two estimates, just to make the point that it is totally uncontroversial today for people to remark in casual conversation that a very large percentage of the entire Islamic world is possessed of very big problems with violence and ideological madness that are of their own making. This was anathema a few years ago, but no one seems to notice anymore these days — outside of those institutions which have to formally abide by the strictures of political correctness.

We certainly hope there won’t be a widespread war, but it seems pretty much inevitable, does it not? If the militants, with their gangs of violence-ready juvenile delinquents, do not change their program in London and Paris and Amsterdam and Copenhagen, what are the alternatives? A millet system? D’himmitude? Mass arrests? Repression? Civil War? The list seems rather short to us. If Ahmadinejad says he will destroy Israel in one storm and the US or Israel destroys his nuclear capability to do so, will there not be a terror war waged throughout the Middle East and Europe and the US? You tell us what the scanario for peace is — we’d genuinely and enthusiastically prefer it to the dark vision that lies before our eyes.

Maybe things will change and get better. That would be nice. Maybe Iraq will become, in the nick of time, a working model for what can be achieved in the Arab Islamic world, and the theology of militant Islam will alter itself in the space of years, not decades or longer. That would be fantastic, and we hope it occurs. And on the other hand, maybe Europe wants to become Muslim and will just chuck all this modern business — as we’ve said, it might save on women’s clothes and car insurance. Conflict and war are not inevitable, after all, since people are not apples and don’t have to obey Newton’s First Law. They can always reverse course on their own and simply surrender.

We feel like we’re stuck in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!, waiting for the implications of FDR’s oil embargo on Japan to play out. Just waiting and watching as events unfold. One of the most unpleasant aspects of this waiting is our belief that the cowardice and Leftism of the MSM, and the institutional bias of government towards accommodation and order, will combine to try to repress those who see and speak clearly as events approach a breaking point. Let’s just hope that we will be proven wrong about that, as well as about every other thing in this little essay.

UPDATE

The UK has been something of a laggard in seeing and speaking clearly. An exception is this piece in the Telegraph by Simon Heffer:

[T]here has been a dichotomy in mainstream British society. With varying degrees of clumsiness, honesty and transparency, the Government has identified and admitted a threat to our way of life from a small minority of radical Islamists.

In opposition to this view are pacifists, anti-racists, radical Marxists, anarchists, anti-Blairists and others of varying degrees of conviction and opportunism who see any attempt by the state to try to limit the incidence of terrorism as an assault on civil rights. They have branded the two brothers in the Forest Gate raid “victims” – a word used by the chairman of their press conference yesterday. It is a word that is clearly losing its force in our language. There seems to be a pursuit of moral equivalence with the more usual idea of a “victim” of terror.

Miss [Melanie] Phillips’s contention is that we were, and still are, a country in denial about the threat from radical Islam. The reaction to the recent raid exemplifies this. First, we failed to implement basic border controls.

Then we tolerated extremism for years, before public opinion finally forced the authorities into action. She quotes several already well known examples of radical clerics who incited murder and other forms of violence while the British authorities, notably the Crown Prosecution Service and senior politicians, turned a blind eye.

Supporters of radical Islam such as George Galloway and Ken Livingstone are elected to public office: the latter’s well documented hostility to Israel seems hardly to count against him. As recently as this year, the police went easy on those who used the publication of offensive cartoons about Islam as an excuse to call for murder.

For years, those who came here to incite violence were supported by a generous welfare state and enabled to continue their activities with the support of new human rights legislation. They have become the tool – sometimes willingly, sometimes unwittingly – of white political agitators and extremists, who have for years manipulated the anti-racist and multicultural causes for their own ends.

A climate has been created in which the police hardly dare to act on the basis of convincing intelligence, and are forced into a state of defensiveness. There is a widespread presumption across the intelligentsia, which leaks into the media, that the prime victim of this is the Muslim community. Any suggestion that it might be the entire population – including innocent Muslims who might one day find themselves on a Tube train filled with poison gas or blown to bits – who stand to be the real victims is treated with disdain. And those who try, like Miss Phillips, to argue that the evidence supports greater vigilance are treated as pariahs.

We shall find out in the space of a few years just how suicidal the West really is.

UPDATE II

We note this paragraph from the review of Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept by Andre Zantonavitch in the American Thinker:

Among the nightmare statistics cited by the book are these: 1. 80% of the women in Oslo’s shelter system are Muslims fleeing abusive families, husbands, and boyfriends; 2. Danish Muslims make up 5% of the population but 40% of the welfare rolls; 3. refugee-friendly Switzerland is already 20% Muslim; 4. the world’s most wonderful city (in my view) Amsterdam is now majority Muslim; 5. 70% of all French prisoners are Muslim; 6. the four London bombers that killed 56 in July of 2005 received almost a million dollars in welfare benefits.

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