Day By Day

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More Commentary on the Cartoon Wars

Ralph Peters, in the NY Post, takes advantage of the situation to bash Europe for its long history of irresponsible and juvenile attacks on religion. He writes:

It's hard not to feel a certain amount of Schadenfreude after enduring endless lectures from Europeans about how the Middle East's problems were all made in America. It will be fascinating to watch the Europeans attempt to come to grips with fanaticism.

Even a French philosopher can't forever glorify a civilization that puts more energy into calling for death to cartoonists than it does into human rights, education or good government.

For once, we Americans can sit back and watch the fight (pass the popcorn, please). The Europeans are going to get a few more teeth knocked out. As for the Islamist bigots intent on destroying what's left of their own decayed societies, they'll lose at least a few of their European apologists — the sort who make excuses for terrorists, as long as they only kill Americans (or Muslims).

Looking at the pigheaded intolerance driving the Europeans and Islamist fanatics alike, the healthy response is, "A plague on both your houses."

Read it here.

John O'Sullivan rejects calls for compromise, equating them with appeasement and urges solidarity among the Western liberal democracies.
Those who take refuge in the false equivalence of the "two sides" argument are, in the end, guilty of cowardice.
Read his whole argument here.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Der Spiegel calls for a strong response to Islamic attempts at intimidation. It is time, she argues, for the West to stand strong.
There should be solidarity. The cartoons should be displayed everywhere. After all, the Arabs can't boycott goods from every country. They're far too dependent on imports. And Scandinavian companies should be compensated for their losses. Freedom of speech should at least be worth that much to us.
Read it here.

Fouad Ajami, in the WSJ, asserts that it the Arab world, not the West that must change.

Hitherto, we had granted the Arab world absolution from the laws of historical improvement. We had ceded it a crippling "exceptionalism." We explained away our complicity in its historical decay as the price paid for access to its oil, and as the indulgence owed some immutable "Islamic" tradition. To be fair, we could not find our way to its politically literate classes, for they were given to a defective political tradition. American power now ventures into uncharted territory; we have shaken up that world, and broken the pact with tyranny. In the shadow of American power, ordinary men and women who had known nothing but the caprice of rulers and the charlatanism of intellectual classes have gone out to proclaim that tyranny is neither fated, nor "written."

Read his whole stirring endorsement of the Bush Doctrine here.

Are they right? Is this the final "clash of civilizations"? Or is this a desperate gesture ginned up by failing despots and religious fanatics who have no place in the modern world?

Anthropologists recognize a recurrent phenomenon they label "revitalization movements." [I believe the term was originated by Tony Wallace, down at Penn.] Examples would be Melanesian "cargo cults" or the North American Indian "Ghost Dance" craze of the late nineteenth century. These are reactionary outbursts originating in cultures on the brink of extinction. They promise liberation from domination by outsiders, appeal to mystical and supernatural agency to deliver them, and reimagine and rework elements of traditional religion and culture. In the end they fail.

It is altogether possible that the Islamist revival that began in Iran nearly three decades ago is just such a movement. Certainly it exhibits many features common to such movements. If so it will fail, and its failure will open the way for the assimilation of Islamic cultures into the modern world.

We can hope....

No comments: