Is the West a "Pitiful Giant" Verbally and Intellectually?
Reader comment on item: How the West Could Lose
Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Dec 27, 2006 at 16:48
While I agree with much of Dan Pipes' final posting for 2006, I'm struck by one glaring omission in his comments , an omission which is the exact opposite of the behavior of our global Islamic opponents.
On the one hand, our opponents and would-be attackers are full of grandiose, murderous, and yet juvenile statements about how the entire world should submit to Islam. About how every Western Constitution should be replaced by Sharia law. About how all the world's women should be subjected to the closed and bleak world for women in the fully realized Islamic society.
And yet the United States and the West remain shrinking violets, at least in the public voice of all our governments, in taking on directly these audacious and grandiose threats and demands.
I'm afraid that Dan Pipes sidesteps this issue by taking on "left-leaning westerners" when he himself relies chiefly on so-called moderate Islam taking on "extremists" , rather than Western governments, about whose remarkable silence he seems to have no criticism. Besides this appeasement-by-omission of our governments, the "pacifism, self-hatred, and complacency" of some groups and individuals in society which he decries are relatively minor problems in my view.
Let me say that I have no doubt whatsoever that the West is going to prevail in the overall war with Islamic terrorism. What I do marvel at, is what will happen to some Islamic governments and whole countries, especially in the Middle East if the more outrageous and murderous proponents of Islam ever succeed in ... getting us really mad, which, amazingly, hasn't come close to happening yet.
If any actions they take - and we are at risk of major and even horrific injuries, if not ultimate defeat - do succeed in finally awakening the kind of outrage and sense of purpose that at long last stood up to the aggressors who started World War II, then I tremble for what will, even if deservedly, be done to them.
But we seem consumed by multiple timidities about making a robust verbal response, even if we have shown fierce glimpses of what we can actually do when aroused - as in the first weeks in Afghanistan, in Iraq until Baghdad fell, and in much of the ferocious police work in the European countries that have been attacked so far.
And yet we seem petrified at being verbally blunt, adversarial, and responsive, in our language, or in any way matching our words to those actions, let alone the actions we will undoubtedly take if we get hit harder than we have been so far. The terrorists know not what they may awaken.
And yet, we apparently fear upsetting "the sensibilities" of the potential or actual fifth columns of Muslims in European countries and in the US.
And we are afraid of taking on the media activities in the Muslim world, about which our governments and mass media refuse to inform us. We are kept from hearing the vicious and relentless slurs and slanders against Israel, against the United States, and against the West in general.
And why do our governments sit back and take with a largely voiceless and toothless parody of outrage the statements of the strutting little fellow who is President of Iran. Since we probably have the sympathy and support of much of the population of Iran, we could be methodically pointing out the economic harm his messianic policies and meddling activities in Lebanon and Gaza are causing the country, while also suggesting he may provoke an alliance between NATO or the US, or both, with regard to any nuclear action he may threaten toward Israel.
Why, in short, the utter mismatch between the few (so far) actual fierce actions we have taken, and the seeming refusal by our governments to aggressively take on the murderous and backward values of our adversaries while at the same time defending with self-respect those of our values which are the very opposite of theirs.
When, in a rare exception to tongue-tied government, Tony Blair says, 'Islam has NO legitimate grievance against the West ' many rush to reassure all Muslims within hearing that they don't agree with this.
If any Muslims rail against the 'decadence ' of the West or the dubious sexual behaviors of some in our societies, why doesn't someone at the top of government say, whatever limited truth there may be in any of these charges, they are as nothing compared with the barbarism of suicide attacks which are claimed by their perpetrators to reflect the deepest values of Islam ("We love death while you love life"), and which in fact have been approved by their highest religious figures.
How odd that the West, and especially the United States, has had such a vigorous debate on values internally, and yet faced with a worldwide values threat backed up by truly demented forms of violence, we get timidly reticent and shrink away from that values debate?
Instead we have this kid's glove, embarrassing parsing of all outlandish statements from our opponents and lethal enemies by always being careful to say, "OF COURSE we have nothing but praise and respect for the religion all of the most fanatical people claim to acting in the name of".
Will no one even suggest that EITHER Islam just might actually preach a violence which it took hundreds of years and vast cultural developments - the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the mass prosperity that eventually followed the Industrial revolution - to wring out of the Christian religion) OR that Islam is actually a very weak religion which is helpless to curtail the barbarous behavior of Muslims toward each other in Iraq, the Sudan, and elsewhere.
If our so-called leaders knew and felt more about the high drama and eventual largely happy outcomes of the internal history of our civilization , then maybe they could be making the kind of response that would verbally challenge our opponents instead of the embarrassing backing down in the Danish cartoon response-fiasco, or timidly failing to follow up the Pope's challenge to Islam to "reciprocity" of tolerance, meaning allowing Western churches to be built in Muslim countries.
Well, we unambiguously lost those two rounds, and it wasn't the fault merely of those naughty leftists.
And if a robust verbal and intellectual contest does not damp down the outrageous and even cartoonish shouts and threats form the fanatics, then at least our populations will have a far clearer idea of the fighting that will be coming anyways than they can have now from the muted and timid mumblings and non-responses our governments have been making.
So how long will we adamantly refuse to engage this issue, all the while limply and lamely buying into the excuse that the turmoil within Islamic countries and which so many thousands of violent young men seek to export worldwide has nothing to do with something fundamental and inherent in the nature of the religion in whose name they are acting.
I suggest that this is not a problem that can be merely blamed on those who lean left..
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