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The Options may be Blunt and Clear, but perhaps not quite so Stark?

Reader comment on item: Europe's Stark Options

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Mar 3, 2007 at 14:51

I agree with this interesting and wide-ranging survey that Europe faces an escalating political challenge and crisis of identity resulting a demographically increasing and mindlessly supremacist Islam.

Although I don't think Europe will either become 'Eurabia', or that the Moslems will peacefully and tolerantly integrate into European civilization, I think the third option, of rejection, could take a very different and relatively less dangerous path than a clash between Islamic barbarism and the 'traditional' European barbarism predicted in the books cited by Dan Pipes which foretell rejection.

For I would hope that this rejection might take the form, instead of the defense of intolerant religious values, of, instead, Enlightenment Values, as embodied by such European thinkers as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Gibbon, and Adam Smith, and put into practice dramatically and unprecedentedly by the American Founding Fathers, ranging from Benjamin Franklin through Washington and Jefferson, to John Marshall.

In other words, I am deeply suspicious of any rejection of Islam based on "traditional values", understood as modern code words for the counterintolerance of faith-based Western religions (even if this Western form of intolerance doesn't leap immediately into the nihilistic violence that springs so quickly from Islam's True Believers).

I think, or at least I hope, it is unfair of Dan Pipes to equate all secularism with the extremely mushy multiculteralism that is fatally unable to come to terms with the reality of evil, and seems equally unable to articulate any clear-headed principles of Right and Wrong.

Curiously, I think there is a lot of hard-headed secularism among the broader population, while the real crisis of a self-defeating and misplaced "tolerance" is among the political and even more, intellectual elites of contemporary Europe. In other words, we don't need a return to religion - precisely the catastrophe that has befallen the Moslem world over the last 30 years - but a return of visionary and tough-minded secular leadership.

A leadership that I would hope recognizes Islam presents a terrible challenge to this-world values. We need a 'moral surge' that confronts the nihilism of Islamic violence in general, and Islamic suicide bombers and the clerics who indoctrinate them in particular, who increasingly target other Moslerms more than Westerners. We need a leadership that confronts or condemns all of Islam for its ignominious silence about what is going on in Iraq, and is beginning to take place elsewhere in Moslem lands along the religious divide between Sunnis and Shiites.

This is the kind of leadership which should have responded robustly to the ridiculous Moslem behavior over the Danish cartoons. If the best of Western (secular) values - the Rule of (secular) Law, Democracy, and perhaps especially Non-violent political and civic Dissent is confidently proclaimed and defended, I very much wonder how "self-confident" Islam in Europe will remain.

In other words, I wonder how much of this irrational self-confidence is really a function of the unprecedentedly mushy and murky morass of a multiculturalism that seems to me a mutant strain of secularism rather than a reflection of its strengths of secularism that were championed and articulated by the giants of either Enlightenment Europe or Enlightenment America?

Where are the people who will say that, whatever the faults of the West, not one of them is remotely a fit object of redress by Moslem mob or terrorist violence. And more, no object of inter-Moslem disagreement is a fit object of such manner of redress either. With the latter statement, we would be defending Moslem humanity much better than Moslems are doing themselves (where now they blame the West for their internecine savagery, and we let them get away with that).

Ron Thompson

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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