Can’t get the Middle East out of your mind?
Middle Eastern Muslims have not have succeeded in the modern world, but they have kept themselves front and center in everyone’s mind.
Having been out-competed by other civilizations they seem to have decided that being feared is better than being ignored, Now, Islam is on everyone’s mind, not because of any conspicuous achievements, but because it has become a leading international threat.
In exceptionally good column Victor Davis Hanson explains how Middle Eastern Muslims have come to infiltrate the modern Western mind and to influence our everyday life.
In his words:
Many of the things that are bothersome in the world today originate in the Middle East. Billions of air passengers each year take off their belts and shoes at the airport, not because of fears of terrorism from the slums of Johannesburg or because the grandsons of displaced East Prussians are blowing up Polish diplomats. We put up with such burdens because a Saudi multimillionaire, Osama bin Laden, and his unhinged band of Arab religious extremists began ramming airliners into buildings and murdering thousands.
The Olympics have become an armed camp, not because the Cold War Soviets once stormed Montreal or the Chinese have threatened Australia, but largely because Palestinian terrorists butchered Israelis in Munich 40 years ago and established the precedent that international arenas were ideal occasions for political mass murder.
In the name of enhanced sensitivity and multiculturalism the West, in particular, has carved out a Muslim exception. It has chosen a policy of cultural appeasement, tolerating in Muslims behavior that would never be accepted in anyone else.
In Hanson’s words:
In other words, in politically incorrect terms, the world tacitly gives exemptions to the Middle East — and expects very little in return. It assumes that the rules that apply elsewhere of civility, tolerance, and nonviolence are inoperative there — and perhaps have reason to so be.
Perhaps some Muslims see it as a sign of respect, but it is really a sign of disrespect, an assertion that a group of people are incapable of living by normal standards of civilized behavior.
Of course, the West did behave badly in the past, but today the Muslim Middle East has cornered the market in bad behavior. Its people have insisted that they be respected, not for their contributions to the global economy, science, technology or the arts, but for their ability to destroy what others have built.
Catholics don’t assassinate movie directors or artists who treat Jesus Christ with contempt. Jewish mobs will not murder cartoonists should they ridicule the Torah. Buddhists are not calling for global blasphemy laws. But radical Muslims, mostly in the Middle East, have warned the world that Islam alone is not to be caricatured — or else. Right-wing fascists and red Communists have not done as much damage to the First Amendment as have the threats from the Arab Street.
Of course, the international left has made the Palestinian cause its great moral crusade. The Palestinians are the great leftist cause. And they are taken to be an exceptional cause, one that deserves special attention.
Hanson debunks the notion of Palestinian exceptionalism:
The world obsesses over Israel and the Palestinians because of the neurotic Middle East. The issue is not really the principle of a divided capital — or Nicosia would be daily news. Nor is the concern over refugees per se, since well over 500,000 Jews were religiously cleansed from the major Arab capitals following the 1948 and 1967 wars. No one cares where they went or how they have fared in the decades since. Is the global worry really over occupied territories? Hardly. Lately it seems that every desolate island between China and Japan is equally contested. Are there special envoys to the Falklands, and do the islanders receive international aid? Will there be a U.N. session devoted to the Kuril Islands? Does Gdansk/Danzig merit summits? We are told ad nauseam that the Arab minority in Israel suffers — would that the ignored Coptic minority in Egypt had similar protections and freedoms.
Clearly, we are operating under a moral double standard, one that is increasingly feeling normal.
One expects to be detained for having a Bible in one’s baggage at Riyadh, whereas a Koran in a tote bag is of no importance at the Toronto airport. The Egyptian immigrant in San Francisco, or the Pakistani who moves to London, expects to be allowed to demonstrate against the freewheeling protocols of his hosts, while a Westerner protesting against life under sharia in the streets of Karachi or Gaza would earn a death sentence. What is nauseating about this is not the hypocrisy per se, but the Middle Eastern insistence that there is no such hypocrisy. We expect the immigrant from Egypt to deface public posters and call it freedom of expression; we expect Mr. Morsi, who enjoyed American freedom while he studied for his Ph.D. and then taught for three years in California, to deny it to others and trash his former host.
Of course, this double standard derives from fear, from Islamophobia, in the most literal and rarely used sense of the term.
Hanson adds, saliently, that the West has been suffering its own moral decadence, manifested in the belief that all cultures are created equal.
We in the West have practiced an enlightened cultural appeasement, a supposedly therapeutic action that ensures that the people in the Muslim Middle East, the people whose culture has been losing in the competition between civilizations, not feel so bad about themselves.
As a result, our minds, our hearts, our culture and our everyday life has been invaded by the culture that prevails in the Muslim Middle East.
Hanson suggests that we start defending ourselves.
First, he recommends we be clear and forthright in defending our values. We must overcome multicultural relativism and insist that some values are better than others and that they are worth defending, vigorously.
Second, obviously enough, he joins the chorus of those who have been telling us to develop our own energy supplies.
Hanson adds that the green energy crowd, for all of their heartfelt love of nature, is doing the bidding of the Middle Eastern energy cartels.
In his words:
The American self-righteous green zealot who opposes almost all production of new finds of natural gas is not just the fanatical bookend of the Middle Eastern Islamist, but also the means by which the latter gains money and clout.
Finally, Hanson recommends that we fight back. Quaint notion, that.
We are not obliged to reach out a hand of friendship to people who despise us. We should diminish foreign aid, tell American tourists to skip Egypt and Libya, stop granting visas to students from countries that harbor terrorists and even break off diplomatic relations.
He offers these recommendations:
If violence should continue against American personnel and facilities, we can gradually trim foreign aid, advise Americans not to visit Egypt or Libya, put holds on visas for students from Middle Eastern countries that do not protect Americans or that contribute to terrorism, recall our ambassadors and expel theirs. Reopening our embassy in Damascus and dubbing Bashar Assad a “reformer” did not improve relations with Syria or temper Syrian extremism. A reduced security profile in Libya did not create good will for our ambassador. Two billion dollars in aid to Egypt did not win hearts and minds. The Palestinians are not fond of us, despite millions of dollars in annual aid.
If those who practice this form of cultural warfare believe they are winning they will continue doing what they were doing. It might not gain them territory, but they will count it as a success if their religion is on everyone's mind. They will think it better than being ignored.
Only when it becomes too costly will they have a reason to cease and desist.