Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What Happens When Europe Wakes Up

Recent articles by Ralph Peters and Mark Steyn (see Powerline for a recap) offer differing views of the future of Europe and Islam. Peters sees conflict leading to a resurgence of fascism and possibily genocide (Europeans ejecting/killing Muslims, in case you were wondering). Steyn sees Old Europe as doomed by low birth rates and an unwillingness to confront the truth.

Richard Landes at the Augean Stables blog has some excellent comments on the debate, including a thoughtful analysis of how Islam can be confronted and why it must be. The engagement he advocates is not military, but ideological:
Above all, we must learn to distinguish between demopaths and people who are really interested in the values of a civil society. If we embrace demopaths, they will destroy us; if we reject sincere Muslims, then we alienate potential and critically important allies. This means we need to do something very different from the current suggestions among the placating %u201Cprogressive%u201D set. Instead of avoiding conflict lest we alienate them -- as Loki puts it, hate-mongering (i.e., any criticism that offends Muslims, RL) polarizes -- we need to criticize them civilly.

This means, among other things, challenging gently but firmly their commitment to honor-shame concerns. Most (largely unconscious) demopathic discourse comes from people who justify extremism by explaining how it's understandable that Muslims find x, y, and z violently unacceptable (where x is depictions, no matter how anodine, of the prophet, y is descriptions, no matter how accurate, of Islam's tendency to violence, and z is the existence of the state of Israel). We need to hold Muslims to the standards of civil society. If the nations of the world, and the "progressive left" had insisted that Muslim countries recognize and deal with Israel rather than "respecting" their sense of honor by allowing them to isolate and demonize Israel, I don't think we'd be in the pickle we're currently in.

Ultimately such concessions reflect a condescension that easily slides into contempt for the Muslims that they, even as they exploit it to the fullest, deeply resent. Destroying us for not having the courage to hold them to our standards makes psychological sense, even if everyone loses in the process.
Read the rest.

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