Thursday, May 18, 2017

 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

European history is full of wars, culminating in the massive eruptions of violence that characterized the first half of the 20th century, which overflowed the boundaries of Europe to the point that they were called “World Wars.” These wars were responsible for an unimaginable amount of suffering. Whole generations of young European men were wiped out by WWI. About 61 million people, more than half of them civilians, lost their lives in WWII. Genocides were committed, entire cities erased from the earth.

After WWII, Europe and her allies responded to the trauma. They blamed nationalism, jingoism, militarism and racism. They came to distrust expressions of patriotism, and to dislike borders and barriers to free passage of people and goods. They decided to create a new world, one in which the forces that had led to the horrors of the 20th century were suppressed, and in which reasoning and negotiation would replace war. They created the UN and its countless agencies; and they tried to unify Europe, first economically and then culturally, by means of the EU.

They tried to improve individual lives as well, to eradicate hunger and poverty, to provide free education to all, to reduce social and economic inequality, to ensure that everyone that could work could get a job and that those that couldn’t work would still have the necessities of life. The Dickensian conditions of the 19th century would not return; a new humanistic, universalist, caring ethic would replace the social Darwinism of old.

Western society, it was thought, had to change. War was an unaffordable luxury in a world of machine guns, strategic bombing and now nuclear weapons and ICBMs. It was often said that a WWIII would bring about the end of civilized life (if not all human life) on the planet. The changes were seen as an evolutionary development in order to adapt to a new environment. Things had to change, or humankind would destroy itself.

But evolutionary changes brought about by environmental pressure can have unintended consequences. A genetic trait that offers protection against malaria and which became common in Africa for that reason, also renders people that have it susceptible to Sickle-cell Disease. And the evolutionary social and political change in Europe and to a lesser extent in America may have helped reduce some of the dangers that threatened civilization, but it also made Western society more susceptible to others.

One of those dangers is the Islamic jihad.

One definition of jihad is a struggle – which can be violent or non-violent – to establish Islamic rule and law (shari’a). Douglas E. Streusand explains:

For the jurists, jihad fits a context of the world divided into Muslim and non-Muslim zones, Dar al-Islam (Abode of Islam) and Dar al-Harb (Abode of War) respectively. This model implies perpetual warfare between Muslims and non-Muslims until the territory under Muslim control absorbs what is not, an attitude that perhaps reflects the optimism that resulted from the quick and far-reaching Arab conquests. Extending Dar al-Islam does not mean the annihilation of all non-Muslims, however, nor even their necessary conversion. Indeed, jihad cannot imply conversion by force, for the Qur'an (2:256) specifically states "there is no compulsion in religion." Jihad has an explicitly political aim: the establishment of Muslim rule, which in turn has two benefits: it articulates Islam's supersession of other faiths and creates the opportunity for Muslims to create a just political and social order. 

The “quick and far-reaching … conquests” in the West were stalled in 1683 at the Battle of Vienna, when the troops of the Ottoman Sultan were stopped by the combined forces of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire. By then Islam had a firm foothold in parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, but as time passed the Islamic world began to lag behind the West militarily, economically and culturally. The long jihad had made Islam the second-most common of the world’s religions, and placed a large portion of the inhabited earth in Dar al-Islam (the abode of Islam, i.e., under Islamic rule), but its advance had ended – at least until recently.

Jihad need not be conventional warfare. It is possible to expand Dar al-Islam by war, but also by subversion, by demographic means – migration and reproduction – and by da’wa(proselytizing), which can be totally non-violent or include terrorism as a persuasive component.

The weakness of the West today has allowed the still smoldering Islamic jihad to rekindle itself. Every form of jihad can be found in action today: kinetic warfare in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan (jihad can target “heretical” Muslims as well as non-Muslims); infiltration, subversion and da’wa, including terrorism, in the US; and of course demographic jihad in Europe.

In the US, the Muslim Brotherhood has had an elaborate plan for subversion and da’wa in place for several decades. It has infiltrated government agencies including those related to national security. Conversions to Islam spiked after 9/11, and the number of prison conversions has also increased (this phenomenon is also seen in other Western countries). There has been an increase in Muslim immigration to the US in recent decades, but of course it does not compare to the mass migration into Europe.

Dutch politician Geert Wilders called the flow of Muslims into Europe “a Tsunami” and the expression fits. In addition to the large number of immigrants, they tend to be younger and to have more children than the native Europeans. In Germany, the fertility of native Germans was 1.5 children per women in 2016, far below the replacement rate of 2.1, while foreign women living there had 1.95 children. Since the amount of immigration has very recently shot up (900,000 applied in 2015) we can expect that as these immigrants settle in they will have even more children.

Islamic terrorism in Europe has also made headlines recently, including high-profile mass killings in France, the UK, Germany, Sweden and Belgium. There has also been an increase in “misdemeanor terrorism” like harassment of Jews, much of it perpetrated by Muslims.

In the UK, outrageous behavior by Muslims (e.g., the Rotherham rape scandal) was allowed to continue for years because police and other officials feared being called “racist.” In another shocking case, thousands of women were sexually assaulted on New Year’s eve of 2016 in several German cities. Few of the perpetrators were prosecuted. 

The massive migration into Europe was facilitated by the EU’s Schengen Agreement, which allows free passage between EU countries. Combined with liberal rules for asylum and lax enforcement, almost anyone could get to any country (rules have been tightened and enforcement improved to some extent). Europe’s walls were not breached; she voluntarily opened her gates. Germany, especially, welcomed migrants, many of whom passed themselves off as Syrian refugees with fake passports. 

Unfortunately, the evolutionary changes in European (and, to a lesser extent, American) society after WWII have placed it at a disadvantage relative to the Islamic jihad. Jihadists are strongly dedicated to their cause, even in some cases prepared to sacrifice their lives in suicide attacks. Native Europeans, on the other hand, are less committed to their faith and to their nations. While some 72% of Europeans identify as Christian, this number is falling, with the influx of non-Christians and an increase in those who are becoming “unaffiliated.” Church attendance is low, and liberal religious leaders sermonize against “Islamophobia” rather than Islam. 

Nationalism is associated with fascism, and criticism of Islamic ideology with hate speech, which is illegal in some countries and can be punished with fines or imprisonment. Thus European law is aligned with Islamic blasphemy laws! This is a particularly dangerous trend, which Richard Landes has named “Proleptic Dhimmitude,”  defined as “taking on the requirements of dhimmitude in anticipation of Muslim rule.”

So what will be the outcome? Will unassimilated Muslim populations increase, along with terrorism, conversions to Islam, disrespect for liberal traditions, harassment of Jews and women? Will taboos against insulting Islam and Muslims continue to stymie the prosecution of Muslim criminals? Will European society find itself adapting to Islamic standards rather than the other way around? And ultimately will countries like the UK, France and Germany become shari’a compliant?

I believe that if current trends continue, the answer will be “yes.” But there is an alternative. It will require a serious shift in attitudes on the part of native Europeans. They were right to regret their 20th century behavior, and right to try to ensure that it did not happen again. But they went too far when they denied their own national identities.  

If they are to prevail over the jihadists, who know who they are and what they are fighting for, they will need to care about their own countries, their history, traditions and religions. They will have to be French or German first, and only then European (the British have already made this decision). They will have to re-embrace nationalism and patriotism, which are not the same as fascism. They will have to care more for their own people than for others, while still treating the others like human beings. They will have to control their own borders.

They will have to make the all-important distinction between the ideology of Islam and Muslim people, and emphatically reject the former while protecting the rights of the latter (and by “rights” I mean things like the right to live where one wants and not the “right” to not be offended). They will have to enforce the laws of their nations fairly. 

They will have to learn that there are some things that aren’t open to negotiation, and some disagreements that can’t be settled by talking. They will have to maintain military forces just in case someone tries to take what is theirs by force.

Do the contributions of European civilization, Shakespeare, Mozart, Michelangelo, balance its mistakes, moral lapses and even heinous crimes, and justify its continued existence? Or ought it to join the Roman and Byzantine Empires, the Aztecs and all the rest in the dumpster of history? 

The choice is in European hands.




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