Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Sacraments of Postmodern Thinking
And The Global War on Terror

In his latest piece,Victor Davis Hanson explains what he calls the "false narrative of the left," which weakens our resolve to fight and win the Global War on Terror:

Why does this false narrative, then, persist — other than that it had a certain political utility in the 2002 and 2004 elections?

In a word, this version of events brings spiritual calm for millions of troubled though affluent and blessed Westerners. There are three sacraments to their postmodern thinking, besides the primordial fear that so often leads to appeasement.

Our first hindrance is moral equivalence. For the hard Left there is no absolute right and wrong since amorality is defined arbitrarily and only by those in power. Taking back Fallujah from beheaders and terrorists is no different from bombing the London subway since civilians may die in either case. The deliberate rather than accidental targeting of noncombatants makes little difference, especially since the underdog in Fallujah is not to be judged by the same standard as the overdogs in London and New York. A half-dozen roughed up prisoners in Guantanamo are the same as the Nazi death camps or the Gulag.

Our second shackle is utopian pacifism — ‘war never solved anything’ and ‘violence only begets violence.’ Thus it makes no sense to resort to violence, since reason and conflict resolution can convince even a bin Laden to come to the table. That most evil has ended tragically and most good has resumed through armed struggle — whether in Germany, Japan, and Italy or Panama, Belgrade, and Kabul — is irrelevant. Apparently on some past day, sophisticated Westerners, in their infinite wisdom and morality, transcended age-old human nature, and as a reward were given a pass from the smelly, dirty old world of the past six millennia.

The third restraint is multiculturalism, or the idea that all social practices are of equal merit. Who are we to generalize that the regimes and fundamentalist sects of the Middle East result in economic backwardness, intolerance of religious and ethnic minorities, gender apartheid, racism, homophobia, and patriarchy? Being different from the West is never being worse.

These tenets in various forms are not merely found in the womb of the universities, but filter down into our popular culture, grade schools, and national political discourse — and make it hard to fight a war against stealthy enemies who proclaim constant and shifting grievances.

If at times these doctrines are proven bankrupt by the evidence it matters little, because such beliefs are near religious in nature — a secular creed that will brook no empirical challenge. These articles of faith apparently fill a deep psychological need for millions of Westerners, guilty over their privilege, free to do anything without constraints or repercussions, and convinced that their own culture has made them spectacularly rich and leisured only at the expense of others.

According to Mr. Hanson, a fissure has been created in Western Civilization, between the postmodernists on the one hand, and those of us who still believe in absolute truth:

So it is not true to say that Western civilization is at war against Dark Age Islamism. Properly speaking, only about half of the West is involved, the shrinking segment that still sees human nature as unchanging and history as therefore replete with a rich heritage of tragic lessons.

This is nothing new. The spectacular inroads of the Ottomans in the16th century to the gates of Vienna and the shores of the Adriatic were not explainable according to Istanbul’s vibrant economy, impressive universities, or widespread scientific dynamism and literacy, or even a technologically superior and richly equipped military.

Instead, a beleaguered Europe was trisected by squabbling Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians — as a wealthy northwest, with Atlantic seaports, ignored the besieged Mediterranean and Balkans and turned its attention to getting rich in the New World.

So too we are divided over two antithetical views of the evolving West — Europe at odds with America, red and blue states in intellectual and spiritual divergence, the tragic view resisting the creeping therapeutic mindset. These interior splits largely explain why creepy killers from the Dark Ages, parasitic on the West from their weapons to communications, are still plaguing us four years after their initial surprise attack.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

So, in other words, we are fighting a two-front war. One, in the Islamic world, and one here in America. The one in the Islamic world I have no doubt we can win. However, we will not win if we do not believe in the cause for which we fight. And that is where the second front comes in. We also need to put an end to the moral relativism of our postmodern rot.

There is no doubt that Islamism, the ideology that seeks to establish a worldwide caliphate governed by Sharia law, is evil. There is no doubt that Western-style Democracy is a better form of society than that envisioned by the Islamists. There should be no doubt that it is morally preferable that people should be free. However, we seem to believe we are wrong to spread freedom. We seem to believe that we would be "imposing."

This is an oxymoron. One can not "impose" freedom. And, I do not mean that in the way those on the left mean it, when they try to imply that we are attempting to force freedom on people who would not want it; as if we were the fascists. We can only offer the opportunity for freedom, by removing existing constraints upon liberty, such as the evil of Islamist tyrranies.

All human beings long to be free. If we don't believe that, then we must conclude that only Westerners long to be free, and really at that, only white Europeans want to be free, because white Europeans are the ones who invented Western Democracy. In other words, we must also believe that Arabs do not want to be free.

This is racist. And, it is nonesense.

Those who do not want freedom are those who stand to gain something by forcing their will on others; in other words, the leaders of Islamist states. That they are able to terrorize their people into agreement, or to manufacture agreement by inculcating hatred of the West, does not mean the people of Arab countries do not crave freedom. It means they are the victims of a hateful ideology.

The difference between the hateful ideology of Islamism, and the ideology of Western Democracy should be clear to us at every corner. But, maybe it will be clearest on this point. Freedom allows many worlds. One may be Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, or other. Our leaders do not attempt to create hate in us for Muslims in general. Our hatred is saved for the ideology of terror.

For the Islamists, on the other hand, there are only two worlds; the world of Islam, and the world of the Infidel; also called Dar al-Harb; the House of War. Islamists say Muslims are to hate the Infidels, and make war upon them, until they convert.

But, while our world of freedom allows room for many worlds, we can not allow fascism, which is the opposite of freedom. We are diametrically opposed to this Islamist ideology. It is either them or us. There is not room for both. It's either our freedom, or their fascism. Sooner or later, we will have to choose which we believe in more.