Essay by Tom Gregg June 27, 2007
They Never Saw It Coming
It’s both amusing and chilling to learn that the British establishment was blindsided by the Muslim world’s violent and vicious response to the decision to honor Salman Rushdie with a knighthood. Rushdie, you’ll recall, has long languished under a suspended sentence of death imposed by Islamofascist “religious authorities,” his crimes being apostasy and blasphemy (see The Satanic Verses).
Well, what did they expect? Making all allowances for the personal decency of most ordinary Muslims and the distortions of wartime perceptions, it seems clear that modern Islam has evolved into a militant totalitarian ideology. In 1933 most Germans were no doubt decent people, while active Nazis constituted but a small fraction of the population. That didn’t stop the National Socialist regime from plunging Germany, Europe and most of the world into an abyss of war and slaughter.
Most Western elites, however, work hard to avoid perceiving the reality of Islam. They have a fixed image of the world in which there is no place for such retrograde—indeed medieval—concepts as good and evil. Their reaction to Islamic honor killings, beheadings, suicide bombings, assassinations, desecration of Christian churches, burning of books, etc. is to wince and avert their eyes. Yet they believe—people like Salman Rushdie believe—that Western democracy is a sham and capitalism a terrible thing. Thus when it comes to bashing Bush or Wal-Mart, their bravery is leonine. But when they find themselves confronting a radical, terrorist movement like Islamofascism, their voices fail them.
The dilemma of the Western elites was summarized with lapidary eloquence by George Orwell: “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” To sharpen his point for a contemporary audience, Salman Rushdie is still drawing air because men far less educated, far less sophisticated, far less articulate than he have made it their business to ensure that the Islamofascist sentence of death against him shall not be carried out.
Yet I doubt that Rushdie appreciates such dedication to duty. Probably he accepts it as his due. Certainly he has never uttered a word of gratitude for the British government’s costly efforts to shield him from Islamofascist retaliation. To the contrary, Rushdie is a prominent leftist critic of the very country that has given him refuge, protection and the freedom to practice his art. In the novel that earned him his death sentence, he sneeringly referred to the then-Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, as “Mrs. Torture.” In this he is typical of most people who describe themselves as progressive: They take their good fortune as an entitlement.
As I write, US troops are engaged in what is probably the decisive battle of the Iraq War. They’ll get no thanks for it from the sort of people who thought it was a fine idea to honor Salman Rushdie. For years—decades, even—Western progressives have swooned for the ideology that threatens us now. In the guise of support for the “Palestinian people” against the “Zionist entity,” they have excused and even applauded the bloodthirsty terrorism of Arafat, Hamas and their genocidal cohorts. And what of the inconvenient fact that “Palestine” has dissolved into civil war, with Palestinian terrorism directed against other Palestinians? That can easily be explained away as a conspiracy of the Jews and neocons.
Just as its worship of the Stalinist Soviet Union corrupted an earlier generation of Western leftists, the contemporary Left’s romance with “Palestinian nationalism” has robbed it of the ability to distinguish truth from untruth, right from wrong. Thus in their eyes Bush is indistinguishable from Hitler, while Saddam Hussein was unjustly condemned. And now they are shocked—shocked!—by Islam’s entirely predictable reaction to the attempt to honor Salman Rushdie. It all reminds me of another of Orwell’s remarks: “It takes an intellectual to believe something like that. No ordinary man would be such a fool.”
George, you should be living at this hour.
Copyright © 2007 by Thomas M. Gregg