I really liked the piece by Alexander. Here's the opening of 'A warning to Osama bin Laden: Heed the lesson of history!':
Europe has been established on Judeo-Christian principles. Islam has played almost no part in it. This is an undeniable fact. Further, today, Islam is the antithesis of all Europe stands for: Europe is synonymous with liberal democracy; Islam, by contrast, is synonymous with backwardness and totalitarianism.
Them's fighting words!!! I don't think I've ever read a paragraph that is so clear and succinct in stating what by right should be bleeding obvious. Even left wing humanists, allergic as they are to every and any hint of religiousness should be honest enough to concede that humanism took it's morality from the faith from whence it came.
He goes on to warn jihadists to take a closer look at what happened to Europe in the last century and to contemplate the fact that what happened undre Nazi rule might just happen again. And this time it might not be the Jews that will suffer the consequences.
Matthew (1), Atlas' british interlocutor, gives a rather pointed analysis of the problem of lethargy and inaction in French society. One only needs to point out the lack of public outcry during the Carbeque riots last November versus the tremendous public outcry after the French government dared to suggest a job won at 24 might not necessarily be a job for life and wanted to pry open the labor market for young employees somewhat.
But where he goes off the deep end is when he generalizes this attitude to the whole of continental Europe, as opposed to the more liberally (in the 18-19th century sense of the word) organized US and UK society.
First of all, France is not Europe and Europe is not France(2). No matter how much Chirac, de Villepin or Giscard d'Estaign like to pretend it is. And no matter how much and how often the EU commission acts to perpetuate that misunderstanding. Generalizing observations on political behavior among the French citizenry to conclusions on the general political attitudes in Italy, the Netherlands or Denmark is cutting corners all too sharpish.
Incidentally, I don't think the UK can plead innocense where the islamisation of their society is concerned. The blog USS Neverdock has a regularly updated feature on the Islamisation of Britain. Melanie Philips just released Londonistan. I would say that based on the documentation the Brits are, unfortunately, in the forefront of the pack where accomodating the islamofascists is concerned. Morover, Britain is a 'proud' member of the UE3. You know, the delegation that tries to settle the jizya with Lord Apocalyps of Iran.
On a regular basis both Atlas and Jihad Watch (and many others) are very critical of the Bush administrations handling of the Mid-east and problems related to Islam and it's more 'strident' proponents. On both sides of the ponds, the little and the big one, we have enough examples of people in high profile places openly displaying their ignorance of the problem, or worse: openly displaying their willingness to kowtow to a system that is diametrically opposed to what we tradionally and from the depths of our hearts hold dear. That are willing to sell out life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for their own misbegotten ideas on how human society ought to function.
Matthew is absolutely right in his assertion that '[e]ssentially they just don't get it'. But I would like to extend that conclusion to the entire family of Western Nations. When Mattew writes:
What I think distinguishes European culture from American is that it's more concerned with things that are, ultimately, trivialities. It lacks any concern with what we think of as the big issues in life - how free am I, how much money has the government taken from me this fiscal year (and for what freakin purpose?) am I able to live my life as I please, am I better off than I was last year, what are the threats to my security, what are the threats to the security of my country, and so on.He's not so much describing Euro versus US culture as he's describing middle wherever versus conservatives. And that distinction is to be found everywhere in the Western world. One only needs to look at the fatuous 'No blood for oil' signs in any peace protest in the US, or the worldwide pandemy hypes and Idols finals dominating the MSM news in the entire Western world to see that being concerned with trivialities is not a vice perpetrated by Europeans only.
I don't think it is very productive to put the current situation in such stark terms as 'continentals are spineless and we are not'. If this is really a battle of ideologies, a battle of systems, it will not do to start infighting over who's more to blame: them or the others. Especially when even a cursory glance at what is happening in the countries of the heroes in Matthews narrative shows that the 'continentals are spineless and we're not. So there.'-analysis is borne out of a highly selective view of the world in general and Europe in particular.
Right under the surface the continental shelves that make up western opinion are shifting. We see an irritatingly slow but ever increasing awareness that Islam is not what it's cracked up to be, tolerance and peacefullness-wise. Today Gates of Vienna reported that a goodly portion of Danish clergy have come out openly saying that Islam and Christianity (and by extension Judaism) do not worship the same god. The Dutch daily Trouw has been running a series of very critical articles on the origins of Islam and the authencity of the Quran (NL, based on the work by, among others Christoph Luxenberg, of '72 raisins' fame). Just today Trouw published an interview with Bat Ye'or (NL, but if I find the time I'll do a translation). As far as I know this was the very first time she's been featured in a main stream outlet in the Netherlands. Recently we saw a poll in Germany indicating a massive dislike if Islam among the general population. Any politician worth his salt, not matter how much he/she/it dislikes tough issues, will have to deal with this, or he/she/it will find itself out of a job before one can say 'dhimmitude'.
Both Matthew and Alexander paint a rather dire picture of what the backlash might be, when the worm finally turns. If things stay the way as they have been over the last couple of years that might well be the inevitable outcome. But it won't be because a lack of commitment to freedom, or some such. It'll be the pot violently boiling over, because some parties have kept the lid on too forcefully. And here's where I think the (not too) big difference between Europe and America comes into play. In the US freedom of speech is defined as absolutely as possible. Limits on that freedom are kept to the bearest of minima, just enough so that it won't disrupt society or crash it into rival factions. But with that comes a culture of open confrontation. In talkshows, even the highbrow ones, it isn't a rare sight to see holders of opposing views get stuck into eachother in what most Europeans would think a rather embarrasing way.
In Europe there aren't so much limits on the freedom of speech per se. The limits that are, are predominantly about how you say it, rather then on what you're saying. Europeans value polite discussion over a frank and brutal exchange of ideas, as is SOP in the US. Neither approach is better or worse then the other. It all depends a little on the situation. And wisdom is in trying to decide when to build consensus and when to polarize.
Of course in the case of the Islam and it's spokespersons, the big miscalculation, one that is eternally upheld by the convenient concept of taqeeya, is that they are open to consensus building: 'Yes, we only want peace, no we are not intolerant of infidels. Yes, it does say in the Quran we should, but never mind that. We're all civilized people, aren't we'. Trouble is, 'we' aren't. And the tragedy is in the unwillingness of the opinion leading classes in the Western world at large to look beyong the mirage of the 'noble savage' and see the gang of thugs we are actually dealing with. And if you think that is a bit too stark, read the interview Lord A. had with Der Spiegel (EN, for once) and get a feel for the slithery, self-serving way only a hardened criminal could answer questions in a rather tough interview. This is not a head of state that has been talking to Der Spiegel, it is one of the robbers headman from the Ali Baba tale.
If there's one message I would like to impart on our US counterparts, it is this: Do not judge us by our leaders. On the ground things are changing faster and more profoundly then is noticable from the evening news. It just takes us a little more time to remove the lid from the pot, because our collectively accepted bias towards polite discussion keeps it secured that must tighter.
And while the groveling to for instance Iran by the EU is truely, truely nauseating, it isn't us. It's our despised classmates. You know the ones. Those that were always first to nominate themselves as class representatives and slime their way to a good grade. They've moved on to parliament and the EU. But still nobody really likes them. And when we really get fed up with them, will just drag'em behind the bicycle shed and kick their (not so anymore) skinny asses.
(1) I'll refer to him as 'Matthew' throughout, since I don't have any details other then the name he carries in his correspondence with Atlas Shrugs. No offense or disdain intended.
(2)I'll repeat that for any francophones, so there's no misunderstanding this bit of shocking, to French ears, news: La France, ce n'est pas l'Europe, l'Europe n'est pas la France.
(while grinning mischievously, of course. Salut, les gars!)