Pipes on Death Threats

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Daniel Pipes discusses the increasing frequency of Moslem violence (and where it occurs) "provoked" by various incidents in which Westerners had the temerity to exercise their freedom of speech. He lists the most outrageous incidents and follows with this.

These six rounds show a near-doubling in frequency: 8 years between the first and second rounds, then 5, then 3, 1, and 1/2.

The first instance -- Khomeini's edict against Salman Rushdie -- came as a complete shock, for no one had hitherto imagined that a Muslim dictator could tell a British citizen living in London what he could not write about. Seventeen years later, calls for the execution of the pope (including one at the Westminster Cathedral in London) had acquired a too-familiar quality. The outrageous had become routine, almost predictable. As Muslim sensibilities grew more excited, Western ones became more phlegmatic. [bold added]
Or was it the other way around? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Pipes continues.
No conspiracy lies behind these six rounds of inflammation and aggression, but examined in retrospect, they coalesce and form a single, prolonged campaign of intimidation, with more sure to come. The basic message -- "You Westerners no longer have the privilege to say what you will about Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur'an, Islamic law rules you too" -- will return again and again until Westerners either do submit or Muslims realize their effort has failed.
He is right about that last, and he earlier complains about Moslems failing to show "reciprocity" towards Western tolerance. But he also partially answers himself by noting the anemic Western response each time.

The Moslems may think of freedom of speech as a "privilege", but it is, in fact, a right. And just as we are not guaranteed our lives against threats, we are also not guaranteed our rights. We must protect each by force. We have not done so, instead allowing our ability to speak freely to depend on the willingness of superstitious primitives to suffer it. In other words, we have taught the Moslems that freedom of speech is a privilege that they grant us.

It is high time we begin teaching them otherwise. but then, we could have started this lesson much sooner.

Many think or hope that the increased frequency and violence of Moslem aggression will wake up the soporific West. But will it do so alone? Compare Pipe's timeline of years to Leonard Peikoff's timeline of decades.
Fifty years ago, Truman and Eisenhower surrendered the West's property rights in oil, although that oil rightfully belonged to those in the West whose science, technology, and capital made its discovery and use possible. The first country to nationalize Western oil, in 1951, was Iran. The rest, observing our frightened silence, hurried to grab their piece of the newly available loot.


After property came liberty. "The Muslim fundamentalist movement," writes Yale historian Lamin Sanneh, "began in 1979 with the Iranian [theocratic] revolution . . ." (New York Times 9/23/01). During his first year as its leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, urging a Jihad against "the Great Satan," kidnapped 52 U.S. diplomatic personnel and held them hostage; Carter's reaction was fumbling paralysis. About a decade later, Iran topped this evil. Khomeini issued his infamous Fatwa aimed at censoring, even outside his borders, any ideas uncongenial to Muslim sensibility. This was the meaning of his threat to kill British author Rushdie and to destroy his American publisher; their crime was the exercise of their right to express an unpopular intellectual viewpoint. The Fatwa was Iran's attempt, reaffirmed after Khomeini's death, to stifle, anywhere in the world, the very process of thought. Bush Sr. looked the other way.


After liberty came American life itself. The first killers were the Palestinian hijackers of the late 1960s. But the killing spree which has now shattered our soaring landmarks, our daily routine, and our souls, began in earnest only after the license granted by Carter and Bush Sr.
Will we in the West just become used to being pushed around, or will our enemy over-play his hand so badly that we will wake up? The historical trend suggests the former, but if people resent enough the loss of freedom and security they remember once having had, perhaps they will be more likely to fight back.

This is the kind of speculation we have come to in the West thanks to the fact that we historically have never had a firm intellectual grasp of what our rights are and why they are important. The sooner we fix this problem, the better. We should have never gotten into this position. The only way out is to work to make our culture once again value freedom. Furthermore, if the West blindly rebels against Moslem domination, what will replace it may not be what we have now.

This is, I think the point I was grasping at the other day when I decided to have an "Islam-free" meme.
I was going to say that every blogger should do this as an act of defiance -- but that would be permitting these people to set terms, which they are not entitled to do. The value of the "Gus Van Horn Condition" has nothing to do with them. It is to remind yourself that your life is yours alone to live. What a bunch of superstitious morons think is, in the grand scheme of things, completely irrelevant, and that is something we forget at our own peril. It is, after all, why we fight them.
The West must realize that our fight is bigger than "not being dominated by Islam".

We are fighting for our freedom and our lives. If we forget this, that is how the Moslems will win. Life isn't about not getting hassled. It is about pursuing goals and values, and all this ugliness -- which the nihilism of leftist hippies in the sixties and the atmosphere of cultural asphyxiation of the seventies afterwards have helped pave the way for -- threatens to make us forget that. And without positive values in our lives, intellectual arguments will not be enough.

This last is the psychological dimension of a concept I called "creeping dhimmitude" awhile back. If our world is as psychologically miserable as that of the Moslems, why would we resist them?

I have just realized this last very important aspect of the war. I will have to ponder its implications a bit, but I strongly suspect that this is at present the chief advantage owned by the West (although compromised by the Left). Also, I think that this is what will ultimately buy us time to win the intellectual battle that must be won before we will give the Islamofascists the appropriate (and overwhelmingly disproportionate) response their actions deserve.

-- CAV


Today: Robert Tracinski makes a similar point in today's TIA Daily, but in the sense that love of life is also an offensive weapon for the West. In support of his contention, he references an article about a popular movement in Bahrain founded by a man defending his "right to party".
Civil rights activist Abdullah Al Madani has drawn a line in the sand within this tiny desert island kingdom--and stockpiled plenty of whiskey and beer well behind it. "Let them try and take away our simple pleasures," he warns over a cold one. "We won't go down without a fight." Behind this frothy threat to prohibitionists in Bahrain stand 31 civil society organizations and a new grassroots movement Madani leads called We Have a Right (Lana Haqq). The group has signed up feminists, labor organizers, musicians, and other typical victims of Islamists' restrictive social agenda to a platform espousing equality of religions, genders, lifestyles, and every skirt length. ...
Well, then! I think I'll crack open an Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout and drink to Abdullah!

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