/ Apr 04, 2006
In reacting to the Islamists’ ongoing cartoon Jihad, most commentators have focused on the issue of free speech. This is natural, and necessary, since eradication of free speech is the most immediate risk; and certainly without free speech there can be no defending other values. Nevertheless it is also vital to take a step back and to view the events as part of a larger pattern, a pattern which poses a grave threat to our core Western values and system of government –- and to their primary consequence and beneficiary: the free individual.
To see why, and to appreciate what we stand to lose, we must begin by understanding what is meant by “Western”. Let us be clear that “Western” refers to a set of ideas -- it is not a racial or ethnic epithet. Anyone can embrace the ideas, just as anyone can reject them, regardless of his race, country of birth, or upbringing. Thus we can speak of Japan and Hong Kong having adopted “Western” principles as accurately as we can speak of Canada having done so.
In the broadest and most essentialized sense, the term “Western” denotes a set of fundamental ideas first discovered and adopted by the ancient Greeks. It was they who, for the first time in history, challenged the age-old notion that only the life of a society’s rulers and/or priests was important -- to instead assert that every man’s life is of crucial value. It was they who turned their focus from an obsession with death and the after-life -- to instead seek success and joy in this life. It was they who dispensed with all-encompassing superstition and from cowering before the supernatural –- to instead assert that the world was knowable, that no question was off-limits, and that the questioning mind was among the most revered of attributes. Finally, and as a consequence of all the others, it was they who cast away the resignation of living as unhappy subjects in an unknowable world -- to instead realize that with freedom to live, happiness on earth was possible for every man.
These groundbreaking ideas led to an unheralded flourishing of man and an outpouring of man’s achievements, both spiritual and material. Few, if any, periods in history can rival the developments and accomplishments made by the ancient Greeks in arts, science, mathematics, humanities, medicine, athletics and general living conditions. And it is for this reason that “Western” ideas and values are rightfully described as life-affirming: for they lead to man’s freedom to pursue success and happiness in this life.
Historically, the transmission and implementation of Western ideas, the so-called Western tradition, was rocky and uneven at best, and its biggest opponent was always authority and dogmatic faith. In fact, during the Dark Ages, Western tradition was nearly extinguished by Christianity, whose irrational doctrines rejected the importance of the individual’s happiness on earth and of the existence of a knowable world; to instead preach abject self-denial in this world and salvation in a mystical after-life. Not until men reacquainted themselves with ancient Greek ideas did they find themselves back on the “Western” track; and only then did they turn away from blind faith, question and reject the Church and its authority, and eventually produce the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and modern Western society.
Concomitant with the emergence and development of Western ideas came man’s political desire to form societies which would allow him to achieve the promise of these ideas: individual joy and happiness on earth. Defining and building such societies was an arduous task, one much more difficult than it might seem in hindsight, but by fits and starts, Westerners rose to the challenge.
Indeed the solution lay in the uniquely Western focus on the value and importance of every individual’s life. For with the gradual elucidation of a theory of rights (i.e. an understanding that every man has natural and inalienable rights) came a political system whose specific function was to protect those rights. In this type of system, each individual delegates his use of retaliatory force to the government, and the government wields that force in the protection of each individual’s rights and freedom. Protection is understood to be protection from other men’s violence, i.e. the protection of each individual citizen from attacks from abroad and from criminals and tyrants at home. This political development ultimately led to the founding of the United States, the writing of its Constitution, and the subsequent understanding that protection of individuals must be applied universally, i.e. it must extend to all races and genders. In the past hundred years or so, the purpose of government has been construed to range well beyond the protection of rights (improperly in my opinion), but nonetheless protection of individuals and their rights is still the basic and unifying principle of Western government.
The unique relationship existing between each man and his government cannot be overemphasized: in the West, and only in the West, government exists for the sake of each individual, not vice versa. As Lincoln put it so famously: ours is a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.
Yet though government exists for the sake of each man, its proper implementation involves having each individual delegate his use of retaliatory force to the government, which then acts as his agent to protect his rights. Thus in civilized nations, the government is the sole legitimate wielder of force, and its central charge -- and solemn obligation -- is to wield that force when (and only when) necessary to protect its citizens in the exercise of their legal rights.
The benefits of this system are manifold. There is strength in numbers, and by assigning the use of force to the government, we can effectively defend ourselves from attacks by foreign nations, something which would be much less practical for individuals to attempt on their own, or on an ad-hoc basis.
Justice too is made possible when the use of force is put in objective hands, for in doing so, standard procedures and processes (the legal system) can be developed to ensure that violations of rights are punished by a rational and proportional standard. This again would not be possible if every individual tried to mete out justice on his own.
Finally, because each individual knows that his government has the means and responsibility to defend him, he does not have to seek out other forms of protection. Specifically, he does not need to join a gang or tribe whose members will help him battle others. In civilized society there is no need to ally oneself with members of one’s race or ethnicity (as do the Tutsi’s and Hutus in Rwanda; or the Serbs, Croats and Albanians in the Balkans), or of one’s religious sect (as do Sunni’s, Shiites, Jews and Christians throughout most of the Middle East), or with criminals (as do those seeking the “protection” of a mafia Don) or with the politically-connected and politically-favored (as does almost everyone in the Third World). In a word, because the individual is sovereign and consistently protected by his government, there is no gang warfare of the type so prevalent around the rest of the world.
The result is modern Western society; a society whose overwhelming advantages include: freedom for each individual to live, think, question and speak as he sees fit; respect for the law and the rights of others; individual safety and empowerment; and a benevolent atmosphere of cooperation and peace among men.
But along with all the advantages of an individual-based society comes one inherent risk. In delegating his use of force, and forsaking adherence to any gang or tribe, each individual is disarmed and essentially helpless should his government fail to act on his behalf.
It would therefore be of the highest treason for a government to abandon any law-abiding citizen who comes under attack. In fact failing to protect an individual would be beyond treason: it would essentially reverse and betray 2,500 years of Western development. It would be tantamount to taking the individual, whose life and happiness is for the first time important, stripping him of all his defenses, and then offering him up to any mindless brute or savage to skin alive as he pleased.
And yet, in the past few decades, this is exactly what Western governments have done repeatedly. If it is not stopped soon, Western, i.e. civil and peaceful, society will break down -– and we will return to the primitive state of gang rule and utter contempt for the individual which currently exists in the entire non-Westernized world.
To understand the pattern of failures, and to see how it must be broken, it is important to survey the relevant historical events of the past 25 years or so. For though the faltering of Western governments could be decried since the end of World War II, and even more so with the events in Korea and Vietnam, a watershed of sorts began with our response to the rise of fundamentalist Islamic nations and their self-proclaimed hatred and hostility towards the West and all things Western.
The pattern began in 1979 when the newly empowered supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, took power. Khomeini was an Islamic ideologue, who on every main point opposed and declaimed the views of the ancient Greeks and of the West. Man is not the measure of things; only Allah is. Man’s happiness on earth is unimportant; only the after-life matters. Man is not to be successful at living; martyrdom is the surest way to happiness. Knowledge is not achieved by studying a knowable reality; prostrate yourself to Allah instead and you will learn all there is to know. And since there is no knowledge other than that revealed by Allah; if anyone disagrees with us -– kill him.
The political organization he implemented, that of a theocratic Islamic Republic, flowed logically from his ideas and values. In this type of government, the supreme religious leader and his clerics hold absolute power. Individuals are of no value and have no inalienable rights, with the result that all Islamic states are also brutal dictatorships.
It is worth emphasizing that Khomeini’s ideas and philosophy were those of a revered and highly knowledgeable exponent of Islamic doctrine, one who represented the basic views of his countrymen. In other words, he was no “hijacker” of Islam, but a consistent practitioner of it -- and Iran’s actions from his time onward must therefore be interpreted as true expressions of Islamic policy.
So what happened when he took power? In the first days of his rule, on Nov. 4, 1979, Khomeini’s religious followers stormed the US embassy in Tehran and captured 66 Americans. Most of the hostages were held for 444 days, during which time many were beaten, psychologically tortured, and subjected to extended periods of solitary confinement.
Now remember that these were American citizens, working directly for, or with, the American government, captured in an embassy (which is technically American soil and to which International Law has provided the highest form of immunity going as far back as the Congress of Vienna in 1814). Breaking such immunity has always been an act of war. So did our government declare war to protect its citizens, who not only were acting lawfully, but who were in fact put in harm’s way at the request of their government? No. Instead our government, under the pacifist Jimmy Carter, wrung its hands and negotiated with a regime which had just broken the most basic law of diplomacy. (Two half-hearted, under-manned and under-planned rescue attempts were made, but the fiascos only underscored how unwilling the government was to use its military force to remedy the problem).
This event signaled to all observers, that though the West still had abundant physical means to defend its citizens, it had lost its will to do so. In fact, not only would it not defend its citizens, it would even act against them, as did the US State Department when, after the eventual release of the hostages, it quashed their attempt to seek redress in international courts, simply to avoid “stirring up” trouble with foreign nations!
The absence of any military response and the complete abdication of the government’s responsibility to its citizens was the first sign to the Islamic world that it could act with impunity against any Western citizen -- and act it did. A series of attacks throughout the Middle East followed.
As a sampling, and not including incessant Islamic attacks on Israel and Israelis, which are just too numerous to list, consider: 1982, various dates –30 Westerners taken hostage in Lebanon by Iranian-sponsored terrorist group Hezbollah, some killed, some died in captivity, some released (Terry Anderson held for 2454 days). April 18,1983 -- US embassy in Beirut bombed, 63 dead. Oct 23, 1983 -- 241 Marines and 58 French Paratroopers killed in their barracks in Beirut. Dec 12, 1983 -- Shiites attack US embassy in Kuwait City, 5 killed, 80 injured. Sept 20, 1984 -- truck bomb outside US embassy annex in Beirut kills 24. June 14, 1985 -- Hezbollah hijacks plane en route from Athens to Rome, beats and kills American Navy Diver Robert Stethem. October 7, 1985 -- Syrian and Libyan-backed Palestinian Liberation Front hijacks ocean liner Achille Lauro, kills one wheelchair-bound American. December 18th, 1985 -- Rome and Vienna, Libyan-backed terrorists bomb airports, 20 killed. April 2, 1986 -- Palestinian group detonates bomb on TWA flight 840 en route to Athens killing 4. April 5, 1986 –- Libyan terrorists bomb disco in West Berlin killing 3 and injuring 230.
In its only true retaliatory attack against state sponsors of terrorism, on April 14, 1986, the US (under President Reagan) launches air strikes against 5 targets in Libya. Predictably, the poster child of Western appeasement, France, condemns the US’ defense of its rights. And though the retaliatory strikes were immediately followed by two significant airline bombings, one against French UTA flight 772 in which 170 people were killed, and one against Pan Am flight 103 in which 270 people were killed (over Lockerbie Scotland), the action was generally successful in decreasing Libyan sponsorship of terrorism. In fact, since 1988 Libya has scarcely been heard from, and in 2002 it actually admitted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing -- and offered $2.7 billion in reparations to the victims’ families.
Seeing the bombing of Libya as an exception to the rule, and correctly realizing that France’s attitude truly represented that of the West and of Western intellectuals, the Islamists decided to test whether they could directly control the lives and minds of Westerners, overtly attacking that most important aspect of Western life, the freedom to speak one’s mind.
The attack adopted the age-old military strategy of “divide and conquer”: in this case it consisted in isolating defenseless individuals (who in an effort to create a peaceful society had delegated their right and means of self-defense to their governments), and threatening them should they dare to disobey Islamic rule. And because Western governments and intellectuals were by now so craven and depraved -- the strategy actually worked.
The test case, of course, was the Rushdie affair. This was, until recently, the most famous example of Western governments failing to protect their law-abiding citizens. In 1988, British citizen Salman Rushdie wrote a book titled The Satanic Verses which contained what Islamists deemed an irreverent depiction of the prophet Mohammed. By Western standards the critical depiction was mild, but more importantly, the book was a simple expression of the freedom of speech which exists, and is protected by statute, in every Western nation.
The book was banned in many Muslim countries and book burnings were staged in some countries including England itself. But the true attack on Western citizens began on February 14, 1989, when the leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for the murder of the author and worldwide publishers of The Satanic Verses, with a $3 million dollar bounty tacked onto Rushdie’s head for good measure.
This state-issued death sentence against Western citizens should have been seen for what it was, a declaration of war, and every Western country should have demanded that Iran immediately retract and rescind the fatwa. Had they refused, Western governments should then have marshaled forces to protect their disarmed citizens by attacking and destroying the Iranian nation which was overtly threatening them.
Instead what happened? Apart from some feigned outrage, Western governments did nothing but engage in “diplomacy” and then proclaim that we must “tolerate” differences of opinion and respect the “feelings” of those who would murder us. And the result? Rushdie went into prolonged hiding, a Japanese translator was stabbed and killed in Tokyo, an Italian translator was beaten and stabbed in Milan, a Norwegian publisher was shot and severely wounded, 37 people were incinerated in Turkey as executioners burned down the hotel of a translator, and publishing houses and bookstores in the US were firebombed to destruction. Those were just the direct results. Indirectly, westerners learned that freedom of speech only applied if it were directed against lawful, peaceful targets. There would be no protection for discourse about Islam or any doctrine whose adherents backed it up with violence. Moreover, it set the precedent of foreign nations placing bounties on the heads of Western citizens with impunity, which would encourage similar behavior by every ardent fundamentalist given that the tactic had proven effective and without any risk to the issuer.
In some respects the Rushdie affair was worse than the embassy hostage taking. For example, in the hostage crisis, though the hostage-takers were sympathizers of the Khomeini regime, and though the regime publicly acknowledged support for the hostage-takers, an argument, however implausible, could have been made that the hostage-takers were not direct agents of the Iranian government. In the Rushdie case, however, not even that thin veneer of an argument existed, since it was the commander in chief and supreme theocrat (which are one and the same in Islamic states) who issued the fatwa himself. Thus there was absolutely no question that the call to kill Western citizens came directly from the Iranian government, and that it was therefore an act of war.
The cowardice of the West, and its non-reaction to overt acts of war, encouraged further Islamic attacks, including in America itself. On Feb 6, 1993, 6 people were killed and 1040 injured when Islamists detonated 1,500 lbs of explosives in the basement of the World Trade Center in New York. On Nov 13, 1995, a car bomb in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia killed 5 at US military headquarters. On June 25, 1996, a truck bomb in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia killed 19 and injured 502 at an American military housing complex.
On Aug 7, 1998, simultaneous explosions at US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania killed 224 and wounded 4,500. The attacks, perpetrated by Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network, prompted President Clinton to lob a few token cruise missiles at a factory in Sudan and at a couple of physical Al Qaeda training facilities in Afghanistan. He followed this limp response with an unnecessarily appeasing gesture, one which would become standard White House protocol, assuring all who would listen that Islam was not the target: “I want the world to understand that our actions today were not aimed against Islam, the faith of hundreds of millions of good, peace-loving people all around the world (but) at the fanatics and killers who…profane the great religion in whose name they claim to act.”
Realizing that we could not even name the ideology motivating the perpetrators, supporters, state sponsors, and funders of terrorist acts, let alone challenge them intellectually or existentially – Islamists continued their attacks.
On Oct 12, 2000, 17 sailors were killed when Al-Qaeda bombed the US Navy destroyer the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen. On Sep 11, 2001, in an attack worse than the one on Pearl Harbor, Al-Qaeda crashed two airliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and one into a field in Pennsylvania, killing a total of 2,986 people and injuring another 6,350.
Though outrage reigned and most average citizens saw the attacks for what they were -- an expression of Islamist global jihad – the intellectual climate of appeasement, i.e. our fear of “fostering” further dissension and unrest, of riling the so-called “Arab Street”, prevented us from naming the anti-Western ideology underlying the attacks. Our own President even went out of his way to assure us that, contrary to all evidence, “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace” (“As long as you submit mindlessly to its every edict and spokesman” he conveniently forgot to add.)
When the US made a military response, it did so by fighting a “compassionate” war in Afghanistan, one which involved dropping food interspersed with bombs, and which featured “respecting Islamic sensitivities” such as sparing holy sites and taking Islamic holidays into consideration as part of its military planning.
This “compassionate” fighting was extended to the war on (relatively) secular Iraq, which was fought to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and to bring freedom to the Iraqi’s, not to destroy the militant Islamists who threaten us. And though removing a madman hostile to the US is justifiable, never did we declare “This war is being fought to defend Americans from attack. Threaten a hair on the head of a single law-abiding American -- and this is the consequence.” Of course, if defending Americans were our true goal, the war would have been waged against Iran not Iraq.
Once again our inability to name and confront our enemy, coupled with our unwillingness to fight an all-out war, were taken as signs of weakness by the Islamists, and encouraged insurgency and Islamic posturing as a result.
(As an aside, it should be noted that the one good thing to come out of these wars is to see the superlative devotion, bravery and effectiveness of our military forces, even when they are constrained to fighting with a proverbial “hand tied behind their backs”. Not enough has been said about their willingness and ability to defend their countries and values; and should we ever truly find the will to defend ourselves, their skills and courage will all but assure our victory.)
Given that the compassionate wars were taken as a sign of weakness, not of strength, Islamists continued their attacks on Western soil. On the morning of March 11, 2004, in the worst terrorist attack in Spanish history, Islamic terrorists detonated bombs aboard four commuter trains during rush hour in Madrid, killing 192 and injuring another 2,050. The bombing came two days before a national election. The ruling party (Partido Popular), which was committed to keeping Spanish troops in Iraq, was leading the polls, however, after the bombing, the opposing party (Partido Socialista) won in an upset, and quickly withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq (signaling to Islamists that their barbaric acts could be used to influence Western governments).
The next test of Western governments’ willingness to defend their citizens came with the production of the 10 minute film “Submission”. The film, which was written by Islamic dissident Ms. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and directed by Dutch social critic Theo Van Gogh, portrays the plight of women under Islam, including being beaten and raped as proscribed by the Koran for women who “misbehave”. Islamic death threats against Van Gogh and Ali followed the film’s release, and on Nov 2, 2004, Van Gogh was murdered in broad daylight on a Dutch street. The killer was an unrepentant Muslim, Mohammed Bouyeri, who claimed to be “carrying out Allah’s will”. The murder was a “show killing” aimed not just at silencing Van Gogh, but at silencing all critics of Islam. After shooting Van Gogh eight times, Bouyeri proceeded to slit his throat and then skewer him with two daggers to which he attached Jihadist manifestos and death threats against Ms. Ali. And although the evidence showed connections with the Egyptian terrorist group, Takfir wal-Hijra, no attempts were made by the Dutch to root them out of Egypt (with or without Egyptian help). Ms Ali, brave as she is, is no longer in hiding, but her life is clearly at risk, and she must be accompanied by bodyguards 24 hours a day.
The killing and lack of any retribution had its intended chilling effect on the Dutch, many of whom now openly admit to being deathly afraid of publicly criticizing Islam.
The general state of fear was reinforced when, on July 7, 2005, Islamic suicide bombers killed 56 and injured 700 in a series of coordinated attacks on London’s subways and a double-decker bus. A similar attack on July 21 failed when four bombs malfunctioned (only the detonators went off).
The fear of Islamic attacks was now so prevalent in Europe that when Danish writer Kare Bluitgen tried to find illustrators for his biography of the prophet Muhammad, all potential candidates declined citing fear of violent retribution by Islamists -- noting not only the murder of Van Gogh, but also attacks on lecturers at the University of Copenhagen (who had been beaten simply for reading the Koran to non-believers).
Editors at the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, decided to investigate just how widespread the impact of Islamic intimidation had become, and to do so, they invited forty cartoonists to give their interpretation of how Muhammad may have looked. Twelve responded with cartoons of varying degrees of irreverence (though all mild by any standard, they are especially so when contrasted to those in Islamic countries where Jews and others are routinely caricatured in much more grotesque and inflammatory cartoons). But this, again, is irrelevant, as the cartoons were legal expressions of free speech, made by law-abiding citizens, and should have been subject to every possible protection which a government can muster.
The first reaction to the cartoons was sad but predictable, with Islamic leaders petitioning every possible government and quasi-government agency to censure the cartoonists and castigate the offending newspaper. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s initial stand was laudatory, as he proclaimed that he “cannot, and will not, decide what the newspapers are allowed to print”. Early on, he also refused to meet with Muslim ambassadors saying that meeting with them would give the impression that “this issue is something to be discussed. It is not.”
But when stonewalled by a principled Danish nation, Islamists gathered and fomented their believers to engage in a rash of violent protests, arson, and killings around the globe. Protesters in England promised that “Bin Laden is coming back”, that the “Annihilation of Europe” was imminent, then warned Europeans “to heed the lesson of Theo Van Gogh” and “your 9/11 is coming”. Western buildings and embassies were again attacked and destroyed, including ones in Beirut, Damascus and Tehran. Islamic clerics, in both India and Pakistan, issued death sentence fatwas against the cartoonists and backed them up with bounties totaling $12 million. The Indian and Pakistani clerics carried out their death threats in full public view, surrounded by chanting and rabid supporters -- the Danish cartoonists are hiding in isolation, possibly for the rest of their lives.
What has been the Western response? Some continental European newspapers, understanding the issue and the stakes, reprinted the cartoons as a show of solidarity and in the name of free speech. Many editors were fired and/or are under death threats as a result. American press was less courageous, realizing that their government would not act to protect them, so only a handful of papers reprinted the cartoons. Others disingenuously claimed to be respecting Muslims’ “feelings” by not doing so, yet the “feelings” of peaceful targets had never previously stopped them from publishing offensive material. A Boston newsweekly, the Phoenix, perhaps most clearly stated the real reasons for which they were not republishing the cartoons: “Out of fear of retaliation from the international brotherhood of radical and bloodthirsty Islamists … This is, frankly, our primary reason for not publishing any of the images in question … we are being terrorized, and as deeply as we believe in the principles of free speech and a free press, we could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix … in physical jeopardy … this may be the darkest moment in our 40-year publishing history.”
In reality though, it is not the role of the press, but of the government to stand up to those who threaten violence. Yet Western governments have acted deplorably, once again breaking their most solemn promise and contravening their very raison-d’etre. Said the US State Department: “These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims." "We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable.” (The Department later mitigated its position somewhat, but in the face of death threats, killings, etc., it was clear that it had no principled defense of free speech or of Western values and citizens.)
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw “praised the UK media for refusing to reprint the cartoons” saying that “I believe the republication of these cartoons has been unnecessary, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong.” He later added that “freedom of speech did not mean an open season on religious taboos.” EU commissioner Frattini capitulated completely and suggested that the press adopt a “voluntary code” of self-censorship.
No Western government has taken a single action to eliminate the sources of the bounties on the heads of Western citizens, to hunt down the issuers of death threats against editors and publishers, nor even to pledge full and unconditional protection to any citizen who wishes to exercise his statutory rights in the face of violent Islamic opposition.
The historical pattern is clear and consistent. For twenty five plus years, Islamists have isolated and targeted Western citizens around the world with impunity, and have succeeded in fostering fear in most citizens. They have effectively used a divide and conquer strategy, with little or no opposition. The pattern must be broken immediately.
To see how, imagine a neo-Nazi state arising and declaring to Western nations: “We have no quarrel with you, we just want to exterminate the Jews who reside within your borders.” The proper response would of course be: “if you want to harm our law-abiding citizens, you DO have a quarrel with us, in fact you have a war, for no one may threaten our citizens without threatening our nation as a whole.” Similar reasoning extends from a segment of the population to a single individual citizen. If a nation threatens one citizen, it threatens the nation, and we must do everything in our power, including going to war if necessary, to eradicate the threat. Otherwise there is no point for individuals to delegate their use of force to the state, and every enemy will employ a “divide and conquer” tactic to eliminate us one citizen at a time.
As a reminder of this, let us resurrect Dumas’ famous Musketeers’ rallying call: “One for All and All for One” emphasizing the latter phrase. For only by standing together to defend each individual can a peaceful society exist. Thus we must stand together and protect the lonely author who dares question a religion and who is sentenced to death because of it. We must stand together to defend his publishers who are firebombed for printing the book. We must stand together to defend the individual film-maker and political dissident who criticize Islam and are sentenced to death because of it. We must stand together to defend the benign cartoonist, who pens a simple cartoon, and is then forced into hiding by death threats and bounties.
To stand together means to assert our rights with our government as our agent. To those who threaten us with force, asserting our rights means responding with force, in fact, with overwhelming force. We must say to Iran (which on February 14 just reconfirmed the Rushdie fatwa) “oust and turn over the regime which sees fit to condemn a single citizen of ours to death, or face all out war.” And if they refuse, give them the war they started, but be sure to win it decisively, not protecting their mosques and infrastructure, but instead doing everything necessary to ensure they have no capacity to ever threaten us again. To Pakistan and India, which host clerics bold enough to put bounties on the heads of our citizens, demand that they turn over the men and their supporters, and if they refuse, go in and take them by force.
For if we fail to reverse our pattern, men will continue to learn that their rights are a sham, that the government’s promise to protect the individual is a hoax, and that only by refraining from thinking and speaking out might they be momentarily safe. Men will then go on to realize that they must seek out true protectors, in the form of some gang; ethnic, religious or otherwise; who may afford them a measure of security, albeit at the cost of complete obedience. Eventually the gangs will fight it out in an effort to wrest absolute power and to subjugate the others.
So will end the great intellectual and political achievement of the West, which began 2,500 years ago in Greece with its discovery and reverence for the individual, and which culminated in the enunciation of the guiding principles of the United States. The end will not come because an over-powering enemy has arisen –- no, to our everlasting shame, the end will come because Western governments, in a display of incredible cowardice and treason, have abandoned and delivered their disarmed individual citizens to a mob of stone-age savages.
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