Avi Davis is a journalist based in Los Angeles. Here is his keen-eyed assessment of the situation in Europe:
In his work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the historian Edward Gibbon describes how a vacillating Roman Senate, with the army of the Barbarian Goths at its city gate, debated fretfully about the Roman Empire’s future. Apparently unknown to them, a civil rebellion, led by slaves and domestics, had erupted within the city walls, leading to anarchy. Days after the appearance of the enemy, the gates were opened from within and the Barbarians poured in to pillage Rome. Within a week, 1100 years of empire building had come to a close.
Sixteen hundred years after that epochal event, it should surprise no one that new barbarians threaten the safety and security of the continent Rome once controlled When the body of Ilan Halimi turned up last week on a railway track outside of Paris the group responsible was identified as the Barbarians. Yet these were not Goths, Huns or Vandals of ancient times, but Muslim criminals whose intent was clearly to commit a racial murder. The torture to which Halimi was subjected and the methods with which he was eventually dispatched should remind everyone in Europe of the original provenance of the term “barbarian” -- that of men intent on destruction of centers of Western culture and civilization.
The actions and justifications of the present day Barbarians are of course more than a match for their ancient predecessors. The brutal slaying of Halimi, a young French Jew of no particular importance, has opened the eyes of the European public to the dangers of the Muslim jihadist culture as no other act of terrorism or criminality has done until now. Tens of thousands protested the murder – recognized universally as an attack -- not on just a Jew, but on France itself. Not even the brutal slaying of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh or the murder of the gay Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn has quite provided the same political impact. That is because in the wake of the recent French riots and the worldwide disturbances caused by the publication of the Danish cartoons, European politicians now recognize that radical Islamic sentiment is no longer confined to a few scattered sects, focused on anti-Semitic provocations, who can be tamed through dialogue and discussion. It rather represents an ideological pandemic spreading voraciously in European cities, which vouchsafes the notion that the murder of Jews, gays, conservatives, journalists, editors -- and in fact anyone who is perceived as a barrier to Islam’s advance, entitles those with requisite religious belief to issue and execute death warrants. And further, that flimsy, ignorant response and the cognitive dissonance of denial only fans these flames higher.
A word should certainly be offered to those secular humanists who still believe that amelioration of the economic plight of Islamic urban centers will substantially change the attitudes of the jihadists in their midst. This view not only ignores the historical pattern of the jihadist culture and motivation; it is a sop to the Islamists -- clerics and leaders -- who see such soft-pedaling as a weakness to be exploited. One must wonder at the blindness of European politicians who still believe that the fire bombings of synagogues, the murder and harassment of Jews or the torching of Jewish businesses are merely isolated examples of urban unrest, economic disenfranchisement or even latent anti-Semitism. They are, in fact blows, aimed against Western civilization. Imams and Islamic clerics throughout Europe have prophesied for years about the West’s imminent collapse. They do this while employing the liberal values of tolerance, openness and dialogue to protect their mosques while propagating hatred, racism and incitement to murder beneath the shield of freedom of speech.
Most Western countries have not, as yet, recognized the profundity of the threat. But for some there is a growing measure of clarity. Last week Peter Costello, the Australian treasurer, made public his government’s opinion that those who do not subscribe to Australian values or deny the supremacy of Australian law over Islamic law should be denied both citizenship and the right to enter Australia. Costello went further, in an interview on television, in declaring that even Australian citizens who fail to pass this basic litmus test should be subject to deportation. The Australian government, particularly its feisty Prime Minister John Howard, have been well ahead of the rest of the world in legislating firm controls against incitement and racism emanating from their country’s mosques. But few Western leaders have been as forthright as Costello in recommending deportation as a measure against a country’s citizens for denying the basic values upon which their own societies are founded.
Meanwhile, time is running short for Europe. Without recognizing that an unbalanced emphasis on pluralism at the expense of security, will gradually erode the moral superstructure of liberal democracy, there will be thousands more Ilan Halimis -- Jew and non-Jew alike -- tortured in third-floor apartments and dying on the streets of restive Islamic communities.
For that reason, no one should be deceived. Barbarism has returned to Europe. But this time the barbarians are not just outside the city, battering at the walls. They are inside it, with sufficient political clout and public sympathy to open the gates from within.