Happy anniversary! In “Message to Islamists: Don’t Tread on Me,” H. W. Crocker III in The American Spectator discusses a topic that has been a frequent preoccupation here at Jihad Watch: finding “the trick to ensuring” that the jihadists “leave us alone and confine themselves to killing only each other.”
As we (or the better informed among us at least) celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto this Saturday, marking the date in 1571 when the navy of Pope Pius V’s Holy League turned back the Ottoman Turks from one of their recurrent jihads, it might be opportune to consider how the Islamic world has advanced politically over the last half century.
Not terribly well, I reckon. But if the Arab portion of that world is soon swept up by democratic reform, then it seems likely that the future will be, well, perhaps something like the Gaza Strip, where political parties Hamas and Fatah supplement ballots with running street battles, familiar to us as well from Lebanon and Iraq.
To each his own, says I. Better that Arab-Muslim passions be turned against their own city councilmen and politicos than against the Zionist-Crusader Conspiracy, and better that Sunnis and Shias proclaim death to each other rather than death to us — though the gunmen of Hamas and Fatah and others in the region seem fairly ambidextrous in their hatreds and willingness to dispense violence.
As far as our national interest is concerned, it doesn’t much matter what Islamists and Baathists and Fatahists do to one another as long as they leave us alone — and by leaving us alone, I mean not only not attacking us (or developing means to attack us), but deferring to our right to befriend whom we choose to befriend, to trade with whom we wish to trade, and to broadcast our ideas to whoever wants to listen, to be ourselves in the world, and to be true to our unofficial motto of Don’t Tread on Me.
THE TRICK TO ENSURING that they do leave us alone and confine themselves to killing only each other, is to copy the best example we have of peaceful Christian coexistence with the Muslim world, which is not some imaginary Islamic renaissance in medieval Spain, but the British Empire.
The British, when they ruled a quarter of the globe, had millions of Islamic subjects. And while British troops had to slap down mad mullahs, impetuous imams, crazed tribesmen, and dervish armies on the periphery of empire, for the most part Her Majesty’s Muslim subjects were not only quiescent, a great many of them were markedly loyal and were numbered among the warrior races with which the British liked to stock the Indian Army.
The key to this was that while the British were happy to leave traditional arrangements (tribal leaders, religious affiliations, and so on) standing, they insisted that Muslims accommodate themselves to British law, custom, government, and civilization.
The pressure today, after the collapse of the European empires and the not coincidental rise of moral relativism and multiculturalism, is the reverse. Danish cartoonists, German operatic productions, the pope, and European law and foreign policy are expected to accommodate militant Islam. Militant Islam is not expected to accommodate the West — even when the Islamists live in London or Berlin or Paris — because the West lacks confidence that it has a civilization worth promoting over, or even defending against, the Islamists.
Read it all.