There’s a great deal to like in this statement, and much of what there is to like about it is obvious and has been stated here: the recognition that Muslims wish to conquer the continent of Europe is perhaps the most important part of the statement. And there is also the recognition that such conquest can take forms as yet unrecognized, that where before the Muslims attempted through military invasion and siege to conquer Europe, and failed to, now they do so, Cardinal Vlk says, with “spiritual weapons.”
But one’s appreciation for the Cardinal’s outspokenness should not allow his statements to be immune from criticism. After all, is it really a “spiritual weapon” through which Islam may be conquering Europe? Are the campaigns of Da’wa really that successful, save among selected groups, such as black prisoners, Richard Reid types, or a handful of women who like being told what to do (Yvonne Ridley), or among the psychically marginal (the European equivalent of John Walker Lindh or Adam Gadahn)? Or is it not really through immigration that Islam is conquering Europe? That immigration has heretofore been allowed by criminally negligent European elites. The members of those elites did this without examining the nature and contents of Islam and the astonishing hold of Islam on its most convinced adherents (self-primitivized through their belief in Islam) through means that are most reminiscent of the brainwashing of people in thrall to totalitarian political ideologies, such as Nazism and Communism, and that have not received nearly enough study.
Whatever the Muslims are bringing to Europe that some in Europe find attractive or seductive, it is not “the spiritual values of faith in God.” Islam is a Total Belief-System in which the adherents must simply accept the list of What is Commanded and What is Prohibited. One can send in a question to a cleric, a mufti, asking what the rule is about this or about that, and then one gets the answer, usually with some endless citation — Muslims being like so many unquestioning chain-gang prisoners, heads down, those isnad-chains that hold them in permanent imprisonment clinking, clinking, clinking — back to the time of Muhammad. There is no room for spiritual development, because there is no possibility of questioning. You, the individual Muslim, are merely part of a collective. You are ideally a “slave of Allah.” Yours not to morally reason or question why; yours but to accept for, as is said, “Allah Knows Best.”
The Czech Cardinal issues a statement that is useful insofar as it is a warning about Islam. But his belief that Islam offers “spiritual values” is wrong. What it offers is a Compleat Regulation of Life and Explanation of the Universe. There are people who need such things, who long for such things. The Nazis, and to a certain extent the Communists, offer simple solutions and complete guides to the universe.
Islam offers Certainty. The Certainty of Zakir Naik was put up as an Amazing Muslim Exhibit #643 at this site, the other day. The Certainty of Yousef Al-Qaradawi. And the Cardinal seems to suggest, in his mention of the “pagan” and his insistence on his own beliefs, that the only way to limit the appeal of the Certainty of Islam is to confront it with another Certainty. That Certainty is the one he represents, and thinks is the only one adequate to meet the case. He may, in so doing, have inadvertently alienated those who, while not sharing his Catholic beliefs, nonetheless do share his worries about Islam. He might care to note that the most outspoken anti-Islamic figures in Western Europe, some of them skilled and influential polemicists, have been what the Cardinal might describe as “pagan,” i.e., non-Christian, people – save for the single exception of the apostate Magdi Allam, who has done such good work in Italy and now, as a Deputy in the European Parliament, outside of Italy. They are people who, however, share a different kind of certainty from the one that Cardinal Vlk thinks is the answer.
Think, for example, of Oriana Fallaci. She all of her life had been on the left, the Republican and anti-clerical child of a long line of Republican and anti-clerical Tuscans (see her long and beautifully-written family memoir, “A Basket of Cherries”), who at 14 was helping the Partisans in Florence against the Germans. But her profession, traveling to and spending a lot of time in Muslim countries, interviewing Khaddafy, Arafat, Khomeini, and others from a tussaudian waxworks of horrors, caused her to be alarmed by the “peaceful” Muslim invasion of Western Europe, of Italy, of Tuscany. She was certain, as certain of the superiority of the West, of its art, science, literature, freedoms, as Cardinal Vlk apparently is of his certainties. And a certain civilizational self-assurance is required, but not a single kind of such self-assurance. All that one need have is the conviction that whatever ails us, and many things do, there is no comparison between the Western world and the wretchedness of Islam. When Oriana Fallaci saw the Muslims grow in number in Italy as elsewhere, when she saw their initial demands (demands that will never let up, will always be renewed, however many times they are rejected) for changes in Italian laws and customs and social arrangements, when she thought of the Muslim plan to erect a giant mosque in that most Tuscan of places, the Val Col d’Elsa (in America the equivalent would be the erection of a huge mosque right beside the bridge in Concord, Massachusetts), she went into a frenzy, and then she distilled her intelligent frenzy in The Rage and the Pride. She was certain, certain of the superiority – not merely the “difference” – of the West.
And what about Pim Fortuyn? Did not that “pagan” freethinking “libertine” found a party, the Pim Fortuyn List, that started a ball rolling in the Netherlands that is continuing and may end with the election of Geert Wilders? And this has happened despite Fortuyn’s murder by a weak-minded Dutchman who thought Fortuyn was mistreating “weak” Muslims. (This Dutchman, van de Graaf, was known as an animal-rights activist of the lunatic singerian variety; he was likely used as a tool by Muslims who encouraged him in this line of thought.) Was Theo van Gogh not similar in his view of things? What about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was so deeply impressed, when she came and lived in the Netherlands (after Somalia, after Saudi Arabia) by the Enlightenment values of that state? She was also depressed by the failure of many Dutch people to realize how precious, and how fugitive, such values might prove to be if the forces of Islam, the adherents of Islam, so sinisterly anti-Enlightenment as anti-everything-that-is-not-Islam, were allowed to continue unscrutinized, uncriticized, unopposeded.
There are many others who have criticized Islam: Robert Redeker in France, or Anne-Marie Delcambre, or Alexandre del Valle. All of these people might be called by Cardinal Vlk “pagans,” but all of these people have been far more outspoken about Islam than many representatives of the Catholic Church. And what about Pat Condell, whose appearances on YouTube have been so effective in mocking Islam and its votaries? What about the apostates from Islam other than the well-known Ayaan Hirsi Ali, such as Afshin Ellian at the University of Leiden, or the Iranian women in Sweden who a few years ago so enthusiastically listened to Ibn Warraq as he analyzed Islam and its insidious appeal?
There are many others who are agnostics and atheists, and who are sensible enough not to think that “all religions are equally bad” – that is, they reject the Dawkins approach. Some of them may be agnostics or atheists, and quite agree that Christianity, morally and esthetically (for this see Chateaubriand’s La Genie du Christianisme) has a lot to admire. It makes sense for agnostics and atheists not to oppose “all religion” but to selectively oppose Islam, which is the only one that murderously would not tolerate the existence of freethinkers.
And there are many non-Christians – Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, who should not be unnecessarily offended by an appeal that is squarely based not on the need for certainty as to the danger of Islam, but rather as to some other One True Faith or Deen. That is a kind of certainty that Oriana Fallaci, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Pat Condell, Pim Fortuyn, Theo Van Gogh, Ibn Warraq, and many others could not and will not accept. Are they all to be overlooked or dismissed?
What the statement by Cardinal Vlk does usefully point out is that if you have no certainties at all, not even a certainty about the usefulness and superiority of a certain kind of cultivated uncertainty, of superior skepticism, then you are more likely to become one of those figures more susceptible to the siren-song of those targeted campaigns of Da’wa. The wretched effluvia in European prisons sometimes convert to Islam because it justifies their antisocial or sociopathic behavior, dignifies it even as a proleptic helping of oneself, as a Muslim, to the loot that should, in a Muslim-dominated society, be transferred from non-Muslims to Muslims as the Jizyah due them. Islam explains to them that what they do is not only not bad, if they are Muslims, but can be seen as a positive duty. The psychically marginal, the sufferers from durkheimian anomie, the people for whom the seeming breakdown of social structures, and of all the little exchanges whose sum is society, and see Islam as appealing. And even Costco or Walmart contribute to reducing the act of shopping in small stores, owned and staffed by those whom one knew and who knew one, thus making the buying and selling into much more than an economic exchange. And the Internet, too, reduces face-to-face exchanges, and so do all the removals of the little douceurs of life, including little post offices in small towns, economically “inefficient” no doubt, but socially important. We ourselves, worshippers of a diseased sense of efficiency based always and everywhere on mere economics, are unweaving the social fabric ourselves, the one that helps make us less, rather than more, susceptible to Islam. We should look to the countries of East Asia, and see what it is about them, which do not rely on the certainties favored by Cardinal Vlk, to see how their peoples seem so much better able to withstand Islam, and what it is about their national narratives, and self-confidence, and refusal to join us in worshipping at the Altar of those hypertrophied Western gods, the idols of this age, Tolerance and Diversity, endowed with a meaning they were never meant to have.
The Cardinal is right that uncertainties, that a failure of faith in one’s own society, can render some more likely to succumb to Islam. A great many people, in all lands, are not immune to the collectivist impulse and the Need To Be Told What To Do. And if there is no hierarchy, social or intellectual, if the previous constraints on behavior – those of religion and those of social disapproval – no longer exist, and Anything Goes in not a cole-porterian but a Harvard-business-school michael-porterian sense, then some people may yearn for the mirage that Islam provides. Some people want to be “slaves of Allah” – want to be told, at every step, what they must do or not do. They like that sort of thing. See the young boys becoming Nazis, standing up for evil in the beer garden, in “Cabaret,” in that wonderful scene in which they rise, one by one, to enroll their voices in a swelling chorus of that sweetly-sinister “Tomorrow Belongs To Me.”
It would be good if in Europe those in power unembarrassedly recognized not only the difference, but the superiority, in every way, of European life and thought and cultural achievements – in art, science, literature, music, everything – to what Islam has managed to produce. Even in economics, the only way the Muslim states have been able to emerge from their permanent and utter wretchedness has been due not to any efforts on the part of Muslims themselves, but from two sources of support: first, the oil (and gas) revenues that have provided, since 1973 alone, more than twelve trillion dollars. But even that, the largest transfer of wealth in human history, has not resulted in the development of a modern economy among any of those oil states. The only economic development worth noting in Muslim countries has taken place either where half the population has been non-Muslim (as in Malaysia) or where the power of Islam has been subjected to systematic constraints that have resulted in the appearance and growth of a secular class and secular attitudes among a sufficient percentage of the population (as in Turkey and Tunisia). Everywhere else, if the oil wealth were removed, the countries would tend economically to look like Yemen, or Somalia – that is, look the way they did a hundred or even fifty years ago, before the unmerited oil wealth started to flow.
The other source of support has been, unaccountably, the huge sums provided to non-oil Muslim states and peoples by Infidel nation-states. Many of the countries of Europe and North America, with their elites refusing to understand how Islam itself explains the permanent tendency to despotism and the permanence of economic underdevelopment or even paralysis, have convinced themselves – and expect all of us to accept, as a truth not to be questioned – that if only we, the world’ s generous non-Muslims, keep pouring aid into now this country (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, soon Yemen), we will prevent “Al Qaeda” from “taking over.” The elites seem to think that Al Qaeda alone, and not a thousand terrorist groups, or hundreds of millions of Muslims pursuing the identical goals of Jihad as Al Qaeda, but through means other than terrorism, constitutes a mortal threat to the continued survival of the West. So we spend tens or hundreds of billions, or as in the case of Iraq, two trillion dollars. We spend all this in the deluded belief that this, somehow (never quite explained) will provide a model for Muslim states, and that as these states pocket the vast sums (or rather, as their rulers pocket and divert the vast sums provided by the West) that every day, in every way, their societies are becoming better and better. Then this new stability, unity, and prosperity will – but how? How? – inexorably lead to a lessening of the threat posed by Islam, and Muslims, as if they will forget what is in the texts of Islam forget the tenets of Islam, forget the duty to engage in Jihad, that is, the struggle to remove all obstacles to the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam. Why should they? Why should we expect that Muslims will cease to believe in Islam, or be any less fervent, even if here and there they may themselves be victims of Al Qaeda, in their permanent hostility to Infidel ways and interests?
We need Certainty, all right. The certainty that Islam is not a mystery, open only to a hieratic few. What Islam teaches is taught to more than a billion people. It is not hard to find out what is in the Qur’an, Hadith, Sira. It is not hard to discover what Muslim jurisconsults said constitutes the content of Islam, based on those texts, and interpretations of them that ended when, more than a millennium ago, the Gates of Ijtihad slammed shut. It is not hard to find out what it is in the Shari’a. Nor is it hard to find out what, according to the Shari’a, should be the treatment of all non-Muslims in any state or land where Islam dominates, and Muslims rule.
In the West we should continue to support, or to bring back, the study of history – a sine qua non for civilizational survival – and of literature. Literature allows us to exercise our imaginations (and hence to imagine better how others may think, not in order to sympathize with them, but in the case of Islam, to prevent the mistake of ascribing to Muslims the ways of thought that come naturally to Western non-Muslims and that we foolishly assume are shared by all people.) This will enable us to become more vigilant in the use of words, which may help us to pay attention to the careful way that Muslim apologists phrase things, and to pay attention, too, to how in the West we report on Muslim claims, and do not so easily accept, and pass on, Muslim phrasing of such claims. If we paid attention to words, we would never have unthinkingly accepted the construct of the “Palestinian people” or that tendentious and grossly inadequate phrase “occupied lands” to describe territories to which Israel has a legal, historic, and moral claim that has nothing to do with, is entirely independent of, the fact that Israel won through force of arms in the Six-Day War possession of territory that had previously been assigned to the Jewish State by the express terms of the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine. Nor would we ever have allowed such carelessness about words as to allow reporters to pass on Muslim charges of “racism” when what is being denounced is the intelligent precaution of attempting to identify Muslims, that is, the adherents of an ideology whose contents can be studied. Nor would we have allowed for one minute that absurd construct “islamophobia” to be given the time of day, for it is merely a term designed by apologists for Islam to shut off all intelligent criticism of Islam — without which we cannot begin to defend and protect ourselves.
There are those in the West whose minds have become video-rental stores. There are now very few, far fewer than before, especially among those who are not our leaders but, significantly, are merely “taking a leadership role,” whose minds are well-stocked libraries. Think of Gladstone, or Clemenceau, or Tomas Masaryk, or Churchill, and look at the ignoramuses who run for office, who rule over us, who presume to tell us what to think and what to do, and whose minds consist of the same television pap and crap as the lowliest of voters, or very nearly so. It’s an intolerable situation, but not one to be resolved by insisting on a particular brand of Certainty, and that alone, as the Only Possible Way to prevent what otherwise may be seen as the inexorable spread of Islam, and to immunize those in the West from the temptations of enrolling in the Army of Islam, becoming slaves of Allah, votaries of the Total Belief-System of Islam.
There are many ways, and many certainties — including a certainty in the superiority of the Western world, its art, science, literature, its everything — that can also keep us rooted and sure of ourselves. But to be sure of the superiority of the art, science, literature, and so on, you need to know something about them. And that raises another matter: the problem of pedagogy, and of the leveling of education, so that all shall have prizes. That way another kind of madness lies. But that madness may, alas, contribute — as Cardinal Vlk suggests — to a despair that ends in a desire for certainty, any certainty at all. And the certainty that is most certainly certain of its certainest self is that most primitive one of all, Islam. Education, breakdown of, is at the heart of what ails the West. There are ways to treat the disease, ways to recover. We all know, don’t we, what kinds of things are necessary. It’s a question of no longer putting up with nonsense and lies. When your laws and customs and your everything are being threatened, you stop being quite so easygoing and so willfully, idiotically tolerant. You harden your mind, and then your heart. Or rather, you redefine what being solicitous of others means. The survival of the West, as the West, is not only good for the West, but good for the whole world. Imagine a world where not Europe and America, but Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia, or the Sudan, or some power that combined all three, ruled things. What would our giddy globe look like then? Where would art, science, literature, intelligence itself, be then?
You know the answer to that. You don’t have to steal a glance at anyone else’s Blue Book to write the correct answer to that.