The truth is that Europe and America are riddled with Muslim advocacy groups, sleeper cells, online radical networks and lone wolves, all sharing the same overriding cause as al-Qaeda and orbiting around the same Koranic center. The potential numbers of decentralized, new wave terrorists “are so great that they must now be seen as the main terrorist threat to the West,” says former CIA officer Marc Sageman (MiamiHerald.com, June 16, 2008). One thing is certain. All these groups, despite their internal differences, are essentially cladistic, that is, they descend from a common ancestor. And we know who that is.
Of course, our public cognoscenti must do everything in their power to bury their heads in the sand dunes. The psychological state of meek subservience to a formidable enemy, masking as an exalted spirit of tolerance and understanding, bears some resemblance to the Stockholm Syndrome before the fact. In The Big Lie, I alluded to the German poet Gottfried Benn’s Gesänge, written on the eve of the First World War.
O dass wir unsere Ururahnen wären.
Ein Klümpchen Schleim in einem warmen Moor.
Leben und Tod, Befruchten und Gebären
glitte aus unseren stummen Säften vor.
(O that we were our primal ancestors.
A little clump of slime in a warm moor.
Then life and death, insemination and birth
would glide out of our dumb lymph.)
The mindset of our media and political appeasers of a conquering and imperial faith approximates the attitude expressed in this poem. It is difficult to disentangle the psychological and historical vectors at work in these orgies of renunciation, but it is also hard to repress the suspicion that, at the barometric levels of the cultural sensibility, almost our entire cultural elite and their millions of followers really do want to submit to their own eclipse and that the Islamists may be right in believing that the West is ripe for the plucking.
This pervasive suicidal impulse, this surrendering of courage, dignity and self-assurance, may explain why our leaders and intelligentsia are unwilling to accept obvious facts, to read the real world for what it is, and to mobilize against the threat to their very existence. They are, as former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert once said, “tired of winning.” They may even be tired of being tired and would prefer to be absorbed by a theocratic ectoplasm than to stand and fight, clear-eyed and Periclean. They would rather be wrong than bestir themselves to defend the world which nurtured them. They would rather be wrong than interrogate their gossamer fantasies and congenial pieties in the face of a menace they are frankly incapable of meeting.
A little attention to Voltaire would not be out of keeping here: Nul n’a le privilège de toujours se tromper. (“No one has the privilege of always being wrong.”) But then, Voltaire did not enjoy the dubious gift of living in the modern and post-modern ages when being wrong in the most reprehensible and conspicuous ways, especially if one happens to be on the left, does not militate against the profession of infallibility but merely reinforces it. The lie is not only triumphant but an ostensible sign of unfailing insight and brave outspokenness when it is really a symptom of a sickness in the soul.
In a time when truth is regarded as a relative concept without basis in reality, one can lie with impunity and be rewarded for it. One can blame America for the bloodletting it suffered and excuse or justify the madmen who attacked it, and never be called to account by one’s peers. One can venerate a profoundly compromised imam who wishes to build a mosque on a site where it has no business being, while dismissing out of hand the evidence that he is not to be trusted. In such a topsy-turvy postmodern world, one can play fast and loose with the truth and be lionized for nobility of character and purpose.
But all may not be lost. Regarding the press blackout of the mammoth Rally of Remembrance against the Ground Zero mosque, numbering in the tens of thousands—the media’s latest attempt to suppress or distort the truth—Robert Spencer observes that “Despite the media’s best efforts, the truth will not be successfully snuffed out. Americans will be heard.” The conviction that “truth will out” was memorably expressed by the nineteenth century English poet Coventry Patmore in his poem, Magna Est Veritas (Truth is Great):
…the world’s course will not fail:
When all its work is done, the lie shall rot;
The truth is great, and shall prevail,
When none cares whether it prevail or not.
The irony of the last line, however, sticks in the mind. For it is precisely now, in the present and immediate future, on this last and every future anniversary of 9/11, that the truth must be articulated, heard and made effective, when more and more ordinary people and private citizens, unlike the political, intellectual and media constabulary, are finally learning to care.
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