REPUBLISHED FROM MARCH 2006
By David Kennedy Houck
“[T]he best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.” So propounded Justice Holmes in 1919, as he described what has become the great American experiment in the marketplace of free expression. And within this brave new environ, Americans have dabbled in speech that makes the pious blush, the reactionary angry, and the decadent cheer with delight. Over the years, this marketplace of freedom has given no quarter; nothing has escaped examination. Whether Christian, Jew, agnostic, militarist, communist, capitalist, bigamist, entrepreneur or pacifist; all and much more have been the target of opposing speech and passionate intellectual scrutiny. And through the power of the free exchange of ideas, America specifically, and the Western world in general, have achieved a level free expression unsurpassed in all history. However, at present, our world is confronted by a rising tide of Islamism that if not recognized and countered, threatens to silence what has become one of the fundamental elements which defines Western exceptionalism.
Historian and political commentator, Victor Davis Hanson, rightly summarizes the oft ridiculed and widely disparaged notion of Western exceptionalism. Hanson argues that “all cultures, sadly, are not equal” and that “Western liberality and tolerance” are precious and rare in the human experience, “both in the past and present.” Yet, it appears many in the West wholly misunderstand these extraordinary freedoms, or worse, fail to fully comprehend the relentless battering that freedom of speech is now experiencing. Indeed, many Americans now openly question the veracity of the threat against us, and rather than fear those who killed 3,000 in one day of horror, have become fixated instead upon an irrational fear of an overreaching government and the incremental loss of liberties. Meanwhile, in the interim, our true enemy continues to plot our demise and speaks clearly of the intent to destroy world order; and amidst this chaos, Russia and China triangulate, and an apoplectic Europe yawns, uncertain how to assuage its self-loathing, or how it might placate the victims of western imperial hubris.
Sadly, the European mindset has become so steeped in anti-Americanism that it can no longer decipher friend from foe, and it now appears that Europe is willing to slowly surrender its way of life to Islamist totalitarianism. Unassimilated European Muslims, now beside themselves with angst over the alleged blasphemous cartoons, and openly hostile to their host nations, now demand substantive change to EU law to protect Islam from all insult in the public domain. The prophet cannot be caricatured; and the Western free press must refrain from provocation and insult. Indeed, we are now supposed to ignore the gratuitous and offensive images of Jews and Christians daily sponsored by Muslim governments, and in the alternative, offer deference to Islam in every public forum. Does anyone in the Western media have an issue with this: apparently not.
The western media as a whole has largely retreated from protecting free speech, and has instead decided to cave-in into Islamist totalitarianism. Equally unfortunate, most Americans have not seen the Danish cartoons, despite the fact that they represent a major international story. Rather than display the mostly innocuous drawings, most American media outlets fell all over each other seeking that elusive moral high ground where disparaging Christianity is safe and easy, and protecting Muslims from insult is the only sensible tack.
Even now, Hollywood is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to create a film that portrays Christianity as nothing more than a twisted charade; that Jesus Christ was an ordinary man, who secretly married a former prostitute, and fathered children who now perpetrate a noxious lie in perpetuity in the person of the modern day Pontiff. This sort of trope is easy and fun for Hollywood, but it is quite another matter to confront the Islamo-fascist murderers who attacked and killed 3,000 of their own in 2001. That would require real courage, not the vapid and empty courage George Clooney or his epigony allude to. Will Hollywood ever speak truth to this power? Not likely. Consider that in Tom Clancey’s, “Sum of All of Fears,” made years before 9/11, producers inexplicably changed the bad guys from Islamists, to blond-haired, blue-eyed neo-Nazis. If they couldn’t confront the problem before it materialized, what makes one think they will deal with the issue now?
The threat to our freedoms is not a parlor game. Islamo-fascism is not some vague, undefined threat that floats like a specter inside some mysterious paradigm of “Fourth Generation Warfare.” Osama bin Laden and the actions of Al Qaeda on 9/11 became the impetus that ignited a war that has been brewing for decades. America and the West engaged in an amoral policy of Realpolitik in the Middle East since the end of World War II: As long as the oil flowed and the Soviets stayed out, there was little interest in the politics of the region. Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Islamo-fascism has been on the rise throughout the globe, and it has now evolved into the greatest threat of our time.
Many in the west still don’t believe this plain truth. Rather than acknowledge the danger before us, they believe 9/11 was a response to American troops in the Holy lands of Saudi Arabia, or the Palestinian question, or some other axiom of victimhood. But these are all canards, mere icing to gloss over the grim primordial reality for every war: envy, fear, hatred and power. The Islamists make no apologies and speak plainly. They intend to kill us, subsume our world into a Sharia paradise and make Islam supreme.
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? What’s really funny is none of the victims of this war can see the humor.
Posted by David Kennedy Houck at 12:46 AM