Hanson: all demonology, no strategy
The main argument of Victor Davis Hanson’s August 4 column at NRO is correct: As in the 1930s, the world is witnessing today a rise of naked evil which it is not opposing but shamefully accommodating. He seeks to stir us to right action against our enemies. But what action shall we take against them? And who are our enemies, anyway? It certainly does not help matters that Hanson has gone beyond even the brain-rotting phrase, “Islamo-fascists,” which he has done so much to popularize, and now refers to our enemies as simply “fascist terrorists.” It also does not help that he then immediately turns around and describes the terrorists as “terrorists from the 7th century.”
The 7th century, of course, was when Muhammad founded Islam. Does Hanson mean that today’s terrorists are true followers of Muhammad, i.e., true Muslims? If so, that would contradict his description of them as followers of fascism, an ideology that did not exist until the 20th century. More likely is it that by relegating them to the 7th century Hanson is not trying to associate them with the authoritative and unchangeable doctrines of Islam, but is merely locating them in the Middle Ages. To liberals such as Hanson, the Middle Ages are a handy symbol of darkness and irrationality and everything that is evil, just as fascism is a symbol of oppression and anti-democracy and everything that is evil. Fascism and the Middle Ages, the two favorite boogeymen of liberalism, are also Hanson’s. This is the intellectual level of his analysis of Islamic terrorism.
It is long since past time for Hanson to cease writing column after column in which he jerks himself and his readers into a state of adrenalized alarm and hostility toward a hopelessly ill-defined enemy. It is time for him spell out, in clear, non-emotional, conceptual speech, what is the nature of our enemy, and what we must do to defend ourselves from him.
Alas, those last two sentences were written in the same mood in which President Bush portentously declares that the Palestinians “must” show that they are viable peace partners, or in which limp-wristed British officials unctuously announce that moderate Muslims “must” show that they disapprove of Islamists. The “must” is an empty word, expressing a mere velleity for what ought to be, not a demand for what anyone in his right mind expects to be.