More on Peters’s unbelievable column; and a discussion of Western guilt

(See further down in this thread a discussion of how to respond to liberals who see our civilization as guilty.)

In the previous entry, I didn’t bring out sufficiently how extreme Ralph Peters’s column really is. He writes:

The most repugnant trend in the American shouting match that passes for a debate on the struggle with Islamist terrorism isn’t the irresponsible nonsense on the left—destructive though that is. The really ugly “domestic insurgency” is among right-wing extremists bent on discrediting honorable conservatism.

How? By insisting that Islam can never reform, that the violent conquest and subjugation of unbelievers is the faith’s primary agenda—and, when you read between the lines, that all Muslims are evil and subhuman.

Thus, for Peters, the people who are warning that Islam represents a danger to our society (e.g., writers such as Bat Ye’or, Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom, and Diana West) are themselves a greater danger to society (a “domestic insurgency,” he calls them) than the radical anti-American left which openly sides with our terrorist enemies.

And get this:

We are in a knife-fight to the death with fanatics who’ve perverted a great religion. But those who warn of Muslims in general are heirs of the creeps who once told us Jews can never be real Americans and JFK will serve the Vatican.

Isn’t it remarkable, that someone who writes this way has a regular column in the New York Post and is invited onto the ultra-respectable News Hour?

While this article has too many outrages to mention, among them is the absence of any quotes of the people he’s attacking. Another is that he doesn’t specify whom he is attacking. Peters and The New York Post consider it ok to go on at length denouncing unnamed and unspecified persons as the most depraved haters in the world, without a single fact backing up the charge.

Another thing that stands out is the way he more-or-less accurately describes what the Islam critics believe about Islam, but then, instead of considering whether what they’re saying is true, he immediately switches to the charge that the critics are vile haters.

Thus he writes:

[How are the Islam critics discrediting honorable conservatism?] By insisting that Islam can never reform, that the violent conquest and subjugation of unbelievers is the faith’s primary agenda—and, when you read between the lines, that all Muslims are evil and subhuman.

So, according to him, the critics are saying “that all Muslims are evil and subhuman.” But, he adds, you have to read between the lines in order to see this! Well, why doesn’t he give an example of such a text, and show how one can read this horrible statement between the lines? Peters feels no obligation to do that, because our liberated culture has no intellectual standards any more and allows everyone to say whatever he feels like saying, at least if he’s on the left.

Two paragraphs later Peters repeats the same pattern:

Web sites list no end of extracts from historical documents and Islamic jurisprudence “proving” that holy war against Christians and Jews is the alpha and omega of the Muslim faith. The message between the lines: Muslims are Untermenschen.

Once again, there is a more-or-less objective statement characterizing what Islam critics say about Islam, that “holy war against Christians and Jews is the alpha and omega of the Muslim faith.” It’s a characterization that could be accurate, partly accurate, or false. (In fact, while Islam critics say that jihad is central to Islam, I am not aware of any critic who has said that jihad is the entirety of Islam.) But Peters does not stop to consider the truth or falseness of the position he has just characterized. Instead, he says: “The message between the lines: Muslims are Untermenschen.” Again, there’s that “between the lines” hate! But between the lines of what? Peters hasn’t given us a single quote from any of the critical writers on Islam, yet he insists that between the lines of these unnamed, unquoted writers there is hate, the existence of which he apparently expects his readers to take on faith.

Peters does the same thing yet again. He writes:

But even for our inveterate haters, those whose personal disappointments have left them with a need to blame others (sounds like al Qaeda to me…)

What sounds like Al Qaeda to him? Well, people whose personal disappointments make them demonize Islam. But of course he has not demonstrated this speculation to be true about any Islam critics, none of whom he has even quoted. So how can it sound like anything?

In other words, Peters has fantasized what he thinks are the motives of certain unspecified, unquoted persons, and then he says that this fictional psychology, made up by himself, sounds like al Qaeda.

Now that’s high-level analysis for you.

In fact, since Peters keeps speculating about other people’s psychology, I have to say that his own psychology reminds me of the character in Bob Dylan’s “Talkin’ John Birch Society Paranoid Blues” (just change “Reds” into “Nazi bigots”):

Well, I was sittin’ home alone an’ started to sweat,
Figured they was in my T.V. set.
Peeked behind the picture frame,
Got a shock from my feet, right up in my brain.
Them Reds caused it!
I know they did … them hard-core ones.

* * *

JB writes:

“Thus, for Peters, the people who are warning that Islam represents a danger to our society (e.g., writers such as Bat Ye’or, Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom, and Diana West) are themselves a greater danger to society (a ‘domestic insurgency,’ he calls them) than the radical anti-American left which openly sides with our terrorist enemies.”

The people who are warning that Islam represents a danger are saying that there exists a large block of people and a religion that cannot fit into Peters’s and other liberal’s universal nation, making the universal nation not so universal. Worse, a single instance of a group not fitting into the universal invites the discovery of more misfit groups. Hence, Diana West and company are a danger to Peters’s universal society.

The anti-American left openly siding with our enemies is just another opinion among many in the universal nation and does not threaten the universal nation concept.

LA replies:

Great insight. People logically looking at the reality of Islam are more threatening to the liberal universalist order than extreme leftist anti-Americans.

Howard Sutherland writes:

Peters has always been invincibly ignorant about Islam. You may remember this one.

Ben writes:

I could comment on this all day but instead I’ll focus on one thing he said:

We’ve been here before, folks. Bigotry is bigotry—even when disguised as patriotism. And, invariably, the haters fantasizing about a merciless Crusade never bothered to serve in our military (Hey, guys, there’s still time to join. Lay your backsides on the line—and send your kids!).

This is a remarkable statement in that he would shun a “crusade” but has no problem sending other men’s sons to fight and die in a worthless war on terror that isn’t based on reality. Heaven forbid that we could even have a discussion about who our enemy is before sending any men or their sons to war. Oh no! We must not question Mr. Peters and his ilk. In other words, only send your son to die in a war that Mr. Peter’s says is worth fighting and worthy of “honorable conservatism!”

Also his comparisons of Islam and Christianity we’re ignorant beyond words. For the life of me, I’m trying to figure out why he doesn’t just convert to Islam then?

Ben continues:

Peters says:

“As for the books and Web sites listing all those passages encouraging violence against the infidel, well, we could fill entire libraries with bloody-minded texts from the Christian past. And as a believing Christian, I must acknowledge that there’s nothing in the Koran as merciless as God’s behavior in the Book of Joshua.”

“But even for our inveterate haters, those whose personal disappointments have left them with a need to blame others (sounds like al Qaeda to me … )

These statements tell us a lot about why he thinks the way he does about religion as a whole and why he wrote this unbelievably ridiculous article. Why would a man who says he is a believing Christian actually believe in it if he thought that Christianity itself was no better then Islam and in some cases worse?

The answer is that in Peters’s world Christianity has been “reformed” by liberalism and become modern and hence has been made legitimate. The people in our society who still believe in the Christianity that existed before 1960, in Peters’s mind are the same as Osama Bin Laden.

In other words, Peters doesn’t really believe in Christianity at all (meaning the actual written Word of God). What he believes in is the “reformed” version of Christianity that conforms with liberalism and makes liberalism a higher truth then God’s actual Word. In Peter’s mind all written books of religion are primitive and must be revised to liberal standards. Since the only real truth is the man-made religion of liberalism and since the “primitive” religions of Christianity and Judaism were created by flawed ancient men whose writings were corrected by modern man (liberalism), then Islam as well will fall under this same fate. It is inevitable because liberalism is the only real truth. This is why men like Peters will not and cannot acknowledge Islam as a religion that can’t be liberalized.

LA replies:

I think you’re right. Just as a liberal or neocon protects his universalized view of American culture by thinking that all cultures can be like ours, a secularized Christian protects his secularized Christianity by imagining that all religions can be secularized, like ours. If Islam cannot be secularized, then there is something about religion that escapes secularism, the truth of secularism breaks down, and we’re back in a medieval nightmare where religion matters.

This nightmare is due in part to the universalist demand that all cultures be part of the same global society and therefore be the same, period. If all cultures are and must be the same, then if Islam cannot be secularized, Christianity cannot be secularized either. But it’s not necessarily true. Christianity is conformable with reason, science, individuality, liberty, and self-government in ways that Islam is not.

In other words, it wouldn’t be threatening to us that Islam cannot be secularized, if we accepted the existence of a civilization that is different from ours, and, moreover, if we basically separated ourselves from it. But the liberal or neoconservative cannot accept this. For him there must be a single paradigm for the whole world. He MUST be able to secularize Islam, or his world picture breaks down.

And so we end up with a Ralph Peters who thinks that Al Qaeda does what it does out of “disappointment”—which, by the way, adds to my ever-growing list of non-Islam explanations for Islamic extremism. (Thanks to James N., below, for pointing this out.) And it’s a doozer. I mean, hopeless backwardness and poverty, humiliation and revenge, you could sort of imagine people committing mass murder and seeking to destroy a society over those things. But to think that Osama bin Laden launched a worldwide terrorist movement and was willing to live in a cave for ten years out of disappointment? Such are the notions adopted by a secular mind such as Peters’s, which cannot bear the reality of Islam.

James N. writes:

Peters says, “But even for our inveterate haters, those whose personal disappointments have left them with a need to blame others (sounds like al Qaeda to me … )”

The issue is not his amateur psychologizing of us. The issue this reveals is that he has a psychological explanation for bin Laden. Bin Laden is disappointed. Yeah, that’s it. Bin Laden is disappointed. Goodbye WTC. Goodbye Pentagon.

This constant mischaracterization of the enemy as someone who is moved to act by external, traumatic forces BROUGHT ABOUT BY PEOPLE LIKE US, which we could reverse or undo if only WE weren’t screwed up is loathsome, and is going to get a lot of us killed one day.

Mark P. writes:

I just finished reading the Ralph Peters article.

All I can say is…what a fool.

Doesn’t Ralph Peters understand the cost of being wrong? If the Islam critics are wrong about Islam, and their subsequent policies remove millions of actually innocent Muslims, then the cost of being wrong will fall on only this small minority of foreigners. If, however, Peters is wrong about Islam being a religion of peace, then the cost of being wrong will fall on American citizens. Is he really willing to gamble with our lives?

Why can’t these liberal fools see that the public’s general commitment to liberal principles will last only insofar as such principles do not threaten its life? Why can’t they see that the public will not commit suicide for “tolerance.”

In a situation where Muslims routinely threaten people, how long does Peters think his high-minded principles will last?

Jake F. writes:

It’s interesting to me that he’s pro-war. That makes him just like the Muslim enemy, saying “People who are not like me must be destroyed.”

“Like me,” in Peters’s case, means “liberals.”

Or perhaps the point could be sharpened: Both the Muslim enemy and Peters say, “People who are not of my religion must be destroyed.”

“My religion,” in Peters’s case, means “liberalism.”

After all, only the extremists who actually practice their religion—a non-liberal idea—are the ones who are the bad guys. The ones who pay no attention to putting precept into action are fine.

Van Wijk writes:

Firstly, the entire column is one big argumentum ad hominem from a man who is coming unhinged.

I did notice something about the article that I found heartening. Peters writes: “I’ve received no end of e-mails and letters seeking to “enlighten” me about the insidious nature of Islam.” I take this to mean that the movement for recognizing Islam for what it is gaining momentum. I have already seen several letters to the editor in my local paper that question whether “moderate Islam” in fact exists. Such letters were unheard of five years ago. I pray that Nick Griffin is correct when he says that this view will become dominant within another five years. If we can judge Peters by his tone and language, he sees the future as well as Griffin does.

Unfortunately, in the intervening years while we are still wearing liberal blinders, many more people will die. Thousands, hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions will have to be sacrificed on the altar of liberalism.

Also, Peters wrote: “As for the books and Web sites listing all those passages encouraging violence against the infidel, well, we could fill entire libraries with bloody-minded texts from the Christian past. And as a believing Christian, I must acknowledge that there’s nothing in the Koran as merciless as God’s behavior in the Book of Joshua.”

Equating Us with Them is, I would venture to say, the most used weapon in the liberal arsenal.

Talk of forced conversion, and the liberals scream “Inquisition!”

Talk of jihad, and they scream “Crusades!”

Bring up the fact that Moslem aggression came first, and they say that everyone is equal in having a violent and bloody past and that violence is wrong no matter who uses it.

You see where I’m going with this. Every single time I’ve pointed out the horrible things that Moslems do to people, ten liberals will throw up their hands and declare that we are just as bad. This is a problem that has been percolating in my brain for a good while. I was wondering if you could direct me to any articles or perhaps arguments of your own that effectively counter this underhanded move.

Note: the above question assumes that debating liberals is even possible in the logical sense, since a liberal by nature has no concrete virtues and can simply refuse to accept truth and rationalize evidence away.

LA replies:

I would say that the way to respond to the liberal argument is, first, to identity what it is really saying. Every time a liberal says, “We have committed such and such sins in our past, therefore we don’t have the right to judge Islam or take any actions against it,” what he is really saying, though he doesn’t put it in those words, is that we don’t have the right to defend and preserve ourselves. Though liberals make this kind of argument constantly, conservatives never identity what the liberals are really saying and put the liberals on the spot for saying it.

This Western guilt or white guilt is the root of anti-Westernism, which did not develop from the radical left (as David Horowitz believes), but from mainstream liberalism. Postwar mainstream liberalism told people that any kind of discrimination or assertion of power over weaker parties was Nazi-like evil. Since our history was replete with discrimination and assertions of power, we became guilty for our entire history and began to react in the way you’ve described. But the real meaning of this reaction is never brought to the surface and made explicit, namely that we are saying that we do not have the right to defend ourselves and preserve our existence, that in any encounter with the Other, we will put ourselves down and blame ourselves rather than take our own side.

So the way to confront this is to identify it, as I’ve just done; and second, to say that it is wrong and senseless to believe that because our society has done things in the past that we no longer approve of, therefore our society has no moral right to exist; especially given the fact that we have amply repented of those things. Therefore this paralyzing guilt is not based on any moral position, but is a form of collective suicide and is a horrible crime. For example, let’s say that my grandfather once did a wrong to a certain person, and now the grandson of that person is coming to my house to destroy it and kill me and my family. Is it moral to say, “I’m guilty because of my grandfather, therefore I’m going to let myself, my wife and my children be killed?” Yet that is what liberalism basically tells us. This, the real meaning of liberal guilt, needs to be brought to the surface.

If, as you suggest, you bring up the fact that Moslem aggression came before the Crusades, and the liberals say that “everyone is equal in having a violent and bloody past and that violence is wrong no matter who uses it,” you should point out that what they are saying is that there is no right of self-defense, no matter what is being done to us. That is simply nihilism. It is totally immoral and unacceptable. Put the liberal on the defensive for saying such an outrageous thing.

Say: “No one in all of history would have believed that the sins of my great grandfather destroy my right to use force to defend myself. Only insane liberalism says such a sick thing, which empowers evil men, and disempowers us. Only liberals say things like this.” Again, put the liberal on the defensive. Don’t accept his premises and then struggle against them. You need to set the premises of the discussion.

However, this argument may not work if people are still deeply convinced of not only our historic guilt but our present guilt, e.g., racial inequality, the backwardness of Muslims and so on. Then you need to be very specific and say there is nothing that whites can do to make blacks perform better (except of course for getting rid of the liberal relativism that has so harmed blacks). See my FP article “Guilty Whites.” Say there is nothing that the West can do to raise up Muslims. Show how Islamic societies are they way they are is for reasons that have nothing to do with us.

If the liberals resist this idea, point out the insanity of this view that everything happening to people on the other side of the world is somehow created by us, rather than by their own beliefs, culture, behavior. Show how the liberals are attributing to our society a godlike power, even as they are saying that our society is totally guilty. Show them that their liberal morality is really a form of bigoted hatred against our own society. Put them on the spot. Don’t accept their liberal premise for even a moment.

Also, liberals believe that non-Western societies have the right to exist. So challenge them on this point and say, “How come they have the right to exist, and we don’t? Does it really seem possible that third-world cultures are completely innocent, while the West is totally guilty? Does this sound to you like a rational picture of the world?”

Further, you could go deeper and point out that this liberal guilt would basically make all existence guilty. According to liberalism, a maple doesn’t have the moral right to exist, because by being a maple it is preferring mapleness over oakness. According to liberalism, no society could exist, because by being a society, it is saying it is different from other societies, favors itself over other societies, looks out for its own interests more than those of others societies, and uses power to protect and advance those interests, all which is discriminatory and therefore evil. Under liberalism, no individual separate society could exist. Only a global unaccountable government, like the EU or the UN, could exist, under which there would be no freedom at all. (See my article, ’Transparency’ Revealed: The U.N. Sees Us, We Can’t See Them.) Show them where their liberal premises really are heading. Ask them if that is what they want. Put them on the defensive.

LA contnues:

Also, van Wijk had mentioned Peters’s comment that “as a believing Christian, I must acknowledge that there’s nothing in the Koran as merciless as God’s behavior in the Book of Joshua,” and he wondered how to answer that kind of argument.

Here are excerpts from an unpublished manuscript, “Is Judaism Warlike and Murderous?”, that touches on this subject:

In the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, Israel is commanded by God to dispossess and exterminate the peoples who currently dwell in Canaan, because God has given this land to Israel. In the book of Joshua, the program of extermination is carried out in full, and is described in summary fashion: this city is wiped out, this people is wiped out, this people is wiped out, until the entire land has been cleared of the Canaanites, Hezekites, Perezites, and so on. But then there is an oddity in the Bible that too few people have noticed. In the book of the Bible that immediately follows Joshua, the book of Judges, a very different picture emerges. The Israelites are portrayed as living in Canaan among the Canaanites and other peoples, still having wars with them from time to time, and even being oppressed by them and fighting back, as in the story of Gideon. So, what happened to the systematic extermination described in Joshua? The logical inference is that it never happened. As Eric Voegelin argued, the events shown in Joshua are a paradigmatic portrayal of Israel’s obedience to God, expressed in its readiness to clear the promised land of other peoples and their pagan religions so that Israel could establish a “holy nation” under God. I would add that the totality of the extermination, which is obviously paradigmatic and not pragmatic, represents the biblical idea of leaving one’s old self completely behind and starting a new kind of life under God.

In any case, the command to eliminate the Canaanites, if it was operative, was only operative at the time of the Exodus and of the occupation of Canaan. It is purely historical. It plays no further role in the Hebrew Bible and the history of Israel. It is not an ongoing command on Jews. If such extermination did take place, it was something that was over and done with 3,200 years ago. And of course in the later parts of the Hebrew Bible, the Prophets, there is a universal vision of all nations coming together under God.

Another factor to remember is that the Talmud is the authoritative interpretation of the Torah, and, while there is anti-Gentile content in the Talmud, there is, as far as I know, nothing in the Talmud about waging war or killing people. It would be absurd, since the Talmud was the book of a powerless people who had no aspirations to power or to any restoration of the Holy Land short of the coming of the Messiah.

When we turn to the Koran an entirely different program and sensibility come into view. Numerous verses in the Koran command Muslims to wage holy war against infidels until, not just a single special land, but the whole world is subjected to Islam. Further, this is not something merely historical, but a continuing program, the operative rule for all Muslims at this moment and until Islam is triumphant. For example, when Osama bin Laden issued his fatwa to “kill the Jews and the Americans wherever you find them,” he was simply paraphrasing Allah’s command to “strike off the heads of the infidels, wherever you find them.” Nothing can remove or change these commands, as the Koran as the uncreated word of Allah and his final revelation. Muslims are at this moment actively following (and are required to follow) the command to engage in holy war or to support holy war, though this command is suspended temporarily as necessity dictates.

Another key difference between the Bible and the Koran is that in the Bible the program to eliminate the Canaanites is stated in impersonal terms. God wants the land to be occupied by the Israelites, for providential reasons of his own. There is no personal hostility or sadism expressed toward the Canaanites except for the general judgment that they are not God’s people and God wants the land for the Israelites. The focus of these verses is not on punishing the Canaanites, but on God’s great love and goodness to Israel in giving them this land flowing with milk and honey where they can live a holy life under his law. There is a symbolic quality about the war commands. It’s as though the Canaanites represent the older, sensual stage of humanity which must be superseded by the new spiritual principle represented by Israel, just as, in Exodus, the Pharoah represents the principle of human ego and power in resistance to God, while Moses represents obedience to God. I am not saying that the Torah is not historically true; I am saying that it lives on a transcendental plane of truth and cannot be reduced to “it’s just history,” or “it’s just legends,” or “it’s just symbolic.” It is beyond all such intellectual categories. The way to read the Bible, especially difficult passages such as God’s order to exterminate the Canaanites, is the way you would read any book, accepting that the author has something he intends to communicate, and trying to understand it the way the author intended it to be understood, not looking at it through our modern, liberal filter. And if you look at it that way, the primary meaning you get from the Torah and the book of Joshua is not cruelty and aggression toward human beings but the greatness of God and his love for Israel, and Moses’ and Joshua’s obedience to God.

In the Koran, by contrast, almost every page is filled with angry fierce invocations of the horrible death and eternal torture that infidels have coming to them. Yes, the Koran is about obedience to Allah and the realization that all things are done by the will of Allah, but this Islamic experience of the Islamic god is and remains forever inseparable from vengeful, gleeful jihad war to impose the maximum of suffering on the worthless, traitorous unbelievers. With perhaps a couple of very rare exceptions, there is nothing in the Bible remotely like, “The stones will say, ‘Oh, Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him,’” and hundreds of verses equally cruel and sadistic.

Chris L. writes:

While your advice to van Wijk is good [i.e., about how to counteract the liberal idea that Christianity has done bad things like Islam, and therefore Christian civilization does not have the right to defend itself from Islam], there is one argument that it does not cover. The liberal logic basically goes:

All religion comes from man.

Because all religion comes from man, his religious texts by default come from man.

Because religious texts come from man, religious texts really only say whatever its adherents say it says. In effect, no religion has inherent beliefs and any religion is infinitely malleable.

With no set beliefs, the only way to judge a religion is by the actions of its believers.

This leads to several conclusions:

1. Since most Muslims do not go around blowing up others, Islam is a peaceful religion regardless of what its religious texts say. The moderates will eventually save the day and the radicals are a small minority.

2. Religion really is not the primary cause of any action. Muslims are acting out due to a lack of freedom, humiliation, backwardness, poverty, etc. If we fix the non-religious primary causes, all will be fine.

3. Since Christians have committed acts of violence based on how they manipulated their religious beliefs, it is the same as what is happening with Islam today.

The liberal mindset seems incapable of believing that there are transcendent values and, at the same time, that man in his fallen state is incapable of fully following or comprehending those transcendent values. When you agree that a certain group of Christians in the past committed non-Christian acts but that is not what Christianity is, they cannot comprehend that separation. For the liberal, the religion is the actions of the believers. The religion is the religion of each individual, as separate and diverse as there are people.

It is such a foreign view to me that I have trouble believing anyone could hold to it and have trouble comprehending it.

LA replies:

I love your insight that for liberals, a religion is what the believers in that religion do, not anything that has some objective existence apart from the believers. Since Muslims have committed crimes, and Christians have committed crimes, Christianity is as criminal as Islam, and Christians have no right to defend themselves on some assumed basis that their civilization is virtuous and worthy of being preserved.

A similar analysis relates to views of the objectivity of morality as to the objectivity of religion. You write:

> The liberal mindset seems incapable of believing that there are transcendent values and, at the same time, that man in his fallen state is incapable of fully following or comprehending those transcendent values. When you agree that a certain group of Christians in the past committed non-Christian acts but that is not what Christianity is, they cannot comprehend that separation.

This attitude is well established in modern people. Since there is nothing higher than the self, there is no morality higher than man, and therefore (just as you said of religion), morality is what people do. Therefore, since morality is about pursuit of the good as distinguished from the bad, if any people have behaved badly at any time (or at least any people in our society, which for liberals is the only one that counts morally and can be judged), that means there is no such thing as morality. Morality is just a hypocritical lie used by some people to gain power over others.

Or rather traditional morality, having to do with right and wrong, is a lie. Morality is now redefined as liberal egalitarian morality, the criterion of which is no longer the traditional hierarchy of moral goods, but belief in the equal provision of human needs by the state and the equal treatment of all people. If you support the liberal program, you are moral, if you don’t, you are not. And a great advantage of this liberal morality is that your actual behavior has no effect on how moral you are, since, as long as you support the liberal program and all the correct liberal attitudes, your morality is assured.

But how does all this affect my answer to Van Wijk on how to respond to the liberals’ Western guilt trip? We need to say to the liberals something like this:

“The value of Christianity or Western civilization is not determined by the behavior of its individual members, nor by its corporate behavior in isolated historical instances, but by its central truths, doctrines, experiences, and practices; it also can be seen in the totality of the effects of these things on society over time. This objective substance of Christianity and Christian civilization is true and good in itself, and it is also the basis of our particular existence as a people. So we reject your claim that the sins that may have been committed by our society invalidate in any way its right to exist and defend itself.”

Kautilya, an Indian living in the West, writes:

Peters has now truly demonstrated that the neoconservatives are themselves totalitarian ideologues given to smearing ideological opponents at the first available opportunity. Rather than debate their opponents, they would prefer simply to shut them out and disgrace them by relying on liberal platitudes.

Its funny how the promoters of democracy are themselves the most totalitarian of ideologues. This is their version of freedom. Accept it or you can go to hell.

LA replies:

I demur somewhat at calling Peters a neoconservative. Yes, he supports the Bush doctrine as the neocons do, but his passions are liberal passions. The difference between neoconservatism and Peters’s liberalism may ultimately be a difference of tone rather than substance, but it still seems real to me

Ron L. writes:

If you define the U.S. as liberalism then Peters’s argument is correct. By defending the U.S. and the West in civilizational terms, we are undermining liberalism far more than the Islamists.

LA replies:
Yes, good point.

However, I think that Peters would feel that even the Islam critics who defend the West in liberal terms are undermining liberalism. Islam threatens the West equally, whether we define the West in civilizational terms (as I do) or in purely liberal terms (as Robert Spencer does—see his reply to the Al Qaeda’s invitation to him to convert to Islam). So the truth of the Islam critics’ claim about the Islamic threat to the West is true either way. And Peters calls Islam critics Nazis, even if, like Spencer, they define the West in liberal terms.

Peters can call us Islam critics bigots all he wants, because we threaten his radical liberalism. In reality, his radical liberalism leaves the West open to Islam which will destroy liberalism far more thoroughly then we would do, while we would defend the West from Islam and so save at least those parts of liberalism that are compatible with civilization.

But such distinctions are of course beyond Peters’s ken. As a radical liberal, he sees only two political alternatives: liberalism and Auschwitz. Since we Islam critics (whether neocon or tradcon) are non-liberal insofar as we say that a certain alien group is ineluctably unassimilable and dangerous to us, we are genocidal Nazis. But since Muslims are, as Peters sees it, moderates who can potentially secularize and become part of the modern world, they are liberals. Thus Muslims are good, and are welcome in our society, while Islam critics are evil, and must be crushed and expelled from our society.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 07, 2006 02:31 PM | Send

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