Dear Mr. Stuttaford,
In your NRO essay “Swiss, Cross” [subtitled “The point of that pointless minaret referendum”], you said
Muslims should be free to practice their religion in Switzerland, but Islam must be made to take its chances in the rough-and-tumble marketplace of ideologies essential to any open society, and to do so within democratic constraints.
Consider the phrase “Islam must be made to [play by our rules].” There are two basic errors at work here. One is the assumption that we know how to make—and are capable of making—Islam play by our rules. And two, this statement ignores that the real danger posed by Islam is not the physical danger of terrorism, but rather the danger of the total social/political/moral/religious system that is Islam becoming permanently established in the West, which would mean that Western society would either become Islamic or, at the very least, Balkanized. I trust you recognize that either of these possibilities is a horror that must be prevented at all costs.
Consider error # 1: It’s all well and good to say that the bad guys must stop being bad, but who’s gonna stop ‘em? To be specific, how do you know that Western authorities are capable of forcing the Islam that resides within our borders to play by our rules?
Governments, even the most tyrannical and efficient, can only force a conformity that is outward, and that is manifested most of the time. They can never force people to agree inwardly. And even to achieve this limited control over the Islam within us would require that Western authorities totally repudiate their liberal philosophy, according to which the state must only exercise physical authority over society, but not spiritual or intellectual authority. In order to make most Moslems stop behaving in a way that threatens us, the state would have to refute their scriptures, which command such behavior. (Or, at the very least, it is a widespread belief among Moslems that their scriptures command such.) In order actually to make Moslems play by our rules (rather than just make ourselves feel good for having tried), the state would therefore have to oppose Islam. This is serious business, rather different from just saying, abstractly, “They must be made to play fair.”
What you’re saying, boiled down to its essentials, is “The bad guys must stop being bad.” Yes, but what are we going to do when they don’t spontaneously reform themselves? Judging by your essay, what you will counsel us to do is redouble our efforts to be nice to them, while at the same time guarding only against their extremists, which would be to commit error # 2
Because the extremists are only a small part of the threat. The real threat of Islam is not the threat of being harmed physically, but rather the threat of an alien and therefore hostile nation being formed within our midst. And if Western Moslems are allowed to pursue their goals as long as they are pursued “peacefully,” then we will have no defense against this threat. To put it in crude terms, would you assent to the establishment of Sharia law over the United States (or a portion thereof) as long as it was established democratically?
Even if all of the extremists dropped dead tomorrow, Islam would still be a mortal threat to our way of life, because many Moslems (probably a majority) see themselves as loyal to their own way of life and people, not ours. And, in any case, the most dynamic Moslems, that is, those who determine the overall nature of the Islamic community, are overwhelmingly disloyal to our American order. Why should they be loyal to an order based either on the (to them) false religion of Christianity, or else a system (liberalism) based on the rejection of any god, including theirs?
It would therefore be far easier for us to do the obvious: Since this is our country, there’s no valid moral principle that requires us to allow anybody who wants to immigrate here. Rather than trying to reform Islam, or hoping that Moslems will spontaneously reform themselves, we should do what’s possible, and drastically limit Moslem immigration
Of course, what I’ve suggested here is considered to be wildly beyond the pale of legitimate discourse. But that’s only because the rules of public discourse are controlled by the insane worldview of the left. Sooner or later, we’ll have to face reality.