by Bruce s. Thornton
Those of us who are hard on Europeans for their cringing appeasement of Muslim aggression need to acknowledge and support the brave few who speak out against it. The late Oriana Fallaci challenged her fellow Europeans to recognize the threat that unassimilated Muslim immigrants and an illiberal Islamic doctrine posed to Western civilization. Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician under indictment simply for publicizing the truth about Islam’s theology of violence, is another defender of the West’s unique goods of political freedom and individual rights. We can add to this list Austrian member of parliament Ewald Stadler, whose recent tongue-lashing of the Turkish ambassador exposed the hypocrisy and double standards that too many Westerners accept in the face of Muslim intolerance and violence.
Stadler was responding to an interview with the ambassador in which he complained about Austria’s failure to do more to integrate its Muslim immigrants, and put the blame on Austrians for being intolerant, xenophobic, and illiberal –– traits, of course, that permeate Islamic cultures. In response to this sermon on tolerance, Stadler brought up the murder in Turkey of Archbishop Luigi Padovese, who was stabbed eight times and then beheaded in the street by a young Muslim shouting “allahu akhbar.” When the ambassador sneered “What’s with the drama,” Stadler excoriated him, calling his “devotion to religious freedom pure hypocrisy,” and making the point obvious to anybody paying attention for the last decade: “I can’t imagine the uproar if someone touched a Muslim imam or some other religiously esteemed Muslim.”
On the point of integration and its failure, Stadler pointed out the hypocrisy of the ambassador whining about Austria’s failure to integrate Turks while ex-Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan travels around Europe calling assimilation a “crime against Turkishness” –– the sort of statement, as Stadler points out, that if said in Turkey against Turkish policies would lead to criminal prosecution.
Stadler, however, links this double standard to Europe’s “romantics of tolerance,” who indulge such “one-way-street tolerance babble.” This double standard is so pervasive in the West that it is now an unthinking reflex, devoid of historical knowledge or even logic.
Westerners are supposed to show respect and tolerance for Muslims and Islam, all the while that Muslims do not show the same respect to Christians and Jews. The brutal murder of priests and the religious in Muslim lands, the desecration of churches and shrines, the persecution of Christians so extensive that they are disappearing from regions which were their homelands for centuries –– none of this is deemed newsworthy in Western mainstream media. Instead the very same media publicize and decry the most trivial of offenses against Islam or Mohammed, and rationalize and excuse the violence that typically follows such incidents. Meanwhile, as churches and Christians are becoming extinct in the Middle East, mosques are springing up all over Europe, many of them fonts of jihadist preaching and recruiting.
The same appeasing double standard empowers our acceptance of Orwellian history as an excuse for Muslim violence. Thus the West is supposed to feel guilty and obsess over its alleged imperialistic and colonial crimes against Islam, all the while that the longer chronicle of Islamic violence, conquest, raids, kidnapping, and occupation directed at Europe is forgotten.
Nowhere is this selective history more obvious and dangerous for our interests than in the role Jerusalem has taken on as the emblem of Western oppression of Islam through its neo-colonial proxy Israel. The holy city of Judaism, attested as such in history and archeology for three millennia, was seized by conquest in 638 A.D. by Muslims and occupied by them until 1967, when the Israelis liberated Jerusalem in a defensive war. Yet as good Westerners respectful of religious freedom, the Israelis left untouched the Islamic mosques constructed on the site of the Temple, and they allow Muslims to control and manage the most holy site in Judaism, free to worship in the mosque while they allow their children to throw stones on the Jews who come to worship at the few scraps of the temple wall, all that is left to them of their holiest site.
But this forbearance and tolerance cut no ice with a religion that believes, as the Koran has it, that Muslims are “the best of nations raised for (the benefit) of men,” and that deems the Jews’ possession of their own spiritual homeland an abomination justifying terrorist violence. Even more despicable, the countries of the West go along with this canard. They decry the “illegal occupation” of Jerusalem and Judea and Galilee, refuse to put their embassies in the capital of Israel, and continually demand more and more Israeli concessions to a people who have made it clear that their conquest of Jerusalem is legitimate, and so it is Israelis, not they, who are the interlopers in the Jews’ historical homeland, and violence against innocents is justified to undo a history deemed to violate Allah’s will.
Worse yet, the long history of Muslim destruction of Jewish temples and Christian churches is ignored or considered irrelevant. Consider just one example of thousands, the Muslim desecration of Christian churches during the sack of Constantinople, including Hagia Sophia, along with St. Peter’s Christendom’s most important church. On May 29, 1453, John Julius Norwich writes, “by noon the streets were running red with blood. Houses were ransacked, women and children raped or impaled, churches razed, icons wrenched from their golden frames, books ripped from their silver bindings. . . . In the church of St Saviour in Chora the mosaics and frescoes were miraculously spared, but the Empire’s holiest icon, the Virgin Hodegetria, said to have been painted by St. Luke himself, was hacked into four pieces and destroyed.
The most hideous scenes of all, however, were enacted in the church of the Holy Wisdom [Hagia Sophia]. Matins were already in progress when the berserk conquerors were heard approaching. Immediately the great bronze doors were closed; but the Turks soon smashed their way in. The poorer and more unattractive of the congregation were massacred on the spot; the remainder were lashed together and led off to the Turkish camps, for their captors to do with as they liked. As for the officiating priests, they continued with the Mass as long as they could before being killed at the high altar.”
For Western apologists and appeasers, however, this history is irrelevant, at the same time they accept their own putative crimes against Islam as justifications for Muslim violence. The 150 years of European presence in the Middle East — a region, remember, Hellenic, Roman, Hebrew, and Christian for millennia before the Islamic conquests — is the original historical sin of the West that today excuses jihadist terrorism and violence. At the same time, the centuries of Muslim occupation of Spain, Sicily, the Balkans, and Greece — and the continuing occupation of Asia Minor, the heartland of the Hellenic and Christian Byzantine Empire now known as Turkey — are apparently legitimate. I suppose there is some statute of limitations on conquest and occupation, so that the conquests of Islam are legitimized by time, while those of the West can never be.
We know why many in the West indulge in “one-way-street tolerance babble.” A spurious tolerance is merely the reflex of the spiritually exhausted who stand for anything because they stand for nothing. Christianity is either dead for many in the West, or has degenerated into a feel-good therapeutic cult whose prime directive is cultivating self-esteem and being nice to others.
Fundamentalist secularization has created John Lennon’s suicidal utopia:nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too. Unfortunately, there is a religion that believes there is plenty to kill and die for, and its adherents view our “tolerance” and “love of diversity” as weakness and fear, and our hatred for our own culture and indulgence of those who despise it as testimony not to our sophisticated cosmopolitanism, but to our inferiority and submission. At least there are some, even in Europe, willing to speak the truth about this craven appeasement.
©2010 Bruce S. Thornton