Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pipes Inspects the Leaks

Daniel Pipes has been trying to explain the Islamist threat for a long time. He works too hard, but I guess he thinks the subject is important. His latest attempt, before shipping off for a working vacation in Malibu is another in his series of speaking-slowly-so-we-will-understand wake-up calls. He wants us to know that radical Islamism is not the passing fancy of a couple of guys sitting around a hookah. We should not judge the threat with referrence to our obvious military superiority. We should not underestimate the enemy.

He points out that there are a few critical weaknesses in Western Culture that could give them the leverage to defeat us, to our belated surprise. The three weakness that he chooses to name are 1) pacifism, 2) self-hatred, and 3) complacency. Let me name some more: 4) isolationism, 5) compassion, 6) tolerance, and 7) self-involvement.

We children of the Enlightenment do not honor that which we have. We do not realize our virtues and we do not recognize their absense. We are fish swimming in the gifts of Western thought, so oblivious that we don't even take these blessings for granted. We just don't know they're there.

Those who do not share these gifts are envious, but they would rather die than emulate us. And yet we are constantly trying to find ways to reason with them, fully expecting sense to prevail, like Theo van Gogh, perhaps, who reportedly went down asking, "Can't we talk about this?"

1/20/2007 1:18 AM

More on Daniel Pipes.


At Saturday, January 20, 2007 10:00:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

It's related to your number 5, but I'd specifically call out the myth of inherent human dignity.

At Saturday, January 20, 2007 10:43:00 PM, Blogger mal said...

We assume that everyone is equally "reasonable". WRONG. They are what they have been trained to be and in the case of radical Islam, they have been trained in Facism

At Wednesday, January 24, 2007 5:38:00 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...


The myth of human dignity. I understand that you question whether it has ever been in force. There are certainly lapses in our society in the way we treat people. Part of the problem is that circumstances often take away the possibility. Think about Katrina. Another part is that people who gain power are either rotten to begin with or corrupted by that power, or perhaps they are actively working against a specific subgroup of people. The curse of political life is that scum floats.

I believe, however, that human dignity is a legitimate goal. We have gained a lot by trying to be tolerant and inclusive. I have certainly received, in my life, a lot of compassion from those I didn't know and people did what they could to protect me when I was vulnerable. Most of us will do the same for others, and I believe that it is a cornerstone of Western prescriptive philosophy.

Normally, this should be seen as a great strength, but in an existential contest with those who see us as the unacceptable Other, it becomes a weakness. You really need to identify the portion of the enemy which is irreconcilable with the West, no self-deception allowed, and coldly analyze what must be done to empower the potential forces of moderation and reason, and to eviscerate the true body of the hatred. These judgments have to be made using unemotional metrics, giving ground neither to compassion nor hatred. Enemies can become friends. But some enemies cannot.

At Wednesday, January 24, 2007 5:46:00 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...


We all have been trained. I have been trained in racism, sexism and religious intolerance, but I have chosen otherwise. The entire South has chosen otherwise. The Civil Rights struggle in the US was and continues to be an amazing accomplishment. It shows that training and bias can be superceded with enough ingenuity and compassion -- and an occasional judicious show of implacable force.

But first you do have to recognize the enemy.


Post a Comment

<< Home