Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Mark Steyn On The Madness
And that's where the idiots' mantra of engagement and dialogue falls apart: the enemy would simply saw their heads off and the engagement and dialogue would be ferme, much as the rooftop windchimers in Independence Day met their self-congratulatory end in a ruthlessly-applied inferno.
Do you remember that little difficulty a few months back over the Pope’s indelicate quotation of Manuel II? Many Muslims were very upset about his speech (or his speech as reported on the BBC et al), so they protested outside Westminster Cathedral in London demanding “capital punishment” for the Pope, and they issued a fatwa in Pakistan calling on Muslims to kill His Holiness, and they firebombed a Greek Orthodox Church and an Anglican Church in Nablus, and they murdered a nun in Somalia and a couple of Christians in Iraq. As Tasnim Aslam of the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad helpfully clarified, “Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence.” So don’t say we’re violent or we’ll kill you. As I wrote in National Review at the time, quod erat demonstrandum.
But that’s a debating society line. Islam isn’t interested in winning the debate, it’s interested in winning the real fight – the clash of civilizations, the war, society, culture, the whole magilla. That’s why it doesn’t care about the inherent contradictions of the argument: in the Middle East early in 2002, I lost count of the number of Muslims I met who believed simultaneously (a) that 9/11 was pulled off by the Mossad and (b) that it was a great victory for Islam. Likewise, it’s no stretch to feel affronted at the implication that you’re violently irrational and to threaten to murder anyone who says so. Western societies value logic because we value talk, and talks, and talking, on and on and on: that’s pretty much all we do, to the point where, faced with any challenge from Darfur to the Iranian nuclear program, our objective is to reduce the issue to just something else to talk about interminably. But, if you don’t prize debate and you merely want to win, getting hung up on logic is only going to get in your way. Take the most devastating rapier wit you know – Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward – and put him on a late-night subway train up against a psycho with a baseball bat. The withering putdown, the devastating aphorism will avail him nought.
The quality of your argument is only important if you want to win by persuasion. But it’s irrelevant if you want to win by intimidation.
I agree with Mark Steyn. I guess that makes me an Arab-hater, too, at least to those bending toward a self-congratulatory end in a ruthlessly-applied inferno.