The Little Wicked Wicket GateDuring the weeks following the events of September 11th, 2001, the lines of the following poem by Edwin Muir ran repeatedly through my mind:
All through that summer at ease we lay,
And daily from the turret wall
We watched the mowers in the hay
And the enemy half a mile away --
They seemed no threat to us at all.
For what, we thought, had we to fear
With our arms and provender, load on load,
Our towering battlements, tier on tier,
And friendly allies drawing near
On every leafy summer road?
Our gates were strong, our walls were thick,
So smooth and high, no man could win
A foothold there, no clever trick
Could take us, have us dead or quick.
Only a bird could have got in.
What could they offer us for bait?
Our captain was brave and we were true...
There was a little private gate,
A little wicked wicket gate.
The wizened warder let them through.
Oh then our maze of tunneled stone
Grew thin and treacherous as air.
The cause was lost without a groan,
The famous citadel overthrown,
And all its secret galleries bare.
How can this shameful tale be told?
I will maintain until my death
We could do nothing, being sold;
Our only enemy was gold,
And we had no arms to fight it with.
We had indeed been at ease that summer, with our arms and provender (and aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines) protecting us from our enemies, the ones who seemed no threat to us at all. But a bird did get in, and the famous citadel was overthrown...
To make the analogy complete, what would stand in for our only enemy, gold? The easy answer is "black gold"; that is, we allowed our security to breached by the Visa Express program -- arranged for the benefit of Saudi Arabia -- that admitted a number of the 9/11 hijackers into the United States. However, there were larger issues at work, ones that made us vulnerable in 2001 and keep us vulnerable today.
An aggressive spiritual force is working its way through American culture, one which might be called Orthodox Secularism. Though it lacks any belief in a Supreme Being, it otherwise has all the characteristics of a religion, and it is regnant in academia, the media, and large swathes of the "permanent government". It manifests itself in well-known ways, such as the demand for the removal of religious symbols from the public square, or the promotion of abortion-on-demand, but there are other, more subtle, ways in which it affects the conduct of our defense against the Great Islamic Jihad.
Three general areas of this new religion are worth pursuing:
1. The Theology of DoubtOrthodox Secularism requires that adherents subscribe to radical doubt. We must doubt that our culture is superior to any other, that there are any moral absolutes, that the free market is a way to create wealth, etc. Not all propositions are open to doubt -- otherwise the system would de-construct itself, like Postmodernism -- but the major cultural pillars of the West are all questioned.
This is a legacy of Communism, a credit to the proficiency of the KGB. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union poured enormous clandestine amounts of money into the left-leaning and radical organizations of the West, in addition to feeding them propaganda and disinformation designed to discredit the principles and institutions of the Free World. Communism is gone, but its legacy lives on in our weakened institutions, which continue to peddle the same old nihilistic themes.
This makes the West constitutionally reluctant to take on our Islamofascist enemies, to name them for what they are and counter them in the realm of ideas.
2. Race Trumps EverythingAs many politicians (especially Republican ones) know, it is impossible to say certain things in public about race. Statements are constrained by the shibboleths of the age of Orthodox Secularism, with many thoughts on the subject now considered doubleplus ungood, at least for white people.
Thus, the fact that virtually all acts of terror perpetrated since the Twin Towers fell were committed by Muslims, most of them from the Middle East and South Asia, is well-known to just about everybody. But if mentioned publicly it immediately throws the speaker open to charges of racism, and it cannot under any circumstances be used to track down terrorists or to prevent another horrific attack.
If one steps back from the scene to regard the situation, it can hardly be viewed as anything short of mass insanity.
Race trumps border security, preventing us from stanching the flow of illegal immigrants into this country, a flow which may well conceal al Qaeda members. Race trumps any attempt to track the terrorists down once they are in the United States. Race trumps airport screening, leaving us with only random searches; in other words, avoiding giving offense to people with our "racism" is more important than preventing the deaths of hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of innocent people.
The internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War is used as the model of "racist" behavior to avoid. But, as Michelle Malkin has demonstrated, the internment decision was a reasonable one to make in wartime, given the fact that a large network of Japanese spies was known to be in place in the United States. It is only with the luxury of hindsight, and through the lens of political correctness, that this can be seen as racism.
It is racism if we seek to profile potential terrorists by their nationality or appearance. It is racism if we draw attention to their repugnant religious beliefs. It is racist to expect immigrants to assimilate to American culture and adopt American values. Any attempt to combat the Islamofascists within our own society simply reveals our inherent racism.
3. Toxic ToleranceA liberal democratic country like ours is an open society, which requires that its citizens be tolerant of those who differ in their appearance and customs. Tolerance becomes toxic when it demands an acceptance of behaviors which run counter to the basic rules of liberal democracy and undermine its very existence.
If radical Islam demands our tolerance and respect, then we must abide by its tenets and institute an intolerant and illiberal polity. In the name of multiculturalism, Canada has officially sanctioned sharia. But, when applied, sharia will impose legal principles, such as restrictions on the weight of women's testimony, which violate Canada's own legal principles and constitutional norms. Problems like this cannot be wished away in an attempt at multicultural harmony; the tolerance of intolerant cultural institutions generates irreconcilable conflicts.
If the West were not defending itself against the Great Islamic Jihad, such issues might remain interesting intellectual puzzles, suitable for reasoned academic debate. But in the context of a post-9/11 world, they are a recipe for cultural suicide.
Throw open the doors! Welcome all who wish to enter, even those who strive to slit our throats!
Orthodox Secularism is a spiritual force, drawing on the same wellsprings as religion but without acknowledging religion. This suggests the question: what is the religious analogue to the collective doubt, self-hatred, and impulse to self-destruction as outlined above?
One word: Sin.
Orthodox Secularism does not include evil in its theological structure, and it does not admit the existence of sin. But our human nature cannot be denied, and human beings are inherently aware of their sinfulness, consciously or not. Environmentalists rely on this: in their dogma, humans are inherently destructive of the environment, and sin against Mother Nature.
The feeling of sinfulness can lead a religious person to confession and absolution, or it can be projected onto others. Since Secularism denies sin, only the latter course is open -- sins are committed by corporations, Republicans, America, the West, or even humanity itself.
This unconscious and unacknowledged sense of sinfulness generates the tenets of Orthodox Secularism and breeds a reluctance to act against the evil forces which threaten us. It is the wizened warder who has let them through.
A larger question remains: can this battle against the enemy within be fought without a religious regeneration in our own culture? Does liberal humanism provide enough spiritual might to counter the Great Islamic Jihad?
If not, then we have no arms to fight it with.