1989, 2005, 2015.
These are the years in which the West was tested, the years in which the principles, standards and laws from which modern Western civilization uniquely emerged were challenged. These were the years when those charged and even sworn to defend these principles, standards and laws panicked, flinched and surrendered.
Our first test came in 1989 when, after the 1988 publication of “The Satanic Verses” by Salman Rushdie, the mullahs in Iran led by Ayatollah Khomeini issued their “fatwa,” or death sentence, against the celebrated author, a British citizen with a wide Western literary following, including in the U.S., for the Islamic crime of blasphemy.
Instead of Britain and the U.S. and other Western countries rejecting this illegal and barbaric application of Islamic law into our lands and demanding Iran withdraw its call for the assassination of British citizen Rushdie or face retribution, Britain accepted the fatwa on its own citizen, sent him into hiding and created a security bubble around him in Britain. In America. Wherever in the Free World he went.
This “Free World,” however, was no longer free. Not only was it subject to Islamic attack from within due to rampant immigration from the countries of the Islamic world – which the West then did nothing to check (quite the opposite) – it was weak, crippled at its core. This rot is what an accidental critic of Islam – for Rushdie was and is very much a man of the multiculti left – had exposed for all the world, including the Islamic world, too see. The rot remained.
In 2005, the West was given a second chance. Here was the opportunity to salvage its principles, stand up for them and thus save them from totalitarian Islam. This was the year a tiny newspaper in tiny Denmark chose to demonstrate that Denmark, proud and free, was not under Islamic blasphemy law but rather under Danish law, which, naturally, included free speech. To this end, the newspaper Jyllands Posten commissioned and published one dozen drawings and cartoons of Muhammad.
It is our tragedy, our shame and our condition that Western media, Western political leaders again panicked, flinched and surrendered. Like the Rushdie fatwa, international Islamic rage over political, satirical depictions and plain sketches of Muhammad – officially channeled by the Organization of Islamic Conference, later Organization of Islamic Cooperation – overwhelmed crumbling Western bulwarks. Throughout the West, the Islamic laws against blasphemy had been internalized to a point where Western norms were now compatible with Islamic norms – the conditions for dhimmitude. Fighting against such Islamic norms, as Geert Wilders famously does in the Netherlands, is also fighting against the indigenous establishments and elites.
Even worse (for it indicates an advanced stage of dhimmitude), the threat, the fear of Islamic violence/terror – which is perfectly lawful under Islamic law – has also become accepted as a normal part of Western life. This reveals the extent to which Westerners, even Americans, as Nonie Darwish has explained, are themselves assuming the role of “moderate Muslims” in an Islamic/Islamizing society. I have called such a progression “The Death of the Grown-Up,” but it’s really “American Betrayal.”
Thus, when in 2012 Barack Obama declared to the United Nations, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” – and no Big Media reported it – our dhimmitude was wallpaper. All we needed was another eruption to prove it.
Which takes us to 2015 – the year of the Garland, Texas, cartoon jihad-attack.
Once again, the Western reaction to an Islamic assault on free speech inside the West reveals the rot at the heart. But no longer is there any conflict at the heart. From the celebrated mainstream author in ’89, to the provincial newspaper in Denmark in ’05, to the cartoon contest sponsored by free speech activist/columnist Pamela Geller, we may trace the path of conflict between Islam and the West over the foundational basis of the West – free speech – as it has migrated outward through society’s concentric rings. The core and surrounding central rings, the locus of state, social and cultural power, are not only now detached from what is in fact our death struggle over free speech, they are hostile zones.
As continuous fire is directed at Geller from society’s hostile center, the fight continues at the edges. This tells us it will be a long war just to reclaim our own heart.