Why the West Loves Lying to Itself About Islam
FrontPage Magazine 12 July 2012
By Daniel Greenfield
Say that you get a tempting offer from a Nigerian prince and decide to invest some money in helping him transfer his vast fortune from Burkina Faso or Dubai over to the bank across the street. The seemingly simple task of bringing over the 18 million dollars left to him by his father hits some snags which require you to put in more and more of your own money.
Eventually you have invested more than you ever would have ever done up front, just trying to protect the sunk cost, the money that you already sank into Prince Hussein Ngobo’s scheme. And to protect your self-esteem, you must go on believing that, no matter what Prince Ngobo does, he is credible and sincere. Any failings in the interaction must be your fault. Anyone who tells you otherwise must be a Ngobophobe.
Now imagine that Prince Ngobo’s real name is Islam.
That is where Western elites find themselves now. They invested heavily in the illusion of a compatible Islamic civilization. Those investments, whether in Islamic immigration or Islamic democracy or peace with Islam have turned toxic, but dropping those investments is as out of the question as writing off Prince Ngobo as a con artist and walking away feeling like a fool. Western elites, who fancy themselves more intelligent and more enlightened than the wise men and prophets of every religion, and who base their entire right to rule on that intelligence and enlightenment, are not in the habit of admitting that they are fools.
The Arab Springers who predicted that the Muslim uprisings would bring a new age of secularism, freedom and an end to the violence between Islam and the West are busy writing up new checks. Thomas Friedman is penning essays explaining why the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood will mean regional stability and peace with Israel (and if it doesn’t, it will be our fault).
It’s not insanity; it’s the term that rhymes with a certain river in Egypt. The Brotherhood’s victory discredits the Arab Spring, which discredits the bid for Arab Democracy, which discredits the compatibility of Islam and the folks on Fifth Avenue. Follow the river back along its course and suddenly the Clash of Civilizations becomes an undeniable fact. It’s easier to give up and let the river of denial carry you further along until, five years from now, you find yourself explaining why Al-Qaeda ruling Libya is actually a good thing for everyone.
The Arab Spring, the Palestinian Peace Process and every similar bid to transform the region presumed that disempowerment was the cause of Muslim violence and that, conversely, empowerment was the solution. Give the poor dears some weapons, a country, a ballot box, free and open elections, and they’ll be less likely to blow themselves up while seeking 72 virgins on the downtown express. Instead, empowering people who were violent while disempowered only made them more violent. Some of the best minds in two hemispheres are engaged in seeking a solution to this paradox, which isn’t a paradox at all, but rather a straight-line projection.
If Abdul is beheading people when all he has to work with is a sword, then, if you give him a gun, he will start shooting them instead. If he’s blowing up buses when he only has a terrorist group, he will blow up countries when he has a country. Empowering Abdul does not diminish his grievances, because his grievances are a function of his capacity for violence. Increasing his capacity will increase his grievances until the entire world is on the wrong end of his empowerment scimitar.
The liberal projection that "Abdul + Power + Money + Bigger Guns = Peace” made as much sense as Prince Ngobo’s story about his transfer fees being cursed by witches, but, as the song goes, "You gotta have faith.” Some of the things that we have faith in are bigger than us and some are just us. Those who put their faith in Prince Ngobo and in the benign nature of Islam are really putting their faith in their own instincts, trusting that they are right, even while looking into the eye of the wrongness.
The sunk cost of the free world into the illusion that Islam is benign, that it is a positive influence and that it can be coexisted with is enormous. Even the dollar, euro and shekel costs make the wildest frauds seem tame.
The mechanism of denial is that sunk cost. That faith which our political, cultural and academic superiors have in themselves—in their probity, their insight and their rational tools of scientific governance. Muslims dare not question Islam because they fear Allah. Leftists dare not question Islam because they fear being fools. If they were completely wrong about Islam, then what else were they also wrong about? Pull at one thread and the whole dreamcoat dissolves, leaving behind a very naked emperor.
The longer the fraud goes on, the more impossible it is for them to admit that they were wrong. What could have been tossed out after a year is an article of faith after twenty and undeniable after forty. To admit that you made a mistake right away is bearable, but to admit that your policy for generations has been complete moon-baked lunacy is inconceivable.
Most insidiously, the left likes the imaginary world that it has created. The multicultural utopia with jolly Pakistanis adding spice to London, Saudis putting up little mosques on the Canadian prairie and sassy Shiites bringing diversity to Dearborn, isn’t just propaganda—it’s the imaginary world that they want to live in.
The illusion of Islam has, like the banking system, become too big to fail. It cannot fail because it would take too much else down with it, leaving behind a harder world. No matter how unintegrated Muslims in Europe are, the Eurocrats must insist that, aside from a few exploding bumps in the road, everything is going according to plan. Any day now a lesbian Imam will be preaching the virtues of secularism in Finsbury Park. It must be that way because the alternative is unthinkable.
In Israel, the Two-State Solution must still be the solution, because the alternative is eternal conflict. In the rest of the region, Arab Democracy must be viable, because otherwise there is nothing left but despair over an irredeemable barbarism.
We gotta have faith, not in any deity, including the chief deity of Islam, but in our leaders. Muslims believe that Allah is infallible, while we are expected to believe that the politicians and professors, the diplomats and journalists, are. That they are right, even when the continuing violence proves that they are wrong.
The people who shape our half of the world have fallen for the Nigerian Prince scam of Islam and when the check from Lagos doesn’t clear, when the bombs go off, the cars burn, the children are murdered in schools and the rockets fly, then they don’t blame Prince Hussein Ngobo, the car bombers, terrorists and throatslitters—they blame us for not believing in it too.