Of the many wrong lessons the Clinton presidency taught us, the cheap apology is one that continues to haunts us. The world became accustomed to America -- through our lip-quivering president -- apologizing reflexively for every offense, real or imagined. Apologies have since become expensive. Because the radical Islamists demand -- and we supply -- an endless stream of apologies for conduct that is either entirely justified or inoffensive, they are winning their campaign of intimidation. Like Hitler's Brownshirt "Sturm Abteilung," the Islamofascists seek political dominance by violence and intimidation. And we, like the Weimar Republic before us, are letting the fascists get away with it.
Some, such as Charles Krauthammer, find irony in those who inflict violence to prove Islam is a religion of peace. To some, there is humor to be mined from the irony. For the rest of us, it's among the few parts of this war we can fight personally. We must summon up outrage at fascists who have intimidated the president of the United States out of calling them what they manifestly are. President Bush (I recall only one speech, and only two uses of the term) called them Islamic fascists. Which happens to be an historically defined and precisely accurate term. The cacophony of complaints from phony allies such as the Saudis and Islamists here intimidated the president out of further use of this enormously useful political term..
Now the Pope has drawn death threats from the "religion of peace" because of his reference to a 14th-century Byzantine emperor's statement about Islam being spread by the sword. The Pope has been driven to express regret (without technically apologizing) and is meeting today with Islamic representatives to calm them. He will fail to mollify them one way or the other because nothing can. Even if he accedes to their demands they will pronounce themselves unsatisfied and ask him to do more to prove he respects them more than they respect him. If my mother's mother were still alive, I've no doubt she'd have been penning a letter to the pontiff. In her rounded script, she would have written in the kindest terms she knew, "Dear Pope Benedict: Enough with the apologies already!" And she'd have been more correct than the president or the pontiff.
The Islamic Brownshirts are serving the same two purposes that Hitler's did. First, to intimidate people and separate them from their freedom to speak out against an ideology that aims to enslave them. Second, to legitimate the use of violence to punish anyone with whom they disagree. Someone who calls himself a "cleric" -- be it Moqtada al-Sadr or some radical imam in America -- has no more right to circumscribe our public debate or the Pope's speeches than did Hitler. Under the First Amendment, free speech still lives. In too many nations, including most of Old Europe, the Islamic Brownshirts have already killed it.
Italy and France surrendered preemptively. Spain fell when the Madrid train bombings caused its government to be defeated in an election held a day later. Britain, as Melanie Phillips has documented brilliantly in Londonistan, gave up free speech eagerly in favor of multiculturalism. The country that gave us the Magna Carta is now a place in which a street preacher can be fined about $500 for parading with a sign that says, "Stop immorality. Stop homosexuality. Stop lesbianism," but Muslim thug Abu Izzadeen (the former Trevor Brooks) is not spoken to rudely when he incites murder. When France fell in June 1940 Churchill said, "What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin." Europe has surrendered to the Islamic Brownshirts. Their battle is over. Ours has begun.
WE ARE BEING TERRORIZED OUT of our rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The Islamic Brownshirts are working feverishly to suppress any criticism of themselves and their ideology. Because the president has (for the moment, at least) fled this battlefield, we must fight on our own. To begin, we have to recognize, and speak out on, four ground truths.
First, there is an enormous advantage America has over the nations in the grip of radical Islam. That advantage is enshrined in the Constitution's Bill of Rights, the freedoms stated in it inherently incompatible with radical Islam. Every time we apologize for an act such as labeling the Islamofascists correctly, we lose a bit of that freedom. Islamic fascists are just that, and we should remind the world of it at every opportunity. Just like those in Germany and conquered Europe who every night slept fitfully fearing the Gestapo's knock on the door, the people who live under radical Islam live in constant fear. The oppressed are not our enemy: the oppressors are.
Second, as Robert Spencer's Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades documents thoroughly -- quoting at length from the hadith (sayings of Muhammad that accompany the Koran) -- radical Islamists can offer only three choices to non-believers: convert to Islam, pay the poll-tax on non-Muslims and live under Islamic law, or war. As Spencer wrote, "Always remember, 'peaceful coexistence as equals in a pluralistic society' isn't one of the choices." The only answer to this is to Americanize the words of Australian Treasurer Peter Costello, who said in an August 2005 interview:
"[T]his is a country, which is founded on a democracy. According to our Constitution, we have a secular state. Our laws are made by the Australian Parliament. If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you. This is not the kind of country where you would feel comfortable if you were opposed to democracy, parliamentary law, independent courts and so I would say to people who don't feel comfortable with those values there might be other countries where they'd feel more comfortable with their own values or beliefs."
So it must be here. Anyone who wants to embrace our Constitution and renounce other law, who wants to be a participant in our democracy and is not hostile to the freedoms we enjoy, is welcome. Others are not.
Third, America began with a Declaration of Independence that was written, in part, because of our "decent respect to the opinions of mankind." But decent respect does not mean that we are ruled by others' opinions or law. And when we look at what is happening in England and Europe, we know we cannot accept that result and must summon our resolve to fight -- by words and deeds -- its achievement here.
Most importantly, the reigning emotions among radical Islamists are paranoia and insecurity. They think that anyone who utters the slightest criticism of them, their religion or their societies must be punished violently. The fourth ground truth is that these emotions are their problem, not ours. We must use them to our advantage.
The weapon provided by the radicals' fear and insecurity should be used incessantly. Scorn, contempt, shame and disrespect are what we should heap upon them. Every time we denounce a terrorist, the denunciation should include every single person, group and government that shares his beliefs. Civilization owes no apologies to Islamic fascists. Let us hear no more of them.
TAS contributing editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery, 2004) and, with Edward Timperlake, Showdown: Why China Wants War With the United States (Regnery, May 2006 -- click here).