Why is it that when a Protestant converts to Buddhism, or a Greek Orthodox converts to Messianic Christianity (as Thelasinos, one of the San Bernadino victims did), we treat it as a choice actively made by a free agent, rather than a “radicalization”? When someone converts to fundamentalist Islam, he’s been “radicalized”–like a seduction or an infection. We don’t consider that he converted as a matter of faith. Fundamentalist Islam is not a cult–it’s an ancient religion–and the convert hasn’t been brainwashed any more than a convert to any other religion.
On December 8, I posted this paragraph on my Facebook page, hoping to stimulate some discussion. Oddly, while many people liked it, they had little to say about it. Yet I think that a discussion is crucial at this point, especially in light of what Donald Trump last said that caused the intelligentsia, including the media and the political class, to wet their pants yet again.
“Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” Mr. Trump said.
Is there anyone amongst the stone-throwing crowd who is arrogant enough to assure us that he understands the nature of the problem? For unless we get a handle on this we won’t be able to go about formulating a plan to deal with it.
I, for one, don’t accept the body-snatchers theory: that unsuspecting people are falling victim to an invasion of some sort of inchoate evil so alien that it is beyond all comprehension and we must therefore find an antidote. A way to break the spell, an exorcism of sorts.
We experienced evil on a much higher, much more organized scale in the last century. The atrocities performed by the Nazis far exceeded what ISIS has so far dreamed up. Beheadings, burning folks alive, enslaving them, pale in comparison with the abominable monstrosities committed during the Nazis’ dark reign.
Yet Nazism proved to be attractive to a broad range of people, including the young and the old, the amorphous volk and the illustrious intelligentsia. The renowned philosopher Martin Heidegger was amongst those who embraced this ideology wholeheartedly. Here’s an example of what he had to say:
A fierce battle must be fought [against the ideas of international scientific and scholarly progress] in the National Socialist spirit, and this spirit cannot be allowed to be suffocated by humanizing, Christian ideas that suppress its unconditionality.… Whoever does not survive the battle, lies where he falls. The new courage must accustom itself to steadfastness, for the battle… will continue for a long time.… A hard race with no thought of self must fight this battle, a race that lives from constant testing and that remains directed toward the goal to which it has committed itself.
Yet no one thought of the people who signed on to Hitler’s ideology as having been “radicalized.” Martin Heidegger was not a vulnerable loser who’d been seduced by Hitler’s rhetoric. The people who chose to join Hitler’s death cult did so of their own free will. To suggest otherwise would be to deny them moral culpability. And the same is true for those who join the various death cults now burgeoning in the Middle East.
The way to understand Islamism is to compare it to Nazism. It is growing in the same what that National Socialism grew despite our determination not to recognize this, and despite the Obama administration’s refusal to name it.
By the time Hitler came on the scene, the German people had become accustomed to living in a repressively authoritarian culture. Having been rendered submissive, they were easy marks. We must not allow this to happen here. As I recently argued in these pages, this program has already begun.
A public relations program touting the benefits of liberal democracy as a lifestyle isn’t going to defeat this growing threat. Islamism will be defeated as Nazism was defeated. By eradicating it with every means we have at our disposal. Our next president must be a man who is up to the job. A man who believes in America’s greatness and Exceptionalism, and will fight for its freedom.