Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: The war Bush is losing
Posted on 08/22/2002 7:40:34 AM PDT by Pokey78
Mark Steyn on Americas abject surrender to multi-cultural madness
The other day, the National Education Association i.e., the teachers union announced their plans for the anniversary of 11 September: an attractive series of lessons and projects augmented by public TV documentaries and sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. From the companys point of view, the sponsorship makes perfect sense: many of us have already gone out and bought a couple of extra crates of Johnsons Baby Lotion, Extra-Strength Tylenol, etc., to deal with the blinding headaches and intense rectal irritation brought on merely by reading the NEAs advance literature. And, funnily enough, once youve chugged down a few dozen pills and the soothing Johnson & Johnson unguents are caressing ones pores, the peculiar emphases of the unions 9/11 curriculum seem to pass through painlessly.
The NEA warms up with a little light non-judgmentalism by advising teachers not to suggest any group is responsible for the, ah, tragic events. Just because Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda boasted that they did it is no reason to jump to conclusions. Blaming is especially difficult in terrorist situations because someone is at fault. In this country, we still believe that all people are innocent until solid, reliable evidence from our legal authorities proves otherwise which presumably means we should wait till the trial and, given that whats left of Osama is currently doing a good impression of a few specks of Johnsons Baby Powder, thats likely to be a long time coming.
Instead, the NEA thinks children should explore the problems inherent in assigning blame to populations or nations of people by looking at contemporary examples of ethnic conflict, discrimination, and stereotyping at home and abroad.
And by that you mean ?
Internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor and the backlash against Arab Americans during the Gulf war are obvious examples.
Not that obvious: for one thing, the backlash against Arab Americans during the Gulf war is entirely mythical. But you get the gist. Dont blame anyone. But, if you have to, blame America.
This is more or less where we came in. Last 11 September, my neighbour Rachel went to school and was told by her teacher that, terrible as the unfolding events were, the Allies had killed far more people in Dresden. The interim pastor at my local Baptist church warned us not to attack Muslims, even though finding any Muslims to attack would have involved a good three-hour drive.
And so this 11 September, across the continent, millions of pupils, from kindergarten to high school, will be studying such central questions as whether the stereotyped images on 1942 War Bonds posters made German-Americans feel uncomfortable. Evidently, they made German-American Dwight D. Eisenhower so uncomfortable that he went off and liberated Europe. But I dont suppose thats what the NEA had in mind.
I dont think the teachers union are Hate America types. Very few Americans are. But, rather, theyre in thrall to something far craftier than straightforward anti-Americanism a kind of enervating cult of tolerance in which you demonstrate your sensitivity to other cultures by being almost totally insensitive to your own. The NEA study suggestions have a bit of everything in them: your teacher might pluck out Roosevelts Four Freedoms; on the other hand, she might wind up at the discussion topic about whether it was irresponsible for the media to show video footage of Palestinians celebrating 11 September as this allegedly led to increased hostility toward Arabs. Real live Arab intolerance is not a problem except insofar as it risks inflaming yet more mythical American intolerance.
This stuff went away for a while last October, and some of us were foolish enough to think it might go away for good. That it didnt has a lot to do with George W. Bush and the strategy that brought him to power. Youll recall that he campaigned in 2000 as a compassionate conservative. On his first trip to New Hampshire, he declared, Im proud to be a compassionate conservative. And on this ground I will make my stand! Those of us who ventured on to the ground to stand alongside him found it pretty mushy and squelchy, but figured the bog of clichés was merely a wily tactic, a means of co-opting all the Democrats touchy-feely words and thereby neutralising their linguistic advantage. My distinguished colleague Barbara Amiel felt differently. As she put it two years ago, Those of us who give a tinkers farthing about ideas knew we were in merde up to the waist. Conservatism is by definition compassionate. It has a full understanding and tender spot for the human condition and the ways of our world. A need to qualify conservatism by rebranding it as a product now found in a sweet-smelling pink compassionate version is hideous and a concession to your enemies right at the beginning.
I was wrong and Barbara was right. It didnt seem important at the time, but it is now. I thought the clumsy multicultural pandering of the Bush campaign was a superb joke, but with hindsight it foreshadowed the rhetorical faintheartedness of the last year. Bush, we were told in 2000, would do the right thing, even if he talked a lot of guff. Many of us stuck to this line after 11 September: okay, the Muslim photo-ops where hed drone Islam is peace while surrounded by shifty representatives of groups that believe Jews are apes got a bit tedious, and so did the non-stop White House Ramadan-a-ding-dong, and the injunction to American schoolgirls to get Muslim pen-pals, but for all the Islamic outreach you could at least rely on the guy to take out the Taleban, and, when the moment comes, Saddam as well.
But words matter, too. You win wars not just by bombing but by argument. Churchill understood this; he characterised the enemy as evil, not only because they were but also because the British people needed to be convinced of the fact if they were to muster the will to see the war through. In Vietnam, the US lost the rhetorical ground to Jane Fonda and co., and wound up losing the war, too. This time round, the very name of the conflict was the first evasion. Its not a war on terror, its a war on radical Islamism, a worldwide scourge operating on five continents. But you cant say so. You cant say whom were at war with, even though, for their part, the other side is admirably straightforward.
Just tune in to any Arab TV station for Friday prayers: O God, destroy the Jews and their supporters. O God, destroy the Christians and their supporters and followers, shake the ground under them, instil fear in their hearts, and freeze the blood in their veins.
Thats Sheikh Akram Abd-al-Razzaq al-Ruqayhi, some hotshot imam live from the Grand Mosque in Sanaa on 9 August on Yemeni state TV. Its the local equivalent of Thought for the Day, and even more predictable. Heres the same dude a week earlier: O God, deal with Jews and their supporters and Christians and their supporters and lackeys, he prayed. O God, count them one by one, kill them all, and dont leave anyone.
This isnt some fringe crank sentiment, but what appears to be a standard formulation from the Middle Eastern equivalent of the Book of Common Prayer. Another state TV channel, another mosque, another imam, same script: O God, deal with the occupier Jews for they are within your power, said Sheikh Anwar al-Badawi on 2 August live from the Umar Bin-Al-Khattab Mosque in Doha on Qatar Television. O God, count them one by one, kill them, and dont leave any one of them.
Same sheikh a week later: O God, destroy the usurper Jews and the vile Christians.
Hmm. Perhaps we need to call in Bletchley Park. Must be some sort of code. As a matter of fact, you dont even need to go to the Middle East to catch the death-to-Jews-and-Christians routine. I stayed in the heart of Paris a couple of months back, at the Plaza Athénée, and the eight Arab TV channels available in my room had more than enough foaming imams to go round.
The old-time commies at least used to go to a bit of effort to tell the Western leftie intellectuals what they wanted to hear. The Islamists, by contrast, cheerfully piss all over every cherished Western progressive shibboleth. Women? The Taleban didnt just marginalise women, they buried them under sackcloth. But Gloria Steinem still wouldnt support the Afghan war, and Cornell professor Joan Jacobs Brumberg argues that the beauty dictates of American consumer culture exert a far more severe toll on women. Gays? As The New Republic reported this week, the Palestinian Authority tortures homosexuals, makes them stand in sewage up to their necks with faeces-filled sacks on their heads. Yet Canadian MP Svend Robinson, Yassers favourite gay infidel, still makes his pilgrimages to Ramallah to pledge solidarity with the peoples struggle. Animals? CNN is showing videos all this week of al-Qaeda members testing various hideous poison gases on dogs.
Radical Islamists arent tolerant of anybody: they kill Jews, Hindus, Christians, babies, schoolgirls, airline stewardesses, bond traders, journalists. They use snuff videos for recruitment: go on the Internet and a couple of clicks will get you to the decapitation of Daniel Pearl. You cant negotiate with them because they have no demands or at least no rational ones. By Islam is peace, they mean that once the whole worlds converted to Islam there will be peace, but not before. Other than that, theyve got nothing they want to talk about. It takes up valuable time theyd rather spend killing us.
President Bush has won the first battle (Afghanistan) but hes in danger of losing the war. The war isnt with al-Qaeda, or Saddam, or the House of Saud. Theyre all a bunch of losers. True, insignificant loser states have caused their share of trouble. But that was because, from Vietnam to Grenada, they were used for proxy wars between the great opposing forces of communism and the free world. In a unipolar world, its clear that the real enemy in this war is ourselves, and our lemming-like rush to cultural suicide. By our, I dont mean me or my neighbours or the American people. I dont even mean the Democrats: American politics is more responsive and populist than Europes, and when war with Iraq starts Hillary will be cheerleading along with the rest of them. But against that are all the people who shape our culture, who teach our children, who run our colleges and churches, who make the TV shows we watch and they havent got a clue. Bruce Springsteens inert, equivalist wallow of a 9/11 album, The Rising, is a classic example of how even a supposed blue-collar icon cant bring himself to want America to win. Oprahs post-9/11 message is that its all about who you love and how you love. On my car radio, John McCain pops up on behalf of the Office of Civil Rights every ten minutes sternly reminding me not to beat up Muslims.
And, of course, let us not forget Britains great comic figure, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, QC, who thinks that its too easy to go on about Islamic fundamentalists. What I think happens very readily, she said, is that we as Western liberals too often are fundamentalist ourselves. We dont look at our own fundamentalisms. And what exactly does Lady Kennedy mean by Western liberal fundamentalism? One of the things that we are too ready to insist upon is that we are the tolerant people and that the intolerance is something that belongs to other countries like Islam. And Im not sure thats true.
If I follow correctly, Lady Kennedy is suggesting that our tolerance of our own tolerance is making us intolerant of other peoples intolerance. To complain about Islamic fundamentalism is to ignore how offensive others must find our own Western fundamentalisms votes, drivers licences for women, no incentives to mass murder from the pulpit of Westminster Cathedral.
George W. Bush had a rare opportunity after 11 September. He could have attempted to reverse the most toxic tide in the Western world: the sappy multiculturalism that insists all cultures are equally valid, even as theyre trying to kill us. He could have argued that Western self-loathing is a psychosis we can no longer afford. He could have told the teachers unions that there was more to the second world war than the internment of Japanese-Americans, and its time they started teaching it to our children. A couple of days after 11 September, I wrote in these pages, Those Western nations who spent last week in Durban finessing and nuancing evil should understand now that what is at stake is whether the worlds future will belong to liberal democracy and the rule of law, or to darker forces. But a year later, after a brief hiccup, the Western elites have resumed finessing and nuancing evil all the more enthusiastically, and the compassionate conservative shows no stomach for a fight at least as important as any on the battlefield. The Islamists are militarily weak but culturally secure. A year on, the West is just the opposite. Theres more than one way to lose a war.
I am not convinced of this statement.
George W. Bush had a rare opportunity after 11 September. He could have attempted to reverse the most toxic tide in the Western world: the sappy multiculturalism that insists all cultures are equally valid, even as theyre trying to kill us. He could have argued that Western self-loathing is a psychosis we can no longer afford. He could have told the teachers unions that there was more to the second world war than the internment of Japanese-Americans, and its time they started teaching it to our children.
He could have.
Instead, he approved more funding for the Dept. of Education and created a new government bureaucracy: "No Child Left Behind"
Classic Steyn. Starts off with some light jabs and hits harder and harder.
Steyn doesn't like the compassionate conservatives. BTW I want also my capitalists to be the grumpy old men of old, not the purfumed, coiffed, hyper-refined media slicksters of today.
They even changed the portraits on the money to be youthful and relevant. I want the portrait of Lincoln to look like he's worrying about something, not to look like he's ready for MTV.