Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
While England Slept is the title of Winston Churchill’s 1938 book documenting the failure of England to counter Germany’s rearmament. Despite the gruesome price paid for ignoring Churchill’s warnings, postwar Europe has slumbered for decades while its cultural dysfunctions have nurtured the jihadist violence erupting across Europe. Last week’s attacks in Brussels, coming four months after the Paris attacks that killed 130, suggests there are more attacks to come. According to AP, 400-600 ISIS-trained terrorists are making their way to Europe.
Europe can’t say it wasn’t warned. In 2002 Oriana Fallaci published The Rage and the Pride, a passionate defense of Western civilization and an indictment of those who appease Islamic illiberalism. Ten years ago Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept gave first-hand reports of Europe’s feckless immigration policies that fostered and appeased Muslim radicalism and violence. A year later Claire Berlinski’s Menace in Europe and Melanie Phillips’ Londonistan sounded the same alarms. And there are the dystopian novels of Michel Houellebecq like Platform and last year’s Submission, which link Europe’s cultural and spiritual exhaustion to the rise of homegrown jihadism and Islamization.
An even more important prophet is Bat Ye’or, whose Eurabia (2005) documented “Europe’s evolution from a Judeo-Christian civilization, with important post-Enlightenment secular elements, into a post-Judeo-Christian civilization that is subservient to the ideology of jihad and the Islamic powers that propagate it.” The result is the dhimmi mentality of Europe’s elites, which manifests in word and deed Western inferiority to Islam, and guilt over alleged crimes against the Muslim world.
But a secularized Europe committed to multicultural fantasies and la dolce vita as the highest goods has dismissed these prophets as bigots and “Islamophobes” who distort the “religion of peace.” Yet after the collapse of the Ottoman caliphate in 1923––the “catastrophe” Osama bin Laden mentioned after 9/11–– the theorists of modern jihadism were forthright and plain in expressing the intolerant and triumphalist Islamic beliefs and jihadist imperative consistent with Ye’or’s analysis. Islam’s nature, Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna wrote, is “to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its laws on all nations, and extend its power to the entire planet.” Fellow Muslim Brother Sayyid Qutb concurred: “Islam has a right to remove all those obstacles which are in its path.” The Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Iranian Revolution, agreed: “The great prophet of Islam carried in one hand the Koran and in the other a sword; the sword is for crushing the traitor and the Koran for guidance . . . Islam is a religion of blood for infidels but a religion of guidance for other people.”
Nor are these sentiments alien to traditional Islamic beliefs as codified in the Koran, Hadith, Muslim histories, and the biographies of Mohammed. As such, the jihadist imperative, despite anticolonial and nationalist rhetoric, was the foundational motivation for the military attacks on Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973, and today it still drives the terror campaigns against Israel waged by Hamas, Hezbollah, and the PLO. Jihad in the name of Allah sparked the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and the subsequent launching of the Iranian terrorist mother ship from which numerous jihadist organizations have continued to receive training and financial support. The Taliban who gave sanctuary to al Qaeda in Afghanistan are close students of jihad and shari’a law, executing transgressors in a soccer stadium paid for by the EU.
Nor has the West been spared. Jihad lay at the heart of al Qaeda’s serial attacks on the U.S. and its military in 1993 (first World Trade Center bombing), 1996 (Khobar Towers), 1998 (East African embassies), 2000 (U.S.S. Cole), and the spectacular carnage of September 11, 2001, as well as inspiring the terrorist murders in Madrid (2004), London (2005), Fort Hood (2013), Boston (2013), San Bernardino (2015), Paris (January and November, 2015), and now Brussels. And don’t forget the torture, rape, and murders perpetrated by ISIS, the latest and most successful example of modern jihadism inspired by traditional Islamic doctrine.
We know the terrorists’ Islamic bona fides because they continually tell us why they want to kill us, in speeches, internet videos, and writings filled with Koranic verses and precedents from the life of Mohammed. Yet despite this evidence, elites in Europe and the U.S. refuse to confront the religious origins of jihadism, settling for the stale environmental and psychological causes dear to the materialist mentality. Thus they continue to chant the “nothing to do with Islam” mantra, as our president did in response to the Brussels attack. “ISIL is not ‘Islamic,’” the president asserted. “No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.” The first two clauses are patently false to Koranic commands and Islamic history, and the third is a non sequitur.
But the most powerful refutation of this common delusion is the scarcity of public protests by observant Muslims against the “extremists” who allegedly have “hijacked” their faith. After each jihadist atrocity there is typically more celebratory ululation and cries of “Allahu Akbar” in the Muslim world than marches against terrorism by heretical “extremists.” There are no “million Muslim marches,” no “not in our name movements,” no large scale Muslim attendance at memorial services for the victims. Yet perceived insults to Islam or Mohammed will produce violent mobs and lethal rampages.
Nor should this surprise us, when poll after poll registers significant pluralities and majorities of Muslims who approve of violence against infidels, and support the implementation of illiberal shari’a law. The latest evidence for such support from “moderate Muslims” comes from Brussels, where the planner of the Paris and Brussels attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was hiding in plain sight in the Muslim-dominant district of Molenbeek. Yet it still took four months for Belgian police to find him, and when they moved in for the arrest, they were met with rocks and bottles from residents who knew he was there and never tipped off the authorities.
Yet this is just one of many such enclaves in Europe. Ca n’Anglada in Barcelona, Marxloh and Neukölln in Germany, Seine-Saint-Denis and Clichy-sous-Bois in France, Malmo in Sweden, and many other towns and neighborhoods across Europe house disaffected and unassimilated Muslim immigrants whose faith predisposes them to contempt for the infidel and his secular laws, and justifies violence against the enemies of Islam. And despite the segregation, unemployment, crime, costly welfare transfers, and jihad-preaching mosques in these neighborhoods, Europe has accepted hundreds of thousands more Muslim immigrants in 2015 alone. Undoubtedly among them are untold numbers of ISIS-trained terrorists, many of them from the 5000 European Muslims who have gone to fight for ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
That is the reality everyone knows who wants to know. But too many in the West do not want to know, just as those enamored of Soviet communism did not want to know about the gulags and show-trials and engineered famines that killed at least 20 million. Like yesterday’s communist sympathizers, today the sleepwalkers of Europe are trapped in their ideological fever-dreams––fashionable self-loathing, guilt for colonialism and imperialism, sentimental one-worldism, and noble-savage multicultural fantasies. Worst of all, they are crippled by a refusal to appreciate and defend their political and cultural inheritance––prosperity, human rights, freedom, consensual government, and tolerance––created by their ancestors.
The character of Michel in Houellebecq’s Platform (2001) articulates the failure of civilizational nerve that has paved the way for metastasizing jihadist violence. Europe’s forbears, the jaded hedonist Michel muses, “believed in the superiority of their civilization,” and “invented dreams, progress, utopia, the future.” But their “civilizing mission,” their “innocent sense of their natural right to dominate the world and direct the path of history had disappeared.” All that is left is the dwindling cultural capital being squandered by their descendants, who have lost “those qualities of intelligence and determination,” and who exist only for the present and its material pleasures. Like like Michel, they are “decadent” and “given over entirely to selfishness.”
But at least Michel, unlike the sleepwalking European elite, recognizes that this is cultural suicide: “I was aware, however, that such a situation was barely tenable, that people like me were incapable of ensuring the survival of a society. Perhaps, more simply, we were unworthy of life.”
The terrorists of Paris and Brussels agree.