The renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, dealing with the subject of possible extraterrestrial life, warns that contact with an alien civilization could spell disaster for the human race. “If aliens ever visit us,” he said, “I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the American Indians.” Pajamas Media editor Rick Moran concludes an article on this question with a misplaced aspiration: “we can only hope that any intelligent life that becomes aware of us will share at least some of the values and morals our species holds dear.” Pace Moran, but I wonder about these “values and morals” in so intrinsically competitive and violent a species as ours and shudder to think that a highly evolved extraterrestrial race of beings may share them with us.
The situation of late, however, is somewhat different in the West, where a certain “transvaluation” has occurred. The “values and morals” increasingly prevalent among us are those of “moral equivalence,” pacifism, diffidence, “compassion,” self-abasement and pride masking as false humility. In the current context, such ostensible virtues turn out to be vices, which we would be foolish to expect a maniple of alien intruders to share with us. It would be more prudent to anticipate the opposite.
But prudence is not our strong point. The Active SETI (Active Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) movement and its offshoots, for example, believe that an alien civilization would be guided by the doctrine of universal altruism, a theory grounded in the assumption that advanced evolution leads inevitably to a “higher” ethical sensibility. Walter Sullivan in his admittedly fascinating book We Are Not Alone is convinced of the benefits that would flow via communion with evolutionary prodigies. “Most exciting of all the prospects,” he writes, “are the spiritual and philosophical enrichment to be gained by such exchanges.” Of course, there is no evidence that such would be the case, especially if we extrapolate from our own behavior. It’s a good bet our visitors from space won’t look or act anything like the diaphanous exotics in Encounters of the Third Kind or the sylvan Na’vi in Avatar. Astrobiology does not assure moral enlightenment.
But the prospect of alien hostility is not the only factor to be considered. There is the possibility of a fundamental misunderstanding between two species that have no common language with which to bridge the intergalactic gap that separates them and that would allow for differences in thought and intention to be worked out. Complicating this scenario is the potentially misguided conviction that, were our visitors aggressive by nature, overtures of peace and compatibility would be sufficient to bring about a harmonious resolution to the threat of conflict.
Consider the 1996 film Mars Attacks! which rather uncannily introduces a shot of the World Trade Center, traces a misguided official policy of appeasement and “cultural understanding,” dwells on the dove-releasing antics of the peace constituency which provoke immediate slaughter, and concludes in near-universal catastrophe. These cartoonish little aliens sliding down their saucer ramps proceed to take advantage of our deeply held belief in multicultural accommodation, responding favorably to our gestures of inclusion and shedding tears of sentimental fellow-feeling, only to insinuate themselves into our trust and play upon our fantasy of an ideal kinship. Before we know it things start blowing up and people are mowed down in the streets. Eventually, the president of the United States (played brilliantly by a smarmily innocuous Jack Nicholson), who adopts an agenda of reaching out to our enemies, is murdered in the White House by a gum-chewing Martian disguised as a hooker.
The allegory is unmistakable. The film—to some extent like the recent television remake of V about an interstellar civilization promising peace but harboring ominous designs—is a prescient cinematic transposition of what is now our nineleven world. Believing in the good intentions of our “otherworldly” visitors, permitting a belligerent minority to integrate into the structure of society and to establish organizations devoted to furthering their ulterior aims, and exonerating irruptions of culture-specific mayhem—suicide attacks, shootings, honor killings—as owing to other and even justifiable causes, we have embraced the Martians in our midst. That is, we have given carte blanche to the mustashhidin and their local variants—insurgents, “martyrs,” spokesmen for the Muslim Brotherhood, clever proselytizers, and advocates of Shari’a law—who would infiltrate and undermine the very institutions that guarantee our freedoms.
And they have powerful accomplices. The America-hating Left in the universities, the legacy media and even the current governing administration has become Islamofascism’s most valuable ally, a fifth column of de facto jihadists in everything but name as it prosecutes the war against Western civilization. Abetted by the profound naivety of a public ignorant of history and educated in the dogmas of postmodern relativity—all cultures are equal and must be understood on their own terms, one “truth” is as good as another, universal human rights are only an expression of Western particularism, etc—the Left, with open arms and closed minds, has welcomed the Martians who would destroy us. Only, these Martians are not harbingers of an advanced civilization blessed with sidereal intelligence but are rooted in the norms and usages of a pre-Medieval world view, which we regard as equally exotic.
How have we permitted this to happen? Have we absorbed our social and political conjectures at so impressionable and formative a stage in our cognitive development, as students in the revolutionary Sixties and Seventies, that we now act from rote behavior rather than critical reflection, bearing witness to the truth of Yogi Berra’s apothegm, “There are some people who, if they don’t know already, you can’t tell ‘em.” Is Victor Davis Hanson right when he declares that “our present generation is on the brink of moral insanity,” victims of lazy thinking, unable to distinguish between the terrorist and his quarry, and subject to the clichés “of postmodernism, cultural relativism, utopian pacifism, and moral equivalence”? Or are we merely hoping for clemency from an indebted foe who will, presumably, spare us for our collusion? Do we live in such a state of inward fear and paralysis that, to paraphrase poet Neil Powell, we are unable to let “panic subside to knowledge”?
But perhaps the fact is that years of cosseted, entitlement-friendly living, not to mention enrolment in the postmodern academy, have made us soft, prone to theoretical delusions, intellectually puerile, and unwilling to face the reality of struggle and conflict so many of us have been happily spared. We appear to suffer from a condition that Robert Wilson has called, in his book of that title, “the ignorance of blood,” which has blinded us to the baleful motives of our adversaries. Confronted with a dedicated enemy intent on conquest, we respond with platitudes like “social justice,” “equal status,” “sensitivity,” “diversity,” “peaceful coexistence” and all the rest of the ideological claptrap we have had dinned into us. Returning fire with ice cream scoops is no way to win a war. These notions would be fine if two criteria were satisfied, namely, that we were proud defenders of our own storied culture, and that the recipients of our generosity were willing to reciprocate. But when these two conditions are not met, then it is clear that we are not only inviting guests into our home. We are also inviting disaster.
The invaders we have to contend with, of course, are not lizards disguised as humans or megacephalic dwarves toting ray guns, contact with whom we might have preferred to avoid. They are, rather, a group of intraplanetary visitors who have emigrated to our shores with the purpose of social inversion and political subversion. Lest I be misunderstood, I am not referring to those who have come to make a better life for themselves and who are eager to join the cultural mainstream, learn the language, familiarize themselves with the history of the nation they have opted to become part of, enter the professions, and live as loyal and productive citizens.
On the contrary. I am referring to what is often called the “radical fringe,” which may not be as marginal as we would like to think. Radicals tend to multiply, radicalism to radiate outward. Indeed, we have sufficient evidence by now of sermons preaching sedition and violence, of homicidal rampages, of plots uncovered, and of the exploitation of our legal system and menaces publicly uttered with a view to suppressing informed dissent, principled objections, postings and publications. But instead of fighting back, belling our subversives and deporting their ringleaders, we cower and self-censor, like sanctimonious proctors silencing the unruly who oppose the drift toward supplication, and so enforcing the discipline of surrender. We have, in effect, been ghetto-ized inside our own trembling world, as if the country we live in could be renamed South Park, no longer the feisty and irreverent place it once was. So much for courage and independence.
Observed through the lens of history, this growing brigade of interlopers represents not merely a demographic trend but the forward cohort of an expeditionary force, taking cover beneath the mantle of its peaceable compatriots. “The vast majority of Muslim legal immigrants,” writes former congressman Virgil Goode, “do not support terrorism, but their large numbers allow terrorists to blend into the immigrant community.” Our refusal to act decisively against so insidious a threat to our way of life, by putting the brakes on excessive or undifferentiated immigration and by targeting extremists through the agencies at our disposal, is tantamount to gross capitulation.
Returning to the film, we note that the Martian invaders are ultimately routed. But they are not killed with kindness or disarmed by assimilation. It takes a blast of good old traditional American country music, which the aliens are unable to absorb and which reduces them to quivering heaps of head-exploding gelatin, to do the job. We recall, too, that the major theorist of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb, as he recounts in Milestones, couldn’t tolerate the innocent waltz music or cheerful jitterbugging at American church dances, which pretty well drove him mad. The lesson the film teaches is obvious. It is not simply the heartland music as such that defeats the “aliens” but the attitudes, codes, mores, standards, originality and self-confidence which the music enshrines. It takes a belief in ourselves, our culture and our history, and a commitment to celebrate who we are (or were), to resist the sinister blandishments of the Martians among us.
Failing that, we will find ourselves soon enough facing a very different kind of music.