Oh, this is too good -- too good almost to be believed.
I don't refer, of course, to such violence, actual or prospective, as may prove attributable to Islamic "outrage" at Pope Benedict XVI's harmless quotation last week of a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who was demonstrably no fan of Islam. There is speculation that the murder of a Catholic nun in Somalia was carried out by the usual homicidal maniacs who see bumping off unbelievers as part of their holy job description.
No, none of that is good. What is good is the opportunity given us -- provided we use it, please, Lord -- to look at radical Islamism with eyes wide open and spectacles unfogged by Western political correctness.
The unpleasantness of past days follows, by only the most meager time span, Hezbollah's unprovoked war against Israel and the thwarted plot by Islamists in England to blow up airplanes over the Atlantic. And a fragment of a papal address at a university precipitates a pseudo-crisis?
This is what we need to see, even beyond the bold hypocrisy of proving peaceful intentions by issuing death threats. We need to know just how unhinged a vocal, violent segment of a major world religion has become. That's the first thing. The second thing is doing that which is appropriate. Meaning? I will put it this way: It is appropriate, not to say vital, to regard the radical Islamic threat as real and getting worse.
Not because the varied screwballs and blowhards making and carrying out the threats have anything like the power they imagine in their fantasies. If they really think so well, as John Kerry once enjoyed saying, "Bring it on!" Not even among Muslims is there anything like majority sentiment for subjugating the West, or China, or India, or non-Muslim Africa. Most of us probably have a big bright picture of Taliban "fighters" (as the wire services persist in calling them) parachuting into northern Virginia or Brooklyn. Want to take on Texas, you all? Bring lots of guns.
The West isn't weak in weaponry or even, I think, moral determination of the last-resort sort. What the West is weak in, as to terrorism, is moral abhorrence and ... I like the word "hostility." We need more hostility of the proper and wary kind. We need to acknowledge as an enemy whoever tells us he is one, because, whatever the disconnect between his aims and his means, he may do much harm while trying to implement the former.