Sounding the alarm

Rebecca Hagelin

9/27/2005 4:01:58 PM - Rebecca Hagelin

Thousands of anti-war protesters (and pro-war counter protesters) marched in Washington, D.C., this past weekend, and emotions ran high. They filled the air with angry questions about everything from how soon we’ll withdraw from Iraq to how many more “children” we’re “willing to sacrifice,” as Cindy Sheehan asked the crowd.

Good luck finding anyone ready to face the real choice before America and Europe: Namely, will the West decisively confront the threat posed by radical Islam? Or will it ride its fabled “tolerance” into oblivion?

 Before you answer, I’d like to suggest that you read an engaging new book by Tony Blankley, the editorial page editor of The Washington Times. Tony recently visited The Heritage Foundation to discuss it. Titled “The West’s Last Chance,” it provides a hard-hitting analysis that’s heavy on facts and light on emotion. He sees reason to be optimistic, but only if the West wakes up to the mortal danger in its midst.

And what is that danger? It’s not merely “terrorism.” Many terrorist groups pose no threat to us. But terrorism carried out by those who adhere to a radical interpretation of Islam does. And it’s time, however painful it may be to the language police among us, to speak plainly about what we’re at war with: radical Islam. Those who refuse to assimilate and who plot our overthrow and destruction cannot be ignored without ensuring our own destruction.

Yet, for the West, that’s easier said than done. “It is increasingly likely that such a threat cannot be defeated while the West continues to adhere to its deeply held values -- as it currently understands them -- of tolerance, the right to privacy, the right even to advocate sedition and the right to equal protection under the law,” Blankley writes. “The day is upon us when the West will have to decide which it values more: granting these rights and tolerance to those who wish to destroy us, or the survival of Western civilization.”

If those strike you as harsh words, it shows how poorly understood the current threat really is. Blankley invites us to consider the way America and Britain faced Germany and Japan in the 1940s. In times of imminent peril -- when the choice, like it or not, was kill or be killed -- our leaders made some hard decisions that, frankly, saved us. For President Franklin Roosevelt, that meant, among other things, censoring radio broadcasts, investigating subversive activities and, yes, interning Japanese-Americans.

We’re in deep denial, Blankley says, if we refuse to realize that today’s threat is just as grave. Yes, there are millions of peaceful, law-abiding Muslims all over the world. But just as the Nazis shrewdly recruited from among the alienated young Germans in the 1930s, so today’s radical Islamic leaders “find a Muslim population adrift, confused and humiliated by the dominance of foreign nations and cultures,” he writes. “They find a large youthful population increasingly disdainful of their parents’ passive habits.”

This alienated youth is even easier prey in today’s wired world, Blankley notes: “Many young Muslims in Europe, and some in America, particularly second- and third-generation Muslims, cannot be considered part of a Muslim diaspora. They are no longer strongly connected to their family’s country of origin, nor do they intend to return. Instead, they are forming their own Muslim consciousness from the Internet, books, videotapes and audiotapes, where radical ideas and mullahs dominate.”

So what do we need to do? First, Blankley says, declare war. No, not today’s “Global War on Terror,” which is far too elastic, but a formal declaration of war against those we are actually at war with -- Islamic jihadists. We could then expand our war effort to include the full network of radical Islam, from mosques and schools to Web sites dedicated to our destruction. Second, use ethnic/religious profiling. To do otherwise, Blankley says, “puts political correctness before common sense.” Third, secure our borders. Fourth, adopt national ID cards. We also need to strengthen our alliance with Europe, which is crucial to winning this war.

That fact -- that we’re in a true war and we need to act accordingly -- may be the most valuable insight you’ll glean from this fascinating book. As Blankley puts it: “… We have just as great a responsibility to win our struggle against insurgent Islamic aggression as our parents and grandparents had to win World War II … If we do not pay with our sacrifices now, we (and our children) will pay in greater losses later. We must be prepared to be just as ruthless and rational as the Greatest Generation was in defeating fascism.”

Blankley expects the West to rise to this challenge. Let’s hope -- and pray -- that he’s right.