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Good Teaching Requires the Right Ingredients

The Silence of the Lambs

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Here's how it stands with Western civilization -- what's left of it, I mean -- insofar as various Westerners are concerned.

You keep your lip buttoned whenever foes, internal as well as external, jump up and down on you, kick you around, make known their fondest wish is to do you in, ideals and all. You hope for the best while doing nothing.


You follow, that is to say, the counsel of "Jacques," who posted Monday on the New York Times' website, disburdening himself as follows concerning the Sunday shootings at the Mohammed poster contest in Garland, Texas:

"The Far Right is using 'freedom' as a stick to beat and provoke Muslims. Cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed do not advance the cause of freedom one iota. It is provocation pure and simple."

Maybe not so "pure," maybe not so "simple," Jacques. The Jacques line of thought is heavily represented in commentary on the shootings of the two men whose apparent goal was to disrupt, with hot lead, a lightly attended event of which I had been previously unaware: just 19 miles from my home.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, New York-based organizer of the event, is under verbal assault for stirring up the animals (H. L. Mencken's delicious phrase). Why, if the AFDI folk hadn't invited ridicule of the Prophet, all would have been peachy!

I would venture that depends on your definition of peachy. If you mean quiet -- well, yeah. Why quiet, nevertheless? Out of general agreement on first principles? Or out of intimidation: the self-suppression of viewpoints, honestly arrived at but depicted as rotten and shameful by "opinion-makers."

A shameful viewpoint, in these times of religious flux, is the unassailability of Islam, the religion that millions of migrants are bringing to the capitals of the nominally Christian West and insisting on practicing their own way, without reference to local norms. For instance, the opinion-makers consider it rude and boorish today to insist on the preponderant truth of Christianity, as narrated in the Creeds. Say all that stuff in church, if you must, but don't press your case outside, lest the sensibilities of "others" be offended.


When radical Muslim preachers, nevertheless, stir up jihad against the decadent, febrile West, we're counseled not to take with any great alarm the growing presence of such preachers -- and the growing fervor of their followers. We're progressive Westerners; we believe in outreach and understanding.

For genuine progressives, such sentiments come naturally. Supernatural religion, contrasted with the religions of this world (e.g., private jets and sex-any-way-you-want-it) doesn't much interest today's elites. They can take it or, better yet, leave it. Can't we all just knock off this truth-claims stuff? Not really, inasmuch as "Truth," by definition, rises superior to competing claims. You see anyway why our progressive elites see no point in disputing or "insulting" Islamic truth claims. Who cares, you know?

Certainly, the elite assure us, no one should "insult" the Prophet (though insulting Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, and therefore superior to all prophets, seems no big deal to our taste-makers). Insult the Prophet and, hey, followers of his, the likes of the Garland Two, got guns! You wouldn't want to see them use those guns, would you? So -- keep it down.

That the Garland Two wound up unnecessarily dead -- victims of their own mental torments -- is unfortunate, as I trust anyone would acknowledge. That the American Freedom Defense Initiative pulled the triggers in question is nonsense.


Who got to this new land first, Christians or radical jihadists? Who built the churches and democratic institutions and sunk deep the foundations of Western civilization -- of all civilizations the freest and most generous? Who established here the freest, most democratic government in history, for all its latterday mishaps and misjudgments?

It is sad that two who enjoyed the undoubted blessings of a civilization not their own recoiled violently against that civilization. It is sadder yet to see this tale of malice and moral confusion play out 19 miles from the place I call home.

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