Perhaps the greatest secular gift to the world by Judeo-Christian civilization is its seminal concept of the individual, which it raises above the tribe or the collective. In Genesis, we are told that man is made in the image of God. Deuteronomy tells us that "each human by his own sin is to be judged" and "do not punish children for the sins of their fathers." And of course, the biblical life and teachings of Jesus reflect the deep importance of the individual. Thus was planted in the soil of the West our uniquely heightened respect for the individual.
It is impossible to imagine Western civilization -- and particularly America -- without the existence in our culture of the instinctive respect for the individual to offset the more general human instinct to be subordinated in the tribe or the group.
Conversely, there is no more dangerous incubus inserted into a Western nation than hostility or indifference to the inherent value and rights of the individual.
But radicalized Islam places little value on the individual, while holding up for supreme value the interests of the group, particularly their view of the group called Islam. And it is this aggressive, assertive insistence by radicalized Muslims in the West to subordinate our inherent rights to their collective demands that slowly and more or less quietly is forcing Westerners to take sides in the radicals' demands. The resolution of this developing conflict -- if not managed by the elites in Western countries on behalf of indigenous Western rights -- inevitably will result in unnecessary violence.
A recent example of such intimidation was reported in The Washington Times Monday: Muneer Fareed, head of the Islamic Society of North America, is "demanding" that Sen. John McCain stop using the word "Islamic" to describe terrorists who are radical Islamists. He insists that McCain (and all others) just call Islamic terrorists "criminals." "That is more acceptable to the Muslim community," Fareed said. McCain, being as tough as nails, has said he has no intention of submitting to Fareed's demand and will continue to use "Islamic" to describe Islamic terrorists. But it will be interesting to see what the two Democratic candidates for president choose to do about this demand.
Meanwhile, in Canada, Mark Steyn awaits trial before the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for the crime of committing hate speech by writing a book and a magazine article that warned against the dangers of Islam overwhelming Europe (No. 1 best-seller in Canada; New York Times best-seller in the United States).
These charges were precipitated by demands for Steyn's prosecution by a band of students, who publicly marched to announce their demands. They claimed that as Muslims, they should have the chance to offer a rebuttal when people like Steyn talk about issues that relate directly to Muslims. "When people feel insulted, they should have recourse," Khaled Mouammar, president of the Canadian Arab Federation, said. Amazingly, the culturally feeble, intimidated Canadian officials promptly filed the criminal charges.
Similarly, a few months ago, the increasing British Muslim demands for Shariah law were answered in the positive by the archbishop of Canterbury. If the British government ever succumbs to that outrageous demand, not only will Muslim women lose their individual rights but also, pursuant to honor killing, principals could be murdered legally by their fathers, husbands or brothers. Already, non-Muslim British are being banned from public swimming pools during time reserved for Muslims. (No other group can reserve such times.)
Forty years ago last weekend, British classicist and politician Enoch Powell warned that if immigrants bringing alien values and customs into Britain are allowed to continue their immigration, a sense of alarm and resentment would develop in the indigenous British population. He was ejected from British politics for giving that warning.
But this week, the BBC published a poll taken precisely to measure public attitudes 40 years after Powell's famous warning (and after 40 years of the British ruling class ignoring the growing danger). Seventy percent think there is high tension between the races; 63 percent expect those tensions to result in violence between the races in Britain; and 60 percent think there are too many "immigrants" in Britain.
In a similar poll taken for the Davos World Economic Forum, stunning numbers of Europeans fear a "threat" from Muslims with whom they "interact": 79 percent of Danes, 67 percent of Italians, 68 percent of Spaniards, 65 percent of Swedes and 59 percent of Belgians.
In my book "The West's Last Chance," published in 2005, I warned that the European people would not be passive in the face of their culture being undercut. Unlike others who wrote on the subject, I did not think Europeans would fail to defend their nations and their cultures. I warned that broad European street violence could be avoided only if their governments took the threat seriously.
These disturbing polls from BBC and Davos should constitute another undeniable warning to the gutless, defeatist European leaders. Take action to protect your people and their cherished Western values, or the people will take matters into their own hands. And for us in America, impending European unrest should be seen as a cautionary tale.