JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called for the Hamas-led Palestinian government to recognize Israel, saying at the start of a regional tour that innocent Palestinians were being hurt by factional infighting.
Asked at a media conference in the Saudi city of Jeddah Tuesday what to do about violent clashes between the ruling Islamist Hamas movement and its rival Fatah, Rice said “the answer is for the Palestinians to find a government that can be committed to the Quartet principles”.
This was on Tuesday, October 3, followed by outright talks of Ms. Rice with terrorists—Joshuapundit has some righteous commentary on the whole thing. My blog brings out things from the angle of ideological warfare, so here’s my take.
Papyrolatry is the worship of paper, specifically pieces of paper with text on them. A lot of secularist energy has been expended on accusing Bible-believers of it, although the Islamic view of the Koran indulges far more in that (to hear tell, the orthodox Islamic view considers the Koran to be co-eternal with Allah), but this inconsistency is the subject of another post. The irony I wish to point out this time is the papyrolatry of the ostensibly rational, realistic, “reality-based” practitioners of politics in our day. Realpolitik is not so realistic.
As with so many repeats of the 1930’s that are enough to convert the body of George Santayana into a commercial-grade dynamo, we’ve been here before. Who of us with a minimal knowledge of history has not seen that infamous photo of a British politician going down the tarmac of a plane waving a piece of paper in his hand so proudly, and then read of what became of it all? Or of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact? Yet politicians of today keep pinning their hopes on diplomacy, even with those who have made explicit statements about their plans to regard all treaties as temporary ceasefires at best. That today’s Left, who don’t care about history except as a tool to be reshaped to their needs, believes in diplomatic solutions, everywhere and always, is not surprising; but that the Bush Administration follows that line is depressing, for it shows that the noxious influence of the thinking of the 1960’s New Left has penetrated deep, even into the upper echelons of the Right. What is the allure of this “diplomacy at all costs” ideology, such that it has captivated even those who ought to know better?
I think it goes back to the West’s glorious roots: the Greek agora on the one hand, and the discussions held in the yeshivahs and in councils and synods on the other. In both cases, the idea behind them has been the noble one of settling disputes with the mouth (or pen) and not with the hands (or swords). This is not to say, of course, that the West has always adhered to that idea, but as an idea it has always been latent, and without it the current advanced state of Western civilization, including its scientific progress, would not be possible.
But this age, in which abnormality is the norm, is marked by the alliance of the stupid with the malicious: the body politic of the West is being assaulted by auto-immune disease, the malady of its noble precepts being used against it. The malicious Muslims gladly use the stupid Leftists in drafting bare democracy (bare in the sense of, like the Weimar Republic, not providing for its defense against those who would lay it low), the elevation of feelings above truth (also known as Political Correctness), the exemption of particular groups from the law (also known as Multiculturalism) and the feeding of ever-hungry crocodiles in order to gain a temporary reprieve (also known as Pacifism), against Western civilization.
Academe is where this is most blatant: no academic work of the last few decades about any touchy subject—from gender studies to the politics of post-1979 Iran—can possibly be expected to go beyond the talk of “pragmatism” and “a complex approach” and the like. This aversion to any semblance of black-and-white thinking, even in those instances where it is the most rational approach, runs deep through modern academic thought. And if we remember that the academics of the 1960’s, who started it all, are now in key political positions in the West, we see what a problem we are faced with.
I think we have all been taught in school that punches and kicks are not the way to go, that sitting down and talking is what rational, grown-up people should do. In reality, when we grow up we see life is larger than those platitudes. MAD Magazine once did a brilliant feature about the “Inner Child”, comparing the words and actions of grown-up people, especially politicians, to those of kids at kindergarten. It was hilarious: the grown-ups’ words were more stylized, or as people call it nowadays, “nuanced” (I’m sick of that word), than those of the kids, but the side-by-side panels vividly showed that they were in essence the same thing. But just as normal kid behavior can be carried over to adulthood, so can the lofty idealism of the pedagogues. The modern Left, under the façade of the free, wild hippies doing nude dances around the bonfire, has the wrinkles and horn-rimmed glasses of the high-school principal, purporting to school the “other”, the black-and-white, Bible-based, reality-detached kids, in the wisdom of “rationality”, “pragmatism” and “seeing the complexity of everything”.
It is from that mindset that we have the expression, “Radical Islam”, and its companion, “tiny minority of extremists”. Affixing the modifier “radical” assures us that the present state, of Muslims blowing themselves up in pizza parlors and rioting at the sight of cartoons, is a reaction to the recent situation. Ironically, the term, “Radical Islam” is there for the purpose of denying that the present actions of Muslims are radical (as in “rooted in”, “original to”, and not a new reaction) to Islam. It bears with it the promise that an incentive package here and a hefty concession of land there could defuse it all. And “tiny minority of extremists”, hot on the heels of, “You know the extremists are the most vocal”, goes to urge us to court the implied “huge majority of moderates”, and not to make any faux pas that could turn them toward extremism. The war of “winning hearts and minds”, or pacifist crocodile-appeasement and denial of deep, irrevocable, radical hatred of the free world given a new dressing for the post-9/11 world.
The Left talks about recognizing complexity. Very well, let me turn this on its head: there is complexity in the world of politics, in that not every problem can be solved with the “one size fits all” method of diplomacy, negotiations and material concessions, but some problems need a different approach. An economic dispute between Sweden and Norway can be settled with talks; the existential enmity of Islam toward all non-Muslims cannot. No talks and land concessions on the part of Israel toward the “Palestinians” can, Ms. Rice, achieve anything but the sending of the message to the Muslims that terrorism pays, just as is the case with the cancellation of Hans Neuenfels’ version of Mozart’s opera Idomeneo. We are confronted with an honor-based culture that sees any
labial interaction with the rear end diplomatic trust-building gesture as a sign of weakness that means the enemy can be trusted to cave in more and more.
In the light of this truly reality-based analysis, contemplating the papyrolatry of the states[wo]men (sorry about that concession to PC…) of our day is sobering, to say the least. From my vantage point, it can cause hair loss through manual action. Drunk on the success of the peace treaties with Egypt, which I already said elsewhere is the result of there being a strongman to enforce their keeping, politicians in Israel from 1993 onward have been engaged in the grossest papyrolatry, going so far as to believe that the PLO’s recognition of the right of Israel to exist in its charter is the key to lasting peace.
You ever wondered why my blog is called, “Our Children Are The Guarantors”? It comes from the midrash in which G-d said He would give those who had fled Egypt the Torah on condition of guarantors that it would be kept for eternity. The Israelites gave G-d various guarantors, but even the Patriarchs weren’t good for Him. Finally, when they said their own children would be the guarantors of keeping the Torah forever, He accepted, and gave them the Torah at Sinai.
Why were only the children acceptable to Him as guarantors? Because it is only by passing a heritage to the younger generation that a nation’s future, for better or worse, is guaranteed. In the case of the Muslims, it is for worse:
Tell me this, and tell me the truth: what good could a piece of paper ever be when those children are brought up on such a heritage? Unless those kids are taught to read and honor those pieces of paper on which the treaties with Israel are written, how could any rational person bring himself to believe they are the key to peace? Such a belief in the power of a piece of paper makes the witchcraft of sub-Saharan tribes look scientific in comparison! And the topmost politicians of the West believe in the power of treaties. Madness is our day’s sanity, and the sane ones are decried as belonging to the asylum.
The reality of the problem has long-term bearings. With what Fjordman says, in his essay Suggestions for Solutions: A Preliminary Draft:
As such, we also need to ditch Messianic altruism: We have no obligation to “save” the Islamic world, and do not have the financial strength or the demographic numbers to do so even if we wanted to.
… I agree in the context of his essay, which is about solving the West’s burning (often literally) problems, here and now. But after we have done that, we will need to secure peace for the long term. As long as there are such pictures of children as the above, the threat of Islamic terrorism will always loom above us. As long as children are brought upon such a heritage, any respites from war the non-Muslim world ever gains will last two centuries at most.
First things first, and I agree with Fjordman and Hugh Fitzgerald that things such as the failed Iraqi experiment (the radical misconception that the Western culture of democracy could ever be separate from the Ancient Greek and Judeo-Christian heritage of the West) are draining our resources we so need for our survival in our own countries, and should be deallocated for the time being. Then, when we are again secure, both demographically and ideologically, in our own countries, we can embark on the necessary duty of rooting out the heritage we see in the picture above—not just for the sake of altruism, but for the egoistic purpose of securing our own peace. That which pieces of paper cannot be rationally expected to achieve now any more than they did in 1938.