Yesterday’s essay has excited a fair amount of mostly positive comment. However, some highly relevant questions should rise to the fore at this time:
- What does the threat of terrorism mean to ordinary Americans striving to go about their business in peace?
- What could be done to mitigate that threat?
- What will and what won’t be done to mitigate it?
With regard to those questions, recall the following two paragraphs of the earlier essay:
What lives in the heart that enables it to “reach” others – to commit to others’ defense, and to be confident that others are reciprocally committed? Values. A nation must be founded on either values or violence – and in either case, it must be capable of marshaling sufficient violence to defend itself and to punish those who have attacked it when the occasion demands it. But there are few values that can elicit that degree of willing commitment.
Islam is massively useful to our political class. The powers that be are grateful for the threat it presents, and for the repeated evidences of that threat it provides. It serves to justify all manner of intrusions on Americans’ rights, and all manner of incursions upon our privacy. Thus, to expect that the State will ever act against Islam, regardless of how its atrocities proliferate, is a foolish notion.
The implications practically answer today’s questions all by themselves.
First, we must grapple with the most annoying aspect of the threat of Islam: it’s not something against which we can wield our military, especially within the borders of the United States. It’s a belief system that has adherents in practically every nation on Earth, including some three million here in the Land of the Formerly Free. Some unknown percentage of Muslims are wholly in agreement with the jihadists; these either join in jihad campaigns or willingly lend the jihadists material and emotional support.
Islam is therefore a diffuse threat: spread unevenly among more peaceable men. Science fiction writer L. Neil Smith has told us that a diffuse threat must be countered with a diffuse defense. This is entirely correct. But what does it imply?
- A heavily armed civil society;
- General recognition of the viciousness of the Islamic creed;
- Governmental measures to prevent further Islamic immigration to the U.S.
At this time, none of those three conditions are in force. American civil society is armed to some extent, but not uniformly and not continuously. Islamic terror attacks, like atrocities of other kids, tend to occur where the probability of a prompt armed response is next to zero. Indeed, our major concentrations of population tend to have the most restrictive anti-firearms laws in the nation; getting a carry permit requires extreme notoriety, political connections, or both.
Due to the reluctance of decent Americans to view nominally peaceable neighbors as potential threats, there is no general recognition of the noxiousness of Islam. In this regard, governmental sources deserve much of the blame, for their endless repetitions of the mantra that “Islam is a religion of peace” and their habitual refusal to link terrorist acts by Muslims to the creed that plainly motivates them. However, our own inclination toward a “default amiability” cannot be excluded from the mix. Time was, we knew better than to assume that an allegiant to a creed that advocates our destruction “doesn’t really mean it.”
Finally, the members of the political class, here and elsewhere, regard an armed and alert citizenry like the ninth circle of Hell. Nothing else can check their excesses. Nothing else constitutes a serious threat to their power. Nothing else can overturn an established State with a minimum spillage of blood...especially, the blood of the revolutionaries. The hostility of government to the private possession of weaponry cannot be excised from the nature of government itself: an institution that possesses the privilege of using coercive force against individuals and other institutions.
We’re batting zero for three...and the ninth inning will soon be upon us.
The most painful aspect of our condition has yet to be addressed: the enervation of our values.
As I wrote some time ago:
Get into your time machine, go back fifty years [i.e., to 1950 -- FWP], and walk the streets of any of the great cities of this continent. They were safe. They were almost perfectly clean. People didn't jostle one another, hurl obscene imprecations at one another, deface the sides of buildings with moronic scrawling, or pollute the air with pain-threshold levels of their preferred "music." Men treated women with courtesy, respect, and a certain protective affection. Even the poor, of which, though they were less numerous than they are today, there was no shortage, were clean, self-reliant, self-respecting, and courteous.
The police would sort out those who couldn't meet the prevailing standards and would unceremoniously tell them to "keep moving," in which effort they were overwhelmingly reinforced by the non-uniformed public. If you wanted to surround yourself with degeneracy, you had to find the local Skid Row, the only place where such things were tolerated. It wasn't a big place, and the folks you found there permitted themselves no pride about their condition. No one indulged in nonsense notions about the "dignity" of the homeless, of welfare dependents, of drug addicts, of gang members, or any of today's mascot-groups for the coercive-compassion camp. As a result, government, which fattens on public perceptions of danger and disorder, was relatively small and unintrusive.
The American man of 1950 held to a different collection of values than does the man of 2015. He was unafraid of firearms, whether or not he owned one. He unhesitatingly supported the forces of order in their duties – and was quite appropriately shocked and angered when some member thereof shirked those duties or betrayed them for private gain. He was far more willing to put himself at risk when the occasion demanded it; indeed, a great many of the men alive at that time had done so quite recently, in Europe and the Pacific. He needed no one to tell him what deserved “tolerance” and what did not.
Men that manly and upright aren’t completely gone from our society, but they’re considerably fewer in number. In part that’s because of social devolution: parents allowing their sons to acquire bad, unmanly values, whether knowingly or otherwise. But in part it’s a consequence of governmental social-engineering programs designed to make men feel guilty about being men.
These days it takes unusual courage even to speak publicly against a threat to society. Imagine how rare is the degree of courage required to take up arms against it. That should tell you all you need to know about the pressures and constraints on our military.
In part, we’re zero for three on the conditions mentioned in the previous segment because we lack the manpower, in its exact sense, to bring them about. But that lack is not entirely the fault of today’s American man:
Throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and most of the rest of the First World, manhood -- masculine virtue and the self-respect that flows from it -- is being anathematized if not outlawed. Worse yet, it's been made risky to the practitioner. No aspect of male conduct is deemed too trivial to condemn. Believe it or not, there's a nation in Europe where urinating while standing up has been made into a penalizable offense. Think I'm kidding? Try it in a public loo in Germany and get back to me on the results.
Just as there is no defense, there is no Last Graf, wherein the wise and perspicacious commentator prescribes a cure for the malady. Manhood is being transformed into a liability at best, a crime at worst. Exhibiting traditional masculine virtue and civic duty in a public setting can get you arrested, brutalized or killed. Exhibiting gallantry toward a woman isn't quite as hazardous, but it's far from safe, especially if the woman is unknown to you. The "authorities," such as they are, are most definitely not on your side.
Turning that around is a prerequisite to attaining a proper stance against Islam.
I wish I could be more upbeat about this. It’s simply not my nature to evade, deny, or obfuscate the facts. We’re in for a rough ride. Indeed, Americans look at the one nation on Earth that’s adopted something approximating an effective posture against Islam – Israel – and recoil almost as often as they applaud. That’s hardly a harbinger of better times to come.