by Nidra Poller (July 2010)
The following is an expanded version of the speech delivered by Ms. Poller to the New English Review symposium, “Decline, Fall & Islam,” on June 19, 2010.
Why does the decline of Islam have to fall on us? How can we shift the burden back where it belongs? Though the balance of military, technological, and economic power is overwhelmingly in our favor, we are constantly losing ground. The last great confrontation with a genocidal totalitarian war machine—Nazi Germany and its allies—caught us militarily off guard. Our democracies scrambled, tooled up, and fought to win. Today we have the best armies in the world. And they are hamstrung because our minds are disarmed. Unless we can mobilize our thinking in a healthy war effort that will defeat the enemy, we will be pushed down to the bottom of the ladder of civilization. Disciplined intelligence is a factor in the survival of individuals and societies at all times but I do not know of another example in history where a purely intellectual effort could make the difference between victory and defeat.
The West is not essentially suicidal. Not in decline. Not degenerate. Not rotten from within. Not languishing in the last stages of imperial flabbiness. The United States at the height of its power has not behaved with imperial arrogance. The freedoms we enjoy—won by our forefathers and defended by their descendants –can be extended wherever human beings seek liberation, without threatening our own tranquility. We in the free world have created material abundance for the greatest number, health, longevity, mobility, opportunity, and delightful technology. We have nothing to be ashamed of though everything needs improvement. That too is a function of our societies: we do not only wish for improvement, we have built-in mechanisms for constant self-criticism and amelioration.
Undue focus on the circumstantial may blind us to the wonder of flexibility that gives our culture its genius for endless improvement. If we wallow in self-criticism to the point of abandoning self-defense, our democratic nations will not be superseded by better, finer, wiser, healthier, more just societies. They will be replaced by the caliphate– a stagnant medieval culture of hatred and violence that breeds oppression, ignorance, and discord. The West is not doomed to decline. But our élan vital has been, to use a popular catch phrase, hijacked by the pull of easy living, the perversions of liberty, and the contradictions every vibrant society generates.
We have the material means to defeat our enemies and the spiritual resources to honor noble values. Confusion can be dissipated. Fertility can be restored [I promise that will be the subject of my talk at the next Symposium]. Fatality is not imposed by divine powers, it is concocted out of fear and fatigue.
We will not find our way out of this impasse unless we recognize that Judaism is the source of our civilization and Israel is its—our—homeland. The reversal of values and chronology that designates Israel as the obstacle to world harmony is deadly. Recognition of Israel’s role in ensuring the survival of civilization should rise above and beyond the realm of enlightened criticism appropriate to all human endeavors. We need to stop lecturing Israel and start learning from the Jewish state, endangered from the day of its conception, fighting courageously for its existence. Israelis face threats of brutal death from morning to night, day in day out; they are not suicidal. Israel is not in decline. It is a vibrant, upbeat, warm-hearted, joyous nation.
Americans, I thought, recognized this unbreakable bond with Israel. Then, in 2008, a majority of voters chose a viscerally anti-Zionist president. They didn’t know? Not so. They didn’t want to know. They were swept up in a vicious current that, I believe, has not yet been fully analyzed and understood. The mass-hysteria media did not simply hide this and other negative information about a visibly untrustworthy young man unqualified for high office; they half hid, half revealed it, which is worse. That teasing game, pursued to this day, actually serves to enlist willing participation in the cover up.
As the presidential campaign drew to a close, the LA Times admitted–in a pussyfooting article about Obama’s presence at a 2003 dinner in honor of his close friend Rashid Khalidi—to having a videotape of the event. Despite the suppression of crucial details, the partial revelations in that article clearly demonstrated that Obama was comfortable with heavy hitting Israel-bashers. By refusing to release the tape, The LA Times simultaneously confirmed and denied Obama’s Israel-hatred while maintaining unmitigated support for the candidate. The message was: anti-Zionism is not incompatible with presidential ambitions. Apparently a majority of American Jews fooled by Obama’s pro-Israel posture closed their eyes to evidence to the contrary.
Israel wins public opinion polls in the U.S. and loses them in Europe but the United States government, with the zeal of youth and the lingering punch of a still-powerful nation, is more effectively anti-Zionist than all of Europe put together. In the space of 18 months the nation’s alliances have been radically transformed, with total disregard for public opinion polls, Congressional opinion, history, tradition, and national self interest.
We should ask ourselves why we were not able to prevent the election of Barack Hussein Obama and why we are not effectively countering his tyrannical rule. Opposition to the Obama onslaught was in fact weak, tongue-tied, confused, and intimidated. With the exception of a small minority of commentators rejected as racist-alarmist-extremists, Obama’s putative opponents operated within narrow confines that precluded an accurate evaluation of the candidate and his program. Journalists, thinkers, community leaders, fundraisers, donors, political figures, and opposing presidential candidates stepped lightly for fear of offending someone. “I can’t say that, I’ll lose half my subscribers.” “I can’t circulate that, some of my big donors support Obama.” “I can’t accept that, it’s racist.” “We’ll pass on this, thanks anyway. We’ve published a lot on Obama this week.”
Now a steady hum of Obama criticism provides harmless background music to his catastrophic administration. His popularity has dropped vertiginously–more as a result of concrete realities than any deep understanding of the essential nature of his rule–but elected tyrants don’t need to be popular once they are in power.
It was so simple! By presenting Obama as a black candidate his backers closed off major avenues of analysis; casting doubt on the candidate’s qualification, associations, or methods was discounted as racism. By playing hide and seek with his Muslim roots, they blocked the other major avenue of opposition. Consequently deprived of substance, timid critics described the aspiring tyrant as an “empty suit.” Now they call him a Marxist Socialist. This is laughable to Europeans who contend daily with entrenched socialist principles! President Obama is not implementing socialism, he is practicing the crony capitalism typical of third world dictatorships.
The cause must be adequate to the effect. Socialism is not a vibrant force in the 21st century; it has been revived in the service of a new totalitarian machine. Global jihad is, in my opinion, the only cause sufficient to account for the electoral coup d’état committed in 2008. The treatment must be proportionate to the cause. Tea parties, talk shows, online media, and November elections combined will not reverse this tyranny. If grass roots movements and opposition political candidates relegate foreign policy to the periphery they are doomed to failure. The worldwide conflict propelled by jihad forces is the decisive issue that determines all political decisions.
Why did the decline of Islam fall on us? Why wasn’t 9/11 the last straw? That desperate move by a failed ideology convinced it could do a remake of the medieval jihad conquest and bring America to its knees in one blow should have provoked a no holds barred riposte. I, for one, thought the vigorous American response was radically different from Europe’s surrender mode. I was wrong. The American reaction to 9/11 was more like Spain after the Madrid bombing than the US after Pearl Harbor. Instead of all-out war to defeat conquering jihad we got hesitant military operations that led, by stages, to the election of Barack Hussein Obama.
I will not repeat here the analysis of that process, which I outlined in my talk at last year’s Nashville symposium (and will expand in a forthcoming book) except to say that this takeover of the U.S. government was accomplished by what I call the “lethal narrative” strategy. The paramilitary attacks– against the WTC, the Pentagon and the foiled attack against the White House—were backed up by a lethal narrative depicting the United States as the villain and the perpetrators as victims. This narrative undermined our military operations and wore out the resolve of our leaders. Citizens of the free world handed the jihadis a victory they could never have achieved by honorable military and political means. Once dazzled by the differences between Americans and Europeans, I am now stunned by the similarities. On so many issues—immigration, law enforcement, creeping shariah, press freedom, democracy, defense, determination, common sense—I see Americans slipping, sliding or lunging into dhimmitude. And the Ground Zero mosque project dots the i’s in submission to Islam.
Americans, observing Europe’s surrender to Islamic pressure, conjured up faded images of anti-Semitism, collaboration, genocide, and the miraculous GI rescue. That was the wrong scenario. Mocking European cowardice diverted attention from the same jihad pressure with different packaging that has brought the U.S. homegrown terrorists, Muslim enclaves, shariah finance, Muslim Brotherhood infiltration, Ground Zero Mosque projects…and the heavy hand of BH Obama.
Why does the decline of Islam fall on us? Where can we go to think this question through? Newspapers, the Net, TV, radio, fiction, religion, philosophy? I came to journalism after decades of devotion to the art of the novel. Using nothing but the written word, the novelist creates a living, breathing, moving model of a world. This requires an exquisite sense of proportion, and endless feats of “engineering.” The truth lies in the art. Journalists construct a flat earth representation of reality validated by the medium and its claims to objectivity.
Serious journalists who temper their passions, provide reliable information from verified sources, and seek the truth within well-defined limits make a vital contribution to our world view. The problem is that journalists monopolize the field from dailies to periodicals and all the way to the book market where, taking advantage of their notoriety, they publish stretched out versions of their daily grind.
Journalists analyze events in small daily packets, using more or less the same terms as their colleagues, rejecting original angles on reality as odd or extremist. Formats fit the outlet not the subject. Everything has to be treated briefly, succinctly, in bland language with simple syntax. Where timeliness is a virtue, quick bursts of information are blasted, repeated, exhausted, and dropped. The story dies of old age a few days after it broke. Journalists can go over the top, off the deep end, or completely off target without suffering consequences as long as they to do it collectively.
The limitations inherent to journalism may become blinders. Serious journalists did not see what was coming in the fall of 2008… or didn’t dare say so. Taking this in stride, as if it were a normal batting average, they continue to hold forth, ticking off the errors and faux pas of the president in neat little columns that add up to a decent income for the commentator and leave the tyrant with a few scratches.
If the West is in decline and fall mode, where is Islam? Rock bottom? Too low to fall? How can we accelerate the decline of Islam and reverse its onslaught on the free world for the benefit of all? The simple answer is, of course, military victory. But that won’t happen until we mobilize our societies and find leaders worthy of the name. The loss of the U.S. as a great power opposing jihad is incalculable. Europe can’t be written off. Israel can’t be sacrificed. The United States cannot bend under the yoke of tyranny and tumble into the hands of the jihadis. These are not conceivable options in the modern world. But the very thought of such an outcome is so grotesque, it is difficult to convince the general public that the threat is real.
When I started speaking in the U.S. about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe someone in the audience would inevitably ask “what can we do about it?” I would reply, taken aback, that I have lived so long in France–an “all outlets blocked” society– it didn’t even occur to me to ask what we could do. I welcomed those action questions as signs of American vigor. Then, on November 4th 2008, I witnessed a sea change comparable to what we had experienced in Europe in the fall of 2000. Suddenly, all exits are blocked.
Now it is my turn to ask my fellow Americans, what are you going to do about this? Yes, I know, a tiny minority go toe to toe with jihadis of all stripes and their enablers. But we are constantly losing ground. Interest in news from Europe, which was high when it seemed that we were caving while America stood firm, has flagged today when we need to draw on insights from all theaters of this mega-world-war. I find myself in the paradoxical position of a European reminding you that we are a necessary dimension of the résistance. Don’t dismiss us. It isn’t a question of ego, of chauvinism, of petty competition. It’s a question of survival.
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