Saturday, November 28, 2015

Whose Apocalypse Is It Anyway?

An interesting bit of symmetry has come into focus regarding the conflict in the Middle East. I have written before about the power of true belief – call it radicalism, fanaticism, whatever. You can find it on this blog – the post dated Dec. 27, 2014, “Fools, Holy and Otherwise”. The point was that there is something about a cause – and the less “realistic” the better – that attracts people, especially young people, who are looking for something worth fighting for. And when true believers go up against the Establishment – which is characterized by materialism, cynicism, and “realpolitik”, and dominated by old, bald white guys (let's admit it), they tend, other things being equal, to win, simply because their fervor serves as a force multiplier – i.e. their pure energy can overcome those who are primarily seeking political, military, or material gain -- or to at least hold on to their power base.

We can see this down through history – smaller forces defeating (at least for a time, and sometimes permanently) larger forces, and it's always based on an idea... an inspiration. And I'm not claiming that the cause is always just; that's not the point. It's more about the power of ideas, right or wrong... and the relative impotence of tired, worn-out regimes. Many examples come to mind, such as the Jewish rebellion against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire (you can cross-reference this with “Irony” if you like)... the Moslem conquests of the early days... the Crusades... the American Revolution... the Civil War... the Bolsheviks... the Nazis... the Viet Cong... and now ISIS. In all cases, the cause was deemed worthy, and worth fighting for, even unto death, to say nothing of destruction of the old order. “Counting the cost” was not on the agenda, in other words. Even the death of innocents was, in most cases, considered to be part of the price that must be paid (can you say “collateral damage”?). One can even claim that revolution per se – regardless of the time and place – is characterized, at least at the outset, by this mind set. It is, in other words, a part of history, and conflicts that don't possess this trait (World War I comes to mind) eventually come to be seen as unfortunate, unnecessary, and truly wasteful.

People of our time commenting on history will often say something like, “Thank goodness we aren't fighting religious wars any longer.” But I say that religious wars are the only ones worth fighting! Or, substitute “wars of ideas” and you pretty much have it covered. And is there any doubt that what we are fighting right now in the Middle East is a religious war? And don't bother to say that ISIS doesn't represent “real” Islam; their beliefs are as real to them as the beliefs of any other revolutionists or crusaders were to them.

A recent AP news story described ISIS as having “apocalyptic appeal”. The concept of apocalypse is all about the ultimate destiny of the world, and of mankind. It's about a process – but that process has a goal, which is setting the world right, either in anticipation of the final judgment (the religious version) or of achieving heaven on earth – a Utopia to last a thousand years (recall, if you will, the Nazis' vision of the “Thousand Year Reich”). For a goal like that, is any sacrifice too great? It never seems to be. And this, among many other factors, is why we find ourselves baffled when it comes to fighting ISIS – and why remnants of the Roman Empire were so helpless in the face of Islam... and why the British were so stunned by the American Revolution... and so on.

And yet we have, on “our” side, something of the sort as well – a real, home-grown hotbed of fanaticism that is as dedicated to its cause as the Islamists are to theirs. They're called Christian Zionists – and they overlap to a significant extent with the Neocons, and, I daresay, with the Tea Party... and also serve to energize the campaigns of nearly all of the Republican presidential candidates. Their theme, as we are, hopefully, all aware of by now, is that Israel is the key to “salvation history” and must be supported, and protected, at all costs – even unto the destruction of our own economy and our political isolation on the world stage.

This phenomenon has been extensively documented in a number of books, and I suggest, for starters, one entitled “Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism” by Victoria Clark. From a summary of the book (on Amazon):

Guided by a literal reading of the prophetic sections of the Bible, Christian Zionists are convinced that the world is hurtling toward a final Battle of Armageddon. They believe that war in the Middle East is God’s will for the region. In this timely book, Victoria Clark first explores the 400-year history of this powerful political ideology, laying to rest the idea that Christian Zionism is a passing craze or the province of a lunatic fringe. Then Clark surveys the contemporary Christian Zionist scene in Israel and in the United States, where the influence of the religious fundamentalists has never been greater.

Clark engages with Christian Zionism directly, interviewing leaders, attending events, and traveling with Christian Zionists in the Holy Land. She also investigates the Christian Zionist presence in Israel. She finds that the view through the Christian Zionist lens is dangerously simple: (the) War on Terror is a mythic battle between good and evil, and Syria and Iran represent the powers of darkness. Such views are far from rare—an estimated fifteen to twenty million Americans share them. Almost one in three Americans believes Israel was given to the Jews by God as a prelude to the Battle of Armageddon and Jesus’ Second Coming. Clark concludes with an assessment of Christian Zionists’ impact on American foreign policy in the Middle East and on America’s relationships with European allies since the attacks of 9/11.

Now – the question we should be asking is this: If all of this is true (and I don't doubt that it is), are we to accept it as a perfectly natural historical development – inevitable, if you will, given that we as a nation identify our own founding as based on ideas of, if not explicitly religious, then at the very least a Utopian sort? Or to put it another way, did our founding as a secular society highly informed by Protestant or “Enlightenment” ideas inevitably lead us to this pass? The book provides convincing evidence that this is the case. The irony, of course, is that even though this nation was founded on, basically, humanistic and materialistic principles, theology caught up with it – starting with the second through the fourth of the “Great Awakenings”. (The First Great Awakening predated the Revolution, but certainly laid the conceptual groundwork for those to follow.)

And so, if this is all perfectly natural, and inevitable, does that make it OK? Are we to, ultimately, throw ourselves on Israel's funeral pyre, assuming that all of this comes to naught? Or perhaps it won't; perhaps there will, ultimately, be a victory that all can revel in and that will make all of our sacrifices seem worthwhile. We seem to be standing on a cusp of history – a time of great testing – where a conflict of ideas will determine the future for many generations – nay, centuries or even millennia – to come. If we are satisfied with this, and willing to pay any price, then by all means let us “let loose the dogs of war”. We already have an enemy that is not only willing, but strangely able, as evidenced by recent events. It may, in fact, be too late to back down – as it has been so many times before. All I'm suggesting is that we become, and remain, conscious of all that is entailed here; it is truly a “big f------ deal”, in the immortal words of Joe Biden. If we think of it as being anything less, and are not prepared for all of the possible consequences, then we are sadly mistaken. We have achieved that state of “fearful symmetry” -- the difference being that the other side is fully aware of it, whereas we persist in pretending otherwise.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Won’t They Ever Learn? (NO)

So… in the wake of the Paris attacks, and the newfound respect for the notion of actually controlling immigration -- i.e. who gets to cross our borders and settle down -- we have at least two Republican candidates for the presidency proposing some, let’s say, startling ideas.

From the Sunday paper (an AP article) -- “… Ben Carson said… that he wants to expand the government’s surveillance operations aimed at potential terrorist threats….”  “’… I would be in favor of monitoring a mosque or any church or any organization or any school or any press corps where there was a lot of radicalization and things that were anti-American…’”  And, tellingly, “He did not expound on just how an administration would determine what constitutes ‘radicalization’ or ‘anti-American’”.  “Carson added that funding for FBI surveillance activities should be increased.” 

In the meantime, Donald Trump said “’I want surveillance of certain mosques‘” and “has also voiced support for closing certain mosques as a way to contain the terrorist threat…” 

OK.  Nothing new about harassing the many for the sins of a few; we have only to consider German-Americans during World War I and Japanese-Americans during World War II.  But that’s not my point.  When it comes to government surveillance, monitoring activities of religious groups and journalists, and focusing on “radicals” and “anti-American” activities. it’s already happening.  Have these guys already forgotten the IRS harassment of conservative non-profit organizations?  Or the NSA monitoring of communications among individuals and organizations considered threats to national security?  How many times, of late, have liberals in politics and journalism equated conservatives with terrorists -- even in the context of the “climate change” issue?  And let’s not forget various snippets of guidance coming from the Justice Department and the FBI warning local police departments about the terrorist potential from “right-wing” and “anti-government” organizations, and even from home schoolers! 

No, the kind of thing Trump and Carson say they want is already here, firmly in place and being implemented 24-7.  Of course, the targets of this around-the-clock intelligence operation are not the same people Trump and Carson have in mind, but it hardly matters.  The government has been given the tools -- largely by Congress, which means by both major parties.  Whenever the government begs for funding in order to fight against “the bad guys”, they get it -- because everyone assumes that the ones the government identifies as bad guys are the same ones they do.  Oh yeah, give the government anything it wants, and the hell with the Bill of Rights, because this is an emergency!  It’s an “existential threat”, and all the other scare words and phrases that are used to energize the process.  Problem is, even if today’s “bad guys” are the ones you had in mind, tomorrow’s bad guys might be your constituents -- or you.  And then what? 

How many Catholic politicians voted for ObamaCare, only to find that part of the long-term agenda is to insist that Catholic hospitals perform abortions, or be put out of business?  Oh, right, there is “wording” in the law that supposedly keeps that from happening, but we all know how laws can morph over time -- and add an executive order here and there and you have, once again, something those who voted for it in the first place wouldn’t recognize.  (I'll mention in passing the use of RICO against anti-abortion protesters.)   

It’s the same old scam over and over, and the Republicans fall for it every time.  Set up a straw man, present it as “the” enemy, get everyone to rally ’round the flag and vote the government basically unlimited powers -- but just in this one area, mind!  And only on a temporary basis!  And, surely common sense will prevail, etc.  Well… when it comes to “temporary”, all you have to do is count the number of New Deal agencies that are still alive and well, and causing untold waste, fraud, and abuse.  Any tool that the supposed conservatives provide to the liberals/statists/totalitarians in order to deal with an alleged enemy, or threat, will eventually be turned back on them.  Want to limit freedom of speech in order to deal with communists?  Now it’s aimed at “talk radio”.  Want to keep communist and radical leftist political parties out of the election process?  Now it's the Tea Party and the libertarians.  Is the press too socialistic?  Too communist-inspired?  It’s the “right-wing” press and media that we’re supposed to be concerned about these days… because everyone knows there is no daylight between them and the KKK, and those guys are nothing but “home-grown terrorists”.  And as far as things being “anti-American”, well… doesn’t it depend on whose definition of “anti-American” we’re using?  According to Obama, it’s anti-American to want to restrict the entry of refugees from any country, in any number, and for any reason.   

And so on.  Again, give them the tools and they’ll use them against you.  I want to call up Trump and Carson and say:  The way to fight big government is not by making government bigger, you dummies!  You have to dismantle it all -- piece by piece, brick by brick… even the parts you “like” once in a while, when they agree with you and act in your interests.  You can’t complain about SWAT teams arresting home schoolers and organic farmers but then turn around and give them anything they want when it comes to drug dealers and immigrants.  You can’t complain about government efforts to suppress free speech but then advocate denying it to Moslems, even “radical” ones.  If you want mosques monitored lest they teach “radicalism”, and then closed if they do, then don’t complain when the government starts pressuring Christian churches to stop teaching against things like gay marriage, or just about anything else that is the political flavor of the month -- i.e. to stop “preaching hate”.  The day may come when Christian churches are threatened with closure (rather then just losing their tax-exempt status) for holding positions that oppose those of the Regime. 

It’s easy to applaud when the Regime beats up on the other guy… but then when you wind up in the cross-hairs, what principles are you going to appeal to, since you’ve long since given up on principles, and on thinking in those terms. 

And as far as this election goes, well… the Republicans are doomed; I’ll say it again.  But at least recent events have convinced them to sign off on increased government powers, regardless of the Constitution… and that was, of course, the idea all along.  This way, the debate is no longer between big government and not-as-big government, but only about big government Type A and big government Type B -- but in the long run there is really only one type, and it’s Type T for Tyranny.     

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Empires Without Borders

As a kind of sidebar to the previous post, I have to point out that the dissolution of our borders does not signify the end of our empire -- of our long reach (military, economic, political) around the globe.  Just the opposite, in fact.  What it represents is a certain stage in the rise and fall of empires.  They begin with a secure and stable home base -- a city, region, country, whatever… and a surplus of resources, which makes “expeditions” possible.  Poor countries don’t go empire-building, in other words.  You have to have more than you need of something -- manpower, weaponry, natural resources, technology… but also less than you think you need of something else -- land, other natural resources, power and glory, and so on.  And, your neighbors have to be in, for whatever reason, a somewhat weakened position.  So the pressure mounts, and before you know it Germany is invading Poland, or England is colonizing India, or the U.S. is striding onto the world stage in World War I.  But regardless of the many varieties of empire-building (which includes old-fashioned “colonialism”, now dreadfully out of fashion), you can be assured that, at the early or expansionist state, there will be a stable home base -- a base of operations and a stable political situation with an enthusiastic, or at least mollified, citizenry, that doesn’t object to the horrendous waste of resources that military campaigns typically represent.  If patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, it is the first refuge of politicians who seek their own power and glory at the expense of the country and its citizenry.

But this is just an early stage of the process, albeit a stage that can last for a considerable time.  But eventually there is a turning of the tide -- empire building and the maintaining of empires seem to get more expensive over time, probably because resistance grows among subject peoples, but also because corruption grows within the empire, sapping resources at an ever greater rate.  At the same time, the price to be paid on the domestic side grows as well, until we find out we’re spending more on “foreign policy”, AKA the military, than we are on domestic needs.  Once this tipping point is reached, the process accelerates until you wind up with, basically, an empire with a hollow center -- that is, an apparently powerful span of influence and control “on which the Sun never sets” but a homeland in political disarray, economic distress, and social and moral chaos.  This is the point at which we find ourselves at this time, and as the demands of empire continue to increase -- as they inevitably do -- the hollowing-out effect will become more severe and more obvious -- and more of a political issue.  (Please note that, so far, there has been no serious questioning of the magnitude of our military expenditures -- probably because both major parties are completely committed to empire, as are the media.) 

Another symptom of this particular stage of things is that, as I discussed previously, borders start to dissolve and we become ever more helpless in the face of invasions (however characterized) -- often, but not necessarily, originating in the same places we colonized and thought we had control of.  So you have this paradoxical situation where we continue to exert ourselves world-wide -- with our most advanced technology going into war-making… er, I mean “defense”… and yet, on the domestic front, all we see, hear, and read about is a rising tide of social chaos, economic distress, welfare-ism, entitlements, anarchy in urban areas, moral dissolution, and a general feeling of unease and existential angst among the citizenry. 

And yet, this may not be so much a paradox as an inevitability -- a natural stage of development, which in the broadest sense represents a decision, or innumerable decisions over many years, to prefer war and empire over domestic prosperity and well-being.  The fact that we are, and have always been, an ideational society (as opposed to one firmly rooted in race, ethnicity, faith, and a sense of place) only serves to aggravate the situation; there is, basically, nothing stopping us from carrying our Utopian quest to the four corners of the globe (yes, that’s technically nonsense), because what’s good for us is good for everyone else on earth, or at least ought to be, if only they would see things our way, and if they don’t, well, we have cruise missiles and drones and so on -- the great pacifiers.

But again, why should an empire increase but the place of its origin suffer?  Why should we be invading other countries while, at the very same time, ours is being invaded (albeit by different means)?  I think it’s because once our ideas -- our idealism -- becomes outward-directed, there is no turning back.  Whenever the subject is brought up, whoever brought it up is accused of “isolationism” and thus kicked out of the marketplace of ideas.  It becomes “empire or bust”, just as so many covered wagons in pioneer days were inscribed “California or bust”.  To quote JFK, we “shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship” in the interest of empire (although he didn’t put it quite that way).  Well, that marvelous bit of rhetoric gave us Vietnam, and all the follies since then have followed the same pattern.  The common element is that as empire increases, domestic standard of living decreases -- or at least fails to live up to its potential, defined as “what would things be like if we weren’t always fighting a war somewhere?”  And don’t talk to me about some trickle-down economic effects of war -- war may be the health of the state, but it’s the death of the economy in the long run, as we are seeing in our time.  Only the elite who are masterminding the whole business come out ahead. 

For what is a border, after all?  It’s a statement, basically -- a way of saying “we live here, we built this, we have our traditions, we’re doing things our way, and if you want to join us kindly get in line, we’ll accept as many newcomers as we can short of over-burdening our economy, disrupting our society, and watering down our traditions and legal system.”  Yes, it represents an “us” vs. “them”, and this is considered very poor form these days.  Because, after all, we believe in “fairness”, don’t we?  And “social justice”?  And there’s that poem on the Statue of Liberty, etc.  So we have to suspend judgment as to how many newcomers we can take, and absorb -- “all are welcome”, not because we are such principled and compassionate people, but that we have forgotten our principles and forgotten that charity begins as home. 

It’s a hard saying, I know, that open borders represent political and social decadence rather than humanity and compassion, but I believe it to be the case.  Yes, we have always accepted immigrants, but standards were in place, the bar was set high, and the gate was narrow.  If we take anyone in for any reason -- or for no reason at all except that they showed up -- we are saying, basically, that we’re no different, we’re no better, and we have nothing worth defending.  (But at the same time, we have unlimited resources, which seems a bit contradictory.)  And this is just groovy for the people who want to get in, few of whom, I’m guessing, give a tinker’s damn about our history, traditions, laws, or culture.  They’re just looking for sustenance and shelter -- perfectly natural human needs -- or, perhaps, for what is called “opportunity”, even though we’ve pretty much fallen into despair on that count of late.  Or, yes, they may be infiltrators seeking to bring the whole system down -- but who can tell?  Is there a DNA test for “terror”?  So we are being undermined by people who only want a chance, but also by people with malicious intent.  We have the huddled masses and the destroyers.  And the question becomes, with all of this going on how much longer can we sustain the American Empire?  Is it really possible that, one of these days, “America” will consist entirely of military bases overseas with nothing but an economic and social desert at home?  Because if you project current trends outward that’s what you get.  I don’t think it’s ever gotten to that point historically -- something has to intervene first.  The question is, what will that something be? 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We Won’t Always Have Paris

The attacks in Paris seem to represent a high water mark (to date) of the combined invasion of and attack on Europe originating in the Islamic world.  The first, and most politically fraught, question, is this:  Are the supposedly needy refugees/immigrants who are being welcomed with more or less open arms into Europe the same people who are committing the terrorist attacks?  The liberals would answer, with indignation, “No!  Of course not!” -- the point being that the refugees are trying to escape from the same people who are terrorizing their home countries and Europe.  But then we read stories about terrorists who enter Europe under the guise of refugees -- and of the possibility that a similar thing could happen here if we admit refugees from Syria.  So there’s the dilemma.  When humanism and compassion come up against self-defense, we have usually chosen self-defense first -- but those days seem to be over. 

And I’m not just talking about the massive social, economic, and political impact of hordes of (mostly undocumented) migrants.  Aside from the terrorism issue, this represents a truly historic phenomenon, comparable to many other great migrations and invasions down through the millennia.  And not the least amazing thing about it is that resistance has been nil -- comparable to our own situation with regard to immigrants coming across our southern border. 

And why has resistance been nil?  Don’t tell me it’s only about humanistic or compassionate motives; if that were true would we, and certain European powers, be bombing the same people on their home turf?  (Oh, wait, that’s called “collateral damage”, right?)  Would we be playing a major role in creating the refugee problem in the first place, by helping to prolong conflicts in places like Syria?  Would we have freed up radical Islamists in Iraq to persecute Christians and drive them out of the country?  So no, forget about humanism and compassion as prime motivators.

Economically -- well, there are arguments, mostly made in the privacy of executive suites, for allowing unlimited numbers of refugees from south of the border -- AKA cheap labor -- to come here.  The counterargument has to do with the welfare state and entitlements -- but of course those expenses are paid by the taxpayers, who have, basically, no say at all in the matter.  Of course, there has always been a suspicion of “foreign elements” on our soil -- going at least as far back as the influx of Irish refugees from the potato famine, and that was before the Civil War.  “Yes, they’re Catholic, but doggone it, we need cheap labor to build the railroads, so let ’em in, they’ll all be ’absorbed’ eventually.”   

That’s the argument on the “capitalist” side.  On the liberal side, the argument (again, discussed mostly behind closed doors) is that immigrants = voters, and liberal/Democratic voters at that, so it’s OK.  Thus, you have a united political will for once -- both establishment conservatives and liberals approve of unlimited immigration, although the capitalists won’t admit it in public.  (The liberal argument, as in Europe, is based on humanism and compassion -- qualities they seldom display in any other context.)

And as for people who fear that they’re going to lose their age-old culture -- or at least have it watered down beyond recognition -- they are given smug and patronizing assurances by those in charge.  There is nothing to worry about!  And besides, you’re just being racist.  Or intolerant, or bigoted, or reactionary, or “fascist” (still a big-ticket label in Old Europe).  Right.  Except -- there are already vast tracts of European cities and suburbs that have been given over to total occupation and domination by Moslems, who are perfectly happy pursuing their own lifestyle and living by their own rules, no matter how much those clash with the law of the land.  They have, in fact, acted as colonizers, except that they entered the scene at the bottom rather than at the top.   

And as to whether that could also happen here, well… how about so many of our “inner cities”, which have been implicitly declared no man’s lands by law enforcement (especially in reaction to the recent controversies over police-citizen relations)?  The bottom line is that it’s difficult to enforce the law in the midst of an anarchistic culture, or one that has a heritage of laws of its own.  Much easier to retreat to the suburbs where they can bug people about letting their grass grow too long.   

So the bottom line for us (in the U.S.) is, if you want the cheap labor and the voters, you have to take the criminal activity and the burden on the welfare system.  Period.  And apparently, this sounds like a perfectly fine bargain to our ruling class.  In Europe’s case, it might be about cheap labor; I doubt if it’s about votes because Europe is already the socialist paradise we aspire to be someday. 

But the question remains -- how is it that we’re defenseless?  And how is it that Europe is even more defenseless?  (I have yet to hear of trains full of undocumented immigrants leaving Juarez and crossing over to El Paso on an hourly basis.)  I feel that -- like for many other issues -- there is something deeper going on here… something instinctive, primordial… something the people affected have no idea of. 

What is it that distinguishes the current crop of immigrants/refugees from the, let’s say, “natives”?  It’s the same thing that has distinguished all invading hordes across the ages -- energy, determination, and sheer numbers.  Have you ever stopped to wonder why the flood of humanity across our southern border is a comparatively recent problem?  The border has been there, in its present configuration, since 1854.  And yes, there have always been people sneaking across.  (Remember when they were called “wetbacks”?  That‘s right up there with tacos and sombreros and Speedy Gonzales.)  And is this flood only about economics -- about the comparative standard of living of Latin America vs. the U.S.?  But that’s probably not as radically different as it used to be.  Perhaps it’s better communication -- TV, the Internet, movies -- that has inspired people to leave everything behind and seek a better life in El Norte. 

I’m sure all of these factors play a role, but I submit that a lot of it has to do with pure population pressure, and especially with the fact that -- to over-simplify a bit, certainly -- they reproduce and we don’t.  Or, we don’t reproduce at anything like the rate at which they do.  So it boils down to something almost as simple as elementary physics -- the differential energy -- therefore pressure -- levels of gases, or water pressure.  There are just too many people trying to get in, and too few trying to keep them out.  And it’s not just a matter of technology, or even “political will” (gravely lacking in this case).  It really is a kind of irresistible force.  (And our border is far from being an immovable object.)  We’ve seen it time and again in history -- invaders usually stick around.  They settle down, become more peaceful… but nothing is ever the same. 

We share, with the Europeans, a kind of pathology -- call it a cultural suicide wish.  We want to be “welcoming”, and “compassionate”, and so on -- but behind it is an unstated premise that our respective cultures have had their day… the experiment is over (the “American experiment” in our case and a kind of cozy form of socialism in Europe’s case)… and it’s time to explore new options -- to welcome fresh blood, vigor, and new cultural offerings.  And when you add to that the spectacle that we are helpless… stupefied… paralyzed… in the face of this new wave of humanity, one really not seen in either our history of that of Europe for many generations… you get the current situation. 

And as for the argument that our Western culture is robust, and enduring, and immune to takeover by mass numbers of the unwashed -- well, all I can say is that in that respect the war is already over, and the other side has won.  By which I mean, our own cultural revolution and that of Europe -- both originating in the 1960s (when else?) -- have done their work.  The long march through the institutions has been largely accomplished, with only a few lingering holdouts (think:  “talk radio” and the Tea Party for us, and the neo-nationalistic “right-wing” political parties in Europe).  Our resistance has been weakened to the point where just about anything could have taken over -- but the Islamic influx was probably not exactly what the revolutionaries had in mind.  For them, the plan was to infiltrate and weaken “traditional” society with its history, customs, religious faith, and mores, so that the home-grown radical element could take over -- and this has, in fact, happened to a great extent if you look at our politics, domestic policies, and of course that Great Satan, political correctness.  But guess what, the elements that took over our culture and that of Europe turn out to have an Achilles heel, namely that although they have great resistance to counter-revolution from within, they have little or none to invasion from without.  They softened up the battlefield only to find that there was a powerful invading army coming in right behind them, taking advantage of much of the same rhetoric and many of the same arguments that the revolutionaries used to such great effect. 

So the argument that we somehow have built-in resistance because we’ve been here longer, and we have a history, and there are more of us than there are of them (so far) -- I call this “voodoo demographics”.  It’s the notion that there is something magical in the way things are -- the status quo -- that, all by itself, will suffice… that now that the revolution is, basically, over with, we can just sit back, relax, and be frozen in place, and not have to worry about any external threats.  (In this, the revolutionaries of the 1960s have become the real conservatives of the 2010s -- things will stay the same from here on out because Utopia has finally been gained, and it is so right, and just, that nothing can prevail against it, either from within or anywhere else.)

The Islamists, of course, have a different idea -- and they are nothing if not students of history.  They were turned back from Europe, by a hair, in the 16th and 17th Centuries, and the Ottoman Empire was dealt a death blow by World War I, and ever since then the Moslem world has been on life support owing to oil and very little else.  But hey, radicalism thrives on adversity, right?  Happy people don’t start revolutions -- and they don’t uproot themselves and take off for unknown lands by the millions unless they have a pretty good idea that, in the long run, they can better their lot -- or, alternatively, restore the Caliphate which will now include the lands they were wrongfully deprived of centuries earlier.  The shame of colonialism must be avenged! -- and, by the way, the French are as guilty as anyone else when it comes to throwing their weight around the Third World. 

The U.S., of course, is a new project for the Islamists, and there is, after all, that ocean in between… but they are over here anyway.  And don’t they call us “Franks”, which harks back to the Crusades?  Aren’t we seen as an extension of Europe, and, to add to the insult, the foremost supporters of Israel -- the ultimate thorn in their side? 

So here we sit, like the latter-day Romans… gazing over the wall at the barbarian armies, but too busy eating, drinking, and being merry to take any of it seriously.  Yes, we have our history, our traditions, and our battered faith (where it survives at all), but they have a kind of energy and determination we don’t understand -- and, perhaps, haven’t understood since the time of the Crusades, when we had the upper hand (at least for a while) and they were the helpless ones.  It’s already true that Europe, as has been pointed out, is basically a museum, with very little similarity between past glories and current decadence.  I have seen the remnants of Islamic glory in Spain; how long before all that is left of Christian glory in Europe is remnants?  And on our side of the “pond”, how long before the American Experiment succumbs to similar pressures from the lowly whose only strength is that of determination and sheer numbers?  We were overcome by a different breed of radicals, but even their days now seem to be coming to an end.  In this, we can take a certain ironic comfort.