Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The Modern Assault on Pluralism
The context really doesn't matter to me, as it shouldn't matter to any free-thinking individual that values a pluralistic society, so I won't write about it. Two people were arrested. Perhaps this is my Soviet upbringing getting the better of me, but I think they arrested the wrong people. When you're surrounded by a mob screaming "Allakhu Akhbar" at the top of their lungs, pumping their fists in the air and displaying body language indicating they're going to rush you, kill you and mutilate your remains - it's an experience I think we all should have, at least once - focusing on the individuals actually engaging in violence is, well, insufficient.
See, in Russia, they would understand that it's not the two or three idiots throwing punches at the cops who are the real problem, but that woman shrieking "Allakhu Akhbar" in the back, goading the Muslim men into a religious frenzy by challenging their commitment to defend their faith and their prophet. So, in Russia, yes, they would have "beat the stupid" out of the two or three guys who actually attacked police officers - would they try such a thing in an Arab country? - but they also would have cracked a baton against that woman's skull, you know, by accident, until she stopped shrieking and calmed down. People don't play games when they know there are immediate and painful consequences for their actions. But that's Russia, and we're in civilized western societies, where instead of offenders fearing police, it's the police running away!
Anyone who has been paying attention knows that incidents of violence by radical Muslims directed against people they don't agree with have been rising of late, and are relentlessly penetrating the media's cowardly blackout. An Israeli Ambassador was attacked in broad daylight in Britain. A Jewish student was punched in the head during a celebration of Israel's 62nd birthday, his assailant arrested in my hometown of Milwaukee. Attacks on French Jews, and even Jewish looking people in France have become commonplace. Individually, these are mere unconnected incidents. Yet, taken globally, with attacks increasing around the world, avoiding obvious conclusions - that these are no statistical anomalies, but the products of a culture that will not tolerate dissent - is proving more difficult.
What's more, it's becoming clear that Islamist and Arabist radicals are bolstered by each act; indeed, their violence serves to monopolize and radicalize the conversation within their own communities. Their sense of impunity grows with each attempt by authorities to calm the situation and dismiss the violence as simple hooliganism. Such weakness is seen for what it is, an almost tacit approval, for if a government with a monopoly on force truly wished to burnish its will, goes the reasoning, it would do so. Hooliganism - a preoccupation of intemperate youth - as we're increasingly learning, this is not. Nor is the growing violence propagated by uneducated people who have a problem articulating themselves in English, or who are merely concerned by the wrongs or excesses of Israeli policies.