The West's Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations?

Article excerpt

The West's Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations?

Tony Blankley

Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2005

This book is important because it illustrates so well a genre that is almost certain to become common, and perhaps increasingly popular, as the West becomes ever more terriryingly beseiged within a world of anger and resentment. We can expect many strident "calls to action" by individuals of magisterial personality to whom a "power ahead to victory" strategy seems intuitively right for its directness, but who see only part of the challenges facing the West and whose acceptance of the conventional wisdom on many things imposes conceptual limitations. We might well call this the "testosterone genre."

It is natural enough when a mortal threat is perceived to flay away at it, and to suppose that if the flaying is done with enough will and strength the threat will crumble before it. This will work against some threats, and will always appeal to the "man of action," which is why books predicated on this psychology will be instinctively attractive to many. The problem, however, is that flaying away is no solution if one is tramping around in a colony of fire ants or sinking in quicksand. Something more thoughtful is needed.

Tony Blankley is the editorial page editor for The Washington Times, was a speech writer and senior policy analyst for President Ronald Reagan, and was for seven years press secretary to U. S. congressman Newt Gingrich while the latter was Speaker of the House. His book is of the "action" genre. Its merit is that it sees well-and will help to raise consciousness about-the demographic threat to Europe arising from Islamic immigration and increasing radicalism, and more broadly the conundrum posed by the interface between a West that has lost energy and confidence and an Islam in turmoil that is overflowing with fervor, resentment, pride and energy. These are important strengths. The book's weakness is in its intellectual limitations, which lead to an arguably disastrous strategy.

Blankley points to the fact that a Europe that has long been experiencing a below-replacement birthrate has allowed an on-going Muslim immigration that has by now brought the Islamic population in Europe to over twenty million. Many of the newcomers, he observes, do not favor integrating into European society, but even go so far recently as to demand that Islamic law-sharia-be applied to them. It has gotten to a point where some Islamic sectors in European cities are "no-go zones" for native Europeans. Beyond the problem of assimilation is the added ingredient that the Muslim population is increasingly infected by Islamist extremism. So far, there has been little effective opposition to this demographic invasion: "Europe as a whole-but particularly its leadership class-has been in the deepest possible denial."

Nevertheless, Blankley is optimistic. He sees that in the dialectic of push-and-shove that one might well expect in such a situation, the provocations from the extremism itself are already producing some awakening among Europeans. "Anti-Islamist fear and anger" has begun "to break through the surface calm perpetuated by the European elite...." Blankley casts this in a context broader even than Europe when he writes that "in the strangest possible irony, the threat of radical Islam is giving the West a second chance to regain its faith in itself."

His perception of danger is not limited, of course, to Europe's internal problem. He sees that in the world at large "today's Islamist insurgency is something different from anything we have experienced before." Within the world Muslim population of 1.3 billion people, there are the insurgents themselves, who are "murdering large numbers of people in what they feel is their religious duty"; there is a broader circle of those who are "supportive or protective of these killers"; and then there is "a yet larger number of Muslims, while not supportive of such tactics, [who] share many of the terrorists' religious convictions and perceptions. …