What does this horde of slaves,
Of traitors and conjured kings want?
For whom are these ignoble trammels,
these long-prepared irons?
Robert isn't the first gullible infidel to try and build bridges of peace. But the problem is that when you build a bridge, you had better have a good idea of what you will find on the other side. Building bridges with people whose sole use for bridges is to cross them in order to kill you, is nothing but an elaborate form of suicide.
Turkey's Thug in Chief, Erdogan, was quite explicit about the role of the mosque in Islam, saying; "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers." At the time the poem landed Erdogan in a Turkish prison. But time and enough faithful mustered from the barracks of mosques helped propel him to power. Where he has wasted little time pushing an Islamist agenda, which includes the persecution of non-Muslims and the growing escalation of hostilities with Israel.
Paris does have a barracks shortage, at least according to Dalil Boubakeur, of the Paris Mosque, who wants to abolish that whole pesky Separation of Religion and State thing in France, until the French taxpayers have paid for as many mosques as there are churches. Unlike Robert Haroush, Dalil Boubakeur who once said, “The West has dug its grave with its own teeth”, at least does know what he's after. He wants more barracks. Which are useful things to have, if you're fighting a war. And if the West is willing to dig its grave by paying for them, so much the better.
But this raises the obvious question of why anyone would want to pay to renovate someone else's barracks. Even if the people in them didn't have any hostile intent toward you at the moment. And most especially if they do. Even a pacifist doesn't buy bullets for his enemy's gun. That act of folly is reserved not for those who will not fight, but for those who do not even understand that there is a fight. If former conflicts could be divided up into those who were for and those who were against, a sizable number of the present targets of the Clash of Civilizations insist on believing that nothing at all is going on. War, what war? We're having coffee here.
The bridgebuilders of peace would like very much to shift the Clash of Civilizations into an Accommodation of Civilizations, turning a conflict into a nice culture fair in which the French learn about Moroccan weaving techniques, North African Muslim immigrants learn the rules of a Republic, and everyone lives together happily ever after. All that requires is some accommodation on both sides. A recognition of the new reality. That the mosque belongs in Paris as much as the church does. Or as former French President and Mayor or Paris, Jacques Chirac put it; "The roots of Europe are equally Muslim and Christian."
The problem with this lovely expression of tolerance, is that this sort of accommodation only runs one way. The Muslim countries of the Middle East are not eagerly proclaiming that their roots are equally Muslim and Christian. It is rather hard to find a Muslim country where Christians actually are equal, or have any serious prospect of being so. In Egypt, the Copts are a persecuted minority. In the West Bank, the handover of Bethlehem to Muslim rule has seen the local Christian community begin to vanish. In Malaysia, churches are being burned for presuming to use Allah to mean god (which Muslims in the West assure us is exactly what Allah means). While Christians in the Muslim world remain a persecuted minority. While Jews who once fled Muslim countries for Europe, are now in turn being forced into a second-stage exodus from countries such as France who have developed a sizable Muslim population. Against this background, the true crisis is revealed to be a grave shortage of Parisian mosques.
Suppose a businessman walks into the Credit Lyonnais bank seeking a loan of 100,000 Euros. The bank will carefully examine whether he is a legitimate credit risk. They will demand to see all sorts of papers and documents to show that he can be trusted. And then the bank will offer a loan with a high interest rate. Or perhaps the loan officer will shrug, and wish him better luck finding the money somewhere else.
But now suppose that a robber from the street comes into the bank, armed and wearing a sizable bomb strapped to his chest, and demanding 100,000 Euros. No one will ask him for documents or proof that he is credit worthy. He is not at all credit worthy. And that is exactly the point. But instead the Bank President himself will step out, and try to negotiate with him. He will not send him packing, the way he did the legitimate businessman. Instead he will offer him a deal. Take 50,000 Euros. Half of what he is asking for. Interest free. No questions asked. Just as Chirac offered to agree that the roots of Europe are equally Muslim and Christian.
Robbers have a way of getting what they want. Whether they are robbing banks or entire countries. The normal laws of citizens do not apply to them. Through violence they make their own laws. And the society on which they have been inflicted either vigorously defends itself against them, or seeks to negotiate some form of compromise with them.
How does one compromise with a bank robber? Offer him half of what he wants. Israel did that. Now it's done to offering the robbers 90 percent of what they want. The robbers however continue to hold out for more. Which is reasonable behavior for robbers. It is not however reasonable behavior for bank managers to invest money in trying to appease the robbers, rather than in guards and alarm systems. But if one is more afraid of violence, than of losing what one has, such a compromise seems eminently reasonable.
There are two reasons why one would fear violence. Personal safety and moral confidence. The former suffers from physical cowardice. The latter from moral cowardice. But physical cowardice is much more severe an affliction than moral cowardice. For physical cowardice has its limits, but moral cowardice has no limits whatsoever. The physical coward is afraid, so long as he is in danger. The moral coward is afraid regardless of whether he is in danger or not. He stays up worrying over things that have nothing to do with him. He is afflicted with specters of guilt and phantoms of moral uncertainty. The physical coward knows that he has rights, but is afraid to defend them. The moral coward will not defend his rights because he does not believe that he has any. That is why the physical coward fears bank robbers, but the moral coward welcomes them. To the moral coward, the bank robber is a moral force because in a world of uncertainties, he is decisively certain about what he wants.
This is the power of the primitive. To the civilized man of little faith, the savage seems moral because of his simplicity. The savage has no doubts. He does not concern himself over the proper balance between religion and state. He does not worry himself over whether there is a god or not, and if his commands are moral or not. He simply says, The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers." And to the moral coward, such simplicity is both refreshing and unanswerable. Because moral cowards who tangle themselves in moral complexity, will often look backward to a simpler time in human development. To the reactionary lure of easy answers through primitivism.
In 1970, François Truffaut made a film called L'Enfant Sauvage or The Wild Child, about a feral child found naked in the wild. In the movie, he is taken to Paris and taught how to speak and live in human society. But L'Enfant Sauvage was actually based on the real life story of the Wild Boy of Aveyron, a feral child who despite best effort of France's experts could never be turned into a proper human being. The difference between the movie and reality is the same as between what we would like to think is possible, and what is actually so. In the world as we would like it to be, a feral child can be taught to speak French and use proper table manners and be just as one of us. In the world as it really is, a feral child will remain feral. So too Islam.
One cannot import an 8th century ideology rich with blood and death into 21st century Paris, and expect it to have proper table manners. Yet over and over again we insist on telling the story so that the savage is the hero, and the civilized man, the villain. Another more famous fictional adaptation of the Wild Boy of Aveyron, is Victor Hugo's novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The heroes of The Hunchback of Notre Dame are the wild and primitive Quasimodo and Esmeralda, even Clopin, the uncivilized outsiders contending against the wickedness of the authorities.
The narrative of the Good Monster, the Noble Savage, the Wise Primitive contending against the evils of a corrupt and decadent civilization has been told and retold over and over again, many times beyond counting. But the stories we tell ourselves have a way of coming to life. And in the real life version of such stories, the civilization that nurtures us turns out not to have been nearly so ignoble as we led ourselves to believe, and the savages coming to free us from the burdens of reason and morality, are not nearly so nobly primitive as we wanted to think. Instead they are like us, in that they want what we have. The difference is that we are no longer willing to kill for it. But they are.
And so Paris has a mosque shortage. Galway will be getting its first mosque. A mega-mosque will rise near Ground Zero. Because you can never have too many barracks, even when you're winning the war. And while we try to be reasonable, they endeavor to be most unreasonable. Because when force is on your side, you don't need to be reasonable. You just press as hard and far as you can. Over and over again, until you win.
The mosque is the barracks of a different civilization. One that does not seek equality, but dominion. Whether through the simple demographics of the Immigration Jihad, or the violent confrontations of angry mobs and armed terrorists-- the question is not so much "how" as "when". The robber enters the bank and the negotiations begin. Violence is the wheel that keeps the negotiations turning, on and on. The vaults are emptied, one by one. And still the process continues. Until there is nothing left, and no longer anything to negotiate.
What! Foreign cohorts
Would make law in our homes!
Great God ! By chained hands
Our heads would bow under the yoke
You really want to see the establishment of an Islamic Republic in France?
Yes, but not only for France. I hope the whole world becomes Muslim.
Abdelkader Bouziane, Imam of Vénissieux
Spanish language translation at REFLEXIONES SOBRE MEDIO ORIENTE Y EL MUNDO