In the immediate aftermath of the May 3 terror attack in Texas, the media response, not surprisingly, was to blame the organizers of the “Draw Muhammad” contest for the violence. Chris Matthews of MSNBC nailed down the left wing of the reaction when he said, “I think [Pamela Geller] caused this trouble.” Yet the response of most so-called “conservatives” was not all that different — more tactful, more nuanced, perhaps, but essentially the same: “If it weren’t for the hatred promoted by people like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, and Geert Wilders, this tragic violence would never have occurred.” The rarity of dissent from the elite consensus on what happened in Garland made strange bedfellows out of left- and right-leaning pundits such as Bill Maher and Sean Hannity.
Conservatives who were fond of quoting Voltaire made themselves scarce during the controversy. All right, so I said, “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” But fer cryin’ out loud, that doesn’t apply to Islamophobia!
So what happened? All those people who were proud to link up arms and carry “Je suis Charlie Hebdo” signs in candlelight vigils back in January — where did they go?
A large part of the aversion reaction to the Draw Muhammad contest can be attributed to the organizers’ reputation as “right-wing extremists”. The Charlie Hebdo editors and cartoonists may have been “Islamophobes”, but they were reliably left-wing, and politically correct in all their other opinions. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, on the other hand, are already known as right-wingers, which puts them beyond the pale. And Geert Wilders has long been identified as a “neo-fascist” in this country, even by ostensible conservatives.
So a certain level of shunning is to be expected.
This explains some of the reaction to the attack in Garland. But not all of it. Many alleged conservatives — including Bill O’Reilly, Laura Ingraham, Donald Trump, and numerous others — have joined the chorus against Pamela Geller. A plumbing of the depths of the zeitgeist is warranted.
The following analysis of the likely causes of the reactions to Garland is entirely subjective. Since Dymphna and I don’t own a TV, my assessment of our cultural miasma is based on the ebb and flow of Internet-based information.
A caveat: conspiracy theories are to be avoided as plausible explanations for what’s going on. It may be that the course of events has been manipulated by a few hundred or a couple of thousand devilishly clever and well-concealed puppet-masters who pull the strings of all our politicians and media people. But that’s not a useful line of enquiry. Not only is it an unfalsifiable proposition — any lack of evidence for it being proof of the diabolical genius of the conspirators at hiding their machinations — but it also flies in the face of my personal experience of ordinary people, who after all make up the bulk of the participants in these events.
So you’re welcome to your theories about the role of the Protocols of the Trilateral Elders of Bohemian Grove; just don’t air them here.
One of the basic premises for this analysis is that the vast majority of the players are people of mostly good intentions. They want to do the right thing, but also try to make a profit, or improve their status in the eyes of their colleagues, or maintain their privileges and perks. Or some combination of these things, all while avoiding being killed by the Religion of Peace.
Yes, it’s possible that such people are being manipulated by devious politicians and banksters who direct the course of events from their eyries in the strongholds of the New World Order. But I’m more interested in guessing the motives of these foot-soldiers who actuate all the schemes of the movers and shakers.
There are four general categories of possible motivation. Functioning together and separately, they account for the intense and broad-based reaction against Pamela Geller and the Texas Motoons.
The original Danish Mohammed cartoon crisis of 2005-2006, the prototype for all subsequent cartoon crises, was the indirect result of fear. Even before the Western zeitgeist had coalesced into pre-emptive self-censorship, there was a reluctance among Western artists to depict Mohammed. This was what Flemming Rose, the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, discovered when he commissioned various artists to draw Mohammed cartoons: only twelve were willing to contribute. There was already a general understanding of the inherent risks, at least in Denmark.
The ensuing fury of the “Muslim street” was enough to instill fear in the hearts of artists and editors. Any cartoonist of significant public stature — that is, any whose work would likely generate noticeable publicity — could be reasonably expected to eschew the drawing of Motoons. Only the most fearless — or in the case of Molly Norris, the most clueless — dared to violate the Mo-taboo. Lars Vilks, Charlie Hebdo, and most recently Bosch Fawstin have knowingly and courageously entered the Islamic firing range with their various works of art. The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists paid with their lives for insulting the prophet, and Messrs. Vilks and Fawstin would have met the same fate if the mujahideen had succeeded in their assassination attempts.
Fear is an understandable motivation for not drawing Mohammed cartoons, and for disapproving of them when they appear. But it really only applies to the artists and editors themselves. Talking heads on TV shows and op-ed writers in the papers are unlikely to be targeted for simply supporting the right of artists to draw Mohammed. Commentators really don’t have to worry — so why join in the chorus of condemnation? And, if the whole thing makes them a little nervous, why don’t they just remain silent and sit this one out? Why the public expression of outrage against Pamela Geller?
One possible explanation is something I call institutional fear. Although a pundit may not experience personal fear, there is a general fear percolating through his media milieu, radiating outwards from the artists, writers, and editors who would be on the front line as potential targets if they ever dared to criticize or ridicule Islam. In addition, managers of media companies may be justifiably concerned that their corporate offices will be firebombed. A culture of fear develops within the media industry, infecting even non-combatant pundits, who thus feel compelled speak out and repudiate all insults against Islam in hope of protecting themselves and their fellows from the ire of the Hosts of Mohammed.
Institutional fear can also be generated by fiscal considerations. A media outlet has to consider the possibility of lost revenue if advertisers withdraw, or if Muslims and their leftist allies boycott the parent company. Administrators may face an increase in insurance premiums, or find themselves completely unable to insure certain events. Retail outlets may refuse to carry certain books, magazines, DVDs, etc. All of these consequences impact the bottom line, so that even if an executive has no personal fear, his fiduciary responsibility to his shareholders may require him to choose the “cowardly” path.
Personal fear and institutional fear may combine and spread to permeate an entire industry with fear derivatives. After a while, it becomes simply unthinkable in most of the media industry to criticize Islam or make jokes about it. Consciously or unconsciously, fear derivatives inform the decisions of most media personnel, ensuring that they buy into dominant memes such as “A Tiny Minority of Extremists”, “Hijacked a Noble Religion”, “Nothing to do with Islam”, and all the other fairy tales peddled by the suave Muslim Brotherhood operatives who appear on television and speak at public events.
This widespread culture of unacknowledged fear is closely related to the next causative factor.
2. The Herd Instinct
The social status of the average professional is determined by two metrics: his monetary rewards (or other material gains), and the esteem in which he is held by his fellow humans. The latter consideration may include the regard of his professional colleagues, the applause of his audience, his evaluation by some sort of ratings agency, and various other means by which his place in society is affirmed. Taken together, these signals inform him of his status and ranking as a member of his profession. To be held in low esteem by the group — or worse yet, to be ostracized — is to be avoided at all costs.
To ensure the safety of his position as a member in good standing, the insecure media professional will tend to say the same general things that most of his fellows are saying. By the time the fear derivatives trickle down to him, the possibility of being slaughtered by Islam may no longer be the foremost issue. The important thing is simply to confirm his position in the middle of the herd by denouncing the “demonization of an entire religion” and repudiating “those who promote hatred”.
In the case of the Draw Muhammad contest, the rush to join the herd was accelerated by the “right-wing extremist” label that was already affixed to the organizers of the event. No one has a worse case of the Screaming Nazi Heeber-Jeebers than a centrist conservative with a prime-time TV slot; hence the alacrity with which people like Bill O’Reilly joined their more leftist brethren in pronouncing anathema against Pamela Geller. By such means one’s position in the center of the herd is assured.
One of the defining characteristics of the media herd is the perceived imperative for tolerance. In its original manifestation, the impulse is a commendable one, rooted in the Golden Rule and the common religious traditions of Western Civilization.
As tolerance loses its connection with its cultural roots, however, it metastasizes into a more toxic form. El Inglés labeled this phenomenon “deranged altruism”: tolerance taken to such irrational extremes that it becomes self-destructive and suicidal.
Pathological tolerance is rife in 21st-century Western culture. Take, for example, the Norwegian pundit Bjørn Stærk, who wrote:
Brave is sitting down calmly on a plane behind a row of suspicious-looking Arabs, ignoring your own fears, because you know those fears are irrational, and because even if there’s a chance that they are terrorists, it is more important to you to preserve an open and tolerant society than to survive this trip. Brave is insisting that Arabs not be searched more carefully in airport security than anyone else, because you believe that it is more important not to discriminate against people based on their race than to keep the occasional terrorist from getting on a plane.
Or General George Casey Jr., the U.S. Army chief of staff, who said in the wake of the Fort Hood massacre:
It would be a shame — as great a tragedy as this was — it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well.
And then there’s the British journalist Robert Fisk. After being beaten up by a mob in Afghanistan, he made a point of “understanding” his assailants:
“I don’t want this to be seen as a Muslim mob attacking a Westerner for no reason. They had every reason to be angry — I’ve been an outspoken critic of the US actions myself. If I had been them, I would have attacked me.”
In a similar vein, a young Frenchman who was badly beaten by four “youths” on a Paris bus could stand as a model for Millennials all across the West. After a CCTV video of the attack made the young fellow famous overnight, he gave an interview in which he said that his attackers were not racists, and the incident had nothing to do with immigration. Furthermore, he deplored the fact that “extremists” were circulating the video. He did not want the incident to be exploited by “racist” whites to promote bigotry and intolerance.
The toxic tolerance on display in France becomes that much worse when it reaches this side of the Atlantic, due to Americans’ deep-seated ideals about religious freedom. Islam is a religion; therefore Muslims must be free to practice it; therefore we must tolerate what they do. If we have to turn a blind eye to all the evidence for what Islam is really all about, then so be it — tolerance requires it.
I felt the same way about Islam until 1981, when I read Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey by V.S. Naipaul. The book permanently changed my perspective on Islam, and I realized that a civilizational war must eventually come.
Prior to that, however, I saw Muslims the way I saw Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. They wore their exotic clothes, and they worshipped in buildings with strange inscriptions on the outside. Otherwise they were essentially the same as we were, and wasn’t America a wonderful place, that it could accommodate such diverse religious beliefs!
I suspect that the majority of Americans still believe something like this. If you haven’t been paying much attention, and take the TV’s word on the “nothing to do with Islam” meme, then your innate sense of tolerance and fair play requires you to allow Muslims into your town, to provide them with footbaths and halal food at school, to affirmatively not discriminate against them in any way, and to rationalize away all instances of bad behavior.
Something similar is at work among the media types. They’re Americans (most of them), and tolerance of other religions is mandatory for them. Anyone who maligns or mocks another religion is execrable from that standpoint, and must be denounced. Hence the knee-jerk vitriol aimed at Pamela Geller.
It must be hard for them to grasp the fact that Islam is primarily a political ideology, and a totalitarian one at that. And in any case, if you were to point it out to them, they would be loath to listen, because you’re not being nice, and everyone must at all costs be nice.
4. Being Nice
Christianity is still vital in the United States, but not among media people. Most of the talking heads and pundits are atheists, agnostics, or non-observant adherents of whatever faith they come from.
The deracinated version of Christian ethics that they practice has lost its scriptural and theological basis. What remains is the Golden Rule, the notion of a general tolerance towards others, and a requirement not to be offensive to others. They have either never encountered the Gospels, or failed to study them more than superficially. They don’t realize that being nice wasn’t high on the list of Christ’s goals. They don’t know that much of what Jesus did and said was deeply offensive to a substantial number of his listeners — to the extent that they screamed to crucify him when given the chance.
One can only see “niceness” as mandatory for Christians if one has largely abandoned Christianity. Which is exactly what has happened to our chattering classes — the deep spiritual well that fed us for centuries has dried up for them, leaving only a damp silt of niceness over their ethical concepts.
This may explain most of the aversive reaction to the Draw Muhammad contest in Garland. Above all else, Pamela Geller was not playing nice. And, to add a dollop of subliminal racism to that outrage, she was being mean to brown people (since Muslims are all honorary browns, regardless of their genetic heritage). She was being a racist meanie where niceness was absolutely mandatory. Therefore she had to be shown the error of her ways.
And, yes, the implication was that if the terrorists had succeeded in bumping her off, in a way she would have deserved it. Because she wasn’t being nice.
The question remains: why did some conservative media people stand by Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Bosch Fawstin, and all the other brave people who put together the Draw Muhammad event?
What made Mark Steyn, Megyn Kelly, and Sean Hannity different?
Why were they willing to buck the herd consensus and stand with the Motoonists on principle?
What made them decide not to be nice?
I don’t have the answers to those questions. I don’t really know anything about the religious faith of the dissenters, so I can’t tell whether there was a spiritual component to their resistance.
But the fact that they were so few in number is discouraging. It tells us how far gone we are, and how hard it will be to resist the eventual Islamization of the United States of America. The opinion-makers among the intelligentsia don’t have sufficient spiritual resources to mount a meaningful defense of their own heritage.
We’re fortunate that there were a handful of people willing to say “I believe in free speech” without adding the “BUT…” clause. But the vast majority of pundits did add that “but”.
The clause that follows the “but” is the one that will eventually rule over us. By then the part about “free speech” will have been forgotten.
Hat tip for the Bjørn Stærk quote: Fjordman.