The Storm Breaks
Daniel Drezner's excellent post on The State of Islam uses the Organization of the Islamic Conference's 10th Summit as a proxy for measuring the state of Muslim attitudes toward the Unbeliever, and the Jew in particular. The widely reported remarks of Mahatir Mohammad to the effect that Jews rule the world are Drezner's first datum. The fact that the remarks went unchallenged, and were indeed applauded by some Muslim leaders like Megawati Soekarnoputri is his second.
While Al-Qaeda has been operationally trounced, it has apparently succeed in raising a standard under which many Muslims, including their leaders, are ready to flock. Mahatir Mohammad's speech represents an open rebellion against the heretofore unchallenged diplomatic legacy of the West. It is a public rejection of the secular standards of conduct which have largely governed the conduct of international affairs since the Second World War. It marks the return of long banished words like Jew, Christian and Mussulman, pogrom and jihad to the vocabulary of international discourse. It is a line in the sand inscribed with a scimitar.
And the sword has been sharpened on both sides. An ABC poll taken in mid-October of 2003 showed that:
The percentage of Americans having an unfavorable view of Islam has jumped from 24 percent in January 2002 to 33 percent now. The portion of Americans who say that Islam "doesn't teach respect for other faiths" rose from 22 percent to 35 percent.
This is astounding considering that the January 2002 poll was taken in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attack and that the Western public has been unremittingly assured by its leaders that Islam is pacific. There has been a mustering in the night driven by some unspoken instinct which the press is loathe to report.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the aircraft which destroyed the World Trade Center towers smashed the United Nations as well. The great loser of the post 9/11 world has been the secular internationalist movement, what Steven den Beste refers to as Tranzism, symbolized by the European Union, the International Criminal Court and the United Nations. Mahatir openly regards secular internationalism as another abominable Jewish invention, to be rejected root and branch. At the 10th Islamic Summit, he presented his false dichotomy:
We are up against a people who think. They survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power.
And he wants it destroyed. Yet in his own way and for other reasons, President George W. Bush has been loosening the foundations of Tranzism from the other direction as well, nowhere so effectively as by his magnificently ironic characterization of Islam as "the Religion of Peace". And by paying outward respect towards the United Nations while disregarding it in practice, he has single handedly demolished it, with its attendant companions, like the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto, regarding it perhaps, as less a defense than a hindrance, more a suffocating cloak than a sure shield. He too has been raising a standard to which the many have flocked, sensing and perhaps anticipating, what course events would take. It is not the flag of Jewish conspiracy, but really the American vision of 1776, offered up to a larger world.
Mahatir should have known that those who would present, sword in hand, a final revelation to the world will inevitably call forth a new prophet from out of the desert -- or from beyond the seas.