Saturday, March 13, 2004

The Ichneumon Wasp

The European left has reacted to news that the suspects in the March 3 Madrid train massacre were Moroccans by blaming the United States, representing it as the vengeance of Al Qaeda which Spain brought on itself for helping America in Iraq. It was natural that Osama, who remembers the fall of the Abassid caliphate well, should recall how the Mongols erected a tower of skulls before every city sacked before sending word ahead that any resistance would suffer the same fate. And so the Spanish victims caused their own deaths by being tardy in submission. The Left is now the messenger boy of Islamofacism. They know their place.

In the early 1990s, cadres of the Philippine Communist New People's Army went to Mindanao to establish a "tactical alliance" with Muslim separatists. They brought their Maoist Red Books and some light machineguns, thinking to overawe the Islamic yokels with worldly wisdom obtained at the University of the Philippines and a few hoary tips from Soviet training manuals. Instead they found a hard core of thousands who had trained in Afghanistan and the Balkans, who scoffed at the rusty Communist machineguns and whose petrodollars made the paltry Euroleft donations seem like chump change. It was a moment of revelation. Dan Darling at Regnum Crucis describes a similar moment during the early meetings between ETA and Hamas. The home team had brought their pathetic assets to the table.

The members of ETA said that although they had left in their sufficient arsenal a few hundred packages of dynamite, stolen a little earlier in two gunpowder magazines from France, they feared that it had begun to spoil. In spite of that, Hamas accepted the offer.

In return they were dazzled by a cave of wonders. The Islamists took ETA members to Afghanistan on forged Belgian passports, where they were trained in the use of MANPADS and given a few weapons via Greek freighters and a pleasure boat. That earnest was obviously convincing because somewhat later, the ETA sent 80 militants to Iraq for further training. The pecking order had been established and the coordination structured accordingly. In practice the relation between militants, even in the European and American Left, is governed by threat and intimidation. It is unnoticeable to the outer fringes of the Movement but grows increasingly more severe as one approaches the "committed" core. Among sympathizers in the media, entertainment and academic industries, obedience is largely enforced by social pressure or economic sanction. Closer in the pretenses are dropped and operational rules prevail. At the Central Committee level, as David Horowitz knows, decisions are enforced under penalty of death. Mercy is shown, within the Marxist IRA, by whether your kneecap is blown out from the front or the back. The arrival of the Islamists in the West, like a new gang arriving in town, has changed the dynamic considerably. They are given a wide berth by the Left, not merely out of a shared hatred for America, but out of fear -- pure operational fear. When the adnan or call to prayer is sounded from the bell tower at the state-funded University of Miami (hat tip: Little Green Footballs) to the approval of Leftist claques, there is a more than mutual admiration involved. People remember Salman Rushdie and the BBC Islamic prayer rooms have a certain preventive quality about them. The moribund Left knows who is boss and is selling the only thing they have remaining: access to media and cultural institutions, which suits the Islamofascists just fine. A division of labor has been established in which the Left provides the paralyzing injection on Western society leaving the jihadis a clear field within which to operate.

Steven Jay Gould, in arguing for the existence of natural evil, could find no better analogy than the ichneumon wasp, after which the monster in Alien was modeled, and which not coincidentally describes Islamofascism and its Leftist helpers.

The ichneumon, like most wasps, generally live freely as adults but pass their larva life as parasites feeding on the bodies of other animals, almost invariably members of their own phylum, the Arthropoda. The most common victims are caterpillars (butterfly and moth larvae), but some ichneumons prefer aphids and other attack spiders. Most host are parasitized as larvae, but some adults are attacked, and many tiny ichneumons inject their brood directly into the eggs of their host.

The free-flying females locate an appropriate host and then convert it into a food factory for their own young. Parasitologists speak of ectoparasitism when the uninvited guest lives on the surface of its host, and endoparasitism when the parasite dwells within. Among endoparasitic ichneumons, adult females pierce the host with their ovipositor and deposit eggs within. (The ovipositor, a thin tube extending backward from the wasp's rear end, may be many times as long as the body itself.) Usually, the host is not otherwise inconvenienced for the moment, at least until the eggs hatch and the ichneumon larvae begin their grim work of interior excavation.

Among ectoparasites, however, many females lay their eggs directly upon the host's body. Since an active host would easily dislodge the egg, the ichneumon mother often simultaneously injects a toxin that paralyzes the caterpillar or other victim. The paralyzes may be permanent, and the caterpillar lies, alive but immobile, with the agent of its future destruction secure on its belly. The egg hatches, the helpless caterpillar twitches, the wasp larvae pierces and begins its grisly feast.

Since a dead and decaying caterpillar will do the wasp larvae no good, it eats in a pattern that cannot help but recall, in our inappropriate anthropocentric interpretation, the ancient English penalty for treason — drawing and quartering, with its explicit object of extracting as much torment as possible by keeping the victim alive and sentient. As the king's executioner drew out and burned his client's entrails, so does the ichneumon larvae eat fat bodies and digestive organs first, keeping the caterpillar alive by preserving intact the essential heart and central nervous system. Finally, the larvae completes its work and kills its victim, leaving behind the caterpillar's empty shell. Is it any wonder that ichneumons, not snakes or lions, stood as the paramount challenge to God's benevolence during the heyday of natural theology?

This thing must never reach the stars.