I have been wondering how Muslims have changed or how their conditions have changed. But something else now seems more likely: The West has changed.
The change has been good in so many ways. But it has weakened our ability to protect ourselves against militant Islam.
Islam has been through two previous jihads. During the first one, Islam conquered much of western Europe, coming up through Spain and making it to the middle of France before they were stopped. In another wave of conquest, they came in through eastern Europe and made it to Austria before they were stopped at the walls of Vienna. They receded in power from that point on. Europe had united against them under the banner of Christianity.
But religious fervor has declined in the West. I personally think that's a good thing. But what uniting force has replaced it?
The bad news is the thing that replaced religious fervor has made the West less capable of defending itself. It is as if we have removed a form of immunity we once had.
Religious belief has been replaced by a belief in multiculturalism, which by itself (and generally speaking) is also a good thing. The passionate belief in everyone's right to believe what they want, and the belief that every culture is unique and special and worthy — these have replaced Christian dogmatism in the West.
A widespread belief in multiculturalism is great, but will it help us protect ourselves from invasion? Will it help us unite against a common foe?
Multiculturalism has become almost a religion and is very widespread throughout western countries. It is one of the reasons different cultures have been able to live together in relative peace in democratic countries.
This tremendous spread of tolerance is wonderful. But it has been allowing Islam to rise relatively unimpeded. After all, militant Muslims have a right to believe what they want, right? No culture is better than any other, and it is arrogant and old-fashioned to say otherwise, right? That means no religion is worse than any other. Everyone has the right to believe and preach what they want, even if it is jihad, even in downtown London and New York City. Muslim leaders have openly exhorted their followers to overthrow the government — something that in any other context would be treason and sedition.
In other words, no matter how passionate we may be about multiculturalism or how many of us are united about its rightness, it won't help us defend ourselves.
What could help us defend ourselves? That's the question. What is worth defending? If we can't figure that out, the orthodox Muslims will win. Commitment always beats half-heartedness. Absolute commitment crushes it easily.
What are we westerners absolutely committed to? What is worth fighting for and even dying for?
I believe the answer is freedom.
In fact, one of the reasons people have come to respect and value multiculturalism is that it helps us live in freedom. It helps people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds to live together without harassment and in relative peace.
People in the West value freedom, and they value it enough to defend it — conservatives and liberals and everywhere in between. We believe in freedom of speech, freedom to worship (or not) as we wish. We believe in the power to vote for both women and men, and the freedom to think and read whatever we want.
Orthodox Islam is passionately anti-freedom.
None of the rights above are allowed in an Islamic state, and make no mistake, an Islamic state is what orthodox Muslims are after. They want to make western countries into Islamic states, and you may be surprised to discover, they are already doing it.
This is a war. Freedom against slavery. Am I overstating my case? Not even close. When you live in an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law, you have to pray 5 times a day. Women have to be accompanied by a male relative wherever they go, and they cannot get a job. They have no voice, they have no rights. Men are slaves to the Islamic state, and women are the mens' slaves. (Read first-hand accounts of what it is like in an Islamic state.)
You probably know all this already. But many people, in their passionate commitment to multiculturalism, refuse to entertain the idea. Try talking about the nature of militant Islam in polite company, and most people will gasp as if you had blasphemed, and they will passionately defend Islam, even if they know nothing about it. This is multicultural tolerance working to defend the right of everyone to believe as they wish. If it wasn't so dangerous in the long run, even a blind commitment to multiculturalism would be beautiful in its own way.
But as Islamists continue to gain more power, recruits, and technology (and they will), militant Islam will become harder and harder to ignore, and the situation will become increasingly serious.
We the people of the West, people who live in liberal democracies, will need to unify to preserve our liberties. We will need a powerful unifying belief we can passionately defend. When that time comes, remember: One possible answer is freedom.