"The battle that is being waged today is a battle between those who defend the right of individuals against the right of collectivities," writes Paul Belien in The Brussels Journal, catching an important "defect" in the argument promulgated by twelve international authors in "Together facing the new totalitarianism,” a manifesto posted yesterday on the website of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten of Mohammed-cartoon fame. Michelle Malkin and other fearless defenders of freedom on this side of the pond are promulgating the manifesto and challenging the New York Times to endorse it. We agree and have posted before about the good works of several of the signers -- including two dauntless woman word warriors, former Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali and current Muslim Irshad Manji -- but are persuaded by Belien's argument that the anti-jihad manifesto misses an important point:
While in America a cultural war is going on between “blue” (liberal) and “red” (conservative), the cultural war in Europe is a three-way war between the European equivalent of the American “blue” (socialist), the European equivalent of the American “red” (conservative, though Europeans often use the term “liberal”) and Muslims. I prefer to refer to the first group as “secularist” (although I realise this is a generalization and many Christians belong to these “secularists,” including -- unfortunately -- most of our bishops and priests) and to the second group as “Christian” (although many agnostics belong to it). The reason why I make this distinction is because the second group is prepared to acknowledge the importance of the cultural traditions of the West, rooted in the Judeo-Christian values without which classical-liberalism could never have evolved.
The still-unratified European Union Constitution's denial of Europe's Judeo-Christian roots in favor of a bloodless, euphemistic reference to "the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe" comes to mind, as does Soviet Dissident Vladimir Bukovsky's claim of a "conspiracy" of Soviet and European leftist propagandists to turn the EU into a socialist organization. In an earlier post, Belien fleshed out his argument:
Hirsi Ali is right to oppose the inhumane treatment of women and homosexuals in Muslim societies. But she is wrong where she equates any criticism of feminism and “gayism” by religious people to inhumane treatment at the hands of Muslims . . . But the question must be asked whether, by fighting religion in general through state imposed “measures,” she and other liberal European secularist religion-haters, are not undermining Europe’s capacity to counter Muslim extremism from a healthy Christian foundation.
Is it too much of a stretch to draw an unholy comparison between EU secularists' desire to erase the memory of Europe's Judeo-Christian roots and the Taliban's attempt a few years back to erase the memory of Afghanistan's cultural heritage by destroying those giant Buddhas of Bamiyan? You've probably already heard the one about Yale University's embrace of Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, who embarked in March of 2001 upon a "charm offensive" to justify the organization's desecrations. In googling our own blogging on the subject, we found the perfect quotation:
”Totalitarianism is not possible unless you erase the past," said radio host Dennis Prager as he spoke before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting room to protest the plans for removing the cross from the county seal.
First they came for the cross from the county seal?
Update: Stop The ACLU [via Dr. Sanity] invites bloggers and readers to add your name and trackback to the list in support of the anti-jihad manifesto.
Update II: 'Wish we'd come up with Alexandra von Maltzan's brilliant -- and totally horrifying -- Photoshop image of where tolerance of intolerance could end up at All Things Beautiful.