While the Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors preached off-with-their-heads to all who would not submit to their death cult, the ancient, life-affirming craft of exquisite Persian rugmaking carried on the true faith. Above, Baby goes for -- what else? -- the jugular of one of our potted palms against the backdrop of a magic carpet purchased in the era of the War to end all wars by Roy Davidson, founder of the School of Practical Art, which became the Art Institute of Boston under Tuck's leadership in the sixties and seventies.
"Twenty-seven years ago, because Islam didn’t fit into the old cold war template, analysts mostly discounted it," writes Mark Steyn in his City Journal tour de force [via Charlottesvillian at TigerHawk, who says "It is an essential read and is far too awesome to excerpt properly"] on what happened while England and the rest of the West slept:
In 1989, with the Warsaw Pact disintegrating before his eyes, poor beleaguered Mikhail Gorbachev received a helpful bit of advice from the cocky young upstart on the block: “I strongly urge that in breaking down the walls of Marxist fantasies you do not fall into the prison of the West and the Great Satan,” Ayatollah Khomeini wrote to Moscow. “I openly announce that the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the greatest and most powerful base of the Islamic world, can easily help fill up the ideological vacuum of your system.”
Today many people in the West don’t take that any more seriously than Gorbachev did. But it’s pretty much come to pass. As Communism retreated, radical Islam seeped into Africa and south Asia and the Balkans. Crazy guys holed up in Philippine jungles and the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay who’d have been “Marxist fantasists” a generation or two back are now Islamists: it’s the ideology du jour. At the point of expiry of the Soviet Union in 1991, the peoples of the central Asian republics were for the most part unaware that Iran had even had an “Islamic revolution”; 15 years on, following the proselytizing of thousands of mullahs dispatched to the region by a specially created Iranian government agency, the Stans’ traditionally moderate and in many cases alcoholically lubricated form of Islam is yielding in all but the most remote areas to a fiercer form imported from the south . . . As the Pentagon has begun to notice, in Iraq Tehran has been quietly duplicating the strategy that delivered southern Lebanon into its control 20 years ago . . .
So as a geopolitical analyst the ayatollah is not to be disdained. Our failure to understand Iran in the seventies foreshadowed our failure to understand the broader struggle today. As clashes of civilizations go, this one’s between two extremes: on the one hand, a world that has everything it needs to wage decisive war -- wealth, armies, industry, technology; on the other, a world that has nothing but pure ideology and plenty of believers. (Its sole resource, oil, would stay in the ground were it not for foreign technology, foreign manpower, and a Western fetishization of domestic environmental aesthetics.)
To infiltrate insidiously is human, to catch a moving target, feline.
Those "thousands of mullahs dispatched" by the ayatollah to convert the citizens of the former Soviet Union gave us the willies and reminded us of "the Gramscian underpinnings of the Soviet Union's insidious infiltration of our own elite institutions last century, not to mention Ibn Warraq's assertion that in the aftermath of The war to end all wars, Islam was seen as a counterforce to the Communist threat. There's a reason the left and jihadis are finding themselves in bed together. Both subscribe to totalitarian, collectivist ideologies whose bottom line is "I know what's best for you. Sit down, shut up, and do as you're told. Or else."