The most important question of the day has been raised by Chester:
Is Islam compatible with a free society?
This is the key strategic question of our day.
Chester does an excellent job of reviewing the strategic implications of a "No" versus a "Yes" answer. The Bush administration, as the only responsible choice, has designed their policies as if the answer is "Yes." This has the virtue of buying time (delaying the "Forced Choice"), increasing the odds on a Moderate form of Islam emerging, and avoiding the cataclysm for as long as possible.
Dr. Sanity puts things into perspective:
And, contrary to the infantile imaginings of the antiwar and so-called "peace" movements, Bush's strategy actually represents the Best. Possible. Hope. For. Peace.
It is a strategy that faces the grim reality of Islamic contradictions and historical brutality; yet has enough optimism and goodwill in it to be genuinely worth the price we are paying. If it works, millions of deaths might be prevented. And if the peace crowd really cares about peace, then they would do well to reconsider their own antics.
Because, if the left succeeds in its determination to undermine American policy as it is now formulated; or if the extremists succeed in eliminating any voices for moderation and tolerance; then there will be only one strategic option open.
For those of us who hope that the vast silent majority of Muslims are apathetic politically rather than supporters of Islamism, a number of developments make it increasingly difficult to maintain optimism. Hamas and Ahmadinejad are the most obvious manifestations of Radical Islam's capacity for nurturing their murderous hate, but an article from Mikkel, a Dane who blogs at Enough!, is troubling.
In order to assume that the large silent majority of Muslims are potentially friendly to free societies, it would be helpful to find a population of Moderate Muslims living in systems where speaking out is relatively safe and welcome.
Denmark is a country with a long-standing and well earned reputation for amity, tolerance, and adherence tot he highest ideals of fellowship. For those too young to remember, or who have been mis-educated in our schools over the last 50 years, the seminal story about Denmark is their reaction to the Nazis in WWII.
It's one of the great untold stories of World War II: In 1943, in German-occupied Denmark, the Danish people find out that all 7,500 Danish Jews are about to be rounded up and deported to German concentration camps. Danish citizens spontaneously make their own decision: it's not going to happen. And it didn't. Risking their own lives, the Danes quickly rallied round to save their fellow citizens, and almost all of the country's Jews were able to escape the clutches of the Nazis and find refuge in neutral Sweden.
Perhaps one of the reasons the Danish cartoon intifada had so much intensity in the Islamic world is that they have never forgiven the Danes for rescuing the Jews. Be that as it may, Denmark has been an hospitable host for their Muslim population since WWII. Last week a group was formed in Denmark of Moderate Muslims; here is Mikkel's take:
Naser Khader is a self-proclaimed Danish muslim AND democrat - and he's very popular with the Danes, hence very unpopular with the fundamentalists, recieving often the most vile threats from those fellows. He's a member of parliament (Folketinget) for the elite's favorite leftist parti "Social Liberal Party" (in Danish literally and officially named "The Radicals"! They have a large responsibility in the current immigrant disaster due to seats in the government up through the 80's and 90's)) He's also a writer, having written books on democracy, published debates and discussions on life and faith as well as on the muslim sub-community, and he's a very prominent public debater in all aspects of life - and the single most popular politician in Denmark across the parties! I too am a fan of him, although lot less than i used to be. Here's his Curriculum Vitae, and his early life story.
Khader has for a long time been an ardent opposer of the radical muslims, urging moderate muslims (TM) like himself to express trhemselves in the debate. When the cartoon affair exploded due to Danish imams travelling the mid-east with grossly untrue and bloated claims of persecution and disrespect of/to muslims in Denmark, Khader took steps to unite the moderate muslims as opposition to the radicals. It has to be said that Khader has long maintained that whenever the Danish media wants a muslim view on things, they go to the radical imams instead of secular ones - nobody including khader has however shown that more than a few such secular or moderate muslims or imams exist at all.
The network he has just created, "Democratic Muslims", has as of today, one month old, gathered one thousand muslim members - out of two hundred thousand muslims. Although the network is very young indeed, covering only half a percentage of the potential member base does not bode well. If we adhere to the old Danish saying "the one that stays silent, achknowledges" and gets really optimistic by estimating that Khaders Democratic muslims grows four-fold eventually, there is still NINETY EIGHT PERCENT of the muslims in Denmark who does not want democracy per se.
Another sign that Khader's "Democratic Muslims" is more wishful thinking of Danes than reality among muslims, is that the one thousand muslim members, who are supposed to form the core of it all, is balanced by more than FIFTEEN THOUSAND support members, probably sympathetic white Danes. In other words, an organization that claims to speak for democratic muslims is made up of an extremely outnumbering amount of non-muslims! How can anyone ever take such an organisation seriously!? (unless they are a thirsty dog in front of a bowl of water - or a member of Danish media...)
Mikkel is even more pessimistic than the excerpt suggests; he believes the answer to Chester's question is a resounding "No!"
The problem now is that if there is essentially no support for Democracy among the Muslims living in one of the most enlightened and liberal countries on the planet, what does this say about the vast majority of Muslims in the world who have less access to information and less contact with Western values?