We’ve gone from willful blindness to coerced silence. We see the wages of it in the Middle East as supremacists, under the guise of a “springtime” for freedom, strangle the region with sharia. As I detail in Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy (my e-book about the “Arab Spring,” which was released as a paperback today), the path taken by the Muslim Brotherhood rulers of Egypt follows — at a dizzying pace — the trail already blazed by Turkey’s Islamists, who are transforming a once-democratic, pro-Western society into an authoritarian sharia state.
Worse, we see the wages of coerced silence in the West, where the campaign to demagogue truth-tellers as “Islamophobes” — meaning, as racists — has devolved into an Islamist effort, supported by the Obama administration, to make speech about Islam a violation of international law.
That is where Lars Hedegaard comes in. Persecuted in his homeland for purported “hate speech” — his kangaroo conviction for noticing sharia’s assault on liberty was finally overturned by an appellate court — Hedegaard miraculously survived a point-blank shooting in Copenhagen on February 5. His assailant’s identity remains unknown, but not his assailant’s motive: the sharia mandate to suppress negative criticism of Islam by any means necessary.
When a nation defends itself from sharia encroachment, it is smeared as being “at war with Islam” and its truth-tellers are smeared as racists. But as Hedegaard wrote last week in the Wall Street Journal, “we are not.” Instead,
we simply insist on our right to defend freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and individual and sexual equality. We also insist on our right to criticize religious fanatics of every stripe who try to impose theocratic laws and customs on free societies.
When I was a young Marxist during the 1960s and ’70s, these opinions used to be described as characteristic of the political left. Nowadays the defenders of such positions are routinely labeled as right-wing or as belonging to the “extreme right.” Meanwhile, what used to be the left is cozying up to holy men who want adulterous women to be stoned, homosexuals to be hanged, apostates from Islam to be killed, and 1,200-year-old laws emanating from somewhere in the Arabian desert to replace our free constitutions.
It is as true today as it was on February 26, 1993: Freedom cannot defend itself. It requires vigilant defense by culturally confident people who see their heritage of liberty as worthy of passionate defense. The Sheikh Abdel Rahmans of the world do not lack for cultural confidence. They see themselves as winning — they’ve seen it that way every day for the last 20 years.
Are they prophetic? When the West responds to the World Trade Center bombing and the war it launched by shunning their Lars Hedegaards, rather than emulating them, can it be otherwise?
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, which is published by Encounter Books.