Sunday, September 17, 2006

The blessed B's get it right :: Remembering Fallaci :: Angry brown males

Barack Obama tells us that the Democrats are the "party of reaction." That's been true for a long time. Back in the late 1970s, with some help from then-sane Kevin Phillips, then-editor of the New Republic Michael Kinsley identified "reactionary liberalism" as the probable future of the Democratic Party, and he was right. It's a major theme of liberal blogger Mickey Kaus.

It is nice to hear a Democratic politician say it, though. I'm not sure I'd vote for Obama at this point, but he has my attention. It would be even nicer if we had two serious parties, instead of one serious but flawed party and a second, unserious one. Conservative journalist Jim Geraghty of National Review has a new book about this distressing situation. This podcast interview with Geraghty obviously betrays a conservative yearning for a more balanced and competitive politics and a Republican party better disciplined by a credible rival.

Oriana Fallaci, postwar Europe's most important journalist, was a fixture of my youth. She died this past Friday. A fearless woman of the democratic Left, Fallaci started her career as a teenaged member of the anti-Mussolini Italian partisans (partigiani) in 1943-45, after Italy's official surrender to the western Allies in September 1943 and the consequent German invasion of Italy. (Germans: invading Italy for 1600 years!) She remained a woman of the Left, but would have no truck with political correctness and thus drifted away from the transformed post-modern and nihilistic Left that emerged from the 1960s, with its fantasies of Third World noble savages. Her final cause was attacking the rise of radical Islam in Europe and sounding the warning. A Cassandra? Look at Europe and judge for yourself. See here, here, and here for more remembrances of this remarkable woman. And Cassandra was right.

Closely related are the recent and entirely appropriate remarks of the new Pope about Islam. It would be a shame if the Pope had to retreat in any substantive way from what he said: a principled rejection of the use of force in religion (something stipulated in the Qur'an but historically observed usually in the breach) and an historically-informed defense of the Western intellectual tradition of reason in philosophy, science, and religion, starting with classical Greece. It's especially gratifying to hear a Pope say such things and especially revealing to watch how much of the bankrupt pseudo-intellectual establishment of the West can't process it.

What will get the West to stop enabling the weird mixture of the medieval and the post-modern (charges of blasphemy mixed with bogus claims of victimhood) that dominates this conflict between civilizations? That's how we end up with angry, violent Muslims protesting stereotypes of angry, violent Muslims -- which just confirms what Fallaci and the Pope said. Another woman of valor, Anne Applebaum, makes the same point: non-Mulsims need to stop apologizing and start stating the plain truth, over and over. All of us need to get off the "Muslim rage" bus and look for a different route. Political correctness does not work.

This Pope's predecessor made stunning progress in undoing the damage done by the Church's history of religious persecution, and the Christian churches in general have spent 500 years (often unwillingly) returning to Christianity's original, pre-Constantine status as a free religion not annexed to a civil power. Can Islam do the same? If the current Pope helps this along, he will fulfill the literal meaning of his name, Benedict.

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