Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Extraordinary ...

This both amazing and strangely cool, and yet, very disturbing too.

One of the three columnists in my Holy Trinity of Punditry, Mark Steyn, has had a column spiked by the UK's Telegraph. Apparently, he was too Churchillian British for Tony Blair's (Not So) Brave New Britain?

There are many kinds of courage in the world. In fact, like C.S. Lewis, I agree that courage is really every virtue at the point of testing. I am not going to say that Steyn has the kind of courage / virtue my cousin - a gov't contractor in Baghdad who has been under fire from mortars three times since I found out he was there and started emailing him- has, although Steyn it must be noted has been to Iraq, and bravely took a look at the situation for himself. But he has clearly demonstrated a kind of intellectual and moral courage that is much needed in this time too.

So it is amazing in that war really does bring out the best (and the worst.) In Steyn, it has manifested not just the "vision of clear seeing" of which he is so marvelously possessedm but the will to stand by it as well, even if it gets a column yanked. It is cool because Steyn is someone I admire, and this event only enhances that admiration.

And it is disturbing because I had not yet gotten a full handle on just how soft the "Dianysian" Brit elites were. One of the great and yet disturbing things about democracies is that democratic nations have the the leaders they want, or at least are prepared to tolerate. So leaders are a reflection to the world of their people and their weaknesses and other characteristics. I think this is also true, and maybe far truer, of more than just democracies or even governemnts / politics in general.

I have recently become convinced by discussions with a Brit of my acquaintance that even if the muslim imams were to preach against jihad as "war with the infidels", they wouldn't last long because the Muslims have the teachers and the teachings they want. Indeed, it is all but certain that the Arab Street has what it wants, because they kill what they don't want, if it within their presently puny power to do so. And we are at war precisely because, in the age of WMD and in light of the fact that genius can turn up anywhere, only a puny few of them have to get lucky and poof! there goes Chicago.

If the above is so, and I think it likely, we are dancing around an unpleasant truth: that we, the nation that more out of necessity than anything else invented religious tolerance, find ourselves at war with a religion. And that it's a war to the death. Steyn, in another column, was right: Daniel Pearl's killers weren't trying send a political message. Pearl's severed head, and every severed head since, is the message.

P.S.- Lest anyone think I intended insult, I am aware that the Brits number many brave people among them, and that many of them are in Iraq and elsewhere now. But it is disturbing to see this lack of clear thinking on the part of Britain's leaders. I am sad for Bigley's family. But as Steyn points out, "in this war the point is not whether you’re sad about the dead people, but what you’re prepared to do about it."

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