September 14, 2010
None of the words “Islam,” “Muslim,” or “Muhammed,” nor any of the variant spellings of the latter two, occur in the index to George H. Nash’s 1976 classic, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945. It is certainly possible that some of the conservative luminaries whose contributions Nash so meticulously describes had something to say about Islam in the occasional one or other of their innumerable essays (dismally few of which I have read), but plainly Islam was not, up to 1976, anywhere near the front of anyone’s mind in conservative intellectual circles.
The same was still true in 1986. By 1996, I think, there had been some modest awakening. Now, of course, we are all up to speed. Book-reading aside, the ordinary attentive reader of newspapers, magazines, and websites has taken in a million or so words on the topic of Islam this past few years. We all have our ideas now, though no doubt some are better-founded than others.
One of the dominant ideas, to judge from my own reader mail and email, is that Islam is an evil travesty of a religion, founded by a very depraved man, propagated with intolerant cruelty and intransigent hostility towards unbelievers.
Given the sheer number of Muslims in the world, and the quantity of land and resources they are sitting on, this seems to me to be a counsel of great despair. The policy it indicates is “separationism”: an end to the settlement of Muslims in Western countries, a bar to further entry of Muslims, expulsion of Muslim non-citizens, and perhaps some scheme to buy out the citizenship of the West’s own Muslims. Bearing in mind that our Muslim population here in the U.S.A. includes a huge contingent of native-born African Americans, the prospects of implementing such a policy in our litigious, guilt-addled, PC-whipped, ACLU-patrolled, “diversity”-worshipping society seem to me to be infinitesimal.
It is not clear how separationism could be implemented even absent the above-listed obstructions. The very first step, ceasing to issue entry visas to applicants from majority-Muslim nations, is problematic. What about Christians or Jews from those nations? Or secularists? Geert Wilders, the West’s most prominent separationist, and so far the only one of any real political moment, was actually asked this question in an interview for Australian TV. He replied (at 8m28s into that clip) that yes, non-Muslims from Muslim countries should also be excluded.
What about the converse—Muslims from non-Muslim nations? There are 160 million Muslims just in India. Wilders was not asked this question—just as well for him, as it seems to me it has no answer. How do you know if your visa applicant is a Muslim? “Arabic-sounding name” doesn’t cut it. You could, I suppose, ask him to eat some pork sausage, or spit on a Koran; but dedicated jihadists would likely be able to justify such acts to themselves in the furtherance of the greater cause.