December 7, 2003

A Real War

Victor Davis Hanson. Required reading.

Remember the worry about "getting the message out"? We all know the tiresome refrain: If the Arab world just knew about all the billions of dollars we give; all the Muslims we saved from the Balkans to Kuwait; all the censure we incurred to ease Orthodox Russians' treatment of Muslims in Chechnya, to stop Orthodox Serbian massacres of Albanians, or to discourage Chinese attacks on their own Muslim tribes; then surely millions of the ill-informed would reverse their opinion of us.

Sorry, the truth is just the opposite. The Arab street knows full well that we give billions to Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinians — and are probably baffled that we don't cut it out. They also know we have just as frequently fought Christians on their behalf as Muslims; they know — if their voting feet tell them anything — that no place is more tolerant of their religion or more open to immigration than the United States. Yes, Islamists all know that opening a mosque in Detroit is one thing, and opening a church in Saudi Arabia is quite another. Hitler wasn't interested in Wilson's 14 Points or how nicely Germans lived in the U.S. — he cared only that we "cowboys" would not or could not stop what he was up to.

No, the message, much less getting it out, is not the problem. It is rather the nature of America — our freewheeling, outspoken, prosperous, liberty-loving citizens extend equality to women, homosexuals, minorities, and almost anyone who comes to our shores, and thereby create desire and with it shame for that desire. Indeed, it is worse still than that: Precisely because we worry publicly that we are insensitive, our enemies scoff privately that we in fact are too sensitive — what we think is liberality and magnanimity they see as license and decadence. If we don't have confidence in who we are, why should they?

Posted by dan at December 7, 2003 2:42 PM