New York: I despair for the world my children will inherit and am in fear of a future that can only get more harrowing. I write this column IN a city that was attacked by Islamist terrorists 14 years ago, ABOUT a city that was attacked by Islamist terrorists just a week ago, FOR readers with vivid personal memories of an attack by Islamist terrorists seven years ago.
New York, Paris, Mumbai.
You’ll see that I used the phrase “Islamist terrorists” three times in the sentence preceding that last fragment of bloodied place-names. It is a phrase that few mainstream Western politicians — and many, even, in India — can bring themselves to utter.
So we are at war with Islamist foes who slaughter people in public spaces — who target innocents with guns and bombs, in skyscrapers, concert halls, airplanes, hotels, restaurants, bars, railway stations, buses, and football stadiums — and yet we cannot even bring ourselves to name them accurately, choosing instead from a menu of euphemisms that veil the true nature of our murderers, who, we are told, aren’t “true Muslims”, and whose religion is, in fact, a sprawling manifesto for peace in the world; and in any case, we say to ourselves (or are asked by those enablers of Islamist terrorism who refuse to ask hard questions about the extreme branches of their own faith), “What about all the Christians and Jews and Hindus and Sikhs and Buddhists who kill, and have killed, in the name of religion?”
Without lurching down that cul-de-sac of sophistry, let me state that the world faces a monumentally greater threat today from the adherents of Islam than it does from the followers of any other religion — or from any cult of any kind, barring, perhaps, the Cult of Kim in North Korea; and even that lot doesn’t send footsoldiers into our cities to murder us as we eat and breathe and love each other.
It hardly needs stating, also, that the Islamist terrorists are as brutal to those Muslims who aren’t of a hardline Salafi creed as they are to non-Muslim infidels. Turn your gaze to neighbouring Pakistan or Afghanistan, or Nigeria or Mali, or the territory under the control of the Islamic State, and you will see a running horror-show of slaughter, each episode more disgusting and stomach-churning than the last.
The West — Europe, in particular —is in a terrifying bind, for it has living in its midst substantial populations of Muslims, the majority of whom are poorly integrated into Western society. And by integration I don’t simply mean a case of Abdul or Cherif or Aicha getting up every morning to go to work with other citizens of Belgium or France or Denmark, but an embracing of the civic and social and constitutional values of these countries — what might, by useful shorthand, be called the Western “way of life”.
To the extent that we have the full facts, we know that every single perpetrator of the carnage in Paris was home-grown. That is a chilling fact (and phrase), conjuring visions of a venom that eats away at the body-politic, with echoes of a cancer in the human body. The fault, I fear, is that of Europe’s elites. For decades, they ignored — and even actively worked against — integration, scorning it as unfashionable, old-fangled, and, worst of all, racist. Is OurWay, they asked, with impressively self-destructive hubris, really better than Their Way?
That question now has an answer. It’s an answer the West must live and, increasingly, die with.