“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Culture War

The Culture, Stupid
By Suzanne Fields
Monday, July 9, 2007

Nothing galvanizes the public like the threat of terrorism. London escaped carnage for several reasons, beginning with the amateurish construction of the bombs, but the credit for averting tragedy goes first to an ambulance attendant who saw something suspicious and called police. Two men who crashed their car though the entrance to Glasgow airport were caught by a policeman with the help of bystanders.

This wasn't Dunkirk, where thousands of British soldiers were rescued from French beaches by an armada of private boats, but it wasn't bad. These were strong defensive actions in a new kind of war. The fear raised by the Islamic versions of Manny, Moe and Curly will lead to greater vigilance.

Citizens of the West, who are way ahead of their timid leaders, understand that this was merely one small battle against evil men and women who hate our freedoms and are dedicated to destroying our way of life. These enemies have the potential to inflict deadly harm far out of proportion to their numbers. It's not merely a war emanating from a lunatic fringe of Islam, but a modern outbreak of an ancient grudge.

Only Islam, once a great influence of culture and philosophy, alone of the three great religions seems to have retreated as time moves inexorably forward. Rogue elements of Judaism and Christianity are not difficult to find in the sweep of history, but both of those religious faiths have moved forward, if unevenly, to separate church and state and reconcile with the modern world by recognizing the importance of the rule of law and allegiance to human rights.

But when the Ottoman Empire collapsed and with it Muslim prestige and influence, Islam made a U-turn toward the past. Moderate Muslims have had a hard time since then. That's what wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are all about -- trying to encourage moderates with the idea that they could make a transforming impact on the satrapies of the Middle East. It might work, and it might not. An Islamic reformation first requires modernization. The power to abuse women and keep them hidden, uneducated and out of the work force, fusing religious law and state authority, is something evil men will not easily give up.

Paul Belien, editor of the Brussels Journal, who follows Islamic issues in the Netherlands, tells of a Muslim apostate, a local politician and councilor, who wants to establish an international committee to bring ex-Muslims together to talk about what's wrong with their religion. "If Mohammed were alive today," he told a Dutch newspaper, "he would be in the same league as Osama bin Laden." This is enough to make his head rest uneasily on his shoulders, but it's only what Osama himself would say.

By 2020, more than half of all Dutch births will be to women from outside Europe. As in the rest of Europe, native Europeans are nowhere close to replacing themselves. Muslims are not easily assimilated in open secular societies, and it's possible, maybe probable, that Europe will slip backward, too. Germans, with 2.7 million Turks living among them, are finally debating whether Muslims can adapt to their secular society.

The pop culture, which traditionalists are quick to malign, could be a surprise regenerating factor for positive Western values. Through television and the Internet, young men and women are bombarded not only with Western music and images, but with the freedoms that accompany our values. The older mullahs may not be able to compete.

Herb Meyer, an assistant to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Reagan administration, calls Iran "the country to watch." In a speech in Seattle, he reminded a conference of American business executives that 70 percent of the Iranian population is under 30. The West rightly worries that young Muslim men are becoming terrorists, but Iranian young men and women, who are Muslims but not Arabs, are mostly pro-Western. "The problem isn't so much the weapons, it's the people who control them," he says. "If Iran has a moderate government, the weapons become less of a concern."

That's an enormous "if." We have to hold up our end in the culture wars, with neither apology nor faint heart. The very things that make us targets for terror make us magnets for imitation. "We are becoming the last holdouts of the traditional Judeo-Christian culture," Meyer says. "There is no better place in the world to be in business and raise children. The only people who can hurt us are ourselves, by losing our culture. If we give up the Judeo-Christian culture, we become just like the Europeans. The culture war is the whole ballgame. If we lose it, there isn't another America to pull us out."

Suzanne Fields is a columnist with The Washington Times.


  1. I'm not sure what to call our culture, maybe American Constitutional Commercialism. In my recent travels town after town was the same as all the other towns after towns. I think 30 or so American franchises have the great majority of American trade tied up in their own hands. Almost invariably there was an older dying downtown area(in towns larger that village size) and then a newer more vibrant area dominated by said franchises, and the automobile. I don't think we have much, as yet anyway, to fear from cultural diversity. Even the Amish shop at Wal-Mart, taking advantage of the machine produced products delivered to the shopping sites by other wheeled machines, from which they have fled, in theory. I witnessed a humourous interchange between a 17 or 18 yr old sort of hippy kid, and two Amish young ladies of about the same age, sheparded by momma and aunt Amish, and whisked quickly away. Don't know what he said to those gals, maybe 'you sure look pretty, but I can't tell for sure, dressed the way you are' with a twinkle in his eye. They had a twinkle in their eyes too, before they were gone, back to the farm of a hundred and fifty years ago.

  2. Samo Samo Iraqi Culture War:

    Mistrust as Iraqi Troops Encounter New U.S. Allies

    As U.S. troops build alliances with Sunni ex-insurgents, mutual mistrust exists with Shiite Iraqi Army soldiers.

    The gulf between Abu Azzam’s men and the Iraqi soldiers remains vast, with American troops sometimes having to physically intercede.
    And it is an unmistakable caution that the full depths of the problems facing Iraq cannot be measured in the statistics about insurgent attacks and sectarian killings that carry so much weight in Washington.

    Recently, and without warning, Colonel Pinkerton said, 80 Iraqi soldiers in armored vehicles charged out of their sector toward Nasr Wa Salam but were blocked by an American platoon.
    The Iraqis refused to say where they were going and threatened to drive right through the American soldiers, whom they greatly outnumbered.

    Eventually, with Apache helicopter gunships circling overhead and American gunners aiming their weapons at them, the Iraqi soldiers retreated. “It hasn’t come to firing bullets yet,” Colonel Pinkerton said.

    A few weeks ago, he said, a Sunni detainee was beaten to death while in custody of the Muthanna Brigade.
    And in the past year, he said, Muthanna soldiers detained two of Abu Azzam’s brothers, both of whom said they were abused, and raided Abu Azzam’s house.

    Colonel Pinkerton’s experiences here, he said, have inverted the usual American instincts born of years of hard fighting against Sunni insurgents.

    “I could stand among 1,800 Sunnis in Abu Ghraib,” he said, “and feel more comfortable than standing in a formation of Iraqi soldiers.”

  3. Those damned Londoners put a damper on bureaucrat's hopes for more colorful letterheads, better payrolls for their departments and more prestige in the bureaucrat circles.

    Chertoff is hoping that if the summer is good enough to his budget, he could have his own building - just like the UN.

  4. Imagine a bureaucrat holding your flailing arms as a criminal stabs you, as murder will be more profitable to a corrupt bureaucracy than a mere assault that accompanies stories of individual self-sufficiency.

    Remove the corruption and you'll get a government far less bizarre.

    Until then...

  5. I can see him now, donned in suit and oven mits so as to not risk being cut on the tantrum-throwing radical...

    "Atta citizen..."

  6. If a people do not value an uncorrupted government, what happens?

    That's the cultural value about which so much is determined.

    We'd need 10x the amnesty revolt, I'd bet.

  7. The Nation lost for want of more posh office space...

    Taxpayers simply won't let an afront happen on their watch! Serve Caesar with your money and your rights!

  8. Tony Snow would nobly scold us for thinking they used more than modest means for their luxury.

  9. Oral History interview, April 13, 1970, Truman Library

    In which Dr. Judd describes how our State Dept, Marshall, and Truman delivered China to the Commies:

    Dr. Walter H. Judd
    Physician and missionary with experience in China, 1925-31 and 1934-38, member of Congress from Minnesota, 1943-62. United States delegate to the 12th General Assembly of the United Nations, 1957.
    (also WWI vet)

    When the President said, that the Chinese hadn't followed our advice, I said,
    "Well, Mr. President, most
    of the times they got into trouble were when they did follow our advice."
    And I can give you half a dozen instances of that.
    We advised them to enter into a cease-fire in 1945 with the Communists when they had overwhelmingly the upper hand, the main body of Communists was surrounded.

    Four times in 1946 alone when the Nationalists had the upper hand, our government forced them to enter into a cease-fire.
    They took our advice--allowing the Communists to escape the encirclement.

    After the Japanese surrender Wedemeyer and Barbey, under MacArthur's orders, promptly helped transport Chiang Kai-shek's best troops from South China up to Tientsin and Peking to take the surrender of Japanese troops--and on up toward Kalgan.

    The only land route by which the Communist forces in Northwest China could get into Manchuria where the Russians had moved in was through the Kalgan pass and a road going through Jehol and Chahar provinces.

    The Nationalists were within a few miles of Kalgan when General Marshall put pressure on the Generalissimo (early January 1946) to pull back his forces
    "in order to show his good will."

    (Just like the cease-fires and cease-bombing of North Vietnam we are urged to do now to "show our good will, to make a conciliatory gesture.")

    Tragically Chiang followed our advice, pulled back his forces, allowing the Communists to get into Manchuria.
    That's where the Chinese lost the war--that's where we lost the war!--in 1946.
    The Russians gave them all those supplies that Japan had stored there for its crack Kuantung Army.

    (Its crack army never was in combat against us. Its Kuantung army was held in reserve in Manchuria because the Japanese originally were prepared if necessary to retire from Japan to Manchuria and fight on from there. The same way Churchill had said, "If we can't hold in Britain, we'll retire to Canada, or to Australia and fight on."
    And if the Japanese Emperor hadn't intervened to order surrender, the Japanese army itself would have done that.)
    The Russians had those enormous supplies in Manchuria, Chennault said, as I recall, "Enough to last an army of a million men five years."
    The Russians gave all of that at one stroke to the Chinese Communists, more than we ever gave Chiang from beginning to end.

    The Russians also turned over to the Communists most of the 600 shiploads of American arms we had shipped to Vladivostok.
    Yet Truman was saying the American arms the Communists were using had come from Chiang.
    And our leftists used to say Chiang was the Communist supply sergeant

    It was also said the Chinese forces had no will to fight--but when General Marshall went out
    there, his main complaint was that they had too much will to fight; they were ready to defeat and disarm the Communists.
    He intervened and forced them not to fight.
    He broke the will of the Chinese forces in late '45 and the beginning of '46.

    Again, it was complained that "whole Chinese armies went over to the Communists" which was true in 1948-49.
    Truman apparently didn't know about the so-called "deactivation" program, another of Marshall's projects in which the Chinese followed our advice.

    On and on.
    Very sad.

  10. Hey Bobal, you need to get out more. There's a great big world out there full of different people, customs, and cultures; all within American boundaries.

    In my town you can hear 5 different languages spoken in the same shop, easy. In some parts you had better speak the local language or you'll be ignored.

    Welcome to HiCrimeMultiCultTown, USA; the REAL America; the way George wants it.

  11. "The fear raised by the Islamic versions of Manny, Moe and Curly will lead to greater vigilance.

    Obviously a female's lame attempt at citing the 3 Stooges.

  12. "Culture War" applies to a lot of aspects, including the moral values war within America.

    Check out this video of a purple Teletubby and Moses getting arrested at the Capitol in this demonstration about the Homosexual Agenda. Go to or

    This shows Public Advocate demonstrating in Washington, DC, protesting the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Protection Act (H.R. 1592), which would grant special rights to homosexuals. This law would add sexual orientation to federal hate crimes statutes.

  13. She seems to be conflating Larry, Moe, and Curly, the Three Stooges with Manny, Moe, and Jack, the Pep Boys.