Multiculturalism is dead. It was always dead, in the sense that an untruth has no life, but the energies of a vigorous fraud are enough to deceive many for much time. The idea that differing value-systems could coexist within a superstructure, itself imposing equality upon them, was a tempting one: it affirmed a reassuring view of humanity, and more important, it relieved a West that did not believe in itself of the burden of self-assertion. Its lie was always obvious to those willing to think critically about it — what if the notionally subsidiary value-system struck against the value-system undergirding the arbitrating superstructure? — but now it is obvious to nearly all who have lived through the last five years of war and massacre, and seen its latest phase ignited by mere cartoons.
Multiculturalism is dead, but its corpse, like those of the incorruptible saints, still smells sweet. This is partly because it does have its harmless aspects: as an aesthetic preference, it may be silly, but in itself is no threat. Mostly it is because the alternative is unfathomable to its proponents. Men so invested in the abandonment of any value-system but the equalization of all value-systems are ill-equipped to choose among them — and still less to defend that choice.
Consider the case of one Martin Burcharth: a Dane and a journalist, he is the very archetype of the class under threat in the cartoon affair. He could be forthright and truthful — but he chooses not to be, and he does so in the very pages of the New York Times. Today we see him acting as dhimmi, peddling the same myths that outraged Muslims put forth to excuse the savagery and violence of their own community. Burcharth asserts a Danish “intolerance” for Islam (citing, among other things, the absence of a Muslim cemetery in the country), which, in the absence of actual mistreatment or denial of rights, implicitly justifies Muslim rage. Burcharth posits that the Jyllands-Posten published the Muhammed cartoons “in the context of a climate of pervasive hostility toward anything Muslim in Denmark.” The truth is that the newspaper solicited the cartoons only after finding that Muslim “pervasive hostility” was cowing artists into respecting their communal taboos under threat of violence — or death.
Most outrageously, Burcharth excuses the actions of Danish Muslim leaders by noting that they “ran out of options” in their quest to force the Jyllands-Posten — and by extension, the Danish state — to act as proper dhimmis. In a sane world — in the democratic West in which we ostensibly live — one does not expect that one is justified in pulling out all the stops in the quest to secure acquiescence to one’s sensibilities from every institution of public life. I may dislike the New York Times’ publication of Martin Burcharth, but basic civic maturity dictates that once I hold my protest marches and write my irate letters to the editor, it ends there: I certainly do not seek to bring state authority to bear against the free press — nor do I invoke the wrath of foreign powers against my country.
The Muslim leaders of Denmark did all these things. They sought to make the Danish state crack down on its own free press. They sought to have foreign ambassadors chastise the Danish state. And then, fatally, they went to the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference — armed, it must be noted, with genuinely awful fake cartoons of their own — whence they finally got the bloody firestorm they wanted. An earlier age would have called these acts dishonest and traitorous to the very nation in which they hold citizenship: “But, really,” asks Burcharth, “what choice did they have?”
Well. They had the choice to be patriots, to be civilized, and to be sane. But why suffer the onerous burdens of self-restraint when the victim classes are rife with those willing to make excuses for you — and even to apologize to you? That is one lesson of this wretched episode: if multiculturalism is dead, then what will replace it, at least in Europe, will not be the culture that first conceived it. It will be the culture and community with the most vigor, the most confidence — and the greater willingness to kill. That community is obvious to all outside the likes of Martin Burcharth.
The other lesson of the “cartoon war” derives directly from the actions of the Danish imams — but we already saw it in the hate of the Finsbury Park Mosque, the violence of the Arab European League, and the flames of the French banlieues. Paul Belien said it best: “[W]hen a country has let in a Muslim minority it has let in the Muslim majority from the rest of the globe.” One only hopes that this lesson, driven home in Denmark, takes root elsewhere in Europe. Though made fresh by events, it is a lesson that long predates this affair:
[T]hat most precious possession of Western Man, freedom of thought and expression, is threatened by the spread of creeds which, claiming the privilege of tolerance when in the position of a minority, seek only to establish a position of power in which they can suppress and obliterate all views but their own.
The founders of the Mont Pelerin Society had Communism in mind when they drafted this a generation ago. It rings as true now that Islamism subverts the very societies in which it has found refuge. Will the threatened hosts learn? Will they act? There is no confidence in their self-defense; there is no sureness in their rectitude. Only one thing is sure: this is not over yet.