Appeasement in the Face of Danger: Deadly Parallels

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Appeasement in the Face of Danger

Deadly Parallels

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After the July 7 terror bombings on three London Underground (subway) trains and one of the city's famous double-decker buses, Western leaders were quick to recount memories of the resolve of Londoners during the World War II blitz on the city by the German Luftwaffe. The blitz isn't the only comparison one can draw with the Second World War. Another is the matter of appeasement. For much of the decade preceding the September 1939 German invasion of Poland that precipitated World War II, Winston Churchill was warning of impending calamity. He was largely ignored, criticized as a warmonger and kept out of government. This period came to be known as the famous statesman's "wilderness years." But he was right. Just one year before the outbreak of war, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sat down and talked with Adolf Hitler in Munich, purportedly receiving his assurances that he would stop his aggression. Returning to Britain, waving a piece of paper in his hand as he came down the steps of his airplane, Chamberlain proclaimed "peace in our time." He had appeased Hitler by giving in to Germany's annexation of Czechoslovakia, trusting things would end there. But all he did was buy time while Hitler grew stronger. The apostle Paul warned of such delusion: "For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them . . ." (1 Thessalonians 5:3). While this prophecy specifically applies to the global state of deception just preceding the coming Day of the Lord, the principle is always at work: The subtle spirit of appeasement blinds people to the truth, leading to serious, often fatal, misjudgments. For some time now too many Western leaders today have been making similar mistakes in the war on terrorism. As the threat to Western civilization has mounted, they have often been in the dark, blinded by political correctness, unable to see the stark threat that faces us all. Occasionally there's a voice like Churchill's crying in the wilderness, but too often it's been quickly smothered by the politically correct mantra that all religions and cultures are essentially equal and can live peaceably side by side. Attitudes leading up to and in the immediate aftermath of the London bombings are a case in point. "Islam and terrorism don't go together" Two days after the London bombings, Charles Moore, former editor of London's Daily Telegraph, wrote an article for the paper July 9 in which he asked the question: "Where is the Gandhi of Islam?" He commended Londoners for their stoicism and the emergency services for their magnificent work, but then wrote the following astute paragraph: "Yet there seems to me to be a radical disjunction between our heroic capacity to deal with the immediate effects of terrorism and our collective refusal to confront what lies behind it. The effects of this disjunction are, literally, fatal." Mr. Moore quoted the deputy assistant commissioner of the London metropolitan police, Brian Paddick, who, when asked about the nature of the terrorists, said: "Islam and terrorism don't go together." Mr. Moore comments on this statement: "It is true that the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists, or involved in terrorism, and this needs to be said strongly if people assert otherwise. But if the Metropolitan Police really believe what Brian Paddick says, if they really, truly think that the words 'Islam' and 'terrorism' must not be linked, then we have little hope of catching the killers, of understanding how the terrorism works, or of preventing new atrocities." Mr. Moore adds a very perceptive thought: "What strikes one again and again about the reaction of the public authorities, of commentators, of the media, is the terrible lethargy about studying what it is we are up against. We are dealing with an extreme interpretation of one of the great religions of the world. "We flap around, looking for moderates and giving them knighthoods, making placatory noises, putting bits of Islam on to the multi-faith menu in schools, banishing Bibles from hospital beds, trying to criminalise the expression of 'religious hatred,' blaming George Bush and Tony Blair." In other words, we have practiced appeasement as a previous generation did in the years leading up to World War II. He continues: "But if we do not know the way the faith in question works, its history, its quarrels, its laws and demands, we will not have the faintest chance of distinguishing the true moderate from the fellow-traveller or of bearing down on the fanaticism." Dangerous ignorance of religion and history It's not surprising that the British people are ignorant of Islam. The average citizen today is almost as ignorant about Christianity. After two devastating world wars, Britons abandoned practicing Christianity in droves, holding onto it in name only. Church attendance plummeted. Having rejected the Bible as the standard for religious and moral absolutes, people rapidly accepted a new standard—that of multi-culturalism and political correctness. According to this standard, all religions, cultures, creeds and ideas are morally equal and not to be criticized. There is no absolute right or wrong; no one can judge another's beliefs and actions. After decades of swimming in this sea of political correctness and multiculturalism, most people today genuinely believe that there is little or no difference between various religions. They have become spiritual appeasers, no longer able to discern right from wrong, truth from error, safety from danger. They know little or nothing about the Bible or the Koran. This was not the case with previous generations of Englishmen. American historian Benson Bobrick wrote about the incredible enthusiasm the English people had for the Word of God in past centuries. "Englishmen carried their Bible with them—as the rock and foundation of their lives—overseas," wherever they went (Wide as the Waters, 2001, p. 12). Canadian historian Jacques Barzun wrote that this enthusiasm for the Bible "did not cease for 350 years. 1900 was the first year in which religious works (at least in England) did not outnumber all other publications" (From Dawn to Decadence, 2000, p. 10). The same enthusiasm could be found in the United States at the time. The July 10 Lansing State Journal noted that at the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing, excavations are taking place at the site of one of the first student dormitories, called "Saints Rest," which was "named by students after a popular Christian devotional of the time" in 1856. Less than 150 years later our most prestigious universities reject the Word of God and teach secular values to our young people. They have lost their spiritual moorings in a world floundering spiritually because it has discarded biblical standards. The Old Testament prophet Hosea wrote to modern-day Ephraim, the British people who formed the "multitude of nations" foretold in Genesis 48:19. Through Hosea, God tells us, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6, emphasis added throughout). This is not knowledge of the physical universe, but knowledge of who we are, why we are here, and God's eternal standards that show us how to succeed in relationships, both individually and at the national level. How well that describes so much of the Western world today. Rejecting the timeless truths and standards of the Bible has set our peoples up for destruction. Not understanding the truths of God only causes spiritual confusion and leads to acceptance of false religions and philosophies which, in turn, lead to ever-increasing problems, conflicts and dangers. Hosea 7:8-9 adds: "Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples [embraced other cultures and religions as equally valid with the true faith of the Word of God] . . . Aliens [people who worship other gods] have devoured his strength, but he does not know it." Ancient Ephraim had the same problem modern Britain and other Western countries have today without knowing it. They have been blinded, thinking that accepting all religions and cultures as equal is a strength when too often it sows the seeds of social and cultural disintegration. The enemy within Imagine if, in World War II, one in eight Londoners was a German. This would have complicated the situation alarmingly. Today, one in eight Londoners is Muslim, many of whom are second-generation British residents. It is becoming increasingly evident that some have been recruited for terrorism from their number, especially from militant mosque congregations. Three of the four London suicide bombers were second-generation Britons born to Pakistani parents (the fourth was a Jamaican-born immigrant to Britain and a Muslim convert). The first of the men arrested for the unsuccessful July 21 bombings had immigrated to Britain from Eritrea with his parents at age 14. In spite of a prison sentence for knifepoint muggings as a teenager, he had been granted British citizenship and given some $60,000 in welfare payments over recent years. Another of the suspects arrested for the failed bombings had also been on welfare and lived in government housing. All four suspects had moved to Britain as children or teenagers and apparently were radicalized and moved to terrorist acts after moving there. Richard Reid, who in December 2001 attempted to blow up a transatlantic American Airlines flight with explosives hidden in his shoe, was born in a London suburb to an English mother and a Jamaican father. He had converted to Islam while in prison. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, sentenced to death in Pakistan for the 2002 kidnapping and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl there, was a London native and former student at the London School of Economics, born in Britain to Pakistani immigrant parents. In April 2003, two British citizens, Asif Mohammed Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, carried out a suicide-bomb attack in Mike's Place, a Tel Aviv nightspot frequented by many Americans. Sons of Muslim immigrants, the bombers had been recruited by the terror group Hamas in Britain and entered Israel using their British passports. Recent articles on terrorism in Iraq highlight that many of the insurgents are second-generation Muslims recruited from Western Europe—their parents were immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, but they were born in Europe. Iraq and Britain aren't the only places where Western-born converts to violence have emerged. Mohammed Bouyeri, convicted of shooting Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh on an Amsterdam street before nearly beheading him, had lived all his life in Holland since his birth there to Moroccan-immigrant parents. "What moved me to do what I did was purely my faith," Bouyeri explained in confessing the killing. ". . . I was motivated by the law that commands me to cut off the head of anyone who insults Allah and his prophet." Some Muslim leaders have spoken out and strongly condemned such acts, particularly in the wake of the London bombings. Yet these realities raise serious questions about the ideals of multiculturalism, including the widely held conviction that second-generation immigrants are fully assimilated and identify with their new country. Two days after the second round of London bombings failed, London's Telegraph published results of a survey of attitudes among Britain's Muslims illustrating the magnitude of the problem. "The sheer scale of Muslim alienation from British society that the survey reveals is remarkable," stated the article's author, Anthony King, professor of government at Essex University. "Although a large majority of British Muslims are more than content to make their home in this country, a significant minority are not," he continued. He explained that almost of third of those surveyed believe that "Western society is decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to bring it to an end." He further found that "nearly one British Muslim in five, 18 per cent, feels little loyalty towards this country or none at all." In terms of numbers, this means that "well over 100,000 British Muslims feel no loyalty whatsoever" toward Britain. Perhaps most ominously, he reported that "one per cent, about 16,000 individuals, declare themselves willing, possibly even eager, to embrace violence" ("One in Four Muslims Sympathises With Motives of Terrorists," July 23). Western leaders in denial While Prime Minister Blair and President Bush express their commitment to advance democracy in the Middle East, they should take note of the threat at home to Western ideals of democracy. Charles Moore, the former Daily Telegraph editor cited earlier, continued in his piece: "I have beside me an article that appeared during our recent [May] election campaign in Muslim Weekly [London]. By Sheikh Dr Abdalqadir as-Sufi, it calls for the replacement of British parliamentary democracy with 'a new civilization based on the worship of Allah,' attacks the Conservatives for being 'in the hands of an illegal Jewish immigrant from Romania' and speaks of the 'near-demented judaic banking elite.' ". . . Last year, [London mayor Ken] Livingstone extended a warm welcome in London to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a mainstream, world-famous spiritual leader based in Qatar. Qaradawi has supported suicide bombing against Israelis, the treatment of all Jews as legitimate targets, the whipping of homosexuals and the killing of all Americans—civilian and military—in Iraq." There's little wonder that the same mayor was in denial over the perpetrators of the London bombings. "This isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith, it's mass murder," Mr. Livingstone was quoted as saying in London's Financial Times July 8. The bombings were unquestionably mass murder, but the perpetrators certainly appear to have been motivated by both religious ideology and perverted faith. When a terrorist isn't a terrorist Even the word "terrorist" became controversial in Britain, when it became clear that the BBC would not use the word to describe the bombers, apparently because the broadcaster might lose some of its international audience. According to the organization's editorial guidelines, "the word 'terrorist' itself can be a barrier rather than aid to understanding" (Tom Leonard, "BBC Language That Labour Loves to Hear," Daily Telegraph, July 13). The BBC also canceled a dramatization of a patriotic British classic from World War I, Greenmantle by John Buchan, a follow-up to the classic 39 Steps. The novel's heroes thwart a German plan to unite Islamic peoples against the British, a very real threat at the time. The BBC's decision to cancel was in stark contrast to their refusal to be pressured last year when Christians protested over the showing of the blasphemous London stage play Jerry Springer—the Opera. There's clearly a double standard of continuing contempt for Christianity and its values, coupled with fear of Islam and a growing inability to say anything critical of this religion, its history or its followers. In the United States, the Public Broad-casting Service (PBS) follows the same philosophy, fearful of critiquing Islam in a documentary special made for the Empires series while being dismissive of Christian beliefs in other documentaries. Failing to see the danger Those of us who are older know that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on New York and Washington, D.C., of March 11, 2004, in Madrid and of July 7 and 21 in London this year would not have happened 50 years ago. Massive immigration from the Third World, prompted by politically correct government policies, has significantly changed the demographics of Western nations in the last four decades. Britain has long welcomed many immigrants from the Third World, as have many other European countries. Likewise the United States, once a haven for white European immigrants, in recent decades changed its policies to bring in more poor, culturally alien peoples from Asia, Africa and the Middle East who are far less likely to successfully assimilate. Many observers are now—too late—questioning the wisdom of those moves. After the London bombings, a cry immediately arose to change Britain's practice of granting asylum even to some convicted of or wanted by authorities for religious extremism in their own countries and to expel those who, taking advantage of Britain's free-speech protections, have argued for the overthrow of Britain's democracy and the establishment of an Islamic state. For four decades politicians, intellectuals and academic institutions on both sides of the Atlantic have espoused political correctness and multiculturalism, reversing the biblically based beliefs and ideals held by our ancestors since the Reformation. Instead of being thankful for the blessings Almighty God bestowed on the British and American peoples, they blame Western leaders for virtually all the world's problems. Continually heard on the BBC following the London bombings were questions about how four young men born and brought up in Britain could take the lives of so many, about what made them feel so "alienated" and asking how can Britain and other countries do better in assimilating Muslims. Nobody even considered the possibility that perhaps Islamic and Western values are inherently incompatible, a fact that Islamic nations themselves acknowledge by their refusal to allow non-Muslims to immigrate into their countries. The Dutch politician Pym Fortuyn was one of the first to realize this, pointing out that Islamic values threaten liberal Dutch society. Assassinated in 2002, he paid with his life for the comment. So did Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, mentioned earlier. Perhaps it's not surprising that BBC employees are careful about criticizing Islam! Do we have the will and wisdom? Clearly the London suicide bombings have caused some Western leaders to awaken to the serious threat that confronts their nations. Hopefully it's not too late. Rejection of biblical standards and absolutes has had many unforeseen consequences. Lack of discernment—characterized by appeasement in the face of growing danger—has been only one sad result of trying to live apart from the Word of God. In an age of religious confusion, exacerbated by the new ideology of multiculturalism, does the Western world have the will and the wisdom to face up to the real threat that ideological terrorism poses? If not, we can only expect more attacks in the future. While many Western leaders and intellectuals flounder about spiritually, unable to discern the danger, terrorists remain single-minded in their deadly purpose. The prophet Isaiah's words from more than 2,500 years ago seem so relevant today: "Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey [or, as some references render it, 'he who departs from evil is accounted mad']" (Isaiah 59:14-15). Christians, meanwhile, must seek the discernment that can only come from God's Word and continue to pray fervently for God's Kingdom to come. Only then will the suffering and violence that plagues our world finally come to an end. GN