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Doing the Enemy's Work

By David Warren

The case of the two Fox News journalists, held hostage in Gaza, is worth dwelling upon. They were released after their captors had made tapes of them dressed as Arabs and announcing they had changed their names and converted to Islam.

Lately I have been looking at the large -- at how the West is proving unable to cope with a threat from a fanatical Islamic movement, that it ought to be able to snuff out with fair ease. (See my column last Sunday.) But the large is often most visible in the small.

The degree to which our starch is awash is exhibited in the behaviour of so many of our captives, but especially in these two. They were told to convert to Islam under implicit threat (blindfolded and hand-tied, they could not judge what threat), and agreed to make the propaganda broadcasts to guarantee their own safety. That much we can understand, as conventional cowardice. (Understand; not forgive.) But it is obvious from their later statements that they never thought twice; that they could see nothing wrong in serving the enemy, so long as it meant they'd be safe.

I assume they are not Christians (few journalists are), but had they ever been instructed in that faith, they might have grasped that conversion to Islam means denial of Christ, and that is something many millions of Christians (few of them intellectuals) have refused to do, even at the cost of excruciating deaths. Christianity still lives, because of such martyrs. Not suicide bombers: but truly defenceless martyrs.

You don't necessarily have to be a Christian, to be Western. Two years ago, an heroic Italian captive, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, asked to make whimpering statements as part of the video of his execution in Iraq, ripped at his hood and instead declared, "This is how an Italian dies!" to his contemptible captors. He must have upset them: for they shot him instead of sawing off his head. In making his stand for human dignity, he also turned one of their propaganda videos, into one of ours.

But Quattrocchi had three friends, who all successfully begged for their lives. And the two Fox journalists, whom I will not stoop to name, begged for their lives even though, in retrospect, their lives probably weren't in danger.

Why did Fatah bother to make the video? Didn't they realize conversion under duress means nothing? That no one, East or West, would take it at face value?

They didn't make it for face value. They made it to show the whole Muslim world, via satellite television, what wimps these Westerners are. That they'll do anything at all to save their lives, that they don't think twice about it. That is the substance of most Islamo-fascist propaganda: that the West consists of straw men, of men without chests, of men easily pushed over.

These two journalists were captured and held under nasty conditions by a branch of Fatah: the Palestinian party associated not with the "radical" Hamas, but with the supposedly "moderate" party of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority. They were for use as chips in prisoner exchanges. They could be sold, or exchanged for other prisoners.

President Abbas could have had them sprung at a word, but did not do so at first, for he had nothing to lose by "playing with the crisis". At no point, for instance, was he told he could either release the prisoners, or have his compound at Ramallah levelled. We don't "overreact" in the West, the way we used to do -- we don't like to put out little fires, we prefer to wait until they are big ones. And we prefer blaming ourselves to blaming the enemy, when the enemy lights the fire. We assume they only do it because we must have done something to annoy them.

Jean-François Revel: "Democratic civilization is the first in history to blame itself because another power is trying to destroy it."

At the time Revel said this, the enemy power was Soviet Communism. The intellectuals, the smart journalists, the fashionable academics, the smug urbane of all descriptions, were hardly pro-Communist. They were more ironical than that, they were "anti-anti-Communist". Today they are anti-anti-Islamo-fascist.

I created a scene with a column, many years ago, when I wrote about the young men in the corridors of the University of Montreal, who stood by and watched while Gamil Garbi (alias Marc Lépine) shot fourteen women to death. To a man (if you could call them men), they explained afterwards, "We couldn't do anything, he had a gun." As I pointed out at the time, we have bred young men who will stand by and watch a psychopath shoot defenceless women, so long as he assures them he will not shoot them. And we have bred the young women these young men deserve.

Men without chests, men without character, men who don't think twice.

© Ottawa Citizen

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