So begins Hamlet, Shakespeare's longest play. It's the story of a young prince who sees his kingdom being destroyed from within, and yet feels himself powerless to stop it.
Today's [November 6, 2005] news: Muslim immigrants rioting in Denmark. Hat tip: Sandmonkey, and no thanks to the lamestream media.
Rosenhøj Mall has several nights in a row been the scene of the worst riots in Århus for years. “This area belongs to us”, the youths proclaim. Sunday evening saw a new arson attack. Their words sound like a clear declaration of war on the Danish society. Police must stay out. The area belongs to immigrants....
Four hours after the short meeting, Falck (Danish privat emergency service – Henrik) sent a group of fire engines under police escort to the nursery Kjærslund on Søndervangs Allé, right across the street from Rosenhøj Mall. Gasoline through the windowA window had been shattered at the back of the house, and the fire had been blazing, apparently because of gasoline poured onto the floor, then lit. Falck stopped on Viby Square, a couple kilometers from the site of the arson attack, waiting for the police to turn up so they could be escorted to the nursery. Two nights earlier, other Falck-employees were threatened, when they were covering up broken shop-windows. Cobblestones had smashed the shop-windows from one end of the mall to the other. The police wrote in their report saturday night, that the youths had their stones with them in bags, when they came to Rosenhøj....
He calls himself 100 percent Palestinian, born in a refugee camp in Lebanon 19 years ago, and now out of work in Denmark.“The police has to stay away. This is our area. We decide what goes down here”.
A crisis of will.
Hamlet knows clearly enough what he must do. He's cautious at first - he won't act on the basis of the words of his father's ghost alone, reasoning that the apparition may be deceiving him. But having set a "mousetrap" for Claudius, and by the evil uncle's reaction judging Claudius guilty, he sets out to kill Claudius - only to be brought up short by his own indecisiveness.
Europe - and certainly not Denmark alone - finds itself in the same situation as Hamlet. Its first task is to determine "Who's there?" Europe must honestly confront the threat of Muslim radicalism - and at the same time recognize the common interest of civilized Christians, Jews, and Muslims in eradicating it. Richard at Hyscience quotes Magdi Allam's speach in Rome:
Dear friends, I won’t hide my emotions as an Italian citizen, a Muslim, a layman in stating my defense of Israel’s unequivocal right to its existence. My dear Israeli and Jewish friends, your fight for Israel’s right to exist is also my fight for the right to life of all, including that of Palestinians who aspire to an independent state, including the many, too many, Muslim victims of barbaric acts of Islamist terror. On the foundations of the right to life, we all build our homes. It is a war of civilization which we will win together.
Go read the full post at the link, and understand what is at stake.
Of honor and honor killings.
I posted earlier about an honor killing in Denmark. A Danish story headlined Bror dræbte sin søster reads in part: "Calm and methodically big brother stoops over his little sister while shooting one projectile after the other into her. Her spouse, affected by several shots to the abdomen, can only look on helplessly, while his wife is executed by her own family." (The English translationbrother kills sister is courtesy of Free Republic.)
Not just in Denmark: "Honour-based violence is happening in Britain on a vast scale," says Kate O'Hara in the Yorkshire Post. 'Such crimes can involve false imprisonment, abduction, rape, men and women being forced into unwanted marriages, or in extreme cases, murders. "This murder (of Mr Ghorbani Zarin) fits the definition of an 'honour killing' absolutely," said Jasvinder Sangher, herself a victim of honour crime who is now studying for a PhD at Derby University. "Honour-based violence is going on in Britain on a vast scale. We are just beginning to scratch the surface," she said. Heshu Yones's father Abdalla Yones, 48, an Iraqi Kurd, was unable to tolerate his 16-year-old daughter's Westernised lifestyle and her relationship with a Lebanese Christian man. He stabbed his daughter 17 times at their London home in October 2002 and was jailed for life after pleading guilty to murder.' Hat tip to KBU News.
What happens when there is a breakdown of basic respect for the law - and not only the law itself, but the very values of humanity that the law represents? What happens when a modern state decides, through indifference or cowardice, that the lives of some of its citizens are not worth defending?
Hamlet's weaknesses: self-doubt, self-hate, nihilism.
Self-doubt. Hamlet has one opportunity to do in Claudius, while Claudius is praying. But he passes it up, reasoning, "And so he goes to heaven - and so am I revenged?! That would be scanned!" He's thinking of the posthumous reports he's heard from his own father ("a tale ... whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul") regarding the afterlife prospects of one who dies without atoning the benefit of final sacraments ("no reck'ning made"); if he kills Claudius at prayer, he thinks, Claudius will go straight to heaven. But this is dubious theology at best, and Claudius himself doesn't buy it: just a few moments earlier, we've heard Claudius musing, "what can [prayer accomplish] when one cannot repent?" No, Hamlet is only rationalizing. He can't bring himself to do the act when he has the chance.
Self-hate. Hamlet often speaks of how unworthy and ineffectual he feels, particularly in comparison to his late father. He doesn't hesitate to criticize his own culture, chiding his fellow Danes for their drinking habits (in keeping with the pervasive "drinking" metaphor of the play) but his real problem is with himself.
Nihilism. "To be, or not to be?" Hamlet's famous question underscores the most serious internal challenge he faces: his own will to live. Much has been made of Hamlet's relationship with his mother, Gertrude; here I'll just say that the young prince, raised in the sheltered environment of Elsinore, must find the courage to actualize himself as an individual - that is, to come out into the world on his own.
Hamlet is driven in part by a sense of a nation in general decline from a more noble past. (When he says, "O what a falling-off was there", he is referring specifically to the contrast between the honorable, elder Hamlet and the perfidious Claudius, but also to the general condition of his country.)
A spectre is haunting Europe.
Hamlet correctly perceives that "the time is out of joint" and laments that he was "born to set it right". But who else will do it? Who else is there?
The officious bureaucrat Polonius is so busy being a busybody that he can't accomplish anything. He's more interested in micromanaging his children's personal lives than in letting them grow into adults. Sounds like the EU.
(Side note: Polonius' advice to Laertes - "costly thy habit as thy purse can buy ... for they in France are of a most select and generous chief in that" - is not a typo, as some commentators believe. Chief is simply the Old French word for "head", so the line means, "they in France are of a most select and generous head (or mind) in that." Polonius being Polonius, he can't resist throwing in a French word, especially when speaking of France, because he thinks it sounds cool. Later, in V:ii, Hamlet satirizes the pretentious courtly vocabulary by throwing a lot of French words at the courtier Ostricke.)
The point is, Hamlet - given his many shortcomings - seems far from the ideal candidate for bringing down the usurper Claudius and restoring justice to the kingdom. But there isn't anyone else to do the job. It's him, or nobody.
For too long the West has denied the threat of islamist extremism in its midst. Due to a combination of self-doubt ("certainty" is for fanatics), self-hate (all the world's problems are our fault), and nihilism (one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter ... and after all, isn't all this freedom and modernity just a bit too much?) we have allowed the threat to grow almost out of control.
The name of action.
A recent letter published at Irshad Manji's website reads:
"Tell the truth on islam and not all these lies you crazy woman. Ppl like you must pay and will pay." - Abdel
Irshad replies (not to Abdel but to you, dear reader): Judging by his email address, the individual who sent me this message lives in Denmark. His last name is Andersen. Sounds to me a like a convert -- and a “homegrown” or “Western-raised” threat. We're seeing more and more like him. Which is why pretending that the problem exists outside of the West is no longer an option.
What is at stake is not merely an abstract notion of "the West"; it is civilization itself. Proof of this is the fact that progressive Muslims like Irshad Manji recognize the importance of this struggle. In a two-part post at the Belmont Club, Wretchard imagined a jihadi giving the following analysis to Osama bin Laden:
Having lived among them and killed many of them, peace be unto you!, you understood that the West on three occasions just barely escaped destroying itself. Whether in the muddy trenches of the Great War; or in the global bloodbath of the Second World War; or the Cold War, lived in the shadow of thousands of nuclear warheads, you understood the West was like a man who had escaped suicide thrice only through great good fortune.
This yearning for the death of the West comes from Shaitan himself and is proof of their accursed nature, and explains why we will eventually be victorious despite our material weakness. The desire for self-death is embodied in what is called the Left, the unnamed shadow motivating the carnage of the last century. We must remember its name, for we will invoke it again when deciding on how best to pursue the Jihad.
But if the West is like a stone balanced on a precipice, wanting to fall yet held back by those among it who wish to live, still its final plunge requires a lever, some instrument of power which by tipping it the decisive inch will unleash the self-destructive tendencies of the infidel; let them yield to the spirit that haunts them, "the spectre haunting Europe" and like the Gadarene swine of their scripture, hurl themselves into the precipice. That lever will be provided by Islam. ...
With the riots in France now approaching their eleventh day, we are out of time. This is not a clash of civilizations; it is a battle for civilization itself. We must understand what is at stake. But we must also understand that we can win - if we have the will.
IMPORTANT: For the positive side, read: The Decent Danish.