"It looks as if Islam had a bigger hand in the thing than we thought... . Islam is a fighting creed, and the mullah still stands in the pulpit with the Koran in one hand and a drawn sword in the other."
--Richard Hannay in John Buchan's Greenmantle
Suicide is probably more frequent than murder as the end phase of a civilization. --James Burnham, Suicide of the West
It seemed fitting that a symposium devoted to the subject of "Threats to Democracy" should convene on the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Not only was it one of the greatest sea battles in history, but it was also a battle greatly pertinent to the questions that guided our deliberations: What is the nature of the threats to democracy, to the culture and civilization of the West, and how can we best respond to those threats?
Let me say at the outset that I believe that Lord Nelson had the right idea--sail boldly in among your enemy's ships, start firing, and don't stop until you've reduced them to a shambles. It was good for England and for the rest of Europe that the Duke of Wellington proved himself to be of like mind a few years later. "Hard pounding, gentlemen," he said at Waterloo. "We'll see who pounds longest."
Today, I believe, there is a widely shared understanding that our culture--not just the political system of democracy but our entire western way of life--is at a crossroads. That perception is not always on the surface. Absent the unignorable importunity of attack, absorption in the tasks of everyday life tends to blunt the perception of the threats facing us. But we all know that the future of the West, seemingly so assured even a decade ago, is suddenly negotiable in the most fundamental way. The essays that follow highlight some of the principle features of those negotiations. In this introduction, I want simply to review some of the moral terrain over which we are traveling.
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