Western intellectuals have long spoken of the clash of civilizations with an air of obtuseness, as if that clash would never implicate and threaten their own version of civilization. They reduced the clash to two fundamentalisms, Islamic and Christian, without realizing that their own secularist creed could just as easily clash with Islam and be consumed by it.
Now even as this clash comes more graphically into view they show no interest in fighting it. Europeans are ready to become what the Muslims of old called the "people of the pact," unbelievers who could live under Islam with a few circumscribed rights, provided that they recognized the supremacy of Islam and submitted to taxes and regulations from the dominant Muslim state.
While a few European liberals are not yet ready to negotiate for this restricted freedom -- if only out of a spirited hedonism that makes them keenly aware of Islam's power to imperil their fun -- others, weighted down by liberalism's persistent self-doubt, are all too willing to capitulate. The price of curbing free speech, restricting western religious freedom (which, if it means anything at all, presupposes the right to reject the false ideas of other religions and oppose them loudly), and carving out even more space for radical Islam is one Europeans will eagerly pay to secure their own short-term safety.
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