Let there be no doubt: In the “war on terror,” a war for world hegemony is raging. And absent a divine intervention of almost biblical proportions, or the sudden stiffening of the West’s backbone, which may also require divine intervention, this clash of civilizations will almost certainly lead to a nuclear conflagration.
Is there a non-military, non-life threatening solution? I believe there is. Many have spoken of political, military, economic and even media strategies as resolutions. I believe there’s another element – the human element.
Edmund Burke, an 18th-century political philosopher, said: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.” To paraphrase Mr. Burke, the failure of good people to vigorously oppose evil ultimately allows evil to triumph.
Let me briefly address the aforementioned “human element.”
In pre-World War II Germany, all Germans were not Nazis. The Nazis began as a relatively small political party founded by an ex-con, Adolf Hitler. Estimates are that at his peak, no more than 40 percent voted for him. The majority of people in Germany were hard working and industrious, the backbone of German society – “the good people.”
In pre-World War II Japan, all Japanese were not imperialists or kamikazes. Many did not necessarily hold to the idea that it was Japan’s ultimate destiny to rule the world. They were “the good people.”
In Italy, under Mussolini, all Italians were not fascists; they were merchants, farmers and housewives. They did not feel their only purpose was to uphold the state. They were “the good people.”
Many Americans opposed Hitler’s designs on the world, but they believed the U.S. shouldn’t interfere in European affairs. They weren’t traitors; they were doctors, teachers, ministers and rabbis – “the good people.”
At the march on Washington in August 1963, just prior to the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr., then-president of the American Jewish Congress, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, expelled from Germany at the onset of Jewish persecution, made this powerful statement:
“When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler Regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful, and the most tragic problem – is silence. A great people which had created a great civilization had become a nation of silent onlookers. They remained silent in the face of hate, in the face of brutality, and in the face of mass murder.”
Silence, we are reminded, is golden; but silence is also consent.
Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Il Duce, Mussolini, or Der Fuhrer, Hitler, could not have killed six million Jews and ravaged much of the world without an extremely important element: the silence of, the collaboration of, the moderates – “the good people.”
The Klan could not have operated openly in the South without the tacit approval, ergo silence, of “the good people.” “But,” they protest, “We did not collaborate!” But did they speak up?
In World War II Germany, if you lived near a huge something or other where trainloads of people came in but none went out, and smokestacks belched black smoke from furnaces 24 hours a day, wouldn’t you wonder what went on there? Didn’t these moderates, “the good people” of Germany, wonder what happened to their Jewish neighbors who suddenly disappeared? Did they ask?
During the slave era in America, every white American was not a racist or slave owner; more than 360,000 Union soldiers died in the Civil War as testimony to that truth. Every white person in America did not participate in lynching; every German citizen did not help gas Jews; not every Russian participated in the pogroms; nor every Chinese citizen in the communist purges of Chairman Mao. Yet evil reigned supreme. Why?
The moderates, the pacifists, the silent “good people” may not have participated in this evil. They may have even had passionate discussions about it among themselves. In private, they may have been adamantly opposed to it, but their failure to vigorously and publicly oppose it with words and actions ultimately allowed evil to triumph.
We now fast-forward to 2015. Mass killings of “the infidel” by Muslim terrorists are tearing apart the fabric of Western culture with the explicit, avowed aim to subjugate and murder those who don’t worship Muhammad and their God, Allah.
Political correctness is lending more weight to the advancement of this ideology than a rational mind can fathom.
Moderate Muslims have proclaimed with real, or feigned, anger that these extremists have hijacked the real Islam – the “religion of peace.” If the moderate Muslims – “the good people” – truly believe their “religion of peace” has been hijacked by extremist elements that do not represent the teachings of the prophet and of Islam, why don’t they step forward and speak up?
We saw celebrations across the Muslim world when the twin towers fell. We saw people threatened with death over a cartoon. We see Christian churches specifically targeted by Muslim forces; young girls abducted, raped and murdered; beheadings and burnings that defy imagination. The tirade we see in their videos and the merciless slaughter of innocents is gaining momentum at the speed of light. I ask, where is the Islamic condemnation of these activities?
Why don’t we hear impassioned speeches or see massive protests in the street by Muslims – who claim it is a “religion of peace” – speaking out against these acts of terrorism? Why don’t they call out terrorists as “terrorists”? Why don’t they?!
Ask yourself: When was the last time you saw a moderate Muslim nation, group or even an individual Muslim speak out vigorously and publicly to condemn these radical extremists’ terrorist activities?
If only 15-20 percent (or fewer) of Muslims are radical extremists, then why won’t the other 80-85 percent (or more) stand up and publicly condemn these rogue hijackers and the nations or individuals that sponsor or commit acts of terrorism? Why won’t they?
Silence may be golden, but pastor Martin Niemöller, an early supporter of Hitler, who later came to oppose the Nazis and was imprisoned at Dachau, pointed out that silence can be deadly. This truth is powerfully illustrated in statement written by him and inscribed at the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts:
They came first for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.