In a speech launching a five-year plan to combat homegrown terrorism, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that “Many people born in Britain have little attachment to the country and that makes them vulnerable to radicalization.”
It’s not as though Muslims who live in Britain don’t eat fish and chips or root for their local football club. But, apparently, a not insignificant number can indulge in British pastimes and still feel unconnected to the country they live in. In her 2006 book Londonistan, Melanie Phillips described how a separate and alien culture had developed in England as a result of Britain’s experiment in multiculturalism—an experiment that had been fostered by British elites in media, government, and even in churches.
The problem was, said Phillips, that in order to make room for other cultures, the elites had hollowed out their own culture so that “British society presented a moral and philosophical vacuum that was ripe for colonization by predatory Islamism.” She laid much of the blame on educators:
The British education system simply ceased transmitting either the values or the story of the nation to successive generations, delivering instead the message that truth was an illusion and that the nation and its values were whatever anyone wanted them to be.
A similar process has been underway for a long time in the U.S. For many years, America has been deeply invested in the same multicultural experiment of elevating other cultures by denigrating its own. Our educational, media, and entertainment establishments have subjected young people to decades of anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Christian conditioning. As it turned out, the flip side of “tolerance for diversity” was intolerance for one’s own culture and the things that make it distinctive.
The result? As Robert Spencer observed, “people who are ashamed of their culture will not defend it.” Such people might even feel that attacks on our country are justified by our history of slavery, racism, colonialism, and imperialism. Still others will feel justified in carrying out the attacks. In England, the police are now uncovering on average one jihadist plot per day.
The situation is not yet as desperate in America, but we seem nevertheless to be generating a steady supply of homegrown terrorists. On the surface, they blend in with the culture. Major Nidal Hasan was an Army psychiatrist, the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston were into sports and school, and Mohammod Abdulazeez, the Chattanooga shooter, seemed in many respects to be the all-American boy. On the outside, they appeared to be ordinary Americans. On the inside they were more like the pod people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers—aliens with alien ambitions.
The worrisome thing is, our educational system, along with other institutions of cultural formation, seems to be on course to creating a whole nation of pod people—people with little attachment to their country or countrymen.
This detachment can take three forms. In some cases, individuals turn away from involvement in their culture to self-absorption. To assuage the loneliness of the unconnected self, they might turn to drugs or pornography or serial sex. Except for the world of pop entertainment, they are unconscious of the larger world. Like the clueless young people interviewed on the Watters’ World segment of the O’Reilly Factor, they might be unsure who the first president was, in which century the Civil War was fought, or who John Kerry is. None of that seems important to them. If a group of bearded men wearing long robes and speaking Arabic moved into the apartment above, they’d probably think, “that’s cool” and light up another joint.
The second form that the detachment takes is a transfer of allegiance from one’s own history and culture to a neo-Marxist perspective. Thanks in large part to our educational system, a growing segment of our population has come to look upon its own culture as the root of all the world’s evils. Unlike the self-absorbed detachers, they are politically engaged, but their political aims have to do with undermining traditional society and radically transforming it. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement is representative of this group.
The third group, the one that Prime Minister Cameron is primarily concerned about, is composed of those whose first loyalty is to the ummah—the worldwide community of Muslim believers. They may live in the UK, France, or the U.S., but their allegiance lies elsewhere. They may have always felt this way, or they may have undergone a conversion. The majority in this category pose no direct threat to the larger society; they simply prefer to lead their lives separate from it. These separate communities do, however, provide the soil in which the radicals take root. They are, to use another metaphor, the sea in which the jihadis swim. The radical Muslims themselves are in some ways similar to the anti-Western Westerners who repudiate the Western tradition. The radicals not only reject Western culture, they see it as evil and they want to bring it down.
Because they have the same goals—the destruction of Western and Christian civilization—the members of the second group often act as enablers of Muslim radicals. I’ve written before about the leftist-Islamist alliance—the leftist professors who support the cause of Hamas, the left-leaning foundations which finance the “Islamophobia” campaign, and the left-leaning politicians who support the Muslim Brotherhood. But sometimes the alliance goes beyond moral and financial support and manifests itself in actual violence. The best example of this are the antifa or “antifascist” gangs in Europe who use brownshirt tactics to suppress any protest against Islamization or the leftist policies—such as mass immigration—which promote Islamization. Numerous anti-Islamization rallies and marches in Europe have been broken up by much larger groups of young antifas throwing punches and sometimes bricks and bottles.
As befits two movements with global ambitions, the leftist-Islamist alliances are cropping up all over the planet. In Australia recently, an organization called Reclaim Australia held a series of rallies to protest Islamization. They were met by violent “anti-racist” counter-demonstrators, some of them wearing face coverings. Here’s an account of one such encounter in Melbourne:
I made my way onto Spring Street, where there was an even larger mob, maybe 500 or 600 people, some with megaphones… There were a few late comers or stragglers attempting to get through to the ‘Reclaim Australia’ section. It was futile. As soon as anyone in the mob identified a person as a Reclaimer, a large horde of 20 or 40 of the mob would rush to them, and in many incidents I witnessed, assault them, knock them to the ground, and kick them on the ground. It became a mob mentality. Anyone with an Australian flag had it stolen from them and was assaulted. Almost every assault I witnessed was by twenty or more on one.
So if you’re worried about the advance of global jihad, it’s not just the young Muslim browsing radical sites on the Internet that you need to worry about. You also have to worry about all those college grads who majored in Marxism and Peace Studies, and are dead set on ridding the world of “racists” and “fascists.”
By comparison, the first group of detachers—those who are mainly into themselves—seems the least dangerous of the three. That’s generally true. On the other hand, the self-absorbed sometimes become disenchanted with the pursuit of self and seek to find their identity in a larger cause. Sometimes they end up in church, sometimes in the radical left, and sometimes in radical Islam. Judging by his blog posts, the Chattanooga jihadist, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez seems to have traveled this route. Having tried out drugs, drink, fast cars, and other vain pursuits, he finally found a purpose in jihad.
However, the main threat posed by those who seek constant diversion is that they are too distracted to notice the larger world and the dangers lurking in it. They are oblivious to anything outside their own pleasure zone. Thus, they can be of little help in resisting the twin threat posed by leftism and Islamism. The same can be said to a lesser degree of those we might call the semi-detached (or semi-attached, if you prefer). Such people don’t reject Western and Christian values, but they are not actively engaged in promoting or defending them. They don’t hate America, but they are too busy earning a living or raising a family to think much about existential threats to their society. Thanks to years of relentless indoctrination from the schools and the media, their links to core cultural principles are tenuous. The result is a certain passivity concerning events over which they supposedly have no control: “Ho-hum, I see there’s been another jihad attack. I hope the authorities will do something about it.”
An individual’s will to resist tyranny, whether of the leftist or Islamic variety, depends to a large extent on the strength of his attachments—particularly attachments to family, church, and country. But the liberal state does everything it can to weaken those ties. And once the ties that bind are slackened sufficiently, it’s difficult to care strongly about anything. If the current attacks on marriage, family, religion, and patriotism—up until recently the main glue of society—are as successful as the social engineers hope, there will soon be nothing left worth fighting for.
Which raises a question: What happens when the leaders of a society are themselves detached from that society? What happens, for instance, when the leaders of the U.S. government begin to see themselves not as representatives of the American people but as members of a worldwide order of global elites—a sort of non-religious “ummah”?
There was a brief controversy a while back when former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani raised the question by suggesting that President Obama did not love America. That line of inquiry didn’t go very far because it was quickly put beyond the pale by those who control the levers of media. Yet there is very little evidence that Obama does love his country, and the same could be said for many others in government. Like the pod people, they know what they are supposed to say in order to assuage people’s suspicions. But in pod-people fashion, they have been busy hollowing out the old culture and replacing it with alien institutions and strange new “traditions”: gender-neutral schools, a transgendered military, a social justice warrior class, and a radical reconstruction of marriage. At the same time, the governing classes both in Europe and the U.S. have been introducing actual aliens (in the technical sense of the word) into their nations. In some places, especially those that favor Muslim refugees and turn away Christians, this movement of peoples is beginning to look less like immigration and more like colonization. But, of course, colonization is what the pod people are all about.
If some of our leaders seem strangely detached from concerns over the safety, security, and integrity of our society, it may be a sign that the pod people are already in our midst.