The Death of the Grown-Up came out in August 2007. I am not happy to report that nearly seven years later, the book retains a tragic topicality.
The book marries the decadent "arrested development" of American culture with the dynamics of dhmmitude, which in certain ways may be thought of as the forced "arrested development" of the non-Muslim, on pain of death, according to Islamic law.
No dhimmi or person living in dhimmitude functions as a free citizen -- a fully developed adult human being. His speech is censored according to Islamic law; his beliefs, particularly critiques of Islam, must be kept to whispers or altogether private. As a non-Muslim (or female), he is treated unequally before the law. He pays the jizya -- Islamic protection money -- for continued sufferance. Always, he lives under threat of Islamic violence or attack, and always, there are more and more places where he dare not go as they become Islamic -- "no go zones" in public spaces and also the mind. His religion, culture, traditions, history, even his cuisine become subject to Islamization.
Such is the impact of recurrent cycles of jihad. The most recent cycle may be dated to the outbreak of Islamic terrorism on European soil in the early 1970s.
From The Death of the Grown-Up, Chapter 9, "Men, Women ... or Children?" pp. 193-196:
The threat of such violence became more acute after 9/11, but it has been an unclear if present danger for decades. Which helps explain why this condition of dhimmitude has in fact become a veritable Western institution. Bat Ye’or looks back to its origins:
It was in the early 1970s, with the outbreak of Arab Palestinian terrorism worldwide, that dhimmitude erupted on European soil through violence and death deliberately inflicted on one category of persons: the Jews, who were singled out as in the Nazi period by their religion. Security precautions and instructions posted on synagogues and Jewish community buildings implied that being Jewish and practicing the Jewish religion in Europe might again incur the risk of death, and that the freedom of religion and freedom of thought had been restricted.
So, that’s how it started. When I first read that passage a few months after 9/11, something clicked. I remembered a visit to Brussels in December of 1990 during which I saw armed guards posted outside a city synagogue. Such security precautions in Europe, as Bat Yeo’r writes, were by then routine, but it was the first time I had witnessed them. And it was only after 9/11 that I realized what they really meant: It wasn’t that government authorities were preparing to target a specific, limited threat of violence to battle and eliminate it; on the contrary, the authorities were responding to a an ongoing threat that reflected the permanent fact that Jewish citizens in Belgium (and elsewhere) were no longer able to exercise their religion freely. And why weren’t they able to exercise their religion freely? As in the 1970s, the reason in 1990 was Arab Palestinian terrorists. In retrospect—namely, post-9/11—it seems odd that these terrorists have always been called “Arab terrorists,” or “Arab Palestinian terrorists,” and have never been labeled according to the animating inspiration of their religion as “Muslim” terrorists. Such coyness has buried a relevant part of the story: the Islamic context. Just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, it was Muslim terrorism that had come to Europe, and, as a result, Jews were worshipping, if they dared, at their own fearsome risk.
And not just Jews. By now, the same fearsome risk extends to whole populations, in houses of worship and the public square alike. After reading Bat Ye’or, I realized that the now-familiar strategies of fearsome-risk management—guns around the synagogue, for example--represents a significant capitulation. The security ring around the synagogue—or the airport ticket counter, the house of parliament, or the Winter Olympics--is a line of siege, not a line of counter-attack. The threat of violence has become the status quo, and, as such, is incapable of sparking outrage, and is certainly not a causus belli. Guns at the synagogue door—or St Peter’s Basilica, or the Louvre--symbolize a cultural acquiescence to the infringement of freedom caused by the introduction—better, the incursion—of Islam into Western society. Thus, dhimmitude--institutional concessions on the part of non-Muslim populations to Islam—has arrived in the West.
And it’s here in the U.S. of A., as well. Brandishing automatic weapons, police and soldiers patrol our cities, our buses, our banks, our institutions, our subways, our trains, our stadiums, our airports to prevent specifically Islamic violence. This, lest we forget, is a situation unparalleled—unimagined--in our history. Official Washington has become an armed camp. No longer does traffic stream down Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House; the historic street is now a cement-dump-lined “plaza” blocked off by retractable security stumps. The Capitol, meanwhile, sits behind a hamster-cage Rube Goldberg might have designed, its grand staircases blocked, and metal posts—called “bollards,” I recently learned--bristling down the sidewalks. The fact is, we are living in a state of siege. After 9/11, the United States embarked on an open-ended, war against Islamic terrorism, with varying degrees of foreign cooperation. But even as we fight abroad, we simultaneously assume the status of victims at home, surrendering our bags and purses for security searches, erecting aethetics-destroying metal detectors, transforming our ennobling vistas and public halls into militarized zones under 24-hour-surveillance. This is necessary, we understand, for public safety: But is it the new “normal”? Or do we ever get Pennsylvania Avenue back? Do we ever get to make that mad dash down the airport concourse onto a plane just pushing off from the gate again? (This was an odd, if recurring point of pride of a family friend who used to time his drive from Kennebunkport, Maine, to Logan Airport with perilous precision). Don’t hold your breath; these homeland defenses sprouting up across the country look and feel like they’re here for good.
In this seemingly permanent climate of fear, then, ignoring genuine heroes--our exemplars of such adult virtues as bravery and sacrifice, honor and duty--is more than a cultural matter of infantile vanity. It is a security risk. “By our focus on victimization,” Crossland writes, “we have adopted our enemies’ standard of measure, and are handing them a victory.” It’s a psychological victory, of course, not a strategic one; but this, above all, is a psychological war.
As a people, then, we begin to make choices predicated on our new siege mentality, choices that a free people—free from fear, and, I would add, free from dhimmitude—would never make.
Take Cartoon Rage 2006, the cultural nuke set off by an Islamic chain reaction to those 12 cartoons of Mohammed appearing in a Danish newspaper. We watched the Muslim meltdown with shocked attention, but there was little recognition that its poisonous fallout was fear. Fear in the State Department, which, like Islam, called the cartoons unacceptable. Fear in Whitehall, which did the same. Fear in the Vatican, which did the same. And fear in the media, which failed, with few, few exceptions, to reprint or show the images. With only a small roll of brave journals, mainly in continental Europe, to salute, the proud Western tradition of a free press bowed its head and submitted to an Islamic law against depictions of Mohammed. That’s dhimmitude.
Not that we admitted it. Resorting to delusional talk of “tolerance,” “reponsibility” and “sensitivity,” we tried to hide the fear that kept the Danish drawings out of the press. We even congratulated ourselves for having the “editorial judgement” to make “pluralism” possible. “Readers were well served…without publishing the cartoons,” said a Wall Street Journal spokesman. “CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons in respect for Islam,” reported the cable network. On behalf of the BBC, which did show some of the cartoons on the air, a news editor subsequently apologized, adding: “We’ve taken a decision not to go further … in order not to gratuitously offend the significant number” of Muslim viewers worldwide. Left unmentioned was the understanding (editorial judgement?) that “gratuitous offense” would doubtless lead to gratuitous violence. Hence, the capitulation to fear--not the inspiration of tolerance but of capitulation--and a condition of dhimmitude. In calling these cartoons “unacceptable,” in censoring ourselves “in respect” to Islam, we brought ourselves into compliance with a central statute of sharia. As Jyllands Posten’s Flemming Rose noted, that’s not respect, that’s submission.
There is something weak and underdeveloped in this unprotesting submission—something that strikes me as cultural immaturity. Of course, it would, given my premise about the death of the grownup. Still, the act of cartoon submission—the quick and easy surrender of a hard-won, core liberty to an implacable religious demand—is not an act to associate with a muscular and robust cultural profile. Revealing infinite give and no take, it is the childlike act of the uncertain minor, not the behavior of the worldly guardian; it is the passive act of the victim, not the take-charge response of the hero. It is the directionless act of the follower who lacks any civilizational orientation--and the follower, here, is following Islam.
This should begin to explain why a world without grownups is such a dangerous place....