In the wake of the Paris attacks, there is a rather frantic movement afoot in the Western media to whitewash anything about the attacks that might impugn the religion of Islam – the espoused religion of all the attackers and the primary impetus for their attack, as asserted by the attackers themselves.
Most of these attempts come as editorials in the biggest Western newspapers and new media sites. The argument, generally, is that the attackers in Paris did not represent “true” Islam.
Never mind how this illustrious coterie of rabidly anti-theist journalists all became PhDs in Islamic theology; their purpose is little more noble than to ensure Western nations keep their doors open to Muslim refugees, regardless of the extent of their radical Islamist persuasions; about 200,000 Syrian refugees are expected to arrive in the U.S. over the next two years.
Over social media, false equivalencies are made and spent as frivolously as trillion-dollar Zimbabwean bank notes. All Americans are immigrants, it is said. The Native Americans even welcomed Puritan refugees in the 17th century. Jesus Christ was a refugee, others assert.
Some have claimed Anne Frank would have lived if the U.S. had taken her in as a refugee during World War II. Many Americans opposed Jewish refugee resettlement in the U.S. during World War II, others observe without so much as indicating how such an argument pertains to present situation.
Still others argue that since the U.S. invasion of Iraq was the impetus for instability in the region, it is now our responsibility to clean up our mess by accepting refugees. Some have even taken up arms with avowed Satanists, who declared their support for the resettlement of refugees in the United States, and argue that the Satanists understand Christian compassion better than do Christians.
Again, let us temporarily stow away our amusement at the sudden theological prowess of avowed atheists and other perennial antagonists of Christianity. Instead, take these arguments at face value. What does the character of these arguments say about the people making them?
Many false equivalencies
It seems to me that in order to make each of these false equivalencies, one must subscribe to a common notion that the interests of Americans must always be a subordinate interest, regardless of circumstance. People who make these bizarre arguments seem to retain a massive and pervasive sense of guilt that they feel can only be assuaged by a pathological preference to being dominated. In other words, they suffer from a sort of masochism: “enjoyment from being hurt or punished.”
Take, as an example, the argument that the U.S. destabilized Iraq. A valid argument, for sure. But that we should accept refugees from the region does not logically follow, foremost because the United States of America is not a single person who can singularly be held responsible; it is a democracy full of a thousand competing interests.
If the U.S. were in fact a single individual who in 2002 invaded Iraq and created the instability that gave rise to Islamic State and permitted a sustained campaign by the Islamic State against civilian populations, which caused an exodus of civilians from the region, a court of law might be able to make the case that the U.S. should bear responsibility for the consequences of those precipitating actions in 2002. But even that argument would be difficult to make because there are so many other influencing factors in the region that have little to do with U.S. meddling.
Now consider that the U.S. is not a single man to whom blame can be assigned, but rather a democratic republic comprised of nearly 320 million people. Subjecting these objectively innocent people to the inherent dangers of accepting 200,000 Syrian refugees is horrific enough; but it is equally repugnant to subject even those American citizens who we might hold morally culpable for the rise of ISIS (that is to say, everyone else).
But I reject the notion that your grandmother or your daughter ought to pay with her life for the geopolitical miscalculations of her government. To argue that accepting Syrian refugees is a necessary condition of U.S. foreign meddling is to accept the same argument that the Islamic State makes for butchering civilians; that we are all to blame, individually, for the collective actions and folly of a government we implicitly support.
And this is exactly what proponents of refugee resettlement in the U.S. believe, on a pathological scale. The guilt they experience over the U.S. government’s foreign policy blunders can only be satiated through a good paddling of their own bare, prostrated asses. To chase away their guilt, they must occasionally burn the effigies of U.S. imperialist overreach and oppression—a noble cause, perhaps, if the effigies weren’t their own living, breathing countrymen.
Yet, even after such rituals, the masochists will remain unsatisfied because there is no punishment severe enough to heal what they perceive as voluminous ancestral sins.
Perhaps the American refugee resettlement proponents find this masochism to be noble or just. I find it rather barbaric in its current pathological form. These people would gladly suffer the deaths of another 3,000 innocent Americans if it would, even temporarily, satisfy selfish notions of their own internal righteousness and sense of personal virtue (so long as it isn’t their own head, or the heads of their friends and families). What else can explain the willful disregard of the very evident dangers of transporting Muslim refugees into the United States?
Enter Western Masochism
So this is what I mean when I say Western Masochism; the compulsion to enjoy endless punishment, embarrassment, and even death to atone for perceived sins of the West. It is not a new phenomenon by any means, but every significant emergence of it is worth close study.
Where did it originate?
Who knows – it could be the final throes of a degenerate culture, or it could be genetic defect of the white, European people. But perhaps another historical example of the phenomenon is instructive. Consider, for example, the analogy that suggests Native Americans happily took in European refugees in North America some four hundred years ago. John Smith and Pocahontas, right?
Well no, not exactly. Even a cursory study of the early colonial era in America becomes rather grim. It is true that Native Americans were hospitable to some very grateful European settlers, whether out of good will, mutual survival, or out of the hopes of trading for food imports brought in by English ships during seasons of bad harvest.
Either way, there certainly were early alliances and many years of peaceful interaction. The amicable relationship between the Plymouth colony and Massasoit, leader of the Wampanoag tribe, is one such gleaming example.
However, many more Native American tribes participated in the wholesale slaughter of the European invaders, and the Europeans (including the Puritans at Plymouth) would occasionally conduct rather barbaric raids on hostile Native American tribes, slaughtering men, women and children alike.
As the American colonies expanded, Native Americans began experiencing resentment toward their new neighbors, who had better weapons, goods, and superior access to food and wares.
Despite the relative opulence and power that the English settlers exhibited, the Massachusetts Bay Colony eventually enacted a rather magnanimous law (which bound all other colonies, except Rhode Island) requiring colonial subjects to trade fairly for Native American land.
In other words, it was illegal for settlers to steal or conquer land from the Native American tribes. Your history book might not say this; it might have you believing that the English stole everything they got, but this is not true. As it turns out, most of the Native American-held land ceded to the English settlers was purchased.
In a bid to obtain superior European goods, not least important of which were firearms to maintain an edge over rival tribes, Native Americans sold off massive swaths of land to the settlers. This had several effects.
One, it drove some tribes into alliances with the colonies, and drove other tribes into conflict with the colonies and each other. Second, it drove internal instability within individual tribes; young tribesmen grew furious that their leaders were selling their future down the river, purchasing weapons in exchange for their ancestral land, political clout and ultimately, pride. Some tribal sachems (or “chiefs”) would sell their tribes’ land almost exclusively for enhancing his or her own personal wealth.
The result of this was King Philip’s War, a little-studied American conflict that erupted across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York in 1675.
“King Philip,” originally known as Metacomet, was the sachem of the Wampanoags and the son of Massasoit. Facing his own waning power within the tribe because of his frivolous sale of Wampanoag land to the English for personal gain, King Philip was eventually forced to go to war against the English colonies to save face with not only his own urging tribesmen, but with neighboring tribes who were also hostile to the English.
Long story short, King Philip lost. He was captured and killed. His head was mounted on the gates of Plymouth colony.
Masochistic proponents of Syrian resettlement in the United States see the English settlers as horrible villains whose actions can only be atoned for in the modern age by engaging in indefinite bouts of prostration to everyone in the world who is not a white Christian, everywhere, at all times, regardless of circumstance.
Realists who oppose Syrian resettlement in the United States see the English settlers, rather more accurately and with much more nuance, as radical Puritan invaders who came to the North American continent under a refugee banner, but who in 50 years’ time placed the severed head of the Native American leader on a pike and radically transformed the culture of the nation.
The Puritan influence in the United States, and in New England in particular, hangs heavy even over the modern era. A particularly interesting essay by G.K. Chesterton notes the superficiality of American morality and the compulsion of Americans to view material things as inherently evil, as opposed to a realist view of humans as conduits of evil. Such is the legacy of Puritanism.
If the parallels between this historical example and the present predicament remain unclear to you at this point, you might be too sufficiently prostrated.
So what’s the problem?
The modern problem of Syrian refugee resettlement in America has less to do with the possibility of a single refugee carrying out a deadly or destructive attack on the American people in the name of Islam, although this is certainly a concern.
The more troubling problem is that we are now sowing the seeds of something much more terminal. The children and grandchildren of the current refugees may not remember the horrors that militant Islamists inflicted upon their parents. They will, however, be members of a growing minority in a nation still largely at odds with their religion and culture.
And they will be equipped with an understanding of English, a birth-right American citizenship and all its associated Constitutional protections, a decent standard of living, and likely an iPhone 47-s by that point. Yet some will retain many of the archaic beliefs of Islamist ideology that are deeply at odds with American values.
If the situation in France is any portent of America’s future, how much longer before American gays and women become Republicans?
The only possible outcome of the current masochist affliction of the West will be a rising violence and instability in the United States, if it is not stopped. It will not be a Twitter fight, like so many of the tame, modern clashes of culture. It will be fight using bombs, bullets, and beheadings, if history is any guide.