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No Middle Path
Derb
April 20, 2013, 10:49 AM
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The Red Shift blog post I linked to earlier has a quote from Mark Steyn in it:

Not having a strong feeling is no longer permitted. The Diversity Celebrators have their exquisitely sensitive antennae attuned for anything less than enthusiastic approval.

An attentive reader notes that I said the same thing a few months ago.

On key points of dogma, there can be no middle path between complete swooning acceptance and utter angry rejection. You have to love Big Brother. If you merely tolerate him, you are just as bad a thought criminal as someone who wants to assassinate him. The idea that a well-socialized person puts up with a lot of things he doesn’t much like is too subtle for these blinkered commissars.

Remember the Ingsoc slogans from Nineteen Eighty-Four?

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

For the totalitarianism of our own age, AKA white-Western liberalism, you can add a fourth:

TOLERANCE IS HATE

I appreciate the reminder, Sir, but I very much doubt the observation is original with me.  It is in fact exactly the kind of thing Orwell might have come up with.  If it were not so late and I hadn’t had so many “nightcaps,” I could probably think of a precedent.

That same reader asks me to pass an opinion on Steyn’s writing.  All right:  Enjoyable, frequently very funny, occasionally brilliant, the product of a well-furnished mind.  (And Mark is a very witty speaker, too.)

He never pulls the trigger, though; keeps scrupulously within the bounds of Conservatism, Inc. acceptable discourse. 

This makes for a lot of lame conclusions, as I said when reviewing one of Mark’s books back in 2006:

Our only hope, therefore, says Steyn, is in the reform of Islam. Yet this is not ours to do. "Ultimately, only Muslims can reform Islam. All the free world can do is create conditions that increase the likelihood of Muslim reform, or at any rate do not actively impede it." Steyn goes on to give a list of suggestions: Support women`s rights … Support economic and political liberty … Deny international legitimacy to really bad Muslim regimes … Transform the energy industry (i.e. to reduce our dependency on oil) … "Strike militarily when the opportunity presents itself."

After the pungent brilliance of the preceding 200 pages, this all falls a bit flat. And in fact, the reader who has traversed those 200 pages has been having different thoughts from the ones Steyn tries to guide him to. For example: Is that original list of options — submit to, destroy, or reform Islam — really exhaustive? How about we just fence it off: Expel our own Muslims, forbid Muslims to enter our countries, proscribe Islam, and deal with Muslim nations commercially at arm`s length? (They have to sell their oil to someone, or else starve.) Such actions are, of course, way over the line of politically acceptable discourse today; but in five or ten years, after a couple more jihadist atrocities, they will not be.