Like Rome, cod­dled West is los­ing its fight­ing spirit

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Thomas Sow­ell

Euro­pean na­tions protest­ing Sad­dam Hus­sein’s death sen­tence, as they protested against forc­ing se­crets out of cap­tured ter­ror­ists, should tell us all we need to know about the in­ter­nal de­gen­er­a­tion of West­ern so­ci­ety, where so many con­fuse squeamish­ness with moral­ity.

Two gen­er­a­tions of be­ing in­su­lated from the re­al­ity of the in­ter­na­tional jun­gle, of not hav­ing to de­fend their own sur­vival be­cause they have been liv­ing un­der the pro­tec­tion of the Amer­i­can nu­clear um­brella, have al­lowed too many Euro­peans to grow soft and in­dulge them­selves in il­lu­sions about bru­tal re­al­i­ties and dan­gers.

The very means of their sal­va­tion have been de­mo­nized for decades in anti-nu­clear move­ments and pro­test­ers call­ing them­selves “an­ti­war.” But there is a huge dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing an­ti­war in words and be­ing an­ti­war in deeds.

How many times, in its thou­sands of years of his­tory, has Europe gone 60 years with­out a ma­jor war, as it has since World War II? That peace has been due to Amer­i­can nu­clear weapons, which was all that could de­ter the Soviet Union’s armies from march­ing right across Europe to the At­lantic Ocean.

Hav­ing over­whelm­ing mil­i­tary force on your side, and let- ting your en­e­mies know you have the guts to use it, is be­ing gen­uinely an­ti­war. Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Neville Cham­ber­lain’s ap­pease­ment brought on World War II and Ron­ald Rea­gan’s mil­i­tary buildup ended the Cold War. The fa­mous Ro­man peace of an­cient times did not come from ne­go­ti­a­tions, cease-fires or pretty talk. It came from the Ro­man Em­pire’s crush­ing de­feat and an­ni­hi­la­tion of Carthage, which served as a warn­ing to any­one else who might have had any bright ideas about mess­ing with Rome.

Only af­ter the Ro­man Em­pire be­gan to lose its own in­ter­nal co­he­sion, pa­tri­o­tism and fight­ing spirit over the cen­turies did it be­gin to suc­cumb to its ex­ter­nal en­e­mies and fi­nally col­lapse. That seems to be where West­ern civ­i­liza­tion is head­ing to­day.

In­ter­nal co­he­sion? Not only does much of to­day’s gen­er­a­tion in West­ern so­ci­eties have a “do your own thing” at­ti­tude but de­fy­ing rules and flout­ing author­ity are glo­ri­fied and Balka­niza- tion through “mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism” has be­come dogma.

Pa­tri­o­tism? Not only is pa­tri­o­tism dis­dained, the very ba­sis for pride in one’s coun­try and cul­ture is sys­tem­at­i­cally un­der­mined in our ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions at all lev­els. The achieve­ments of West­ern civ­i­liza­tion are buried in his­to­ries that por­tray ev­ery hu­man sin found here as if they were pe­cu­liar­i­ties of the West.

The clas­sic ex­am­ple is slav­ery, which ex­isted all over the world for thou­sands of years and yet is in­ces­santly de­picted as if it was a pe­cu­liar­ity of Euro­peans en­slav­ing Africans. Bar­bary pi­rates alone brought twice as many en­slaved Euro­peans to North Africa as there were Africans brought in bondage to the United States and the Amer­i­can Colonies from which it was formed.

How many schools and col­leges are go­ing to teach that, go­ing against po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and un­der­min­ing white guilt? How many peo­ple have any inkling it was pre­cisely West­ern civ­i­liza­tion that even­tu­ally turned against slav­ery and be­gan stamp­ing it out when nonWestern so­ci­eties still saw noth­ing wrong with it?

How can a gen­er­a­tion be ex­pected to fight for the sur­vival of a cul­ture or a civ­i­liza­tion that has been trashed in its own in­sti­tu­tions, taught to tol­er­ate even the in­tol­er­ance of other cul­tures brought into its own midst, and con­di­tioned to re­gard any in­stinct to fight for its own sur­vival as be­ing a “cow­boy”?

West­ern na­tions that show any signs of stand­ing up for self­p­reser­va­tion are rare ex­cep­tions. The United States and Is­rael are the only West­ern na­tions that have no choice but to rely on self-de­fense — and both are de­mo­nized, not only by our en­e­mies but also by many in other West­ern na­tions.

Aus­tralia re­cently told its Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion that, if they want to live un­der Is­lamic law, they should leave Aus­tralia. That makes three West­ern na­tions that have not yet com­pletely suc­cumbed to the cor­ro­sive and sui­ci­dal trends of our times.

If and when we all suc­cumb, will the epi­taph of West­ern civ­i­liza­tion say we had the power to an­ni­hi­late our en­e­mies but were so par­a­lyzed by con­fu­sion we ended up be­ing an­ni­hi­lated our­selves?

Thomas Sow­ell is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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