Our Only Hope: Western Civilization Reawakened

Here is Jim Tonkowich writing at The Stream:

Western relativism and nihilism can’t possibly combat a radical Islamic worldview so strong that its adherents volunteer to die. Time to rediscover the roots of the West.

Shutter the windows! Bar the doors! Brussels was another wake-up call, we’re told. Be more vigilant — more proactive! We have to do a better job as we collect intelligence, screen immigrants, control borders, hunt down terrorists and terrorist cells.

Thus, from the shut-the-barn-door-after-the-animals-have-run-away department, theWall Street Journal reports, “The Brussels bombings have accelerated U.S. efforts to close off the last remaining Islamic State route out of Syria through Turkey, which officials suspect was the main thoroughfare for militants who carried out deadly attacks in Belgium and France.” And was the main thoroughfare for who-knows-how-many other militants planning further deadly attacks.

Greater vigilance, greater sharing of intelligence and more resources are certainly called for. Coming as they did during Holy Week, however, the attacks in Brussels strike me as a different kind of wake-up call altogether: a call to wake Western civilization from its sleep. Not just Western politics or Western unity or Western police or military power, but Western civilization itself.

The suggestion seems dated, I know. It smacks of intolerance and an unseemly brand of cultural superiority. We’ve lost track of what Western civilization is, and we’ve allowed it to be replaced with an emptiness that the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus wrote about in Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus on the Cross:

It is not necessary to call oneself a nihilist or even an atheist. Relatively few, in fact, adopt those labels. The attitude is one of practical atheism and assumed nihilism, it is not so much thought about or even explicitly stated. Of course we live in a meaningless world that came into existence by accident, and yet… we insist that our lives have meaning. And they do, we insist, because we say they do.

All this is expressed by a combination of tolerance and multiculturalism. Tolerance assumes that it’s bad taste or possibly even evil to make exclusive truth claims. Everyone’s opinion (and that’s all we have — subjective personal opinions) is as good as anyone else’s opinion. This, of course, rapidly breaks down either into indifference to truth or even facts, or ironically into totalitarianism.

Read more: The Stream