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The White Man's Burden, Part II: "Honor The Threat"

The real world, it is often said, is not tidy. It would do much better if reality were more like fiction, when enemies took their turns in threatening us and waited patiently in line. One threat would be defeated, and a decent interval would pass before the next would arise.

Unfortunately, that doesn't tend to happen. Threats rise and fall on their own, and the overlap between them tends to lead to "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" evolving into "defeating today's foe by creating tomorrow's."

During the 30's and 40's, three strains of totalitarianism arose around the world to threaten the democracies. Imperialism in Japan, Fascism in central Europe, and Communism in the Soviet Union all vied for supremacy. Eventually two allied and sought to prevail against all comers, then the third joined. Shortly thereafter, the Fascists turned on and attacked the Communists. The Western democracies saw the Fascist/Imperialist axis as the greater threat, and chose to ally with and bolster the Communists for sheer survival. That led to the eventual defeat of the Fascists and the Imperialists, but led to over 40 years of the Cold War and sentencing a large portion of the world to suffer under the Communist yoke.

During the Cold War, we once again found ourselves with allies of convenience, as we backed some truly unsavory governments and factions against the Soviets' puppets and client states. Among those whose flaws we chose to overlook were the Islamists, as we on several occasions backed them in opposition to the Communists. It was, like our alliance with Stalin, a matter of choosing to oppose the very real threat today and accepting the risks of creating another threat for tomorrow.

Today, the Soviet Union is literally, as Ronald Reagan so eloquently, been relegated to the ash heap of history. Today's college students have no recollection of its existence - it's like Nazi Germany, a thing of yesterday, never a frightening reality. And the hard decisions we had to make when fighting for our very survival are coming home to roost.

I am not arguing that the choices we made at the time were wrong, or even ill-considered. That is a matter for historians to argue, and it is still far too close to those events, and the consequences not fully played out, for such a judgment. But it is indisputable that those choices came with prices, and those are coming due.

We, as a nation, chose to defer concerns about the rise of militant Islam from the 1970's onward in the face of the threat of Communism and global nuclear annihilation. While we worried about that big threat, the lesser threat grew largely unchecked. And today, 15 years after the final, formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, we find the greatest threat is the same militant Muslims who served as such useful pawns of both sides.

Now, I do not see militant Islam as the existential threat that the Soviet Union posed. They do not hold the potential to destroy America, and are not likely to develop such power any time soon. But they are strong, and the stronger they grow, the greater the butcher's bill will be to finally stop them.

Some time ago, I stumbled across the metaphor of militant Islam as a small child in your neighborhood. The child is a holy terror - loudly threatening you, committing small acts of vandalism, even sometimes openly hitting you. Each time, we have sent the child home - sometimes with a swat across his fanny, often with a threat to involve his parents. But the pattern remains unbroken - he keeps coming back for more mischief.

The situation seems unpleasant, but tolerable. Stable, even - and "stability" is a very popular word these days, and "destabilizing" is hurled around as an insult. So the child is left alone to continue.

The problem is that no child stays a child forever, and bad behavior left unchecked worsens. That child is growing larger and stronger, and their acts more and more violent. Yesterday's 3-year-old kicking at our fence is today's 10-year-old pitching rocks at our window - and tomorrow's 15-year-old throwing bigger rocks at our heads. The fully-grown adult capable of seriously injuring or even killing us is years away - but he is coming, make no mistake about it. Such behaviors and patterns must be recognized and stopped as soon as possible; it is the kindest thing for both the child and the adult.

In the excellent movie "Manhunter," based on Thomas Harris' novel "Black Dragon," "Red Dragon," the hero is an empath; he can capture within himself the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of the serial killer he is hunting. When his boss accuses him of feeling sorry for the killer, the as-yet-unknown Francis Dolarhyde, Will Graham replies:

"As a child, my heart bleeds for him. Someone took a little boy and turned him into a monster. But as an adult... as an adult, he's irredeemable. He butchers whole families to fulfill some sick fantasy. As an adult, I think someone should blow the sick fuck out of his socks."

There is no paradox here. Francis Dolarhyde is indeed a monster, and needs to be stopped. But he wasn't born a monster, he was terribly abused as a child. That does not excuse his conduct, but merely heightens the tragedy of his situation.

Militant Islam is much like the young Francis Dolarhyde. It is well on its way towards becoming a monster. In some ways, it already is. But it does not yet possess the power to threaten all our lives, or even our way of life. It can only bother us, hurt us to a degree. That is changing, and is not changing for the better. That is why it must be stopped now.


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Comments (18)

I believe you mean "Red Dra... (Below threshold)

I believe you mean "Red Dragon," which is indeed excellent, as is "Manhunter".

I don't "get" the title "Th... (Below threshold)

I don't "get" the title "The White Man's Burden", Jay.

You're not suggesting that the United States is a "White Man's" country, are you? I just don't understand the reference, and I haven't seen it explained in Parts 1 or 2.

No, Joe, I mean "Manhunter.... (Below threshold)

No, Joe, I mean "Manhunter." I have both, and the line is from the first one.

Lee, I almost want to put you on the payroll. My 2:00 piece touches upon that as a teaser, and it's covered in Part IV, on Thursday.


I think I 'get' the title, ... (Below threshold)

I think I 'get' the title, but I think the subtlety he is trying to express is overwhelmed by the title's built-in hooks to race and gender distraction.

"The Burden of Western Civilization", maybe?

Hey "pucker puss"(lee lee) ... (Below threshold)

Hey "pucker puss"(lee lee) where have you been? (maybe hiding under another name?)

You misunderstand me, Jay T... (Below threshold)

You misunderstand me, Jay Tea. I meant you meant "Red Dragon" was the name of the novel not "Black Dragon" as you have in the article.

jhow66,Do you have... (Below threshold)


Do you have some built in tracking device on Lee? I rarely see you say anything until Lee posts something, then you pop up just to taunt him.

DOH!Joe, I'll fix ... (Below threshold)


Joe, I'll fix that on my lunchbreak.


Parker - Yes, that would ma... (Below threshold)

Parker - Yes, that would make more sense then the current title.

Re: The White Man's Burden,... (Below threshold)
Malibu Stacy:

Re: The White Man's Burden, I must assume that few here have ever Kipled.

I disagree... I think radic... (Below threshold)

I disagree... I think radical islam does have the power to destroy the US as we know it. Until they deploy Mr. Nuke "Adnan Al-Shukri Juma", who BTW was confirmed by Mossad and Saudi Intelligence to be here and with his nuclear materials, they have successfully brainwashed our media and legal system into complete dhimmitude.

Good one, Jay.You hi... (Below threshold)

Good one, Jay.
You hit upon important themes.

1) We can and should be self reflective about our history, but we must beware of viewing our own actions outside the greater context. Sometimes we have chosen the lesser of two evils.

2) There is a balance or tension between praise and discipline. The duality is not a paradox. Without one, the other has no meaning.

3) If our previous actions have contributed to the creation of dysfuction, it does not follow that we must then allow ourselves be devoured by the monster. To do so only benefits the monster. We should recognize our mistakes, not become them.

BTW, I agree with other posters the title only detracts from the piece.

Re: The White Man's Burd... (Below threshold)

Re: The White Man's Burden, I must assume that few here have ever Kipled.

I was thinking the same thing.

The White Man's Burden: ... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

The White Man's Burden: Honor the Threat ... of Islam ... like some sci-fi jingoistic imperialist? Jay, you're an excellent writer but sometimes I'm left a little muddled.

Mr. Tea,Your analo... (Below threshold)

Mr. Tea,

Your analogy of the 'little child' paradigm is very appropriate. However I think it lacks one critical element -- the parent. The child arrived at their condition, not by accident. Generally the child is a reflection of the parent. So one may not have to wait for the child to be a dangerous adult if the parent decides to strap a bomb to them and send them crashing into your living room and detonating.

I can therefore only conclude that we are already at the danger phase.

As to your comment of the Soviet Union the bigger threat over Islam. Communism vs Capitalism was generally a battle of economics at the core with govermental process thrown in. From nearly the beginning the democracies were on the alert as to the danger. The communists were essentially attempting to assault the hard shell of their opponent and their opponent was aware of their tactics.

Islamofacism however uses the soft under belly of representative government. The West has developed a seperation of the church from the state roles. A rather unique development in human history. As a consequence the West does not view 'Churches' as a vital threat to the political arm of the body politic. Islam on the other hand treats one the extension of the other. Both having symbiotic roles. The Islamofacists therefore are capable of hiding under the cover of the Mosques and plot their deeds. The sacroscint precept of the Church provides cover for them that the West has not developed a comparable defense against. Lacking that defense I hold that the Islamofacists are more of an immediate threat that the Soviets ever were.

When on is prepared defense is possible. When one is unprepared no manner of defense is possible.

While I generally agree tha... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

While I generally agree that the Islamists are currently unable to destroy us, although certainly not for lack of desire, I will not that ironically neither the Soviets not the Nazis/ Imperial Japaneese ever managed to attack a major US city. The Islamists successfully attacked two, killing thousands in the process.

In asymmetircal warfare, the Islamists don't need to get all their tanks or nukes in proper working order to inflict heavy casualties. I would say they are more than a mere nuisance, albeit they have even grander plans in store for us after they re-establish the Caliphate. They will raise a coventional jihadist military possibly backed with WMD and, allied with terrorist cells, destroy the West.

Thye have made their plans perfectly clear but many in the West want to brush off the threat as none existant.

Heraulder: Dang!... (Below threshold)

Dang!!! now you let the cat out of the bag. Sheeeze. Can't a guy have a little fun. Might as well tell all now. You see you are right about tracking old "pucker puss"(lee lee) as I had a GPS chip planted under his typing finger while he was dozing. I had it formatted so that when he types it shows up on my screen. If I am not present my PC will type out a response as you do not have to know what he types each time as it always amounts to the same LLL talking points. Now it looks like I am going to have to write up a program for whistleblowers (I will teach you to blow someone's cover). Oh by the way, have you noticed that old "pucker puss" (lee lee) never respones to my posts? Might as well give that away also. You see when I had the chip planted in his finger I had one put right next to his pea size brain (this way it would not be noticed) that causes his mind to go blank (easy program to write because of brain size) when he sees my name. If we don't hear from him for awhile we will know that he went in to have a cat scan run to see where the chips are. Gosh I hope they don't get his brain mixed up with the chip when he has it removed. Of coarse that could be a benefit to mankind. Better sleep with one eye open Heraulder as I don't take lighty being outed on my "spy" programs. Shoot!!! Heck!! Hockey!! Crap!! (notice how mad I am getting) JUST LOOK OUT.

I must assume that few ... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

I must assume that few here have ever Kipled.

Oh, but I have...Rudyard and I grew up together in many a book of his. I think I do know where Jay is going with the title--though I'm wagering that Jay will be more straight-forward with his allusion than RK was.






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