Wednesday, April 16

Gates of Vienna Forest and Cultural Counterjihad

Last Wednesday I published my take on the Fitna Rosetta Stone project created by Gates of Vienna blog and observed:
It is impossible to explain in a few words, to someone who is completely new to the topic, the many levels of importance of the Gates of Vienna Fitna Rosetta Stone project. So I thought the best introduction was to publish a series of email exchanges with Baron Bodissey, one of the two GOV authors (Dymphna is the other). I disagree with Baron that the project is more symbolic than practical but I'll leave that discussion for later.
On Friday Baron published his response in Conversations With Pundita: The Counterjihad, the War to Save Civilization, and Distributed Emergence, in which he observed:
As often happens, my thinking about certain topics wasn't clear (or even entirely conscious) until I wrote it down while trying to explain it to somebody else. [...] it’s salutary every now and then to step back and take a look at the larger picture of what we're doing. Having conversations with intelligent and well-informed people helps me gain that perspective.

From where I stand I can't see anything but trees. It’s not possible to see the forest. None of us can. But it’s occasionally entertaining to imagine what a forest looks like.
Consider this my attempt to describe the forest; I can't promise it will be entertaining but I hope it will inspire others to elaborate on my observations.
* * * * * *
A Gates of Vienna reader, Sagunto from Amsterdam, helped me make up my mind about how to categorize Gates of Vienna. The reader began by quoting the concern I expressed in my Fitna post: "I'm not entirely happy with Baron’s title suggestion (Counterjihad); I don't think it conveys the scope of Gates of Vienna," then asked:
Why's that? What happened at the Gates of Vienna 1683 was Counterjihad, pure and simple (and victorious). It therefore is the one word that i.m.o. exactly conveys, maybe not the "scope", but definitely the focus of GOV.
Finding his logic unassailable, I concede the simple reality of the blog's name, which is clearly explicated with the phrase:
At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are in a new phase of a very old war.
However, GoV is not a milblog; it focuses not so much on armed conflicts as on political-cultural ones. Unlike Vienna in 1683, modern Europe is not in conflict with invading Muslim armies. Rather, Europeans (to include Anglos) are battling each other over issues connected with Muslim settlements in Europe and immigration of large numbers of Muslims from non-European regions.

For readers outside Europe who haven't been following this story:

The battles have been bloodless -- so far -- except for scattered incidents of 'bullying' carried out by one faction against another -- usually those calling each other "fascist" or "Nazi" from one side and some variation of "Quisling" from the other.

And there have been numerous violent incidents carried out by non-European Muslims against the Europeans in the countries where Muslims have settled. (And to a much lessor extent hate crimes have been carried out by Europeans against Muslims.)

Yet those who speak of European "dhimmitude" are imprecise to the point of misleading. Dhimmi is associated with conquered peoples and the Muslims haven't conquered so much as a micron of European soil.

To whatever extent Europeans now feel overwhelmed by Muslim populations it is the Europeans who created the situation. It evolved from European government policies, and with the tacit and even overt approval of the majority in European societies that accepted large numbers of Muslim immigrants.

Protests against the situation have launched an ever increasing political-social struggle that has received very little attention in the American mainstream media -- and I suspect the same is true in Canada.

Even when there is coverage, it's done in a narrow and piecemeal fashion; e.g., reporting on the number of votes received by a 'extreme' right wing party in say, France, and which has 'something' to do with immigration.

You can't get a handle on the struggle through such reports. You can't understand the myriad issues unless you follow European blogs specializing in the issue, and keep up with press reports in several European countries. Yet this tack can bring you up against the language barrier if you are not fluent in a range of European languages. And it requires a big investment of time for someone who's just trying to see the big picture.

That's where Gates at Vienna comes in. There are other North American blogs that routinely or sporadically report on various aspects of the European struggle. But GoV specializes in discussing the struggle.

And even though it's an American blog it has many European readers and contributors, which means it often presents ideas that are quite 'foreign' to the American viewpoint. Too often, American commentators who support counterjihad and want to resist Islamization apply the American paradigm to Europe, which distorts many issues across the Pond.

Gates of Vienna is also a place to find English-language European blogs and translations of European press reports that deal with unfolding events in Europe and which present opinion on the myriad aspects of the struggle.

The struggle is not monolithic across Europe; it's viewed and approached differently depending on the European country -- and often there are strongly conflicting opinions and approaches within a country.

For non-European readers who are starting to fog out -- well, the struggle I've outlined could result in the dissolution of the European Union -- or at the least, several countries could leave the union.

And the struggle is very definitely going to be played out, in some fashion, in North America -- and here I would not exclude Mexico. Not today, not tomorrow, but it's on the way and could end the two-party political system in the USA. Thus, what we can learn from the Europeans can avert much grief down the line.

And if we substitute 'Latin Americans' for Muslim immigrants, many regions in the USA are already grappling with the kind of issues that have led to so much turmoil in Europe.

Indeed, the issues are rooted not in any one ethnicity or religion but in globalization and open societies. Here is where we begin to see the Gates of Vienna forest. Once you get oriented to the discussions at GoV, it comes clear that Europeans are bringing up issues that haven't been addressed for generations by anyone but academics.

We are seeing non-academics having to sort through very deep questions relating to rule of law, theology, human rights, nationalism, cultural identity, and so on, and trying to frame it all within modern democratic political solutions.

To add another layer, Muslims are not being left out of this discussion and are generating their own internal conflicts. Indeed, the conflicts between Europeans and Muslims are acting as a crucible for a great reawakening in Islam; a great intellectual foment, as Islamic scholars battle it out with each other as to what Islam means and how it fits with the modern era.

This is just why I believe that the Fitna Rosetta Stone project has a practical aspect. If you don't know what people are really saying about your religion, if you don't have access to the criticisms, how can you correct your understanding and that of others?

The truth is that the Muslims who don't speak Western languages often receive Western criticisms about Islam through a very distorted filter. The filter is translations provided by Muslims who represent some variation of the Saudi interpretation of Islam, and who are virulently anti-Western.

So how can you have useful debate when much of it is lost in translation? The Fitna Rosetta Stone translation project addresses just that question.

All the above suggests that conflicts relating to the fate of European cultures are generating a kind of renaissance that may define our era. That is the forest I see when I study the Gates of Vienna blog.

From all this, perhaps Baron and Dymphna can forgive me for fussing about how to categorize GoV for my blogroll. I will split the difference between "Counterjihad" and "The War for Civilization" by naming the category "Cultural Counterjihad." And I might include this essay in the category by way of explaining my view of Gates of Vienna.

Next step? I would suggest a project to list and categorize the major debates arising in different European countries with regard to immigration/assimilation issues and preserving European cultures. Nothing fancy; maybe in chart form.

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