Charles is, alas, not whistling Dixie: I can testify that in the last couple of years some significant, and lamentable, shifts have taken place on the anti-jihad front. Writers and bloggers whom, not very long ago, I would unhesitatingly have described as staunch defenders of liberal values against Islamofascist intolerance have more recently said and done things that have dismayed me, and that, in many cases, have compelled me to re-examine my view of them.
Once upon a time, these people made a point of distancing themselves from far-right European parties such as Belgium’s Vlaams Belang whose most prominent Internet voice, Paul Belien, has declared himself to be fighting for “Judeo-Christian morality” not only against jihadist Islam but also against “secular humanism.” Belien has made no secret of his contempt for gay people and for the idea that they deserve human rights as much as anyone else. Now, however, many of the anti-jihadist writers who once firmly rejected Vlaams Belang have come to embrace it wholeheartedly. In fact, for reasons unknown to me, this regional party in one of Europe’s smallest countries appears to have become, for a number of anti-jihadist writers on both sides of the Atlantic, nothing short of a litmus test: in their eyes, it seems, if you’re not willing to genuflect to VB, you’re not a real anti-jihadist.
If you wondered how long it would take for a movement that included Mark Steyn and Bruce Bawer to destabilize, wonder no longer. But it is nonetheless a worrying sign. The struggle to fight against Islamist intolerance without ending up as its ideological mirror image is as hard as fighting actual Islamist terrorists without succumbing to their morality. And conservatives, broadly speaking, have failed on both counts. We need a new center on this - anti-torture, anti-Jihadist, anti-terror and religiously and ethnically tolerant. It won't be easy. It never is.