July 7, 2005 -- On July 7, hundreds of Londoners were killed or injured in vicious terrorist attacks, and Islamists—the same death-worshiping religious fanatics who have killed Americans, Spaniards, Australians, Turks, Israelis, Egyptians and citizens ofmost countries of the world—have lined up to take credit.
Flashback nearly four years: In London on the first anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks against the United States, a major conference called "A Towering Day in History" was held at the Finsbury Park Mosque, a hotbed of al-Qaeda sympathizers, to celebrate rather than condemn those crimes. But it was what did not happen that was most telling. The mosque was not surrounded by tens of thousands of outraged Muslims—as well as Christians, Jews, Buddhists, atheists, and all others—well outnumbering the thousands of terrorist-supporting conferees, to denounce with no "ifs," "ands," or "buts" both the attacks on America and the moral degenerates in that mosque.
In the United States, whenever a dozen neo-Nazis or Klansmen seek permits to demonstrate in any town or city, their numbers are swamped by counter-demonstrators letting them know in no uncertain terms that they are not welcome. It is unimaginable that a Finsbury Mosque-type event could be staged in Washington, New York, or any major American city without loud, massive, and probably nationwide rallies against the death-worshipers. Private citizens would note the identity of each Islamist, and they would be ostracized as the moral monsters they are.
No doubt nearly all Londoners and probably the majority of Muslims in Britain are outraged by the terrorist attacks that have killed and maimed so many innocent men, women, and children. But in a healthy society, such outrage must be expressed at terrorist sympathizers before such attacks. Here is where America's culture is healthier than those of most other countries. We have a tradition of tolerating religious and other differences—even though there's certainly room for improvement. The Bush administration reflected the public sentiment when it said, after the September 11 attacks, that America was at war with Islamists, not with law-abiding Muslims. But Americans do not shrink from making moral judgments.
There are legitimate reasons to question the handling of the war in Iraq and other foreign policies of the United States and Britain. But we must also recognize that Islamists are not simply acting from conventional political and economic reasons any more than Hitler was when he tried to exterminate the Jews. Indeed, the resources consumed in the Holocaust and millions murdered in concentration camps might have helped with the war effort. But one of Hitler's war aims was to kill all Jews.
The aims of the medieval Islamists are to convert or kill everyone. Since most Westerners live so much in the modern world, since they are generally committed to life on this earth and living in societies that flourish on the glowing remnants of the Enlightenment's commitment to reason, individualism, and liberty, Islamists see death to us all as the default option.
As civilized people mourn the losses in London, we must recognize that silence in the face of evil simply invites more of the same. A culture and country will be able to counter Islamist terrorists only if enough individuals recognize the nature of their enemies and have the integrity, courage, and moral fortitude to take a public and vocal stand. How Europeans—Muslim and non-Muslim alike—react to this latest obscenity will indicate whether the civilized or savage side is winning.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.