It took President Bush to tell the truth to Britain about the alleged massive plot to blow U.S.-bound airliners out of the sky. In his first comment on the apparently foiled attempt, he put it simply: "This was a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists."
He is right, but in the first news reports in Britain yesterday, the words "Islamic" or "Muslim" were hardly mentioned, let alone the dread word "fascist." Instead the common code-words on television were that the 24 men arrested were "British-born" and "of Pakistani origin." No mention of their Islamist ideology. Does the BBC think they might turn out to be from Pakistan's embattled Christian minority? I don't think so.
In Europe, the truth is so terrible that we are in denial. Perhaps it is understandable. We simply do not know how to deal with the fact that we really are threatened by a vast fifth column, that there are thousands of European-born people, in Britain, in France, in Holland, in Denmark -- everywhere -- who wish to destroy us. You see this denial in the coverage of Israel's war against Hezbollah. The deaths in Lebanon are utterly tragic. But if you watched only British television, particularly the BBC, you would be hard-pressed to understand that Israel has been forced into a war for its survival. Last weekend people marched in an anti-Israel march though London carrying banners proclaiming
- "We are all Hezbollah Now."
As the historian Victor Davis Hanson recently pointed out, there is a moral madness at work here. We refuse to admit there is a pattern to global terrorism. We are terrified of being called "Islamophobic." European papers are frightened to publish cartoons which some Muslims demand we censor, but are happy to portray the Israelis as latter-day Nazis. Not for nothing does Mr. Hanson say that we have forgotten the lessons of 1938.
In a live BBC interview recently I called Hezbollah "Islamofascists." The charming interviewer said nervously, "That's a very controversial description"; I replied that it was merely accurate. She brought the interview to a swift close. But it's not just Hezbollah, of course. The same ideology of hate inspires al Qaeda, the inspiration if not the controller of the British bombers.
In Britain we are actually quite lucky. We have a prime minister who, in my view, has committed many errors at home; but abroad Tony Blair has a clear vision, both moral and pragmatic, of the threat that we face. And for this he is mocked and abused as nothing more than George Bush's "poodle."
In a thoughtful recent speech in Los Angeles, Mr. Blair spoke of fighting an "arc of extremism." That is Islamic extremism, whether it is inspired al Qaeda or by Tehran, whether its footsoldiers are Sunni or Shiite, whether they were born in Britain or southern Lebanon or Iran or Saudi Arabia. As Mr. Blair said, the battle is over the values that are to govern the future of the worlds. "Are they those of tolerance, freedom, respect for difference and diversity or those of reaction, division, hatred?"
"This is war" said Mr. Blair. Alas, it is. Wherever they were born, the men who want to blow up airliners, who want to destroy Israel and, not coincidentally, who want to kill all hope of a decent society in Iraq -- are Islamofascists who are united in hatred of us. The sooner we in Europe understand that, and that they must be defeated, the safer everyone -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, nonbelievers -- will be.
Mr. Shawcross is author of "Allies: Why the West Had to Remove Saddam" (PublicAffairs Press, 2005).
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