The discovery last week of yet another fiendish plot by British Islamist terrorists to commit mass murder against Western targets was notable in many respects.
For most people, the plan to blow up as many as 10 cross-Atlantic flights via suicide bombers using liquid explosives will be best remembered as the crime that took restrictions on carry-on luggage to a new level.
But perhaps the most interesting reaction was the minor kerfuffle over President Bush's statement about the incident, in which he had the temerity to refer to the incident as proof "that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists."
This was not the first time Bush has used the term, but it did earn him stiff condemnations by groups that claim to represent Muslims in this country, as well as by some on the left.
The fact that the term "Islamic fascist" fits the terrorists exactly doesn't seem to bother the critics. Nor are the critics of the so-called "war on terror" particularly interested in connecting the dots between the various branches of Islamic extremism around the world or in discussing their goals.
Thus, al Qaeda — the Islamic regime in Iran that seeks nuclear weapons and sponsors terror around the world — their proxy group Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinian Islamist terror group Hamas (another Iranian aid recipient) are often treated as separate problems, rather than being placed in a context of a global crisis and a general Islamist war on the West.
The myth that these people can be appeased by various solutions, such as the United States and Britain abandoning Iraq or cutting off support for the State of Israel, is one that dies hard.
The question is: How much traction are the apologists and the appeasers getting?
The short answer is not so much in the United States but, ironically, quite a bit in Britain.
Indeed, just as the threat from Islamists operating from England becomes more and more clear, British society seems to be less inclined to recognize the stakes involved in the conflict — or that there even is one.
That's the conclusion of British journalist Melanie Phillips, an influential columnist whose recent book Londonistan is the answer for those looking for a quick and incisive study of the problem. The title of this work refers to the creation of an immigrant culture that's not only impervious to assimilation into the traditions of the country that is home to the mother of parliaments, but also actively hostile to it.
Phillips writes that the July 7, 2005 suicide bombings in London's mass-transit system by local Islamists should have set off alarms about the nature of the problem. But instead, she writes, all it did was give new energy to those seeking to ignore the Islamic fascist threat. The fact that what she describes as a "cancer" had spread from the madrassas of Pakistan to places such as Leeds, Oldham, Leicester and Glasgow didn't impress European intellectuals.
That London had become "the major European center for the promotion, recruitment and financing of Islamic terror and extremism" was the real truth behind the 7/7 atrocities, according to Phillips. But the worst thing about it is that "Britain's governing class — it's intelligentsia, its media, its politicians, its judiciary, its church and even its police … allowed and even encouraged Londonistan to develop."
Writing in early 2006, Phillips claims this trend survived 7/7 — a point confirmed by the refusal of most British officials to use the sort of frankness about the plotters caught this summer that President Bush did.
Though British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been America's faithful ally, he seems to be virtually alone in this in his own country. As Phillips points out, Blair's anti-terror policies and hostility to Islamism are deeply unpopular, especially in his own Labor Party.
'Scapegoating the Jews'
As Phillips puts it, the main reaction of the Brit elites to the London bombings is a fear of "Islamophobia," which she defines as a "thought crime that seeks to suppress legitimate criticism of Islam and demonize those who would tell the truth about Islamist aggression."
The key to understanding this subversion of British society, says Phillips, is the widespread "scapegoating of Jews" in British politics and journalism.
Indeed, she writes in a chapter devoted to this aspect of the war that the litmus test to define a "moderate" Muslim from an Islamist is precisely their attitude toward Israel and the Jews.
Though this is a point that advocates for appeasement of Islamists seek to separate from anti-Western terror, it is, Phillips rightly asserts, "absolutely fundamental" to the issue.
That most Britons have really bought into Islamist and anti-Semitic propaganda leads them to believe that Israel "is at the root of the terrorist threat" has, she says, "got it totally backwards."
Phillips traces the connections between the rise of a European-like Jew-hatred among Arabs that mixed with their contempt for the Jewish minority.
This trend is facilitated by a "Red-Black alliance" of Islamists and leftists. Shockingly, the "false narrative" of anti-Zionism has been accepted by such European intellectuals, whose tolerance of hate language against Jews has grown. Phillips' point is that the Jews are the figurative canary in the coal mine. Anti-Semitism is not a by-product of Islamist demands, it is integral to its makeup. The rest of society ignores this at its own peril.
The author is pessimistic about the chances that Britain's leaders in the post-Blair period will take action against Londonistan and all it represents.
Thus, the question remains: What about this country?
Here, as in Britain, a growing Islamic minority is lead by extremists who fail Phillips "moderation" test. And many of our public intellectuals are as feckless as the "decadent" Brits when it comes to understanding that this really is a war.
Fortunately, most Americans seem less likely to fall into the trap of ignoring Islamist goals for the destruction of the West and its anti-Semitism than their British counterparts. But even though Londonistan-West is not on our horizon, last week's plot shows that this won't insulate us from the perils of appeasement.
While we have a long, hard fight still ahead of us, as long as Americans are unafraid to call their enemies the Islamic fascists that they are, there is some hope.
As America continues to debate the pro-Israel policy of the current administration and the fallout that stand is generating abroad, Melanie Phillips' Londonistan is a good reminder of what's at stake in this conflict.