The West's Crisis of Self-Confidence

The editorial page of the Thursday, September 20 number of The New York Times carries a column by one Roger Cohen called “The French Revolution.” The piece offers praise for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, along with a soupcon of concern for a few of his recent political calculations.

More important than Mr. Cohen’s humdrum take on President Sarkozy, however, is his column’s implicit demonstration of the Western elite’s utter lack of confidence in their own societies. Part of this piece reads:

For decades, Jean-Marie Le Pen’s xenophobic National Front prospered on an untouchable flank. Sarkozy has undermined this bigoted party with some bigotry of his own about French national identity and a campaign to deport illegal immigrants. At the same time, he’s been franker than the left about France’s problems with immigrants and named Rachida Dati, the daughter of a Moroccan laborer and Algerian cleaning lady, as justice minister.

Although this may not seem like much, it strikes us as a perfect example of Western self-loathing. Le Pen, of course, is an odious character, whose anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic rhetoric is thoroughly disgraceful.

Yet notice how easily Mr. Cohen–without any real evidence–attempts to paint President Sarkozy with the same broad brush. To him, both are bigots–or, at least, both can be seen as not averse to promoting bigotry.

And why is President Sarkozy such a bigot? Why, because he supports the idea of “French national identity.” Oh, the horror! How dare France have a French national identity!

Now, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” are not rich folks, but we’re willing to bet money that Mr. Cohen would never chastise, say, the Palestinians for encouraging a “Palestinian national identity.” To Mr. Cohen and likeminded elites, nationalism is only a problem for Western countries. Nationalism isn’t bad per se; it’s the West that’s bad.

Hence our charge regarding the West’s lack of self-confidence. Even in a France that–as Bruce Bawer demonstrates in his oft simplistic but always riveting book While Europe Slept–has tremendous problems with Muslim immigrants refusing to assimilate to European society, a sense of French patriotism and national pride are beyond the pale.

To such people, there’s nothing wrong with pan-Islamism. There’s nothing wrong with pan-Africanism. There’s nothing wrong with nationalism–provided the country promoting it is non-Western. Thus do the Richard Cohens of the world stop Europeans from dealing with their countries’ serious social problems.

Such mindless demagoguery, which lumps racists such as Le Pen with non-racists such as Sarkozy, is dangerous. Despite their disgusting culture of death, one cannot deny that the Islamists have oodles of self-confidence. As twisted as they are, they know the values for which they’re fighting.

If all Richard Cohen can find admirable in the West is its handing out of justice minister posts according to the tenets of affirmative action, he doesn’t display too much confidence in the West, now does he?

(Note: The crack young staff normally “weblog” over at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” where they are currently lumping together Richard Cohen and Lyndon LaRouche. After all, they’re both on the political Left.)

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