Douthat on our pusillanimousness

Ross Douthat doesn’t usually do much for me, but this is worth reading.  The last sentence is a bit too alarmist, though.  Here is the key portion:

Our culture has few taboos that can’t be violated, and our establishment has largely given up on setting standards in the first place. Except where Islam is concerned. There, the standards are established under threat of violence, and accepted out of a mix of self-preservation and self-loathing. This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.  Happily, today’s would-be totalitarians are probably too marginal to take full advantage. This isn’t Weimar Germany, and Islam’s radical fringe is still a fringe, rather than an existential enemy.  For that, we should be grateful. Because if a violent fringe is capable of inspiring so much cowardice and self-censorship, it suggests that there’s enough rot in our institutions that a stronger foe might be able to bring them crashing down.

One thought on “Douthat on our pusillanimousness

  1. I agree completely: the column is very good, and the final sentence goes much too far. I think it’s much more likely that if a “stronger foe” genuinely attacked the country (another 9/11, for example), there would be such an upswell of furious outrage that the biggest danger would be the opposite of what Ross predicts: an irrational overreaction, you know, like invading a third-party country that had nothing to do with it. Something like that. . . .

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