Mark Steyn does a superb job of contemplating the moral aesthetics of the Fox News conversions.
Did you see that video of the two Fox journalists announcing they’d converted to Islam? The larger problem, it seems to me, is that much of the rest of the Western media have also converted to Islam, and there seems to be no way to get them to convert back to journalism….
The moment the men were released, the Western media and their colleagues wrote off the scene as a stunt, a cunning ruse, of no more consequence than yelling “Behind you! He’s got a gun!” and then kicking your distracted kidnapper in the teeth. Indeed, a few Web sites seemed to see the Islamic conversion routine as a useful get-out-of-jail-free card.
Don’t bet on it. In my forthcoming book, I devote a few pages to a thriller I read as a boy — an old potboiler by Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. In 1895 Sir Arthur had taken his sick wife to Egypt for her health, and, not wishing to waste the local color, produced a slim novel called The Tragedy of the Korosko, about a party of Anglo-American-French tourists taken hostage by the Mahdists, the jihadi of the day. Much of the story finds the characters in the same predicament as (the two Fox News journalists): The kidnappers are offering them a choice between Islam or death. Conan Doyle’s Britons and Americans and Europeans were men and women of the modern world even then:
“None of them, except perhaps Miss Adams and Mrs. Belmont, had any deep religious convictions. All of them were children of this world, and some of them disagreed with everything which that symbol upon the earth represented.”
“That symbol” is the cross. Yet in the end, even as men with no religious convictions, they cannot bring themselves to submit to Islam, for they understand it to be not just a denial of Christ but in some sense a denial of themselves, too. So they stall and delay and bog down the imam in a lot of technical questions until eventually he wises up and they’re condemned to death.
One hundred ten years later, for the Fox journalists and the Western media who reported their release, what’s the big deal? Wear robes, change your name to Khaled, go on camera and drop Allah’s name hither and yon: If that’s your ticket out, seize it. Everyone’ll know it’s just a sham.
But that’s not how the al-Jazeera audience sees it. If you’re a Muslim, the video is anything but meaningless. Not even the dumbest jihadist believes these infidels are suddenly true believers. Rather, it confirms the central truth Osama and the mullahs have been peddling — that the West is weak, that there’s nothing — no core, no bedrock — nothing it’s not willing to trade. In his new book The Conservative Soul, attempting to reconcile his sexual temperament and his alleged political one, Time magazine’s gay Tory Andrew Sullivan enthuses, “By letting go, we become. By giving up, we gain. And we learn how to live — now, which is the only time that matters.” That’s almost a literal restatement of Faust’s bargain with the devil:
“When to the moment I shall say
‘Linger awhile! so fair thou art!’
Then mayst thou fetter me straightway
Then to the abyss will I depart!”
In other words, if Faust becomes so enthralled by “the moment” that he wants to live in it forever, the devil will have him for all eternity. In the Muslim world, they watch the… (conversion) video and see men so in love with the present, the now, that they will do or say anything to live in the moment. And they draw their own conclusions. It doesn’t matter how “understandable” (the journalists’) actions are to us, what the target audience understands is quite different: that there is nothing we’re willing to die for. And, to the Islamist mind, a society with nothing to die for is already dead.