Although the MSM has been assiduously ignoring the deeper meaning behind Centani’s and Wiig’s forced conversions, the conservative press has (rightly) been very worried about it. Mark Steyn devotes a whole column to the problem with the following, I think, getting to the core issue:
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 Centanni and Wiig: 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!”
Kathleen Parker made much the same point here: that is, while secularists consider the conversion a nothing, a convenient way to satisfy madmen and get away scotfree, those in the Islamic world view it as a sign of our inherent weakness and depravity.
Hidden in both these columns seems to be this message: we (meaning those unlucky enough to fall into the hands of these fanatics) can’t convert; we must show strength in our beliefs. What neither column acknowledges, though, is that those who resist gunpoint conversions and die will not become glorious symbols of Western resistance. Their heroic stand will die completely unacknowledged. There will be no videos replayed constantly on Al Jazeera of these men and women standing firmly by their Judeo-Christian beliefs and accepting the consequences. Their deaths will be anonymous, with the only legacy being a snuff video of their beheading to the soundtrack of “Allah is great!”
Once again, in a war fought even more through propaganda than through weapons, we’ll be damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.