Paul E. Marek:
I used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War II. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.
“Very few people were true Nazis,” he said, “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp, and the Allies destroyed my factories.”
We are told again and again by “experts” and “talking heads” that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unquantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.
The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder or honor kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard, quantifiable fact is that the “peaceful majority” is the “silent majority,” and it is cowed and extraneous.
Communist Russia was composed of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. China’s huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people. The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist. Yet Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across Southeast Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic killing of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel and bayonet. And who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery? Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were “peace loving”?
History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awake one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun. Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Bosnians, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others, have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late.
As for us, who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts − the fanatics who threaten our way of life.
Paul E. Marek is a Canadian. His grandparents fled Czechoslovakia just prior to the Nazi takeover. He is an educational consultant specializing in programs that protect children from predatory adults. This article first appeared on his blog Celestial Junk and appears here by permission.
Clearly, the fate of individuals often is not determined by their merits. We see innocent children stricken by cancer. We see kindly people killed by drunk drivers. And we see malicious people living long, healthy lives. Unless we live in fantasy, we are forced to admit that what happens to individuals, at least in this world, often has little to do with their virtues – or lack of virtues.
But the situation may be quite different when it comes to nations. Consider two examples.
In 1933, the world was in the grip of a severe depression. Unemployment was high, hunger was common, and social and political unrest were widespread. On January 30, Germany chose Adolf Hitler as chancellor. On March 4, only 33 days later, the United States inaugurated Franklin Roosevelt as president. Those choices proved fateful for both nations, and for the world.
Hitler revived the German economy with a huge buildup of armaments. Then he began murdering political opponents, and started the bloodiest war in history. At the war’s end in 1945, only 12 years after Hitler came to power, Germany was defeated and disgraced. Its cities were flattened, its factories were in ruins, and many millions of its people were dead. Decades passed before Germany regained its place among the nations, though even now it remains reduced in size, power, and prestige.
Roosevelt, somewhat less successfully, tried to revive the American economy with social programs. But he overcame political opponents at the ballot box. Then he led the nation to victory over Nazi Germany and fascist Japan. At the war’s end in 1945, America was victorious, honored, and richer and more powerful than ever.
These vast differences may not have been caused solely by the nations’ choices of leaders in 1933. Other factors were at work, including size, population, allies, and perhaps luck. Some would add Divine intervention. But the fact remains that by their choices of leaders, Germany and America determined their national fates.
True, there were anti-Nazi Germans, and there were pro-Nazi Americans. But there were not enough of them to matter, and most of them remained silent. When Allied bombs fell on German cities, the anti-Nazis were killed with the Nazis. A nation’s fate is determined by what the silent people allow the activists to do. And those who oppose these policies share the same fate. This may not be fair, but it is reality.
Those who remain silent, whether because of apathy or fear, have no one but themselves to blame when fanatics take over. And they have no one but themselves to blame when others see them as accomplices of the fanatics – which in effect they are.
Were many Germans opposed to Hitler’s war? Perhaps. But this thought was no consolation to the French, who had to suffer under Nazi tyranny for five years. Are the majority of Muslims opposed to terrorism? Possibly. But this thought is no consolation to Americans, who had to watch the Twin Towers collapse. And it will be no consolation to anyone, if an Iranian nuclear weapon destroys a city, bombs go off in malls, or nerve gas is released in subways or office buildings.
What silent people think may be of theoretical interest, but it has no practical significance. In the real world, only actions count. If people stand by idly while civilization is under attack, they cannot claim innocence. Innocence is very different from apathy, passivity, and cold indifference to human suffering. These silent people are innocent only in the sense that sheep are innocent. And in the end, they will meet the same fate at the hands of the slaughterers.
Nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake. I am the Lord.
− Leviticus 19:16 (New American Bible)
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