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Associated Press/Photo by Lefteris Pitarakis

Eager to appease

Books | Authors challenge failures to confront Nazi evil in the past and jihadist evil in the present

Issue: "Ghost streets," Feb. 27, 2010

David Faber's Munich, 1938 (Simon And Schuster, 2009) tells well how Neville Chamberlain, Britain's appeasing prime minister, waved his pact with Hitler and proclaimed, "Peace in our time." Given the horror of World War I-

realistically described in Holger Herwig's The Marne, 1914 (Random House, 2009)-appeasement becomes more understandable, but today's Europeans have gone to extremes. Many now are deliberately childless devotees of pleasure: They proclaim, "Beach in our time."

Appeasement seven decades ago extended to a refusal to take in Jewish refugees from Hitler: Robert Jan Van Pelt's Flight from the Reich (Norton, 2009) is a well-researched and poignantly written account of Jewish refugees from Hitler, and Benjamin Harshav's Marc Chagall: The Lost Jewish World (Rizzoli, 2009) is a beautiful coffee table book that shows what was lost.

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How many more victims will emerge if Europe, flush with Muslim immigrants, becomes Eurabia in several decades? Christopher Caldwell's Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West (Doubleday, 2009) is pessimistic, but Caldwell does note that "Europe is becoming less confident about its godlessness. There have never been so many Bibles sold in either Dutch or Danish . . . proximity to Islam spurs religiosity among non-Muslims."

The advance of Islam a millennium ago led to the counterattack known as the Crusades, as Rodney Stark shows in God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades (HarperOne, 2009). Stark's wonderfully readable prose and politically incorrect conclusions unite with Caldwell's to point us to the question-Will 21st-century infiltration lead to surrender or revival?-on which Europe's future hinges.

Some books about Islam walk gingerly, perhaps to avoid angering radical Muslims. Tarif Khalidi's Images of Muhammad: Narratives of the Prophet in Islam Across the Centuries (Doubleday, 2009) shows how boosting Muhammad is no new phenomenon. But two publishers, Encounter and Prometheus, regularly publish opponents of radical Islam. Joshua Muravchik's The Next Founders (Encounter, 2009) profiles seven voices of democracy in the Middle East. Ida Lichter looks at Muslim Women Reformers (Prometheus, 2009) and finds, as her subtitle indicates, Inspiring Voices Against Oppression. Moorthy Musthuswamy's Defeating Political Islam (Prometheus, 2009) shows how to win the new Cold War.

Winning is essential: As the title of Brigette Gabriel's riveting book about radical Muslims notes, They Must Be Stopped (St. Martin's Griffin, 2009). Patrick Sookhdeo shows one way to start stopping them in his Freedom to Believe: Challenging Islam's Apostasy Law (Isaac Publishing, 2009): Campaign to promote religious liberty in Islamic lands and abolish the common ban on conversion from Islam.

We also need to learn from the past: Thomas Kidd's American Christians and Islam: Evangelical Culture and Muslims from the Colonial Period to the Age of Terrorism (Princeton, 2009) provides a useful overview of interaction. Yet, as George Weigel notes in a 2009 afterword to his Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism (Doubleday, 2007), "the principal foreign, defense, and intelligence agencies of the U.S. government [have] their secularist assumptions about the incapacity of religious convictions to shape world politics. . . . [They are] allergic to any discussion of the religious dimension of Islamist terrorism."

Unless we understand that appeasement avails little against those ideologically or religiously determined to accept no compromise, we will misunderstand today's jihadists as badly as Chamberlain blundered with Hitler.

Timely toons

Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year (Pelican) has been for four decades an amusing and useful look at the best part of most editorial pages. The 2010 edition, edited by Charles Brooks, includes often-acerbic treatment of Barack Obama:

• The president flying paper planes with the caption, "While on vacation Obama finds other ways to reshape the Constitution."

• Obama in the Oval Office saying, "I will have the most open and transparent administration ever"-with the windows of the office bricked up.

• Obama walking a poodle and saying, "I think my neutered guard dog will protect us just fine." The poodle adds, "I used to be a Rottweiler."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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