Lawrence Auster has recently written a number of posts making the case for separation of the Western world from the Muslim world. See, for instance, here and here. Odds are you will be reading a lot about "separationism" as the idea makes its way through the blogosphere, and — who knows? — at some point it might even surface in the mainstream media, always in the forefront of trailing behind what thoughtful people are saying.
Mr. Auster's argument is so articulate as to need no support from me, but I want to register my agreement in my own words.
Five years after 9/11 put Muslim fanaticism and expansionism on the map for most people, there are two basic schools of thought about how to deal with it.
The majority viewpoint, which its partisans see as fair-minded, reasonable, understanding, sophisticated, etc., etc., is that Islam has been itself victimized by a few extremist organizations who give all peaceful moderate Muslims a bad name by flying airliners into skyscrapers, blowing up themselves and bystanders, and other eccentricities. The extremists are said to play on Muslims' resentment against the West for past colonialism and present disrespect, "Islamophobia," and poverty. The remedy is to treat the problem as a civil rights issue and Muslims as victimized minorities (in Western countries), with more government social interventions aimed at producing better understanding and integrating Muslims into majority non-Muslim cultures. Does that sound like a distortion or parody? Well, read this.
This position is popular because, among other reasons, it fits neatly into the political template that dominates the Liberal Establishment and requires no serious readjustments. We're comfortable with victimhood. We like being shamed oppressors. There's one basic problem with the approach, however. There is no reasonable evidence that it is working or that it ever will. I can't say it's impossible, just that there is no justification for believing it.
A minority (but not a negligible minority) insists that Islam is at war with us, even if we don't want to be at war with Islam, that it is part of a pattern that has been going on for 1400 years and which has been in abeyance only when worldwide Islam was too weak to indulge its fundamental principle of forcing the world to adopt its belief system or else.
Even with all I've learned about Islam in the past five years — and I do not pretend to be any sort of expert — I'm not sure whether this is too simplistic. Certainly it seems questionable to make blanket statements about more than a billion people. But I'm hardly the first to point out that even if lots of Muslims can't be characterized this way, even if the rarely sighted "moderate Muslim" exists underground and is ready to emerge in the millions when the frost recedes, it wouldn't take a billion Muslims to play hell with Western civilization. It would take only a relative handful of technology-savvy terrorists who understand the principles of "asymmetic warfare" and a large group of superficially innocent enablers who might put aside their distaste for terrorist tactics because they believe in the result.
One thing seems unarguable to me: if there is another big-time strike on the order of 9/11, or greater, the first school of thought will become the minority one, and the second, which perceives the situation as war, will be the majority. And the gloves will be off. I don't know any other countries from the inside, but I know my own, and I can tell you that if the next attack carried out by a Muslim cell kills another few thousand, especially if children are among them, there will be no holding back. Therapeutic warfare such as we've pursued in Afghanistan and Iraq will be over for the duration. Everyone knows the vengeance the United States is capable of, but most don't believe we have the strength of will to act on it. There are scenarios, though, where only a demonstration that our restraint is not unlimited could bring a resolution.
I'm not here to argue for total war, but to argue for avoiding it. Only we have to be realistic about what policy is most likely to achieve that. We cannot avoid it by the laughable expedient of pretending that the Muslim threat (or Muslim extremist threat, if you prefer) can be trumped by integration, more "respect," or any other form of social amelioration.
It looks to me like the best way of keeping the situation from degenerating into dhimmitude, civil war or nuclear apocalypse is by separating Islam from the West for the foreseeable future. That means no more Muslim immigration, except for a tiny number of Muslims admitted for specific reasons after very careful vetting. We would also expel Muslims now living in Western countries, paying them generously to leave voluntarily or compensating them equally generously when 86-ing them. Costly? Not a flea on the back of the Homeland Security mastodon.
Without Muslim enclaves, mosques, fire-breathing imams and whatnot in the West, the odds of "the next 9/11" go way down —and the odds of peaceful coexistence, way up. When the Muslim world finally is forced to acknowledge that it can't export its overpopulation, its poverty, and its sectarianism to the West, the chances of reform and perhaps moderation may still not be very good, but they'll be enhanced compared to what they are now.
Unfair to many perfectly unthreatening people? Yes. But also, very likely, the most humane solution. It's certainly better than interning them when and if the West decides it really is at war. And frankly, although I would do everything in my power to prevent it, I'm afraid that next time, there will be sporadic acts of violence against individual Muslims in the West. Unconstitutional? Constitutions can be changed. Impractical? I can think of as many practical problems in implementing separation as you can, but practical problems can be overcome if enough people work at it seriously. If there's one thing Americans are good at, it's solving practical problems, and if others can't manage it off their own bat they can learn from us.
Even discussing separationism will probably help; it might concentrate some minds of Muslims in the West and convey to them that they soon may not be able to game the system anymore by whining about discrimination and "Islamophobia" whenever their actions are criticized. But above all, if Muslims do not want to assimilate to Western society — and they don't; they keep telling us that they don't — what can we do except press for a relatively amicable divorce?