There is no more important issue facing the West than Islamism, Islamofascism or — to use yet another label — radical Islam. And there is no more necessary precondition to countering that threat than understanding it: where it springs from, how it is expressed and the ways in which it is spreading. But before we do any of that, we have to agree that the threat exists.
For the United States, the danger so far has taken the form of terror, as 9/11 so clearly demonstrated. In Europe, terror is real too, but a more insidious problem has now taken hold: many liberals and others on the European left are making common cause with radical Islam and then brazenly and bizarrely denying both the existence of that alliance and in fact the existence of any Islamist threat whatever.
Bruce Bawer's "Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom" is focused on this phenomenon. Bawer, an American writer who lives in Norway — the archetype, even the caricature, of the liberal European mind-set — seeks to show, among other things, that the United States is becoming as culpable as Europe, its liberal news media and college campuses willfully refusing to acknowledge the danger posed by radical Islam and opening their pages and seminars to those who seek the undoing of the very tenets that allow liberals — and everyone else — their freedoms. Bawer devotes much of his book to an attack on The New York Times for refusing to highlight the Islamist threat while swallowing the claims of figures like Tariq Ramadan, a supposed moderate who, Bawer writes, is "a habitual practitioner of the Islamic art of taqiyya — which essentially means saying one thing in Arabic and another thing in English or French."