Much of the weakness we have identified in so many modern European states comes, ironically, from many of our strengths. We have much to be proud of. However imperfectly at times, we have replaced tyranny with democracy, guaranteed freedom of speech and the press, ensured rights for all citizens, provided legal and political foundations for the growing empowerment of women, struggled against racist and religious bigotry, brought homosexual men and women out of the closet, given protections to the environment and wildlife, extended healthcare provision to most people, abolished the death sentence in all European countries (and Israel), and instituted regulations to block and punish crimes such as people trafficking, slavery, and drug smuggling.
The best example of what this means is to be found in the state of Israel. It is precisely because Israel and a majority of Israelis have, from the beginning, combined Jewish ethical values with Western Enlightenment beliefs, that makes it stand out so sharply against all its neighbours. Human rights abuses in Iran, the Arab states, Turkey, and beyond guarantee that Israel, however much abused by international bodies and media, and however flawed, is, in fact, a bastion of democracy, human rights, equality under the law and the positive values that go with them.
The irony, of course, is that so many people, have adopted a way of interpreting human rights and liberal values in a manner that often undermines them. Political correctness, as it developed through the 1980s and 1990s began with good intentions. Words, political policies, and action that were either intended or inadvertently constructed to offend people on account of their race, disabilities, sexuality and so forth, must be replaced by "correct" terms that would not give offence. Much good was done by that, and today there are expressions that one would never find in respectable publications or hear on public broadcasts. They have rightly been set to one side in all decent discourse.
Many practitioners of political correctness, however, have taken matters to the point where even perfectly rational, well argued, and intelligent speech or behaviour was condemned. This could be, and evidently is, done to inhibit debate – a new type of censorship made vivid by faculty and students in most Western universities in which speakers offering alternative viewpoints (such as pro-Israel academics) are banned from coming onto campus, while students frightened of being upset by a lecture that presents a different viewpoint create "safe spaces" that will not exist upon their graduation to soothe their feelings. This has become so destructive of the very purpose of the university, that in December 2017 Jo Johnson, the UK Higher Education Minister, told universities to stop the practice of "no-platforming" speakers. Inevitably, student leaders attacked him for saying so.
As anti-establishment groups shifted from support for the working classes and moved to an emphasis on solidarity with those termed by Frantz Fanon "the wretched of the earth", their compassion for suffering people in the Third World was all but eclipsed by a conviction that all today's evils stem from imperialism and colonialism. Up until the 1970s, this same conviction was expressed in support for communist states, regardless of how oppressive they might be.
Concomitant with the belief that the world's sufferings go back to imperialist and colonialist states in Europe and America, there developed a growing contempt for white people who were citizens of those states. Even though Britain, France, and Portugal had abandoned their empires in Africa and elsewhere, they were still tainted with that description. Equally, even though Israel had never been a colonizing enterprise and had actually served as a refuge for some of the most persecuted people in the world, it was still attacked with the same slur.
This contempt for the West translated well into many causes, but nowhere more closely than with the growing strength of radical Islam. After the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, and a widespread perception that Muslims should now be regarded as the greatest victims of Western hegemony, Westerners in increasing numbers fell in line with an Islamic interpretation of history and hopes of an apocalypse to rectify the injustices of the past.
More than one radical who had been a thorn in the flesh of the Western democracies went so far as to convert to Islam and throw in their lot with the anti-Western firebrands of Iran and the Arab world. Roger Garaudy, a leading figure in the French Communist Party and a convicted Holocaust denier, became a hero for that denial in the Muslim world and converted to Islam in 1982. Carlos the Jackal (Ilich Ramirez Sanchez), who described himself as a Marxist-Leninist "professional revolutionary" and made himself a terrorist, did so around the year 2000.
Many others became enthusiastic supporters of Islamic terrorist groups such as Hamas. In 2010, Che Guevara's eldest daughter, Aleida, travelled to Lebanon to express her admiration for the radical Shi'i group Hizbullah. Judith Butler, a revolutionary American professor, stated that "understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left, is extremely important". This from a woman who called herself a feminist and a supporter of gay rights. Calling Hamas and Hizbullah "progressive" should stick in the throat of anyone who knows how they disregard human rights, oppress women and murder homosexuals.
One man, Edward Said, did grave damage to public perceptions of Western values, including democracy. His 1978 book Orientalism was held -- mystifyingly -- in high esteem by many scholars who should know have known better, considering his manifold deceptions, as, for example, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. 
Of course, many people who also should have known better, believed in mirages such as Communism, and many still believe – despite such examples as the catastrophe of Venezuela -- in Socialism.
Said promoted the conceit that the West, with its history of imperialism and colonialism has left Middle Easterners and Muslims (especially the Palestinians) the world's victims. The Western democracies, according to him, are the greatest villains of history, with Israel the source of all evil in the Middle East and far beyond.
By ignoring the remarkable achievements of the West and whitewashing the many wrongs committed down the centuries by Muslims, not to mention the stark traditionalism that has mired all Islamic countries in most of the oppressive policies that liberals would normally condemn, Said tried to make anti-Western and pro-Islamic attitudes and policies respectable among the gullible. The only vocal kickback to this indulgence for Islam has, in yet another sad exercise of "shoot the messenger", come from people now accused -- often unjustly -- of being "racist" or "Islamophobic".
This "broad brush" defamation has created problems, as doubtless intended, for those who offer balanced criticisms of Islam but are frequently tarred with the same brush.
A blanket refusal to listen to serious concerns about Islam as an ideology and political enterprise stems from what is in many ways the most dangerous, yet unwitting, position taken by the middle ground. One loses track of the number of Western politicians and church leaders who blithely maintain that "Islam is a religion of peace" or who, when faced with jihadi terrorism, maintain that it "has nothing to do with Islam". A sort of paralysis engendered by a fear of being thought an "Islamophobe" makes it hard if not impossible for people in the public eye to admit that there is another truth, that has, unfortunately, been well known for centuries.
Perhaps the most vivid recent example of one version of Islam clashing with another is a letter posted online on Christmas Day last year. It is addressed to Pope Francis, who was on record saying that "Islam is a religion of peace, one which is compatible with respect for human rights and peaceful coexistence." The very intelligent and strongly argued letter was written on behalf of more than a thousand former Muslims who had converted to Catholicism and wanted to explain that they had known Islam at first hand, which was precisely why they had embraced Christianity instead. The quotations from Christian and Islamic scripture make abundantly clear just what the differences are between the two faiths.
It is time for some home truths. Islam has been at war with the West for some 1,384 years, with very little respite. When Muslim Arab armies invaded Syria in 634, went on to destroy all but a rump of the Christian Byzantine empire (which it finally defeated when the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453), took control of Spain, Portugal, Sicily and other lands on the north Mediterranean coast, it was the start of endless jihad wars. These wars did not end during the centuries of the Barbary slave trade during which Christians were routinely snatched by Muslim pirates and sold in markets in Algiers and elsewhere on the North African coast. Nor did attacks end when European countries colonized or created protectorates over Muslim states such as the Mughal empire of northern India, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt. By the 1920s, Britain controlled about half the Muslims in the world and had defeated the largest Muslim empire in history, that of the Ottomans. But this expansion of European power only served to foster resentment and encourage violence against the imperial powers. This Islamic offensive against Western power has given way to large, often international groupings such as the Taliban, al-Qa'eda, Islamic State, Hamas, Hizbullah, and hundreds of other Islamic terror militants or armies.
Unfortunately, concluding that modern terrorism "has nothing to do with Islam" or that "Islam is a religion of peace" visibly contradicts the historical record. It is this sort of thinking that deflates modern democracies. Most importantly, we do not seem able to understand that Islam is, above all else, a totalitarian project covering all aspects of human life from the spiritual to the material, from law to government to clothing to food to sex to taxation and more. This totalitarianism rejects democracy in the most basic way, as having come from mere humans rather than divinely, from Allah.
Modern Muslim radicals from Hasan al-Banna', Sayyid Qutb, Abu A'la Mawdudi to the currently jailed British radical, Anjem Choudary, all insist that, since only God can make laws, the idea that human beings can legislate through parliamentary democracies is abhorrent, as is the idea of freedom for all citizens. Choudary, for example, spelled this rejection out in no uncertain terms during a public address:
"No to democracy, No to freedom," Anjem Choudary shouted through a microphone. "No to liberalism, no to secularism. No to Christianity. No to Judaism. No to Sikhsm. No to Buddhism. No to Socialism. No to Communism. No to Liberalism. No to Democracy. Democracy, go to Hell! Democracy, go to Hell!"
Pictured: Anjem Choudary (right), a British Islamic radical who is currently in jail, speaks at a protest in London on March 21, 2011. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
You probably cannot get much more radical than that. When Western academics, however, such as John Esposito and Juan Cole defend extremists and pretend that they actually mean the opposite of what they say, their weakness spreads into the rest of society.
For example, here is Esposito on Sami Al-Arian, who pled guilty in 2006 for providing goods and services to terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad:
Sami is dedicated family man....Sami Al-Arian is a proud, dedicated and committed American as well as a proud and committed Palestinian. He is an extraordinarily bright, articulate scholar and intellectual-activist, a man of conscience with a strong commitment to peace and social justice.
And here he is again, this time on the 9/11 attacks: "September 11," he said, "has made everyone aware of the fact that not addressing the kinds of issues involved here, of tolerance and pluralism, have catastrophic repercussions."
And here is how he speaks of Palestinian suicide bombers:
Do not call them suicide bombers, call them shuhada [martyrs] as they have not escaped the miseries of life. They gave their life. Life is sacred, but some things like truth and justice are more sacred than life. They are not desperate, they are hopefuls.... [The Israelis] have guns, we have the human bomb. We love death, they love life.
Cole too bends over backwards not to call a spade a spade:
It is because both in Arabic and in other languages "Islamic" refers to the ideals of the Muslim religion that both Muslims and people with good English diction object strenuously to a phrase such as "Islamic terrorism" or "Islamic fascism".
One of the preeminent tenured apologists for Islam, Cole is a great equivocator, always ready with an analogy of Western misconduct to downplay and offset Islamic wrongdoing. His go-to response is to blame Orientalism for all the Muslim world's ills.
In her 2016 article "It was Britain's hopeless tolerance which allowed Anjem Choudary's hate to thrive", British journalist Allison Pearson castigated our inability to arrest one of the country's most dangerous men for two decades.
Failures to acknowledge Islamic radicalism by many of the people elected or employed to protect European citizens from danger have exposed us to terrorist attacks that have killed and maimed hundreds. In a matter of some twenty years, we have all found ourselves living in security-focussed towns and cities, afraid to walk down our high streets, shop in our markets, attend rock concerts, or visit government buildings. Meanwhile, thousands of Jews are leaving Europe, driven out by fears sparked by a new wave of antisemitism that has been led in many places by Muslim fundamentalists. France, with its 750 no-go zones and its privileged Islamist population, is the worst affected, even though it had Europe's largest Jewish community in its midst.
Over the past three decades, Western societies have been rendered all but impotent in the face of ideologies that challenge their most basic values. Having rejected many expressions of political and religious extremism, bigotry, and cruelty; having abandoned imperialism and colonialism; and having enacted laws about hate crimes, Europeans and Americans are still condemned by activists who espouse the tenets of radical political correctness. To many in a wide range of US and European universities who seem like bigoted fanatics in their zeal to close down the free speech if anyone opposes their views, anything whatever that smacks of criticism of ethnic, gender, or religious minorities must be condemned outright. All too often, the only response to this hyper-sensitivity comes from other bigoted fanatics, many increasingly popular in European countries such as Hungary. 
In The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art, the American author Roger Kimball explores the damage across the arts disciplines by post-modernist politically correct thinkers. In the preface (p. xix), he writes:
The second reason that the assaults on tradition... matter is that they represent one front in a much larger war, a war over the tenor and shape of our culture, over our shared understanding of what the Greeks used to call "the good life for man." "The rape of the masters" .... is part of... a process of de-civilization. In other words, what we are witnessing is not simply a betrayal of an academic discipline: it is an assault on a culture, on a way of looking at and valuing the world and our place in it.
"De-civilization." Yet here we go, led by a politically correct intelligentsia, churches, and political parties, effectively handing over our civilization to people who hate it.
Later, Kimball writes:
It has often been noted that totalitarian ideologies exploit democratic freedoms precisely in order to destroy freedom and abolish democracy. Democratic societies preach tolerance, very well, the clever totalitarian loudly demands tolerance for his own activities while scrupulously obliterating the conditions that make tolerance possible. (p. 79).
That is exactly what we have allowed to take place in the Western democracies. A combination of these aspiring totalitarians and Muslims have criminalized one of the world's most democratic countries, Israel, and have been taking over the General Assembly of the United Nations, UNESCO, the UN Human Rights Council, UNWRA, and other bodies in order to do so. The Human Rights Council never ceases to condemn Israel, all the while seldom if ever denouncing the many Muslim tyrannies. If we are ever to save Western civilization and democracy, we must urgently rally our forces to stand up to all those who seek to trash it.
Dr. Denis MacEoin is an Islamicist and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at New York's Gatestone Institute. He lives in the UK.
 Several writers have published critiques of Said and his work, emphasizing his duplicity and inaccuracies; among the best is Joshua Muravchik's short account, "Edward Said Conquers Academia for Palestine", chapter seven of his wider study Making David into Goliath: How the World Turned against Israel (Encounter Books, New York/London, 2014.)
 On Hungary, see Kirchik, The End of Europe, chapter 2.