What is feared today is not the loss of any particular country to foreign conquest, but the loss of an imagined entity that binds us together. The Occident is a central piece of our mental maps and our cultural inventory. In a very visceral sense, Europeans are seized by fears of decline and by memories of cultural blossoming. Those fears culminate in the belief that our cathedrals will eventually turn into mosques, that their bells will fall silent and will be replaced by the cries of the muezzin.
Moral and intellectual clarity about the world we live in are not compatible with self-exculpating glibness. Our adversaries' wrongness does not mean we are in the right. The substance of the terrorists' victory lies exactly in their success in having persuaded Western societies to empower our own authoritarian regimes.
If a simple message of tolerance, understanding and peace is deemed too controversial by many universities in this country, what message does that send to students? Colleges used to be the place where trailblazing comedians like George Carlin and Mort Sahl found receptive audiences for their biting and bold comedy.
Not too long ago, the Swiss voted in a referendum to limit immigration and make it easier to expel foreign-born residents. The specifics of the vote matter less than the sentiment it reflects, in Switzerland and Europe generally, feelings exemplified in an otherwise insignificant incident in the small Swiss city of Nyon.
Islamophobia has been for years the main complaint by Muslims around the world; the feeling of being discriminated for what you believe, practice or look like prompted many Muslims in Europe and America to raise the voice and seek changing the image by drawing a clear line between Islam and extremism.