Is Europe knuckling under to radical Islam? Stop laughing. I’m serious here (for many none-Europeans who live here it’s understood that Europe is knuckling under). I’m asking this question because it’s fascinating to see who else is asking that question these days. And no, it’s not who you would expect it to be. More and more “classic leftist” European intellectuals are starting to wonder what the deal is, too. It seems that it takes some time for that feeling in your stomach to get up to your head. At least for some folks it does, I mean.

When the editor of a French satirical magazine, referring to the Danish cartoon caricature controversy, accurately characterizes Europe as being a place where “democracy was based on criticizing religion”, or one of the Spiegel’s most outspoken freethinkers claims that Europe’s fear of Islamic brutality is turning it into “a dog on his back begging for mercy from a big dog”, you start to understand that “alarmist” calls for action in Europe are no longer the exclusive domain of the political right.

As an editorialist for Italy’s Corriere della Serra recently noted: “Europe has tacitly accepted that from now on the freedom of satire is valid for everything but Islam.” And this doesn’t just limit itself to cartoons in Denmark, either. Fear, like water, seeps through to everything eventually. The recent cancellation of a Mozart opera in Berlin - one that had yet to be performed, mind you - only serves to show how terrified everyone has now become over here (the key word here is terror). The blackmailers don’t even have to lift a finger anymore, the artists have already started blackmailing themselves.

And maybe the real blackmailers are pursuing a more ambitious objective. Why stop at satire and art when you can get the West to betray its (once) religious heart, as well? Not even the pope is free to openly speculate about historic differences between Christianity and Islam.

But not to worry, there are worse things out there than fear itself. Try the fear of not doing anything about your fear. But the Europeans must certainly have that one under control. Or mustn’t they?

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