The attack at Fort Hood last week was yet another shot across the bow of America and the civilized world warning of the threat facing us now and in the years ahead. Yet again an Islamic fundamentalist, this one an American, not schooled at a radical madrassa, serves as a reminder of just how invidious and widespread this threat is.
It is not as if we had no way of knowing. The evidence has been there for years, not only before 9/11, but actually for centuries. The problem is that we simply don’t want to face the terrible reality that we are at war with an enemy impassioned by a historically recurring mutation in Islam that has as its focus the most extreme, intolerant and murderous tenets of one of the three great Abrahamic faiths.
We should, in the interest of clarity, recognize that there resides in the scripture of all three of these belief systems, passages that do not comport with the values of post-enlightenment, modern man. And while there are many Muslims who choose to embrace modernity and positive contemporary values, and eschew everything about violent jihad, Islam itself is an expansionist faith that demands submission, in fact literally means submission. To Islamic extremists, Islam makes no provision for Muslim values that differ from their interpretation of Islamic values. They see jihad only as a relentless and violent struggle against the infidel…the non-believer…the post-enlightenment western world.
In that sense, and as distasteful as it is to our notion of religious tolerance, we must recognize that our sworn enemy is a violent and growing faction of a religion and not a nation. America, and indeed the West, doesn’t seem to understand this kind of war.
To be sure, religious tyrants and the wars fought under religious banners prevailed for centuries in the western world. We recognize those fanatical and bloody periods as The Dark Ages. We seem reluctant, even determined, not to accept that a large religious movement within Islam seeks to reimpose a new Dark Age upon mankind. It is foreign to our thinking.
Even though religions have and, in some cases, still are responsible for terrible persecution, religion today is more typically associated with the teaching of peace and tolerance among humankind. The Golden Rule has its origins in religion. Radical Islam, however, simply cannot accommodate such thinking.
We seem unable to wrap our minds around the fact that this is not a typical land, sea and air war of the kind America has fought and successfully waged throughout our history. Here we are fighting a war in which the enemy doesn’t have a headquarters or a national capital, wear a uniform or fight under a flag. Instead this enemy is scattered throughout the world. It isn’t just Osama Bin Laden and his followers. If Osama were captured or killed tomorrow, this war would not be over.
Islamic radicals are found in every nook and cranny of the globe because radical Islamists believe that theirs is the only true religion, that everyone else is a heathen or an apostate, and if they cannot be converted to Islam, they are unworthy of life itself.
We do not have the space in a weekly essay, nor do we have the credentials to attempt a comprehensive history lesson on Islam. However, many scholars have studied the history of Islam and its belief system. Michael Cappi, a researcher on Islam and terrorism and the author of the book “A Never Ending War” is one such scholar. In his important book, and in interviews he has given, he points out that the Koran is different from the Old and New Testaments in its preoccupation with forced conversion. The Koran outlines a belief system, which is a blue print for war and subrogation of the nonbelievers. It is filled with endless directives compelling Muslims to convert or kill nonbelievers. Apostasy must be punishable by death. The Koran is unambiguous in stating that the law of Islam is Shari and every country must be governed by Sharia.
Our problem is that, even in the face of never-ending atrocities against us, we simply do not want to face what we are up against. Islamic fundamentalists have been involved in almost every major terrorist atrocity that has occurred in the first nine years of the 21st century, from the carnage of the World Trade Center, to the attacks on the Indian parliament in New Delhi, the rampage in Mumbai, the bombings of synagogues in Tunisia, Turkey and Morocco, and the beheading of Daniel Perl, the Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal which was proudly videotaped by his captors. The Fort Hood incident is only the latest outrage clearly and deliberately perpetrated in the name of Islam.
We Americans are an impatient lot. We have come to believe that our extraordinarily capable military can achieve victories in a short period of time. We don’t want to believe that this is likely to be a war without a clear end point and without unconditional surrender by the enemy. It is not a war over territory or mineral deposits or disputed borders. It is a war being waged against our belief system, our democratic form of government and mostly against the right of people to exercise their own free will.
Jihadists have become comfortable with the notion that we may not have the will to defend our values over an extended period of time and that being weary of endless terrorist attacks we will likely appease and slowly surrender piece by piece our very way of life. That we would not take firm and muscular action, even when the enemy had an address and was a nation that had committed an act of war against us became crystal clear to Islam when the Iranian government took American diplomats hostage, held them for 444 days, and the feckless Carter Administration acted as if we were helpless. That situation called for an immediate and appropriate military response, but President Carter stood by and allowed Iran to thumb its nose at him and us.
Sam Harris, the author of “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason” has opined that a cult of death has formed in the Islamic World for reasons that are perfectly explicable in terms of doctrines of martyrdom and jihad the extremists embrace. “The truth is,” he states, “that we are not fighting a war on terror, we are fighting a pestilential theology.” Mr. Harris went on to state, “I don’t know how many more engineers and architects need to blow themselves up, fly planes into buildings or saw the heads off of journalists…before we realize what we are up against. The truth is that there is every reason to believe that a terrifying number of the world’s Muslims now view all political and moral questions in terms of their affiliation with Islam… This benighted religious solidarity may be the greatest problem facing civilization, and yet it is regularly misconstrued, ignored or obfuscated…”
Islamic extremism is exacerbated by the political correctness, which inhibits free, open and truthful discussion in the United States and the West. Among other delicate subjects, religions are somewhat sheltered from criticism in our society. It is simply bad manners to deprecate someone else’s religion.
And so today we find ourselves afraid to speak the truth for fear of not being politically correct if we criticize a culture in which, and in the name of religion, women are stoned to death for infidelity and other offenses, gays are hanged from the gallows, and young children are taught the ideal of martyrdom. Instead, in our society, we seem to search for “root causes” as if everything can be blamed on the relative impoverishment of Islamic majority nations even though that impoverishment was brought on by their own refusal to adapt to the modern world. We shape the facts to conform to our own pre‑existing beliefs. We try to understand and explain away Muslims rioting over the insult to Islam of some Danish cartoons depicting the prophet, and we try to be understanding and “reach out” to a barbarian like the President of Iran who denies the Holocaust, the most well documented atrocity in human history.
Almost immediately upon discovering that the perpetrator of the Fort Hood massacre, Major Hasan, was an Army psychiatrist, the networks were referring to him as either deranged or disturbed and had lined up a bevy of talking-head mental health specialists to explain in psychobabble the pressure that an American Muslim soldier must have felt under the threat of deployment to Afghanistan. Immediately they began to make Hasan a victim. That kind of reasoning encourages fanatical Muslims to act as if they are victims of Western and especially U.S. oppression. What is worse is that the left-leaning press never challenges such assumptions. They report on terrorist attacks as if they were akin to natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes rather than guerilla style assaults on America or other nations.
After the Fort Hood attack, President Obama urged Americans not to rush to conclusions. To just what conclusions should we not rush? Should we not rush to the conclusion that an American serviceman who was sworn to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and who murdered in cold blood thirteen fellow Americans while yelling “God is Great,” was not acting out of religious conviction?
What we are witnessing is an unwillingness to confront reality. A portion of worldwide Islam is at war against us. They openly say it and we refuse to accept it. American leaders, its liberal press and academia, are so fearful of stereotyping and offending any group that it pretends this isn’t happening. So we treat Fort Hood as just another crime to be prosecuted by the authorities. We fear being accused of racial profiling. We pretend we are protecting ourselves when we deplete our security resources searching grandmothers in wheelchairs at airport security checkpoints.
We routinely recognize that there are certain risk factors for various threats to our well being. High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke just as obesity is a risk factor for heart disease. As noted earlier, nearly every terrorist attack, especially against Americans, originates in lands where the dominant culture is Islam or by individuals who, like Major Hasan, demonstrate loyalty to Islam before loyalty to America (or any other nation). Systematic, intelligent profiling or recognition that such risk factors are real and are ever present is not, therefore, synonymous with racial, ethnic or religious discrimination. It is simply synonymous with common sense.
Again and again we taste the bitter fruit of our own naiveté. Sworn enemies attack us. We tire of our efforts. We blame ourselves because it feels nobler than taking actions that might offend the ACLU. The President of the United States takes a world tour apologizing for actions we have taken to defend our nation, its vital interests and the interests of the very allies who seem to have forgotten that it was America that protected their freedom.
Our victory in World War II and our strong determination to prevent Soviet communism from dominating Western Europe and the rest of the world should have taught us that appeasement does not work. Nevertheless, we appear to appease and fall for the misguided notion peddled by the left that we have done something wrong, that we have offended Islam, and, thus, we search for a way to achieve the goal enunciated by that great philosopher Rodney King when he famously asked, “why can’t we all just get along?” The answer is that radical Islamists do not want to get along. Their mission is to establish Islamic dominance over the rest of the world. They foresee an international caliphate. We are the antithesis of what they want. We are a modern liberal democracy and we value the precious freedoms on which our form of government rests.
But we will not be able to defeat radical Islam unless the agencies responsible for our security have the necessary surveillance tools to do their job. Ironically, even now, some Congressional leaders are trying to weaken the Patriot Act which expires at the end of 2009. Although Major Hasan will be tried by Court Martial, any future acts of terror against us which can be tied to foreign connections must be treated as acts committed in a war and the perpetrators should be treated as enemy combatants and either held as prisoners until the threat ends, or be tried by military tribunals. Why should we allow ourselves to be killed and maimed by those in league with foreign conspirators and permit them to hide behind our Constitution? We have to educate our own citizens that unless we take the sensible steps that need to be taken when a nation is on a war footing, we will be defeated. That is not incomprehensible. Woe to us if we do not understand that this war could actually be lost.