In the last 5 days it has become known that the Ft. Hood shooter was a Muslim, was in contact with al Qaeda, attended a mosque known for radical connections, posted on the Internet in favor of suicide bombers, and presented a slide show to the Army explaining the potentially lethal conflict Muslim American soldiers face when being deployed to Muslim nations. It is no longer possible to pretend that the Ft. Hood shooting incident does not plausibly represent a military clash between the United States and radical Islam, and still remain intellectually honest. There are complications in the affair, but that aspect has become clear.
Janet Napolitano, President Obama’s irresponsible choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, considered that her most urgent response to the attack on Ft. Hood was to caution the nation against an anti-Muslim backlash. Dr. Phil expressed outrage when a guest, a representative of JAG (Judge Advocate General), the Army’s legal corps, denounced the doctor’s excuse-making as psychobabble and named Islamic Jihad as at least part of the attacker’s motives. The Army’s Chief of Staff, General Casey, refused to allow categorical comments about Islam, and declared that as horrific as the casualties were at Ft. Hood, for “diversity” to become a casualty would be far worse. President Obama stated the opposite of the truth in his speech yesterday at Ft. Hood:
It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know – no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice – in this world, and the next.
That no just and loving God would look upon this with favor, I grant. That no faith justifies these murderous acts, is simply wrong. Islam justifies these acts, and Muslim activists like Hasan expect reward, not punishment, having been taught from childhood that martyrdom in Jihad is a sure path to earning Allah’s favor.
Tawfik Hamid, a Muslim dissident intellectual who is attempting to produce a robust theology of peace within Islam, has explained at length that the violence that attends Islam is not an aberrantion, but rather represents the mainstream. Hamid himself claims to have been engaged in radical Jihad with an organization called Jamaah Islamiyah. In a well-publicized editorial in the Wall Street Journal back in April of 2007, Hamid explained:
…there is much that is clearly wrong with the Islamic world. Women are stoned to death and undergo clitorectomies. Gays hang from the gallows under the approving eyes of the proponents of Shariah, the legal code of Islam. Sunni and Shia massacre each other daily in Iraq. Palestinian mothers teach 3-year-old boys and girls the ideal of martyrdom. One would expect the orthodox Islamic establishment to evade or dismiss these complaints, but less happily, the non-Muslim priests of enlightenment in the West have come, actively and passively, to the Islamists’ defense.
These “progressives” frequently cite the need to examine “root causes.” In this they are correct: Terrorism is only the manifestation of a disease and not the disease itself. But the root-causes are quite different from what they think. As a former member of Jemaah Islamiya, a group led by al Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, I know firsthand that the inhumane teaching in Islamist ideology can transform a young, benevolent mind into that of a terrorist. Without confronting the ideological roots of radical Islam it will be impossible to combat it. While there are many ideological “rootlets” of Islamism, the main tap root has a name–Salafism, or Salafi Islam, a violent, ultra-conservative version of the religion.
It is vital to grasp that traditional and even mainstream Islamic teaching accepts and promotes violence. Shariah, for example, allows apostates to be killed, permits beating women to discipline them, seeks to subjugate non-Muslims to Islam as dhimmis and justifies declaring war to do so. It exhorts good Muslims to exterminate the Jews before the “end of days.” The near deafening silence of the Muslim majority against these barbaric practices is evidence enough that there is something fundamentally wrong.
The grave predicament we face in the Islamic world is the virtual lack of approved, theologically rigorous interpretations of Islam that clearly challenge the abusive aspects of Shariah. Unlike Salafism, more liberal branches of Islam, such as Sufism, typically do not provide the essential theological base to nullify the cruel proclamations of their Salafist counterparts.
It is not the case that every Muslim intends violence toward non-Muslims. It is, however, the case that wherever Islam prospers, violence and domination follows. TheReligionOfPeace.com has maintained a comprehensive list of Muslim violence around the world for several years now; similar lists documenting violence in the name of other religions would not need anywhere near the bandwidth. More to the point, the vast majority of Muslims do not object to these practices, but tolerate them in silence. Rather than view such acts as the errors of extremists, it appears that they view them as the obedience of the purest among them. Tawfik Hamid recommends,
Muslims who do not vocally oppose brutal Shariah decrees should not be considered “moderates.”
America has a powerful tradition of religious liberty. This is as opposed to religious toleration, a distinction I explained a few weeks ago in a post called “Toleration and the Crown.” As conceived by our nation’s founders, the government simply has no right whatsoever to judge religious organizations, nor to speak into religious disputes. Those rights belong to the people and have never been ceded to the government. Thus, it cannot be the government’s task to single out a religion and declare, “This religion is not welcome here.”
Liberal America occasionally resorts to this fact to justify squeezing its eyes shut against the inherent danger of permitting Muslims to practice here in America as citizens of other religions have been permitted. This is a pretense. It is not just that liberals have showed contempt for the rights of Christian Americans to practice Christianity openly, finding imaginary Constitutional principles to prevent Christians from even speaking of their Christianity while ignoring those same “principles” when considering Muslims or Jews. It’s that they seem ideologically incapable even to acknowledge the danger of welcoming large sects intent on domination and subjugation. They warn against “anti-Muslim sentiment,” assiduously hunt for alternative motives, and ignore the religious justification for violent acts, rather than even consider the possibility that an enemy conceivably intent on conquest may have planted millions of loyal soldiers among us.
Nor is the blindness limited to liberal America, although progressive dogma is directly to blame. George W. Bush falsely declared Islam to be “a religion of peace,” rather than publicly acknowledge that Islam, after some 600 years of dormancy, is again threatening the nominally Christian West (I should say, the largely post-Christian West.) The Pentagon and the FBI have, in this incident, likewise shown themselves incompetent to identify, pursue, and isolate this self-proclaimed danger to America’s forces. To President Bush’s credit, he took appropriate action to prevent incidents like the Ft. Hood massacre from occurring in American territory; but the military is still failing to address the internal threat directly. They have been cowed into incoherence and incompetence by threats of progressive mob anger; they have become eunuchs to King Political Correctness.
Where religious liberty establishes a Constitutional and historical basis for embracing those who are different, certain religious groups have faced stiff opposition from Americans, and sometimes from American government. Adherents to the Latter-Day Saints church fled persecution in America proper and attempted to establish a theo-democratic state, albeit still connected to the United States, in a huge western territory they called “Deseret,” comprised of most of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, and about half of California. Their establishment of ecclesiastical courts parallel to the US Federal court system calls to mind attempts to establish Sharia in mostly-Muslim enclaves in US cities. President Buchanan dispatched several thousand troops to remove Utah’s Governor Brigham Young in 1857 and replace him with a non-LDS appointee, after which the US was fortunate to avoid outright war in the Mormon territories. A Republican majority in Congress passed an anti-bigamy law in 1862 with the LDS church clearly in mind (polygamy was arguably as large a moral issue as slavery to the 1860s Republicans), but President Lincoln agreed not to enforce it against the Mormons in what some regard as a bribe to keep them out of the Civil War.
Catholics were also distrusted in America for many years. A common objection to John F. Kennedy’s presidential bid in 1960 was the concern that as a Catholic, he held greater loyalty to Rome than to Washington. That turned out to be among the least of the dangers posed by Kennedy’s presidency, and today few Americans would think to question the loyalty of Catholic Americans. But “papism” was a deep concern among American Protestants from before the American revolution, and continued in some form until the 1960s.
However, even the most frenetic and overwrought denunciations of Catholics never envisioned that they would take military action to conquer non-Catholic America, and the Mormons appeared mostly to want to be left alone. Islam is different. They are not coming to America to avoid persecution — Muslims are nearly always persecutors, not persecuted. Nor are they coming to establish their own, separate enclaves to live peaceably but separately. The core mission of Islam is evangelism and eventual domination; and they seem uncomfortably willing to engage in violence to achieve those ends. While Christianity expresses similar sentiments about evangelism, it aims to achieve influence by peaceful persuasion, not by conquest. The Crusades are 800 years past, and even those were attempts to free conquered lands from Islam, not specifically attempts to extend Christianity by conquest. Modern Muslims seem pleased to be conquering Europe without violence, but I see no indication that they’re unwilling to consider violence.
Is it correct to say that Muslims intend conquest by violence in America? It’s difficult to say. They certainly intend conquest, although for now Muslims seem content to fit into their communities. They seem peaceful on the average. Yet, the Ft. Hood incident is not isolated; similar plots have been foiled at Ft. Dix and a National Guard base in Newburgh, NY., and a recruiting station in Little Rock, AR was shot up just this year — and that’s just the incidents targeting the US military. As Victor Davis Hanson pointed out last Friday, there seems to be a minority pocket of Muslims who
…channel generic Islamist fantasies, so that we can assume that either formal terrorist plots or individual acts of murder will more or less occur here every three to six months.
I doubt that here in America we will see organized, Muslim militia like those led by Moqtada al Sadr in Iraq anytime soon, but we are already seeing repeated, isolated instances of Muslim rage directed against both military and civilian targets in America. It must, sadly, become a matter of policy for the US to acknowledge this legacy of violence that follows the emigration of Muslims, and to address it sensibly.
Surprisingly, one of the more sensible suggestions came from the Ft. Hood shooter himself, Nidal Hasan. In a presentation to US Army physicians in June 2007, Hasan observed the inherent conflict felt by Muslim soldiers when they’re dispatched to Muslim countries — some apparently fear that the US Army intends to “rape their women and kill their children,” and feel morally compelled to defend Islam rather than obey their Army orders. Hasan counseled an option for “conscientious objector” status for Muslim soldiers who receive orders to deploy to war zones in Muslim countries. Such an option seems a reasonable concession to the consciences of Muslims, and may even have prevented the Ft. Hood incident, though we cannot say for sure.
However, such a sensible recognition of conscience would not address the more fundamental conflict between Islamic intent and a free republic like the US. Tawfik Hamid again:
Progressives need to realize that radical Islam is based on an antiliberal system. They need to awaken to the inhumane policies and practices of Islamists around the world. They need to realize that Islamism spells the death of liberal values. And they must not take for granted the respect for human rights and dignity that we experience in America, and indeed, the West, today.
Well-meaning interfaith dialogues with Muslims have largely been fruitless. Participants must demand–but so far haven’t–that Muslim organizations and scholars specifically and unambiguously denounce violent Salafi components in their mosques and in the media.
American libertarian values and Islamic law are fundamentally at odds. The mainstream of Muslim thought recognizes this and favors conquering America, overruling liberty, and imposing Sharia. The most fervent of Muslims seem actually to be capable of attempting this by violence. Rather than being marginalized like the few, violent extremist Christian cults, they appear to have the silent approval of the mainstream. This could change, if enough Muslim clerics articulated and taught a believable Muslim theology of peace, and publicly denounced Salafi violence. Until that happens, though, blithe toleration of Muslim immigration is suicide.
Though the US government lacks legal authority to interfere in Muslim matters within the US, it does possess the legal power to protect the peace and defend American borders. Thus, for the US government to address the threat posed by mainstream Islam, America needs deliberately to halt the immigration of Muslims into America until Islam demonstrates a shift in the direction of peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims. Meanwhile, the American military needs to recognize the inherent danger posed by Muslim soldiers in military units being sent to Muslim nations, and protect itself from further violence.
Any action along these lines must recognize the fundamental necessity that the government protect the religious liberty of citizens. I am calling for appropriate defense of the public peace, which is a legitimate governmental function, but it cannot be permitted to devolve into anti-religious policy. Even though the Salafis seem to have the approval of the Muslim mainstream, we as a nation must welcome peaceful expressions of Islamic faith, and do everything in our power to protect the civil liberties of those Muslims who live among us. Closing our borders to potential enemies is sensible policy, but we must give Muslims an option of embracing peaceful coexistence without abandoning Islam.
This will not happen before the US as a nation is willing to acknowledge the truth about Islam. Only by confronting the real conflict between Islam and the West can Muslims be led to embrace a less violent theology.
I highly recommend that readers review the writings of Tawfik Hamid, who is actively pursuing just such a shift in Islamic theology.