Avoiding the M-word
IS RADICAL ISLAM connected to terrorism? Notable British voices spoke out on that subject after Britain's recent terrorist near-misses -- the two unexploded car bombs in London's West End and the fiery SUV rammed into the main terminal at Glasgow's international airport. Consider what four of those voices had to say:
One declared that the word "Muslim" must not be used in connection with terrorism, and insisted that even the phrase "war on terror" should be scrapped.
The second likewise cautioned against pointing a finger at Islam, contending that in London, "Muslims are . . . less likely to support the use of violence to achieve political ends than non-Muslims."
The third, asked whether Muslim extremists might be responsible for the attempted atrocities in London and Glasgow, counseled: "Let's avoid presumptions. . . It can be the work of Muslims, Christians, Jews, or Buddhists."
By contrast, the fourth noted the resemblance of the latest terror attempts to "other recent British Islamic extremist plots," pinpointed "Islamic theology" as "the real engine of our violence," and described British jihadists as "mindless killers" who have "declared war upon the whole world."
The first three statements, disingenuous but quite politically correct, were made respectively by (1) Britain's new prime minister, Gordon Brown, (2) London Mayor Ken Livingstone, and (3) Daud Abdullah, deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. Just days before the second anniversary of the deadly 7/7 London transit bombings, and less than a year since 24 British Muslims were arrested for plotting to blow up passenger jets over the Atlantic, the three men spoke as if they had no inkling that Britain is a battleground in militant Islam's global jihad -- as if only a boor or a bigot could imagine that Muslims might somehow be linked to the car bombs in London and Glasgow.
And the fourth statement? Those were the blunt words of Hassan Butt, a onetime spokesman for the radical Islamist organization al-Muhajiroun, who has renounced his former life. In an essay published last week in the Daily Mail, Butt emphasized that jihadists are motivated not by opposition to British or US foreign policy but by a fundamentalist theology that seeks to subject the entire world to "Islamic justice." Radical Imams teach their followers that they must fight for Dar al-Islam (the House of Islam) against Dar al-Harb (the House of War -- i.e., infidels to be defeated). And "in Dar el-Harb, anything goes, including the treachery and cowardice of attacking civilians."
By turning a blind eye to the radical theology of the jihadists, Butt says, mainstream Muslim institutions make it easy for the extremists to recruit new followers. His words apply equally to political leaders like Brown and Livingstone: "They refuse to broach the difficult and often complex truth that Islam can be interpreted as condoning violence against the unbeliever -- and instead repeat the mantra that Islam is peace, and hope that all of this debate will go away."
Wars cannot be won through denial and willful blindness. Yet in ways large and small, Western leaders and institutions deliberately avert their gaze from the reality of the Islamist threat. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon blames global warming, not Sudan's jihadist regime, for the genocide being carried out in Darfur. A leading candidate to succeed President Bush, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, maintains a lavish campaign website, complete with detailed position papers that have nothing to say about radical Islam's aggressive war. Another candidate, former senator John Edwards, prepares a 5,200-word speech to the Council on Foreign Relations -- and devotes just 19 of them to the menace of Islamic extremism.
The obfuscation is sometimes almost comical. The
Similarly, seven reporters contributed to AP's story on the arrested jihad-doctors ("Diverse group allegedly in British plot"), yet somehow missed the radical theology they presumably shared.
Political correctness is no strategy for victory. Islamic fascists will not hate us less if we avoid all mention of the theology that inflames them. Winning the war the jihadists have declared -- the war of Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb -- begins with moral clarity. Denial is a luxury we cannot afford.
Jeff Jacoby's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.