President Obama’s ardent adherence to political correctness – exceeding now that even of the French – is a grave error that will harm, perhaps fatally, our war against Islamic extremism.
And a war it is. ISIS has held most of its Caliphate and threatens the United States. Just today, it was reported that ISIS fighters in Syria were making gains despite U.S. bombing. Al Qaeda in Yemen, officially given last rights by the White House, is clearly back in good form. The Taliban remains strong in Afghanistan.
The White House’s refusal to characterize terrorism as based at all in Islam raises an obvious issue: How can you deal with a problem if you can’t identify it? It’s like providing chemotherapy for heart disease.
Which might soon be happening given the quality of doctors willing to work under Obamacare, but I digress.
Serious people, like those who don’t inhabit the White House, understand that there is a problem in the Muslim world that is feeding Jihadism.
To say this has nothing to do with Islam is not only a farce, but it prevents the White House from working with our Arab and European allies to reform Islam to a more peaceable state of existence. The current White House strategy of just attacking terrorists, militarily and rhetorically, is not nearly enough.
There’s a war on for the hearts and minds of Muslims. It begins in the madrassas that are educating young Muslims to hate the Jews and the West. It extends to the many Muslim religious leaders who are not somehow outside of Islam, but who are preaching hatred within it.
The two leaders of the competing Muslim sects, the Shia and the Sunnis, are respectively Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both support and finance Muslim extremists, and even terrorists. This cannot be an aberration. In Gaza, Palestinians elected a terrorist organization, Hamas, to lead them.
None of this is meant as an attack on Islam. I say it with sadness. But the truth must be recognized so Islam can change and the West can be safe.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who did our dirty work by jailing and killing thousands of Islamist Muslim brotherhood members in his country, understands:
That thinking – I am not saying ‘religion’ but ‘thinking’ – that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!
Is it possible that 1.6 billion [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants – that is 7 billion – so that they themselves may live? Impossible! . . . I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move … because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost — and it is being lost by our own hands.
Note he is basing the problem directly in the unwillingness to be flexible about the literal words of “that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years.” Islamic texts.
Thomas Friedman, a liberal columnist for the New York Times who has spent much time in the Middle East, wrote the following Tuesday:
The truth is there is a huge amount of ambivalence toward this whole jihadist phenomenon — more than any of us would like to believe — in the Arab-Muslim world, Europe and America. This ambivalence starts in the Muslim community, where there is a deep cleavage over what constitutes authentic Islam today.
We fool ourselves when we tell Muslims what “real Islam” is. Because Islam has no Vatican, no single source of religious authority, there are many Islams today. The puritanical Wahhabi/Salafi/jihadist strain is one of them, and its support is not insignificant.
Where, Friedman wonders, is “a million-person march against the jihadists across the Arab-Muslim world, organized by Arabs and Muslims for Arabs and Muslims, without anyone in the West asking for it”?
Friedman’s observations are backed up with statistics that demonstrate significant, albeit minority, support for violent extremism in the Muslim world. According to the Pew Religion and Public Life Project:
Around the world, most Muslims also reject suicide bombing and other attacks against civilians. However, substantial minorities in several countries say such acts of violence are at least sometimes justified, including 26% of Muslims in Bangladesh, 29% in Egypt, 39% in Afghanistan and 40% in the Palestinian territories.
Even in the United States, eight percent of Muslims say violence against civilians is at least sometimes justified to “defend Islam.”
In many areas of the Muslim world, values that would seem inconsistent with democracy are extremely popular, according to Pew:
Solid majorities in most of the countries surveyed across the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia favor the establishment of sharia, including 71% of Muslims in Nigeria, 72% in Indonesia, 74% in Egypt and 89% in the Palestinian territories.
In most countries surveyed, majorities of Muslim women as well as men agree that a wife is always obliged to obey her husband. Indeed, more than nine-in-ten Muslims in Iraq (92%), Morocco (92%), Tunisia (93%), Indonesia (93%), Afghanistan (94%) and Malaysia (96%) express this view.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest Tuesday justified the White House’s non-use of “Islamism” by saying he was seeking “accuracy.” What he was really doing, as all the politically correct do, is trying not to offend, which is actually the avoidance of accuracy. But the stakes are far too high now to be polite about things.