Egyptian TV host Youssef Al-Husseini after the London mosque attack.
The Star Spangled Banner sung at a memorial service for the victims of 9-11, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, September 14, 2001.
Why would Ms. Tashfeen Malik, who was born in Pakistan but lived most of her life in Saudi Arabia, want to come to the United States?
She obviously hated the United States and its values, at least enough to help stockpile an arsenal and to kill 14 people and wound another 21 in San Bernardino.
Or for that matter, why did her husband and co-mass-murderer Syed Rizwan Farook, if he was unhappy with his native America, not return to his parents’ Pakistan, where he might, in greater peace, have practiced Sharia law, memorizing his Koranic verses without the temptations of crass and uncouth American culture?
Or why did not family members or friends notice the couple’s assembling of a veritable arsenal of assault in their townhouse? And if they did notice, why did they not help to protect their adopted country?
And why did a spokesman for the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), Hussam Ayloush, as if suffering from a politically correct tic, almost immediately tie terrorism in the U.S. with American foreign policy? “Let’s not forget that some of our own foreign policy, as Americans, as the West, has fueled that extremism,” he said. “ . . . We are partly responsible. Terrorism is a global problem, not a Muslim problem.” Was that pop exegesis designed to show Americans how CAIR abhors Islamic-inspired terrorism inside the U.S.?
As part of the “Other,” the San Bernardino terrorist tandem did not seem to direct their furies against the so-called dominant white culture or white privilege, given that their innocent victims were of all races and both sexes and representative of multiracial America, a country both far more diverse and far more tolerant of diversity than, say, Pakistan.
Surely the Tsarnaev brothers were unhappy in Boston — despite (or was it because of?) generous public assistance and attention. Could not Major Nidal Hasan have returned to his parents’ native Palestine to better practice jihad than murdering 13 and wounding more than 30 of his fellow Fort Hood soldiers? Why stay in the U.S. instead of heading to the West Bank?
What exactly about UC Merced’s oppressive atmosphere set off Faisal Mohammad’s stabbing of four fellow students? If, in his youthful angst, he wished to romanticize about ISIS and his own identity, could he too not have left the hated United States and found a more congenial environment in the Islamic world, where there are no supposed losers deserving of death like those at UC Merced?
Surely there was no need for more than two dozen Somalis to immigrate to Minnesota, only to return home to sign up for jihad with al-Shabab? Was Minnesota colder than they had unexpected, too stingy in its public assistance, or known for its endemic racism?
For that matter, what exactly has driven Muslim immigrants or their children to attack non-Muslims in America in nearly 50 instances since 9/11? Islamic spokespeople talk of hate crimes, but not of the fact that Muslims as a group commit more hate crimes than they suffer, or that the greatest target of hate crimes in America is the Jewish, not the Muslim, community. How many Muslims by virtue of being Muslims have been killed by non-Muslims since 9/11 in the United States? And how many Muslims have killed non-Muslims by virtue of their being non-Muslims? Is there such a word as unIslamophobia?
Who is in more danger in the West: a Western native who draws a cartoon caricaturing all three major religions, thus including Islam, or an immigrant who threatens him?
One can argue statistically that the number of Islamist attackers is small compared with the pool of Muslim immigrants. It is, of course, also true that mass shooters come in all races and religions, from the cases of Columbine and Sandy Hook to those at the Oregon community college, Virginia Tech, and Miami.
But no other common tie — no particular religion, no political identification, no singular subset of mental illness — binds so many mass shooters as do professions of Islamist radicalism, both among first-generation arrivals and among their offspring.
Ostensibly, people leave the Middle East for the West, in particular Europe and the United States, because it is an oasis, not the hellhole many of them came from. We take for granted clean water, uncontaminated food, competent medical treatment, religious tolerance, economic opportunity, meritocratic hiring, political freedom, and respect for the individual regardless of birth, class, and status. But that bundle is non-existent even in the elite Gulf enclaves. Those Western characteristics are apparently universal human wants, and they drive even Middle Eastern Muslims to seek out otherwise entirely foreign landscapes of quite different cultures and attitudes.
For many Muslims, to have strep throat treated promptly, to be accorded equality and respect while in a government office, and to be free to say whatever one wishes are all worth putting up with watching men kiss in public or women wear braless tank tops on planes, or seeing Christian crosses everywhere, or watching commercials for Viagra and Tampax in the middle of the evening news, or seeing so many apparently happy, content, and satisfied people of so many races who do not have Islam in their lives.
Why, then, is radical Islamism, so antithetical to Western values, still preached in American and European mosques? Do radical Muslims in the U.S. and Europe realize that if they had had their way, they would not have wished to emigrate to the U.S., given that it would resemble the homelands they abandoned? The worldview of Tashfeen Malik, if enacted, would eventually have turned San Bernardino into Islamabad; would Ms. Malik then have left it for Portland?
Why is ISIS apparently attractive to hundreds, if not thousands, of Western Muslim youth? Why is the FBI supposedly busy tracking down radical Muslims residing in America, who presumably came here of their own free will? Is it because the FBI is Islamophobic?
One obvious reason for these anomalies is a sort of paradox. The more a Muslim youth enjoys casual sexual hook-ups, easy access to liquor and drugs, and unapologetic secular indulgence, all the more the voluptuary feels he has betrayed his culture, religion, and very identity — and the more his eventual return to Islamic purity is likely to become extreme. No one forced Mohamed Atta and his band of killers to become Western sybarites. What made them slaves to their appetites was their very Islamic Puritanism, which turned what was commonly available into forbidden obsessions: the more taboo, all the more to be indulged in, and all the more to be regretted post facto and the indulgence blamed on others when passions are drained and probity returns.
Second, in many cases, the immigrant immediately asks upon arrival, “Why do they have so much here, while we have so little back home?” Do not expect him to cite everything from religious tolerance to consensual government to freedom and market capitalism — not when there is an accessible American dictionary of victimization, ranging from colonialism and imperialism to oil and Israel. The new arrival from the Middle East need not turn on Al Jazeera to be spoon-fed grievances, when he can listen to President Obama’s apology tours or Cairo speech or breakfast sermons about high-horse Christians and their millennium-old Crusades.
Third, we in America ask almost nothing of immigrants any more. We do not care whether they come legally and will obey the law once they’re here. We have no concern whether they can support themselves, or whether they will become wards of the state. One need only review the careers of Obama’s own immigrant aunt and uncle. We have no worries about whether they learn English. They can hate or love America, as is their wont. If an immigrant commits a crime against his hosts, we feel that we would commit a greater crime by sending our ungracious guest home. Is that why ICE released 36,000 alien lawbreakers in 2013 alone, preempting their deportation hearings, or why 347,000 criminal aliens are believed to be at large in the United States?
Citizenship as a cherished privilege has utterly vanished. So has any idea of gratitude. A hallowed notion of legality, of being more law-abiding even than native-born Americans, has disappeared among immigrants. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez — the five-times-deported illegal alien and seven times repeat felon who shot Kate Steinle to death in San Francisco — was only the most extreme example of what is possible under current immigration law and practice.
At no time did Lopez-Sanchez thank the United States for offering him a better chance than Mexico had — at least if repeatedly committing felonies can be see as a form of not offering thanks. We deduce that he believed things were better here than in Mexico or he would not have reentered the country illegally so many times. Lopez-Sanchez, like the Tsarnaevs, knew that the U.S. leaves immigrants alone, or perhaps, better yet, romanticizes their difference, and provides, if not a legal amnesty for their crimes, a psychosocial one.
Fourth, immigrants sense an identity-obsessed culture, where diversity, not unity, brings career dividends. A teen can cross illegally from the oppression of Oaxaca and almost instantly qualify for victim status and affirmative action on the bizarre theory that American oppressions have earned him compensation and reparations, as if he were psychologically damaged by America while he was in Oaxaca or will be in America if he was not in Oaxaca.
Hyphenation, not conformity, is preferred — and wisely so. Poor George Zimmerman’s “white Hispanic” troubles arose from his Americanizing his mixed-race identity rather than emphasizing a constructed otherness by calling himself the more authentic-sounding Jorge Mesa. A fight between Trayvon Martin and Jorge Mesa does not reach the White House, because it furthers no particular agenda; it’s analogous to the weekend toll in Chicago rather than a Ferguson teachable moment. Apparently, Zimmerman did not learn the lesson that an upper-middle-class prep-schooler named Barry Dunham, whose conniving African father had abandoned him, would have been a mere statistic. But as Barack Hussein Obama he became a unique example of diversity, with all its resonance.
At best, if a Muslim immigrant fully assimilates, to the point where, as is true of most Americans, he cannot easily be identified by his religion, or if his religion becomes incidental rather than essential to his public persona, then he is rendered just an ordinary American. Perhaps he even is in some danger of joining the unattractive majority not subject to special dispensation. At worst, he can become a sellout in the eyes of his local mosque and immigrant enclave. Emphasizing identity to its logical extreme wins rewards in today’s America. We saw to what insane lengths this has gone in the cases of the fabulists Rachel Dolezal, Elizabeth Warren, Shaun King, and Ward Churchill.
Finally, the Muslim shooter understands that so many of his hosts are naïve, ashamed of their own culture, unsure of their heritage, and prone to apologize rather than criticize. They would likely not call the authorities even if they spied preparations for terrorist activities — believing that being called a racist is worse than possibly allowing violence to ensue against the innocent. Note that Ms. Malik never thought that she might have to tone down her suspicious activities, because her neighbors quite magnanimously did not call the police.
Appeasement is a psychological disorder that affects both the appeaser and the appeased. The more exemptions are granted the offender, the more the grantor feels good about himself, and the more the offender loses respect for someone seen as weak rather than magnanimous.
The United States government is too often seen as wavering, concerned with political correctness, unsure of its values, easily swayed by supposed victimization and refugee status, and terrified of charges of racism and xenophobia. For the immigrant, there is everything to gain by clinging to a foreign identity, showing disdain for the culture of his adopted country, and romanticizing his abandoned homeland, and nothing of immediate advantage in integrating, showing gratitude, and being critical of what drove him out.
Add up all the above, and it is a miracle that we do not have even angrier young immigrants and children of immigrants from the Middle East.
San Bernardino is not the last we will see of the strange nexus between radical Muslim immigrants hating the Middle East enough to abandon it and then romanticizing it from a safe distance enough to kill their generous hosts.
From Charles Krauthammer:
Tell me: What’s a suicide bomber doing with a passport? He’s not going anywhere. And, though I’m not a religious scholar, I doubt that a passport is required in paradise for a martyr to access his 72 black-eyed virgins.
A Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the terrorists. Why was it there? Undoubtedly, to back up the Islamic State boast that it is infiltrating operatives amid the refugees flooding Europe. The passport may have been fake, but the terrorist’s fingerprints were not. They match those of a man who just a month earlier had come through Greece on his way to kill Frenchmen in Paris.
If the other goal of the Paris massacre was to frighten France out of the air campaign in Syria — the way Spain withdrew from the Iraq War after the terror attack on its trains in 2004 — they picked the wrong country. France is a serious post-colonial power, as demonstrated in Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic, and Mali, which France saved from an Islamist takeover in 2013.
Indeed, socialist President Francois Hollande has responded furiously to his country’s 9/11 with an intensified air campaign, hundreds of raids on suspected domestic terrorists, a state of emergency, and proposed changes in the constitution to make France less hospitable to jihad.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama, titular head of the free world, has responded to Paris with weariness and annoyance. His news conference in Turkey was marked by a stunning tone of passivity, detachment, and lassitude, compounded by impatience and irritability at the very suggestion that his Syria strategy might be failing.
The only time he showed any passion was in denouncing Republicans for hardheartedness toward Muslim refugees. One hundred and twenty-nine innocents lie dead but it takes the GOP to kindle Obama’s ire.
The rest was mere petulance, dismissing criticisms of his Syria policy as popping off. Inconveniently for Obama, one of those popper-offers is Dianne Feinstein, the leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. She directly contradicted Obama’s blithe assertion, offered the day before the Paris attack, that the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIL) was contained and not gaining strength. “I have never been more concerned,” said Feinstein. “ISIL is not contained. ISIL is expanding.”
Obama defended his policy by listing its multifaceted elements. Such as, “I hosted at the United Nations an entire discussion of counterterrorism strategies and curbing the flow of foreign fighters.” An “entire” discussion, mind you. Not a partial one. They tremble in Raqqa.
And “We have mobilized 65 countries to go after ISIL.” Yes, and what would we do without Luxembourg?
Obama complained of being criticized for not being bellicose enough. But the complaint is not about an absence of bellicosity but about an absence of passion, of urgency, and of commitment to the fight. The air campaign over Syria averages seven strikes a day. Seven. In Operation Desert Storm, we flew 1,100 sorties a day. Even in the Kosovo campaign, we averaged 138. Obama is doing just enough in Syria to give the appearance of motion, yet not nearly enough to have any chance of success.
Obama’s priorities lie elsewhere. For example, climate change, which he considers the greatest “threat to our future.” And, of course, closing Guantánamo. Obama actually released five detainees on the day after the Paris massacre. He is passionate about Guantánamo. It’s a great terrorist recruiting tool, he repeatedly explains. Obama still seems to believe that — even as the Islamic State has produced an astonishing wave of terrorist recruitment with a campaign of brutality, butchery, and enslavement filmed in living color. Who can still believe that young Muslims are leaving Europe to join the Islamic State because of Guantánamo?
Obama’s other passion is protecting Islam from any possible association with “violent extremism.” The Islamic State is nothing but “killers with fantasies of glory.” Obama can never bring himself to acknowledge why these people kill and willingly die: to advance a radical Islamist millenarianism that is purposeful indeed eschatological — and appealing enough to have created the largest, most dangerous terrorist movement on earth.
Hollande is trying to gather a real coalition to destroy the Islamic State, even as Obama touts his phony 65. For eleven post-World War II presidencies, coalition leading has been the role of the United States. Where is America today? Awaiting a president. The next president.
From Mark Steyn:
As I write, Paris is under curfew for the first time since the German occupation, and the death toll from the multiple attacks stands at 158, the vast majority of them slaughtered during a concert at the Bataclan theatre, a delightful bit of 19th century Chinoiserie on the boulevard Voltaire. The last time I was there, if memory serves, was to see Julie Pietri. I’m so bloody sick of these savages shooting and bombing and killing and blowing up everything I like – whether it’s the small Quebec town where my little girl’s favorite fondue restaurant is or my favorite hotel in Amman or the brave freespeecher who hosted me in Copenhagen …or a music hall where I liked to go to hear a little jazz and pop and get away from the cares of the world for a couple of hours. But look at the photographs from Paris: there’s nowhere to get away from it; the barbarians who yell “Allahu Akbar!” are there waiting for you …when you go to a soccer match, you go to a concert, you go for a drink on a Friday night. They’re there on the train… at the magazine office… in the Kosher supermarket… at the museum in Brussels… outside the barracks in Woolwich…
Twenty-four hours ago, I said on the radio apropos the latest campus “safe space” nonsense:
This is what we’re going to be talking about when the mullahs nuke us.
Almost. When the Allahu Akbar boys opened fire, Paris was talking about the climate-change conference due to start later this month, when the world’s leaders will fly in to “solve” a “problem” that doesn’t exist rather than to address the one that does. But don’t worry: we already have a hashtag (#PrayForParis) and doubtless there’ll be another candlelight vigil of weepy tilty-headed wankers. Because as long as we all advertise how sad and sorrowful we are, who needs to do anything?
With his usual killer comedy timing, the “leader of the free world” told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning, America” this very morning that he’d “contained” ISIS and that they’re not “gaining strength”. A few hours later, a cell whose members claim to have been recruited by ISIS slaughtered over 150 people in the heart of Paris and succeeded in getting two suicide bombers and a third bomb to within a few yards of the French president.
Visiting the Bataclan, M Hollande declared that “nous allons mener le combat, il sera impitoyable“: We are going to wage a war that will be pitiless.
Does he mean it? Or is he just killing time until Obama and Cameron and Merkel and Justin Trudeau and Malcolm Turnbull fly in and they can all get back to talking about sea levels in the Maldives in the 22nd century? By which time France and Germany and Belgium and Austria and the Netherlands will have been long washed away.
Among his other coy evasions, President Obama described tonight’s events as “an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share”.
But that’s not true, is it? He’s right that it’s an attack not just on Paris or France. What it is is an attack on the west, on the civilization that built the modern world – an attack on one portion of “humanity” by those who claim to speak for another portion of “humanity”. And these are not “universal values” but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity. They were kinda sorta “universal” when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those “universal values” are utterly alien to large parts of the map today.
And then Europe decided to invite millions of Muslims to settle in their countries. Most of those people don’t want to participate actively in bringing about the death of diners and concertgoers and soccer fans, but at a certain level most of them either wish or are indifferent to the death of the societies in which they live – modern, pluralist, western societies and those “universal values” of which Barack Obama bleats. So, if you are either an active ISIS recruit or just a guy who’s been fired up by social media, you have a very large comfort zone in which to swim, and which the authorities find almost impossible to penetrate.
And all Chancellor Merkel and the EU want to do is make that large comfort zone even larger by letting millions more “Syrian” “refugees” walk into the Continent and settle wherever they want. As I wrote after the Copenhagen attacks in February:
I would like to ask Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt what’s their happy ending here? What’s their roadmap for fewer “acts of violence” in the years ahead? Or are they riding on a wing and a prayer that they can manage the situation and hold it down to what cynical British civil servants used to call during the Irish “Troubles” “an acceptable level of violence”? In Pakistan and Nigeria, the citizenry are expected to live with the reality that every so often Boko Haram will kick open the door of the schoolhouse and kidnap your daughters for sex-slavery or the Taliban will gun down your kids and behead their teacher in front of the class. And it’s all entirely “random”, as President Obama would say, so you just have to put up with it once in a while, and it’s tough if it’s your kid, but that’s just the way it is. If we’re being honest here, isn’t that all Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt are offering their citizens? Spasms of violence as a routine feature of life, but don’t worry, we’ll do our best to contain it – and you can help mitigate it by not going to “controversial” art events, or synagogues, or gay bars, or…
…or soccer matches, or concerts, or restaurants…
To repeat what I said a few days ago, I’m Islamed out. I’m tired of Islam 24/7, at Colorado colleges, Marseilles synagogues, Sydney coffee shops, day after day after day. The west cannot win this thing with a schizophrenic strategy of targeting things and people but not targeting the ideology, of intervening ineffectually overseas and not intervening at all when it comes to the remorseless Islamization and self-segregation of large segments of their own countries.
So I say again: What’s the happy ending here? Because if M Hollande isn’t prepared to end mass Muslim immigration to France and Europe, then his “pitiless war” isn’t serious. And, if they’re still willing to tolerate Mutti Merkel’s mad plan to reverse Germany’s demographic death spiral through fast-track Islamization, then Europeans aren’t serious. In the end, the decadence of Merkel, Hollande, Cameron and the rest of the fin de civilisation western leadership will cost you your world and everything you love.
So screw the candlelight vigil.
From Glenn Harlan Reynolds:
“Three Marines stop terrorist on French train” was the gist of the first headlines on this weekend’s counterterrorism story. But when the actual facts came out, the story got even better.
As it turns out, it wasn’t three Marines. It was two U.S. servicemembers — from the National Guard and the Air Force — and their civilian buddy from middle school. And they had the help of a traveling British businessman.
The three were riding on a train from Amsterdam to Paris when a gunman — an Islamist from Morocco who had visited Syria and was flagged as a possible jihadist — started shooting. One of the Americans, Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, 23, sprinted at the gunman and tackled him. The others, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, 22, and Sacramento State University student Anthony Sadler, 23, joined in.
As Skarlatos recounted in a Sky News interview from his hotel in Arras, northern France: “I just looked over at Spencer and said, ‘Let’s go!’ Spencer got to the guy first, grabbed the guy by the neck, and I grabbed the handgun, got the handgun away from the guy and threw it. Then I grabbed the AK (assault rifle), which was at his feet, and started muzzle thumping him in the head with it.”
Stone was cut by the attacker behind his neck, and his thumb was nearly sliced off as the man was wrestled to the ground by the Americans. Sadler said: “The gunman pulls out a box cutter and slices Spencer a few times.” He added that the attacker “never said a word.”
To Americans who remember Sept. 11, 2001, this kind of response — even down to the “let’s go” — echoes the story of Todd Beamer and the passengers of Flight 93. It’s the right response, of course, to terrorists who threaten innocents.
As Brad Todd wrote days after 9/11, it was the response of ordinary Americans on this flight that meant a repeat of the attacks was much less likely: “Just 109 minutes after a new form of terrorism — the most deadly yet invented — came into use, it was rendered, if not obsolete, at least decidedly less effective. … United Flight 93 did not hit a building. It did not kill anyone on the ground. … Why? Because it had informed Americans on board who’d had 109 minutes to come up with a counteraction. And the next time a hijacker full of hate pulls the same stunt with a single knife, he’ll get the same treatment and meet the same result as those on United Flight 93. Dead, yes. Murderous, yes. But successful? No.”
Meanwhile, the expensive global security establishment failed to stop 9/11, and — despite having the French-train gunman flagged as a possible jihadist— did nothing to stop this weekend’s attack. And that’s a lesson.
Bureaucracies have their place, but they don’t deal well with diffuse threats such as terrorism. By the time “first responders” get there, it’s usually too late. But there’s one group of “responders” who don’t have to go anywhere, and that’s the group already on the scene. In conventional analysis, and in the terrorists’ hopes, those people are called “victims.” But as the three Americans on that French train demonstrated, victimhood isn’t the only response.
And there’s more. The purpose of terror is to terrorize. But responding appropriately has the opposite effect. The response of British businessman Chris Norman, who helped subdue the attacker, illustrates this: “Norman said his first reaction was to hide,” The Fiscal Times reported. “But after he saw the Americans fighting the attacker, he said he went to help them.”
Fear is contagious. But so is courage. People should respond not like a herd of sheep but like a pack of wolves. When the follow-up report on the 2001 attacks came out, J.B. Schramm noted in The Washington Post that “on Sept. 11, 2001, American citizens saved the government, not the other way around.” Intelligence agencies failed. Air defense systems failed. But: “Requiring less time than it took the White House to gather intelligence and issue an attack order (which was in fact not acted on), American citizens gathered information from national media and relayed that information to citizens aboard the flight, who organized themselves and effectively carried out a counterattack against the terrorists, foiling their plans. Armed with television and cellphones, quick-thinking, courageous citizens who were fed information by loved ones probably saved the White House or Congress from devastation.”
Nonetheless, when the government reacted, the money went into enriching and strengthening those bureaucracies instead of, as Schramm urged, educating and training American citizens. Perhaps this latest incident will serve as a reminder that there is another way. At the very least, it should remind citizens that while you can’t rely on the government to be everywhere you are, you yourself are always there.
From Jonah Goldberg:
“Nice flag!” the woman shouted, sarcastically adding: “F—- you!”
The woman was seated on the patio of a restaurant overlooking Main Street in this famously liberal capital of this famously liberal state when a truck sporting the Confederate emblem passed by.
I could understand the sentiment (particularly given the fact that her lunch partner was an African-American man). When the woman saw my daughter and her friend, she apologized for her profanity.
And while I could have done without the f-bomb around two 12-year-old girls, my real objection was something different. The young woman’s outburst was exactly the reaction the buffoon in the truck was hoping for. After all, Vermont is the heart of union territory (and the first state to ban slavery in 1777). Even without the recent controversies, there’s no reason to fly a Confederate flag in downtown Montpelier except to offend.
But is that really the intent when the descendant of a Confederate soldier puts a flag on his ancestor’s tombstone once a year? According to many on the left, it is. “If we don’t eradicate the Confederate flag,” writes “social theorist” Frank Smecker, “we can only expect more of such racist, depraved acts (like Dylann Roof’s) in our future.”
I’m no big fan of the Confederate flag, but do serious people believe that if Roof didn’t have access to the banner, he would have pursued a life of peace?
It’s this lack of nuance and distinction I find so troubling — and hypocritical.
Claude Berube, director of the Naval Academy Museum, recently compared the rush to dig up Confederate graves and tear down statues in the U.S. to Islamic iconoclasm. The Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas on the grounds that they violate Islamic law. The terrorist group Islamic State is ransacking historic monuments for both God and mammon.
The comparison has its obvious limits, but it does highlight a remarkable double standard. Islamic terror has been on the rise for decades, yet over that time the left’s calls for nuance, tolerance and understanding have only grown louder. Virtually no one condones or makes apologies for ISIL’s barbarity (one can’t say the same about Hamas or Hezbollah), but there has been a Herculean effort to put Islamic extremism in “context.”
President Obama insists that ISIL isn’t even Islamic and that the West should not get on its “high horse” about today’s Muslim atrocities given that Christians committed atrocities eight centuries ago. When Islamist radicals were thwarted in their effort to behead Pamela Geller for organizing a “draw Mohammed” contest, many in the news media were quick to argue that she was asking for it. When an obscure pastor wanted to burn the Quran, the U.S. government went into a panicked tailspin, begging him not to offend or radicalize peaceful Muslims. When jihadists attacked a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s greatest rhetorical fury was aimed at an obscure filmmaker who made an offensive video about Islam.
Shortly after the shooting in Charleston, S.C., the New America think tank chummed the waters with a tendentious study insinuating that Roof and his ilk represented the real terror threat. “Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll Than Jihadists in U.S. Since 9/11,” proclaimed a New York Times headline. Forty-eight Americans, including the nine killed in Charleston, have been killed by non-Islamist “terrorists,” compared with a mere 26 by avowed jihadists.
The study is a methodological mess, starting with the fact that it starts the clock immediately after 9/11, ignoring the 3,000 killed on that day. It counts dubious attacks as right-wing terror and ignores the fact that the U.S. has foiled and deterred numerous Islamist terror plots in the past decade. If you catch a bunch of rattlesnakes in your backyard before they bite and kill someone in your family, is that proof there is no threat from snakes?
It would be an improvement if the left could stick to either of its double standards. Personally, I think fellow Americans — even ones who wear Lynyrd Skynyrd shirts — deserve some of the nuance and understanding so many reserve for Islam extremism. But if you’re going to take your zero tolerance for symbols of 19th century slavery so seriously, maybe you should show the same myopic zealotry with regard to the forces who are enslaving people right now.