Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich sought to reframe the American foreign policy debate last week. The central issue, Gingrich told the American Enterprise Institute, is whether policymakers recognize the existence of a civilizational struggle between the West and those who seek to expand the domain of Sharia, or Islamic law, across the globe. He located the beginning of the struggle as the takeover of the American embassy in Teheran by radical students, including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Gingrich pointedly refrained from painting the issue as one of terrorism. Terrorism and military conquest, jihad, is only one of the tools of political or radical Islam. Dawa, or proselytization, is jihad by other means. A fifteen-page 1991 document produced by the Muslim Brotherhood of North America, and subsequently revealed by the FBI, proclaims, for instance, its goal of "eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within." The document includes a list of "our organizations and the organizations of our friends," including some of the best known Moslem "defense" organization in the United States.
Islamists take advantage of the slowness of democracies in responding to external threats. Only when denial of the threat is no longer possible do democracies reluctantly enter the fray. Until then, democratic leaders tend to paint their enemies in their own image, like Neville Chamberlain, who famously found Mr. Hitler to be a "gentleman" with whom he could do business.
For more than two decades, European leaders have stood by passively as Muslims have achieved near majority status in major European cities and large urban areas have become no-go zones for police and firefighters. Despite lethal terror attacks perpetrated by native-born Muslims, European elites continue to treat Islamophobia as a greater threat to Europe than Islamism itself, and to preach ever greater sensitivity to Moslem sensitivities.
Paul Berman writes in The Flight of the Intellectuals that it has become unacceptable to point out that Islamism is a modern political tendency, which arose in a spirit of fraternal harmony with the fascists of Europe in the 1930s and '40s. By inducing intellectuals to maintain a discreet and respectful silence with regard to these awkward matters, Islamist preachers and ideologues have succeeded in imposing their own categories of analysis.
ISLAMISTS DO NOT YET POSE the same threat to America. Muslims comprise a far smaller percentage of the American population than they do in Europe, and most American Muslims have been well integrated.
Yet there are worrisome signs. In the past year, America has witnessed the Fort Hood massacre and the attempted Times Square bombing, both perpetrated by American Muslims, who viewed an American-born imam, now in Yemen, as their spiritual leader. Numerous other home-grown terrorist plots were nipped early on by law enforcement authorities.
Radical Islam has found fertile soil among blacks in American prisons. Many American mosques, financed by Saudi petrodollars, promote the fanatically xenophobic Wahhabi strain of Islam. A Pew Research Center report found that over one-fifth of American Muslims support suicide bombings against civilians in certain circumstances.
In its denial of the threat, the Obama administration has once again followed European examples. The most recent National Security Strategy document pointedly eschews any mention of radical Islam. And anti-terrorism czar John O. Brennan flatly denies the existence of a worldwide network of jihadists sharing a common ideology. He has even detected pragmatic tendencies in Hizbullah, on the grounds that its ranks include "lawyers and doctors."
The Pentagon Report on the Fort Hood massacre omitted mention of Dr. Nidal Malik Hasan's radical Islamic beliefs. The report concluded that "religious fundamentalism alone is not a risk factor" for such mass slayings. To which Charles Krauthammer responded, "It is the only risk factor."
Attorney-General Eric Holder was almost comical in repeatedly refusing to acknowledge in congressional testimony that Islamic beliefs might have motivated the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahaad. Perhaps he believes that Shahaad was simply distraught by the foreclosure on his home – it is apparently hard to earn a living while receiving terrorist training in Pakistan.
THE DIVIDING LINE drawn by Newt Gingrich is prominently on display in the current controversy over the proposed Islamic Center adjacent to Ground Zero. As far as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is concerned, tolerance is the only issue: "Everything the United States stands for . . . is tolerance and openness, and I think that's a great message for the world."
That's a lovely sentiment. But Bloomberg fails to recognize that a major strain of Islam does not fit comfortably into the template of a private faith community. From its inception, Islam was a religion of conquest. Moslem conquerors inevitably destroyed the pre-existing houses of worship in conquered territory and built mosques in their place. (Today the same impulse is expressed in efforts to build mega-mosques in major urban centers far away from Moslem population centers.)
Muslms have never lived easily as a minority community. There is no Islamic equivalent of the halachic rule "the [civil] law of the kingdom is the law," and thus no recognition of the legitimacy of any legal system other than Sharia. Islam, in short, lacks vital tools for participation in a tolerant multi-cultural society.
Let's say those behind the proposed Islamic Center shared the 9/11 hijackers view of the Twin Towers as the symbols of the financial center of Zionist-Crusader America. Wouldn't allowing them to build an Islamic Center next to Ground Zero constitute a gratuitous, posthumous victory for the 9/11 hijackers and a desecration of the memories of their more than 3,000 victims?
Peter Beinart, a once serious journalist, currently restyling himself as the conscience of American Jewry, asks: Would white victims of black crime be entitled to prevent the building of a black church nearby or gentiles bilked by Bernie Madoff to object to the building of a synagogue? Well, yes, if the whites were victimized by black supremacists, as part of a race war, and the church was a black separatist one, or if Madoff had acted in the service of some imaginary Elders of Zion, who were on the board of the proposed synagogue.
At the very least, Mayor Bloomberg and the community board that gave approval to the $100 million project might show some curiosity as to who is funding the project, and how it is being marketed to them. Is the proximity to Ground Zero a major selling point?
What is known about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the public face of the proposed project, is not reassuring. Sure, Rauf knows how to push the tolerance button and utter soothing pieties. He even wrote a book entitled What's Right with Islam is Right with America.
But the same book was published abroad under a less reassuring title: A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa in the Heart of America Post 9/11. A non-commerical edition of the book was produced with the assistance of the Interfaith and Community Alliance of the Islamic Society (INSA) and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). Both organizations were unindicted co-conspirators in the U.S. government's successful terrorism prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), as a front for raising $36,000,000 for Hamas. HLF once shared offices and a bank account with INSA. And INSA and IIIT are both listed as affiliated organizations in the afore-mentioned document of the Muslim Brotherhood of North America.
Andrew McCarthy, the senior prosecutor in the first World Trade bombing case and author of the The Grand Jihad, quotes Rauf praising the Moslem Brotherhood's spiritual leader, Yusuf Qaradawi, "as the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today." Qaradawi advocates suicide bombings against Israel and holy war against America. Rauf is himself the son of a prominent figure in the Moslem Brotherhood, the ideology which spawned both Al Qaeda and Hamas, and he has praised the "rejuvenating" spirit of of Muhammad bin Abdul al-Wahhab, the 18th century founder of Wahhibism.
Still convinced that the Islamic Center controversy is only about religious tolerance?