I get a lot of hate mail, including the occasional message that illuminates some of the ignorance and willful blindness that still envelops much of the public sphere when it comes to Islamic terrorism. Many of the messages get stuck in some of the chief intellectual ruts that Americans all too commonly find it difficult to escape. A few of the general tendencies:
Well, no. Nor am I the only one to receive this strange accusation: Victor Davis Hanson, Paul Marshall, and others who have written about Islam have told me that they have experienced the same thing. Jihadists and their allies routinely assume that anyone willing to stand up against radical Islam and expose the jihadist agenda must be Jewish. This is based on the erroneous idea that the conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims would cease, and the Islamic world would live in peace with the rest of the planet, if only Israel were swept into the sea. Daily news from Nigeria, Thailand, Indonesia, Kashmir, the Philippines, and elsewhere show just how wrong that is.
The leaders of the global jihad have themselves made it quite clear that the jihadist vision is universal. Osama bin Laden, Abu Bakar Bashir, Omar Bakri, and so many others have emphasized that the mujahedin around the world aims to establish Islamic law, Sharia, wherever possible. That indicates that it is directed against every non-Muslim, and will subjugate Christians and others as well as Jews under the discriminatory laws of dhimmitude. (Hindus may fare even worse, as they are not technically “People of the Book,” but pagans, although they have been accorded dhimmi status by Muslim rulers in history.)
He spelled it with that dash every time, serving up a healthy helping of liberal condescension and superiority. But of course, he never addressed the broad Islamic doctrine and legal tradition mandating warfare against unbelievers until they either convert to Islam or submit as inferiors under Islamic rule. This is a constant throughout Islamic history, going all the way back to the Qur’an’s Sura 9:29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”
But the main problem with these hate messages is not their silliness and shallow pseudo-analysis. It’s that they’re ordinary: these ideas are disseminated from far more respectable sources every day.
Whatever their source, they manifest an odd blindness: what if, just for the sake of argument, everyone who speaks out against terror really is Jewish? What if the doctrine of violent jihad really were the vain imagining of a few “bad apples”? And what if the CIA really had created Osama, and Abu Ghraib really were as bad as Saddam’s regime, or worse? Would that make the radical Muslims stop targeting Americans? Would the bombings and beheadings stop? If only it were that easy.