In a new TV commercial, Mitt Romney utters one of television’s new forbidden words. “It’s this century’s nightmare: jihadism. Violent, radical Islamic fundamentalism,” he says. “Their goal is to unite the world under a single Jihadist caliphate. To do that, they must collapse freedom-loving nations like us.”
The forbidden word? Jihadism. Romney says in the commercial that in response to this threat he’ll beef up America’s intelligence services, monitor Al-Qaeda’s calls into the U.S. (a clear reference to a controversial Patriot Act provision), strengthen the armed forces, and stop Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. None of these recommendations, however, are likely to arouse as much controversy as his use of that word. Romney has now grasped the third rail of the public discourse by using a word related to jihad in a clear reference to terrorism, and throwing in “Islamic fundamentalism” on top of that.For we all know and must always avow, you see, that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, and that jihad is a spiritual struggle, a fight within the soul of the believer to conform his life to the will of God. It has nothing whatsoever to do with attacks like 9/11.
American Muslim advocacy groups have made it their business to call any American on the carpet who suggests that global jihad terrorism has anything to do with Islam, and the Left has played along willingly. On the “Hannity and Colmes” show Thursday night, the house liberal, Alan Colmes, took issue with the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, which begins October 22 on over one hundred campuses all over the country. Colmes said that many people found the term Islamo-Fascism “offensive,” and referred to the “inherent racism” of the phrase. Neither Islam nor Fascism is a race, but Colmes’s point was clear: he was objecting to the “equation of Islam with terrorism.” He and those who think like him are likely to look with no less a jaundiced eye on Romney’s “radical Islamic fundamentalism.”
This denial prevails in Europe also. European Union guidelines direct governments not to use the word “Islamic” in conjunction with “terrorism,” and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown likewise directed his cabinet ministers to avoid using the word “Muslim” and “terrorism” together. Such initiatives proceed from the unexamined but nonetheless iron dogma that the terrorists are hijacking Islam, but the most uncomfortable fact they ignore is that Islam and terrorism weren’t equated by black-hearted non-Muslim “Islamophobes,” but by Muslims.
The only reason why anyone is ever tempted to speak about “Islamic terrorism” or “radical Islamic fundamentalism” or “jihadism” in the first place is that Osama bin Laden and other Muslims who share his ideology explain and justify their actions by making copious reference to the Qur’an and the example of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. They even gain recruits among peaceful Muslims by presenting themselves as the exponents of “pure Islam.”
Pretending that this is not happening is not going to make it go away. The only way the Islamic jihadists’ use of Islamic texts to incite violence can be ended is not by ignoring it, but by confronting it. The jihadists will continue to present themselves as the representatives of “pure Islam” until peaceful Muslims begin to oppose them in sufficient numbers — and this will never happen as long as no one is even allowed to point out that there is a problem they, and we, need to deal with in the first place.
Mitt Romney deserves applause. All the presidential candidates should all be discussing the jihad — the ideology of those who would destroy us. They should be doing so openly and freely, and what can and must be done about it — so frequently that the use of the word “jihad” by one of them shouldn’t even be news at all. The fact that six years after 9/11 it is shocking when a presidential candidate uses the word “jihad” is a measure of how all-pervasive fantasy-based analysis has become.
His rivals should follow Romney’s lead in this and begin to face reality.