PBS’s Tavis Smiley recently claimed that “every single day in this country” Christians commit terrorist acts. Interviewing the heroic ex-Muslim freedom fighter Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Smiley repeated common leftist dogmas about how Christian terrorists are more numerous and violent than Muslim terrorists, and have committed more terrorist acts inside the U.S. than Muslims have. Smiley’s views are silly, but they’re also ultimately misleading and dangerous, as they divert attention from the genuine threat from Islamic jihadists and, by sapping our civilizational self-confidence, weaken our ability and will to resist those jihadists.
On the show, Hirsi Ali was speaking about Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Islamic jihadist and U.S. Army psychologist who, shouting “Allahu akbar,” murdered 13 people at Fort Hood last November; and about Faisal Shahzad, the jihadist with ties to the Pakistani Taliban, who attempted to set off a car bomb in Times Square just weeks ago. “Somehow,” said Hirsi Ali, “the idea got into their minds that to kill other people is a great thing to do and that they would be rewarded in the hereafter.”
Actually, there is no mystery about how they got this idea. The Koran guarantees Paradise to those who “kill and are killed” for Allah (9:111). Recruiters for suicide bombings the world over use this verse to promise Muslims troubled by a guilty conscience that they can be free of fears of hell if they kill some infidels and die in the process. But instead of asking Hirsi Ali to elucidate the motivations of such people, Smiley played the moral equivalence card, asserting: “Christians do that every single day in this country.”
Hirsi Ali, an atheist, but realistic and clear-eyed enough not to fall for Smiley’s moral-equivalence con job, was incredulous, and asked Smiley: “Do they blow people up?”
Smiley plowed doggedly ahead into Rosie (“Radical Christianity is just as dangerous as radical Islam”) O’Donnell fantasyland: “Yes. Oh, Christians, every day, people walk into post offices, they walk into schools, that’s what Columbine is — I could do this all day long. There are so many more examples of Christians — and I happen to be a Christian. That’s back to this notion of your idealizing Christianity in my mind, to my read. There are so many more examples, Ayaan, of Christians who do that than you could ever give me examples of Muslims who have done that inside this country, where you live and work.”
Smiley, like so many others, is ignorant of or indifferent to the key distinction here: that neither the Columbine killers nor any other mass murderer that he could invoke, even if they come from a Christian background, were motivated to kill by Christian texts and teachings. Islamic jihadists, in contrast, invoke Islamic texts and teachings both to justify their actions and make recruits among peaceful Muslims. What’s more, while Islamic authorities worldwide have condemned “terrorism,” they have generally done so in wordings so full of loopholes as to amount to no condemnation at all. For example, the Fiqh Council of North America, an assembly of top Islamic scholars, condemned attacks on “innocent civilians.”
That sounds great until you realize that it is common in Islamic theology to condemn all non-Muslims as guilty for their rejection of the Koran and Muhammad. Islamic clerics have said openly that no non-Muslim is innocent. So a condemnation of the killing of “innocent civilians” does nothing to deter jihadists from killing non-Muslims.
Tavis Smiley should know this. He should be telling his audience this, so they can understand what we’re up against. But if he dropped his witless moral equivalence and started telling the truth about jihad, he wouldn’t be invited to the best parties – and we can’t have that, now, can we?