Explaining Islam to the Islamists

Liberal elites seem to relish trying to explain the meaning of belief systems to their most passionate adherents. Cafeteria Catholics like Nancy Pelosi has lectured Catholics and evangelicals, telling them that immigration amnesty is the “manifestation of our living the Gospels,” but that God gave women “free will” to abort unwanted children.

Leftists who spent the 1960s burning their draft cards and defaming American troops as baby killers lecture today’s soldiers that real patriotism means deserting the military and paying higher taxes.

And so it is with radical Islam. After each terrorist attack carried out in the name of Islam, liberal elites rush to assure the nation that Islam is a religion of peace and that the Koran promotes peace not violence.

John Brennan, the Obama Administration’s top counter-terrorism advisor, recently claimed that the word “jihad” has nothing to do with terrorism or holy war. Instead, he instructed, “jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community.”

But the Left has had a difficult time convincing Christians that abortion is a Gospel value and that real patriots root for military defeat. Similarly, liberal elites’ denial that terrorism has anything to do with Islam is looking increasingly absurd. Two recent events underscore the Left’s deepening disconnect.

Last week I participated in a special edition of ABC’s program “This Week” with Christiane Amanpour. The show was billed as a townhall discussion about Islam in America. The audience was stocked with people sympathetic to the Islam-is-under-assault narrative.

I knew how things would go as soon as Daisy Khan, wife of the would-be Ground Zero mosque imam, entered the stage, and the audience broke out in a raucous cheer. When Franklin Graham and I walked in, we were greeted with stony silence.

The audience was clearly not a random sample of residents of New York, a city with the world’s second-largest Jewish population and where, according to polls, 70% of residents oppose the Ground Zero mosque.

Representing Islam were three women (two Muslims and a New York leftist), who predictably argued that the vast majority of Muslims are moderate and that American conservatives have created a climate of fear and hatred of Islam. All through the evening, “moderator” Amanpour sided with the Islamist apologists.

To its credit, ABC did invite one devout follower of Mohammed to join the discussion. Imam Anjem Choudary appeared via satellite, and he did a better job of explaining the reality of radical Islam in a two-minute rant than the rest of the panel did in two hours of arguing.

He called the panel of “moderate” Muslims “false Muslims,” saying of Khan, “This lady in your studio, she should be covering with the hijab. She’s obviously not practicing.”

Then Choudary contradicted the assurances of the panel’s “moderates” by saying, “If you’re a Muslim, you submit to the Sharia. We do believe, as Muslims, the East and the West will one day be governed by the Sharia. Indeed, we believe that one day, the flag of Islam will fly over the White House.”

Choudary’s “This Week” performance underscored that to truly understand the link of Islam to terror one needs to pay attention to its most ardent followers.

Last Tuesday, Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to six consecutive life terms in prison for attempting to detonate a bomb in Times Square. In his remarks before the court, Shahzad was full of bluster, boasting about what he and his fellow jihadists have in store for Americans, promising that “the defeat of [the] U.S. is imminent.”

“Brace yourselves,” he warned, “because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me only a first droplet of the flood that will follow me.” Shahzad made it clear that his Muslim faith was what inspired him to terrorism. And he warned that our only hope of avoiding death was to convert to his faith.

But Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum went out of her way to explain to Shahzad that she knew his religion better than he did. 

According to the New York Times, the judge, “repeatedly interrupted the defendant … to spar with him over his interpretation of the Koran, his invocation of a Muslim warrior in the Crusades and, above all, the relevance of any of it to the life sentence that hung over him like the dozen United States deputy marshals who guarded the prisoner in court.”

At one point, according to the Times, Shahzad said, “‘Blessed be’ Osama bin Laden, ‘who will be known as no less than Saladin of the 21st-century crusade, and blessed be those who give him asylum.’” The article continued:

“The judge stopped him again. ‘How much do you know about Saladin, as you called him?’
“He is known in the Middle East as Salahuddin al-Ayubi, but commonly known in the West as Saladin, the Muslim leader who took Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187. He is remembered in biographies as being a lover of peace who waged war reluctantly.

“‘He didn’t want to kill people,’ the judge told the defendant. ‘He liberated,’ Mr. Shahzad continued. ‘He was a very moderate man,’ Judge Cedarbaum said.”

Cedarbaum then admonished Shahzad to “spend some of the time in prison thinking carefully about whether the Koran wants you to kill lots of people.”

Shahzad will have plenty of time to re-read what I presume is his already well-thumbed Koran. But I suspect his defiance won’t soften. As he told the judge, “If I am given a thousand lives, I will sacrifice them all for the sake of Allah, fighting this cause, defending our lands, making the word of Allah supreme over any religion or system.”

The subtitle of the ABC’s “This Week” program was “Should Americans fear Islam?” We shouldn’t fear radical Islam, but rather defeat it. We should fear liberal elites whose self-deception about the true meaning of Islam seems to deepen with each Islam-inspired terrorist act.