What explains the intellectual dishonesty and myopia about Islamism on the part of so many U.S. government officials?
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Stakelbeck names a galaxy of American Islamic organizations either founded directly by the Muslim Brotherhood or sympathetic to their objective of a global caliphate that would impose sharia, Islamic religious law, on the whole of mankind. But he also illustrates during visits to remote locations, often in the rural South, how well established Islamists have become in the American countryside. The pattern is by now well known: An Islamic group, often funded generously by money from Saudi Arabia, establishes a mosque in the middle of nowhere, then attracts to the neighborhood Muslims, often recent immigrants, from far and wide. Gradually, the character of the locality is altered. Muslims sometimes become a majority of the local population and begin to ask for changes in how life is lived. Sometimes they demand the replacement of American holidays like Labor Day by Muslim calendar holidays. In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for example, county authorities readily gave in to demands that a Muslim cemetery be created near the recently established Islamic center, even though the number of Muslims in the area was still slight.
The sheer dishonesty of many of the pro-Islamist Muslims in the U.S. is breathtaking. Imam Rauf, for example, a prominent Muslim associated with the plan to establish an Islamic center close to Ground Zero in Manhattan, has consistently refused to condemn Hamas, even though that organization is in its own documents hell-bent on destroying America’s close ally Israel. That dishonesty is altogether matched, however, by the obtuseness of U.S. officials who refuse to recognize that Islamism is a political ideology, not just a religion, and that its followers in the U.S. have dangerously hostile political agendas. In one of the most glaring examples of political correctness becoming quite lunatic, Stakelbeck cites the U.S. Army’s official report on Major Nidal Hassan, an American Army officer who gunned down 13 soldiers and civilians at Fort Hood in November 2009. Even though the major had made clear to fellow officers in his medical unit that he believed violent jihad against non-Muslims was justified by the Koran, printed the letters SOA (“soldier of Allah”) on a business card, and even exchanged e-mails with Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born jihadist ultimately killed by a drone strike in Yemen, the official Pentagon report of the murders completely omitted any references to the connection between Hasan and Islamist ideology.
It might, of course, be argued that the U.S. government bends over backward to forestall any possible popular backlash against American Muslims. Yet not only is there absolutely no evidence of such a backlash existing or even starting, but many American Muslims, including Imam Rauf, have testified how many Americans have expressed friendship and support for American Muslims.
WHAT, THEREFORE, EXPLAINS the intellectual dishonesty and myopia about Islamism on the part of so many U.S. government officials? Stakelbeck points out how far up the chain of American military and congressional establishment American Muslims sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood agenda have penetrated. The already mentioned Anwar al-Awlaki, for example, actually conducted a prayer meeting for Muslim staffers on Capitol Hill in 2002. Other senior American Muslims sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood were White House guests during both the George W. Bush and the Obama administrations. Stakelbeck attributes American obtuseness toward the ideology of Islamism not entirely to malice, but to basic American ignorance. How many American officials in any U.S. department or agency, he asks, have ever read the Koran or obtained any basic background about Islamist ideology? How many of them understand that Islam has never been “just” a religion—like Zen Buddhism for example—but has embraced an often triumphalist view of all contending religions and political systems? How many of them even know that Europe was barely saved from Islamic domination when the Ottomans besieged Vienna in 1683 by a brave Polish king, Jan III Sobieski, whom the pope then dubbed the savior of Western European civilization?
With disturbing accuracy, Stakelbeck identifies the great divide between moderate Muslims—those who wish to live without challenging the American constitutional system—and the Islamists as being located in the attitudes toward the existence of Israel. He cites verses from the Koran and the hadith (anecdotes about Mohammed’s life often considered as authoritative as the Koran itself) which are close to Nazi-like in their hostility toward the Jews of the world. If an American Muslim doesn’t accept the validity of Israel’s existence, Stakelbeck observes, it is a dead giveaway that he is almost certainly a Muslim triumphalist and an Islamist.
Stakelbeck’s bold and intelligent reporting makes The Terrorist Next Door an essential source for understanding the Islamist threat to the U.S.—and for comprehending why the U.S. political establishment is so woefully unprepared to meet it.
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