October 21, 2012 Leave a comment
On Wednesday, news broke that a suspect was arrested for plotting to blow up the Federal Reserve in New York. At first, some political junkies (or maybe just Brian Ross) were asking themselves, was it possibly a deranged gold standard libertarian? It didn’t take long to learn it was a 20 year old Muslim man who had come to study from Bangladesh. He identified himself with Al Qaeda.
The way that media and the cultural establishment treat violent Islamic jihad resembles some sort of awkward charades, or maybe musical chairs. Let it be said here not all Muslims are violent or threatening. Neither are all acts of jihad, if the term is to be properly understood. But the relationship between Islam, jihad, and terrorism is another front of America’s culture war that needs work.
It would be nice if our thought leaders–media, politicians, academics–could talk openly about a very real force at war with us, without secretly fearing they’ll have caused some back woods deer hunter to go out and commit a hate crime. Laura Logan, the CBS reporter who was sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square last year, and has now called attention to Al Qaeda’s significant Afghan resurgence, seems to be one exemplar uncowed by political correctness.
But for the most part, what we are getting from the influential echelons amounts to denial. The consequence of a life trajectory totally sheltered by this denial is clear: we get a president and an administration that neglects major world threats, seeing places as friendlier than they really are. Perhaps it’s quick to judge, but this denial seems a direct contributor to the loss of a uniquely skilled ambassador and three dedicated American personnel at Benghazi.
We don’t have to commit ourselves against a sovereign nation, or a people, but we do need to combat the idea that mobilizes terrorists. This is something the liberal, progressive worldview–which informs so deeply the Obama administration–can’t do. The cultural impulses of tolerance and relativism translate into a desire to not offend. Recall the $70,000 the State Department spent in Pakistan denouncing The Innocence of Muslims, or the timely optics of authorities arresting the film’s creator for a less-than-critical parole offense. A misdirected attitude of insecurity undermines our current efforts to confront violent Islamism.
While we have the cultural and political Left at the reigns, we have the worst of both worlds. We’re perceived as cruel imperialists and conquerors, but in reality we lack the benefit of fire in the belly. Rather, we’re queasy and uncertain.
As I heard the news of the man who plotted to bomb the Fed, I thought of an inverse analogy. Five centuries ago, technologically and organizationally superior European explorers set forth, confounding and conquering populations they came across. Now, many see much of the Islamic world as stuck in an earlier time. But it is they who confound the advanced West today. Effete and paralyzed by existential anxiety, the descendants of the conquistadors have become queasy, unable to seriously countenance the brutality that has reliably characterized human existence.
Folks like Mark Steyn make gobs of money selling this gloomy narrative. Nothing wrong with that. Yet, I can’t help but want to turn the page on this tragic story. It happens that there is a leader who’s ready to move forward with a full-throated restoration of our moral authority. He wrote a book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. The timing couldn’t be better; you can vote him president on November 6.