The real lesson of Trump's retweet of Britain First videos.
Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
President Trump last week retweeted some videos posted by England’s Britain First party, and the usual suspects fell all over themselves condemning the president in an orgy of mass virtue-signaling. The usual question-begging epithets flew thick and fast: “racist,” “fascist,” “hateful,” “bigotry,” Islamophobic,” “extremist,” “far-right,” all the dull clichés trotted out to mask the chronic appeasement of Islamic jihad on the part of bipartisan internationalists.
The uproar over Trump’s actions confirms that the willful blindness of most Western leaders over the reality of Islamic violence continues to weaken our response to the jihadist threat.
The three videos that Trump retweeted showed examples of Muslim confessional intolerance and violence ubiquitous for fourteen centuries: “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” Sadly, such incidents have become dog-bites-man stories, and similarly predictable are the responses to them. All were marked by the Western preemptive cringe typical of those who refuse to confront reality.
Consider the American politicians, especially Republican NeverTrumpers, who could not resist taking a potshot at the president and brandishing their moral superiority. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham claimed that Trump was “legitimizing religious bigotry” by retweeting the videos. He then added, “We need Muslim allies in the war on terror. I can only imagine how some of our Muslim allies must feel when the president gives legitimacy to it.”
How exactly is showing factual incidents of violence “legitimizing religious bigotry”? So the Muslim who beat up the boy on crutches was not a migrant, but a Dutch citizen. The point remains: Islam views violence against infidels as divinely sanctioned, thus legitimizing any violence. Do we have to repeat for the Nth time the Koranic commands, those uncreated words of Allah, like “slay the idolaters wherever you find them,” “do not take the Jews and Christians as friends,” “fight those who do not believe in Allah,” “fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness,” or “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore, strike off their heads”? Are any of the incidents in the videos––and in those circulated by ISIS and other jihadist groups–– incompatible with these commands? Are any of them different from the thousands and thousands of similar lethal actions––over 32,000 just since 9/11–– that we have witnessed for nearly two decades, and that have marked the history of Islam from its beginnings in the 7th century, when Mohammed beheaded the 500 Jewish men of the Banu Qurayza?
As for alienating our “Muslim allies in the war on terror,” that bit of ritually chanted received wisdom started in the George W. Bush administration right after the 9/11 attacks, accompanied by flattering descriptions of Islam as a “religion of peace.” Islam’s “teachings,” Bush said, “are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.” What, then, should we make of the most revered Shi’a scholar of Islamic doctrine, the Ayatollah Khomeini, who said, “Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers.” Do we really believe that the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the heartland of Shi’a orthodoxy and the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror, “blasphemes the name of Allah”?
The Obama administration doubled-down on this misplaced flattery, proscribing any mention of jihad or Islamic doctrines of violence in government communications, all in order to encourage those imagined legions of “moderate Muslims” who would join us against their fellow Muslims if only we talked nice about their faith. Obama’s assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John Brennan, scolded us not to call the terrorists “jihadists,” for doing so “risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve.” Meanwhile every modern jihadist from Sayyid Qutb to Khomeini to bin Laden to ISIS to scholars trained at Al Azhar university (the ancient center of Sunni Islamic scholarship) like Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Nasr, who has said, “The Islamic State is a byproduct of Al Azhar’s programs” –– have found in the Koran and Hadith all the legitimacy they need for violence against infidels. To think that our hurtful insensitivity carries more weight than venerable religious doctrines is criminal stupidity.
No surprise, then, that Graham’s stale received wisdom about Trump’s retweets was reprised by Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who said of Trump’s retweeting of the videos, “It has all kinds of ripple effects, both in terms of perhaps inciting or encouraging anti-Muslim violence, and as well causes, I think, our friends and allies around the world to wonder about the judgment of the president of the United States.” Yes, this is the same James Clapper who in 2011 told Congress, “The term Muslim Brotherhood is an umbrella term for a variety of movements. In the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.” That he is still more worried about the non-existent “backlash” of violence against Muslims rather than the persistent facts of violence against non-Muslims bespeaks a willful ignorance and enslavement to received wisdom dangerous in a Director of National Intelligence.
One can figure out the dubious rationale behind all these apologetics: peaceful, pious Muslims are angered by the “extremists” who have “hijacked” Islam in order to commit murder and mayhem in its name. We must get these Muslims on our side both to help us root out terrorists, and to build a critical mass of condemnation and ostracism that will marginalize and ultimately discredit them. Hence we must refrain from speaking the obvious truth about Islam and its doctrines so that we do not alienate these potential allies.
Two decades on, the failure of this tactic has become obvious. The continuing success of ISIS in inspiring terrorist attacks in Europe, America, Egypt, North Africa, Yemen, and Nigeria suggests it doesn’t work, especially in Europe, where the perpetrators of terrorist violence have been sheltered in Muslim communities, and recruited in mosques and “Islamic centers.” Appeasing Iran by letting it continue to develop nuclear weapons has only emboldened that jihadist regime and facilitated its growing influence in the region. Even more telling, Russia’s long history of killing Muslims and using scorched-earth tactics on its own jihadists hasn’t kept Iran from partnering with Putin in Syria and Iraq. Nor has China’s oppression of 10 million Muslim Uighurs in its western provinces sparked widespread terrorist attacks in China in retribution for this assault on the faithful. And we have yet to see large scale public protests against the so-called “hijackers of Islam” after a terrorist attack. The few brave voices of Muslims who do speak out are lost in an ocean of indifference or tacit support on the part of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.
If two decades of flattering lies about Islam on the part of Westerners hasn’t worked, maybe discarding these politically correct pieties should be given a try. It’s no coincidence that our Middle East allies like Saudi Arabia aren’t “worrying” about Trump, but are delighted with his tough talk about Iran and jihadism, just as Eastern European dissidents cheered the same Ronald Reagan whom our leftists and Democrats caricatured as a trigger-happy war monger. Does anyone think that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia has promised to “pursue terrorism until it is eradicated completely” because he is “worrying” about Trump’s “judgment”?
Despite what the State Department, RINOs, and Dems think, the rest of the world’s leaders outside Europe do not comprise snowflakes anxiously worrying about hurting the feelings of their rivals and enemies who have sworn to destroy them. They know that strong deeds, not soothing words, are necessary for confronting terrorism, and they’re delighted finally to see a leader of the world’s greatest power who calls a jihadist spade a spade, and who understands the first precept of any conflict––know your enemy.