Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
The left aided Islamic terrorists most not with street protests, but by embedding counterintuitive narratives into the framework of counterterrorism. These narratives turned reality on its head.
In counterterrorism, counterintuitive narratives transformed inaction into a virtue.
One of the most pervasive myths was that Islamic terrorists actually wanted us to fight them and that we could only defeat them by ignoring them. The irrationality of the myth that terrorists wanted us to bomb and kill them was exceeded only by its persistence among experts and political officials.
Popularly known as “Playing into their hands”, the goal of this counterintuitive narrative was to make the ostrich approach appear prudent and masterful while flipping around patriotism by accusing national security hawks of playing into the hands of the terrorists by killing them.
Only the appeasers had the secret to defeating Islamic terrorism while the patriots were truly traitors.
Trump faced repeated accusation from Hillary and her proxies that he was playing into the hands of ISIS with calls to get tough on Islamic terrorism. And you can expect the smear that he’s playing into the hands of the terrorists by bombing and killing them to recur throughout his administration.
But the myth has been shredded by James E. Mitchell's book, “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America.” As the man who helped the CIA break terrorists, Mitchell had written the “book” on effective methods for fighting Islamic terror. And now he actually wrote the book on what the terrorists really wanted and fear.
And no, they didn’t want to be bombed. We weren’t “playing into their hands” by killing them or by making it harder for them to come to America. It was the left that was playing into Al Qaeda’s hands.
And that still is.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, revealed that Al Qaeda shared the leftist panic and disaster over Bush’s “cowboy” approach to fighting terrorists. The United States had backed down from Islamic terrorists so many times that they had come to take our defeatism for granted. Al Qaeda didn’t have a masterful plan to lure us into Afghanistan, as the left liked to insist, instead it expected President Bush to follow in Clinton’s footsteps by delivering an empty speech and then writing it off as a law enforcement problem. Much as Obama had done with Benghazi.
It wasn’t expecting the roar of jets over Kandahar.
“How was I supposed to know that cowboy George Bush would announce he wanted us ‘dead or alive’ and then invade Afghanistan to hunt us down?’’ Khalid Sheikh Mohammed whined.
“KSM explained that if the United States had treated 9/11 like a law enforcement matter, he would have had time to launch a second wave of attacks”, but instead Al Qaeda and its plans for the next wave of attacks were crushed “by the ferocity and swiftness of George W. Bush’s response.”
Like Saddam’s WMDs, the left has made great sport of the lack of major follow-up attacks by Al Qaeda. But Al Qaeda couldn’t follow up because it was under too much pressure. Unsurprisingly, killing terrorists actually worked. Unknown numbers of American lives were saved because President Bush believed that killing terrorists was more effective than appeasing them.
The left had always insisted on treating 9/11 as a law enforcement matter. That is why Obama aggressively pushed to move Islamic terrorists into criminal courts. Even his Osama bin Laden bid was only an effort to capture the top Al Qaeda terrorist so that he could put him on trial in a criminal court.
“My belief was if we had captured him, that I would be in a pretty strong position, politically, here, to argue that displaying due process and rule of law would be our best weapon against al-Qaeda,” Obama had argued, showcasing a typical counterintuitive narrative myth.
Osama’s death proved to be a lucky political break for Obama, but he hadn’t been trying to fight terror. Instead he was working to appease it.
Various counterintuitive narratives were invoked in defense of this bad policy, including the “Playing into their hands” myth. But now we know that it was leftists who were playing into Al Qaeda’s hands.
The mastermind of 9/11 wanted us to send the cops after Al Qaeda. He wasn’t looking to dance with an A-10. And had Bill Clinton turned over the White House to Al Gore instead of George W. Bush, 9/11 would have been far more devastating as the opening round of a series of major Islamic terror attacks.
Another great counterintuitive myth is that Islamic immigration, which provides fertile recruiting ground for foreign terror groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS to pursue their Jihad on America using operatives already embedded in the country, is actually the best way to fight Islamic terrorism.
When Trump called for a ban on Muslim migration, counterintuitive narratives were deployed that accused him, once again, of playing into the hands of ISIS and Al Qaeda. Islamic immigration, the counterintuitive myth claimed, disproved the claims of Islamic terrorists about America. The more Muslim migrants we took in, the more Muslims would come to love us and reject Islamic terrorism.
But Khalid Sheikh Mohammed revealed that he did not oppose Islamic immigration. He viewed it as the certain way for Muslims to defeat America and the free world. Islamic terrorism was a short range gamble. The “moonshot” of Islamic conquest wasn’t terrorism, it was Muslim migration to the West.
And even in the short term, Islamic terror was still enabled by Islamic immigration.
"Jihadi-minded brothers would immigrate into the United States” and “wrap themselves in America’s rights and laws’ while continuing their attacks,” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed admitted.
While the counterintuitive narrative deeply embedded in CVE insists that Islamist “civil rights” groups like CAIR are our best “partners” in fighting Islamic terrorism and that extending every possible legal protection to Islamic terrorists will help discredit them, Mohammed saw Islamic migration and the whole Islamist civil rights scam enabled by the radicals at the ACLU and elsewhere, as cover for Islamic terrorism.
All of this is obvious to any thinking person who possesses enough common sense to come out of the rain. So why did so many important people fall for the counterintuitive myths of counterterrorism?
The strange seductiveness of counterintuitive narratives lies in their rejection of common sense solutions. Instead they follow the standard leftist pattern of descending into the matrix of a logically illogical system which is internally consistent, but makes no sense when applied to the real world.
Counterintuitive narratives make elites and experts feel smart for appearing to transcend common sense to grasp deeper insights into human nature and how the world works. Such gnostic revelations are a big part of the left’s appeal, particularly to college students, but these mythologies are a myth.
The left loves to play with language, but word games don’t change reality. They just seduce those who consider themselves bright into believing that their cleverness is more meaningful than reality.
But eventually the ivory towers fall, the sand castles are washed away by the tide and the lies die.
Common sense was always right. Killing terrorists works. Appeasing them doesn’t. Terrorists are broken through pressure, not milk and cookies. Trump’s proposals work. Those of the left only enable terrorism.
“America will expose her neck for us to slaughter,” Mohammed predicted. And it did.
But just as the mastermind of September 11 had not anticipated what President Bush would do, Islamic terrorists never saw President Trump coming.