Last Saturday night, one of the guests on Greg Gutfeld’s evening show on Fox News was a former Marine staff sergeant, bomb technician Johnny “Joey” Jones, who lost his legs when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan in 2010. He brought to mind a young Jimmy Stewart: winsome, modest, good-spirited, and even able to crack jokes about his missing limbs. Watching him, I thought: here is a young man who was handicapped for life because, in the wake of 9/11, he was one of those courageous Americans who agreed to risk their lives in foreign lands fighting their nation’s enemy.
But what is that enemy? The unofficial name given to the struggle by the White House under George W. Bush – the War on Terror – avoided answering that question. So, for that matter, did the official name, Operation Enduring Freedom. From the very beginning, in fact, the exact nature of the whole enterprise was swathed in a fog of euphemism and evasion. The men who flew those planes into the Twin Towers and Pentagon were devout Muslims, obeying their religion’s holy book by slaughtering infidels en masse. The Taliban leaders in Afghanistan were also devout Muslims, ruling that nation in strict accordance with sharia law. And yet days after 9/11, even as Bush was planning the Afghanistan campaign, he told the American people that “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.”
In the eighteen years since, the Western political and media establishment have continued to echo that lie. Jihadists have struck Bali, Madrid, Beslan, London, Mumbai, Fort Hood, Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels, Orlando, Nice, Manchester, Barcelona, and New York again – just to name a few of the deadlier and more high-profile incidents. Yet, perversely, the lie about Islam is stronger than ever. Throughout the West, schoolchildren and college students alike have been fed a picture of Islam that’s pure propaganda. Yes, one has the impression that many people are more aware of the reality of Islam than they used to be – but one also has the impression that they feel more cowed than ever into keeping quiet about it.
It‘s certainly harder now to publish a frank book about Islam than it was, say, a decade ago. Prominent individuals who openly criticized the religion a few years back now either stay mum or use the word “Islamism,” which implies that jihadists are motivated by something other than Islam itself. In Britain and elsewhere, the authorities increasingly harass, and even prosecute, citizens for sharing straightforward facts about Islam on social media. While the kind of people Hillary Clinton called “deplorables” support sensible policies, such as Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban,” that are designed to protect them from jihad (whether of the violent or “stealth” variety), cultural elites have learned to reflexively condemn such policies as “Islamophobic.” Countless ordinary Brits cheer Tommy Robinson, but has any famous person – any “respectable” figure – in that country dared to stand up for him in the face of official persecution?
Saturday before last, Judge Jeanine Pirro, whose weekly hour on Fox News airs immediately before Gutfeld’s, opened her show with a powerful editorial about the pathetic failure of the House of Representatives to properly chastise freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her repeated expressions of anti-Semitism. In the course of her editorial, Pirro made a thoroughly legitimate point: “Omar wears a hijab, which according to the Koran 33:59 tells women to cover so that they don’t get molested. Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?”
It was a perfectly fair question, based on an understanding of Islam that’s presumably not shared by the non-Muslim residents of Minnesota’s fifth district who voted for Omar last November – or, for that matter, by the Michiganders who elected Omar’s fellow Muslim Rashida Tlaib. A hijab is, quite simply, a declaration of adherence to sharia law, and sharia law is antithetical to the Constitution. This is the kind of simple (if uncomfortable) fact about which American leaders, journalists, and educators should have been honest starting on September 11, 2001. But in 2019 it’s too much truth for Fox News, which was quick to publicly censure Pirro for her statement. I criticized the network for this cowardly act. So did a number of others. But most commentators gave Fox a thumbs-up.
I assumed that Fox’s public chiding of Pirro would be the end of it; but no, this past Saturday there was no Justice with Judge Jeanine. According to reports, she’d been suspended. For how long? Unclear. President Trump wasn’t happy. “Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro,” he tweeted, advising the bosses at Fox to “Stop working soooo hard on being politically correct.” Katie Hopkins tweeted: “Where is the network’s loyalty? She is the token sacrifice to placate the mob.”
What’s really being sacrificed, of course, isn’t just Judge Jeanine. What’s being sacrificed is the truth about Islam itself. It’s the stubborn refusal of the Western establishment to acknowledge this truth that has led to the absurd and, yes, tragic situation in which we now find ourselves: namely, that while the armed forces of the U.S. and its allies have been combating jihadists in Afghanistan for over seventeen years and in Iraq for sixteen years, resulting in a massive loss of life and treasure, we’ve continued to allow barely vetted Muslims to immigrate into our own countries, permitted mosques to proliferate with little or no official oversight of what’s being preached in them, voted more and more Muslims into positions of power, and shrugged indifferently while cities like Dearborn and Hamtramck turned into Muslim strongholds.
Johnny Jones lost his legs fighting adherents of the same ideology to which Ilhan Omar subscribes and that Judge Jeanine was suspended for criticizing. None of it makes any sense: if you’re going to keep the floodgates open to them at home, why send young men into battle against them abroad? Why kill them in southern Asia and vote them into Congress in the U.S.? Why wage endless wars while punishing those who correctly name the enemy? If Western leaders had responded to 9/11 in a more sensible and consistent way, we wouldn’t have been in Afghanistan in 2010, Johnny Jones would still have his legs, Judge Jeanine would’ve been on TV last Saturday, and Ilhan Omar, who moved to America in 1995, might or might not still be living in the country, but she sure as hell wouldn’t be in Congress.
There’s no way to rewrite the past. But we can’t keep marching mindlessly down this dangerous road.