As for the billboards, only one thing will work. Not appeals to common sense, intelligence, morality, the truth. Not stuff like that. If the company that owns the billboard believes it will suffer, not necessarily through its billboard rental business, but in other ways, in other businesses it may own, it may begin to change its behavior. It would also help if at the same time it calculates that its losses will outweigh any “gain” from not offending Muslims and Arabs, including those with that oil wealth successive American governments have not done a thing to diminish. (Pleading as Bush did for lower prices merely causes them to believe that we believe that they hold all the cards, when of course if things were understood aright, it is we who hold them, beginning with the ability to make oil just as expensive, through taxation, as we wish, and thereby to diminish demand, and ending with their complete reliance on the Western world for medical care, education, advanced technology, weaponry, the defense of their assorted “royal” families, and so on.)
Make the owner aware that there will be consequences. Economic consequences, severe ones.
And as for the conference, the phrase “war on terror” is terrible, but the phrase “Islamist terrorism” also presents problems. For it reinforces the idea that it is only “violent Jihad,” Jihad conducted through terrorism (which is seen by many Muslims not as “terrorism” at all, but as “qitaal” or combat), that matters.
Would it not be better, be more effective, to speak about “Jihad And Its Instruments”? And a mild-mannered clark-kentish title like that could hardly be turned away. One wants to force into what is sometimes called the public “debate” or “discussion” — or that phrase favored by those earnest NPR talk-show hosts, the “conversation” or, still worse, the “national conversation” — such words as “Hadith” and “Sira.” One would thereby have a chance to make clear that the Qur’an is not the only thing to worry about, for the components of the Sunnah are just as influential, and possibly even more disturbing, than the Qur’an itself (which is disturbing enough). And one wants the word “dhimmi” to be used, repeatedly, by all those who discuss Islam, because the word itself raises the issue of Muslim treatment of non-Muslims under the Holy Law of Islam (the Shari’a) and that must not be lost sight of even for one moment.
The attempt must be made to force the right language, the language of the truth, rather than the language of lies and nonsense, to win the field. It can be done.
Meanwhile, the Arabs and Muslims work, constantly, full-time, without cease, to make sure that their phrases, their language, distorts reality. In some cases, they appear to have won, but that victory can be, and is being, undone. Take the phrase “Palestinian people,” invented in the 1960s. The word “Palestinians” and the invention of the “Palestinian people” was a deliberate construct. It did not begin right away. It was not the term used, ever since there were Arabs in what Western Christendom called “Palestine.” The local Arabs never used the phrase until after the defeat in the Six-Day War. And then, having jettisoned Shukairy a few years before, the Arabs collectively decided, with a little help from public-relations advisers in the West, to thoroughly redo their presentation. Yet this isn’t a permanent victory; it can be reversed.
Take the word “Jihad” and the attempt — by now almost abandoned because it invited ridicule and made non-Muslims much more wary — to convince us that the main meaning of “Jihad” is this “inner spiritual struggle” we hear so much about, and see so little evidence of.
The next conference should not be about “Terrorism,” “Islamist” or otherwise. Instead, it should be all about the “instruments of Jihad.” And those instruments include, but are not limited to, terrorism. Subjects of talks should include, but not be limited to, these: “The Money Weapon, and How To Diminish It.” “Campaigns of Da’wa In The West, And How To Counter Them.” “Demographic Conquest by Muslims, and How To Halt, and Even Reverse It.”
Give the conference in New York.
Give a European version of the same conference in London, or Brussels, or Paris.