“I admire the Islam [sic]. There are a lot of good principles in it.” — John McCain
This comment is worth holding up for inspection and criticism.
The Republican McCain is still apparently a sentimentalist, because still apparently misinformed, or under-informed, about Islam.
McCain tells us that he admires “the Islam.” And he admires it because there are “a lot of good principles in it.” What are those “good principles”? And is there anything else in Islam — in the Qur’an, the Hadith, the Sira — that might lead non-Muslims to worry, and not just a bit, about the Muslim texts and tenets as they relate to all non-Muslims? Anything at all? And, further, is there anything in the observable behavior of Muslims today, and not just those in Al-Qaeda or a hundred other groups, or ten thousand groupuscules from Pakistan to Great Britain, from Thailand to France, from Algeria to Russia, that should give non-Muslims pause?
The next President should be someone who does not have to learn about Islam, but will have learned already. Neither candidate at this point is satisfactory. Not McCain, with his sentimentalism that echoes that of Bush: the Higher Bomfoggery, in which we are asked to belief that deep beliefs do not matter, that despite what Islam teaches, deep down inside People Are the Same and All Want The Same Things The Whole World Over. It isn’t true.
McCain’s insistent clinging to Tarbaby Iraq bespeaks a miscomprehension of the main instruments of Jihad, and the best use to which Iraq, or rather the sectarian and ethnic fissures in Iraq, which are not to be solved or even mitigated by American intervention, could be put to use or exploited in order to divide and demoralize and thereby weaken the Camp of Islam and Jihad.
Neither Obama, nor McCain, has ever visited the real Muslim societies of the Middle East or Pakistan, and now it is too late for them to learn anything, because every visit for a dignitary is a false visit, a portable Potemkin village, that is immediately inflated on arrival of the prominent visitor. It is a Potemkin village not physical, but intellectual, in the facade thrown up by the local leaders, as they make claims, and pretend this, or feign indignation about that, and keep far away from the texts and tenets that really explain their indignation, their pretenses, their claims.
But it is not too late for the sentimental Tarbaby-Iraq-clinging McCain to start reading, start listening to intelligent expositors (expositors, not espositors), and beginning to do what millions of people in the Western world have done, or have started to do, over the past seven years — which is to learn what is in the Qur’an, Hadith, Sira, to find out what is on Muslim websites, to look at what is the daily fare on Muslim (especially Arab) television, including the sermons of respected clerics. In other words, it is not too late for him to do something as utterly unremarkable as to educate himself.
McCain should know better than to subscribe to the naive assumptions of the kind that George Bush has made, in his own version of the Higher Bomfoggery — that is, the dreamy belief that other peoples’ beliefs don’t really matter, that they don’t really take them seriously, because you, you see, don’t take your beliefs that seriously, or your beliefs are strictly religious in nature, and not also political and geopolitical. Those who fall prey to this fail to recognize that Islam is a unique case, unlike any other of the world’s faiths that we call, faute de mieux, “religions.” It is, rather, a Total Belief-System, and the Five Pillars of worship — shehada, zakat, salat, ramadan, hajj –hardly exhaust Islam. What is central to Islam, not tangential, is the duty of “jihad,” that is, the “struggle” to remove all obstacles, wherever they may be, of whatever sort they may be (the American Constitution, and especially the First Amendment, is a formidable obstacle to Islam), to the spread, and then the necessary dominance, of Islam.
The next President should be someone sufficiently well-versed in Islam to understand that Jihad is not now mainly being conducted by warfare, in the traditional sense. The main weapons of Jihad, especially in Western Europe, are the Money Weapon (which comes mainly from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs) and campaigns of Da’wa. These campaigns are well-financed and carefully targeted at certain populations, those that are socio-economically marginal, such as black prisoners. Such men are already alienated from the circumambient society. The campaigns also target the psychically marginal, including the usual upper-class twits or spoiled and confused brats On Their Spiritual Search, who keep getting on and off the bus, but when they get off the bus at the stop marked “Islam” they are prevented from ever getting back on again.
It would be a great idea for both McCain and Obama — and the one who does it first will win a great many votes, and should — to meet with, to talk to, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Wafa Sultan, and Ibn Warraq. They should find out about Islam not from the espositos and armstrongs, not from the bought-and-paid-for boys or the apologists for Islam. The fiasco in Iraq comes directly from a failure of intelligence: of intelligence about Islam, and about how to weaken the Camp of Islam and Jihad. (See my article “The Failure in Iraq Is A Failure Of Intelligence.”) The next president cannot do either of two things. He cannot squander the lives of men, and money, and materiel, and morale, in any more acts of sentimental messianism, as the fiasco in Iraq has been. And he cannot, even though he should immediately withdraw from Iraq, ignore the real threat of Islam because of the unhappy and wrong-headed undertaking in Iraq, but must more cunningly resurrect a NATO-like alliance that will again harness the power, and the intelligence — in every sense — of those most aware of the civilizational legacy they inherited and are morally obligated to defend.
McCain seems less willing to grasp reality, or to supplant the false reality supplied by the Bush Administration with the true reality of Iraq as presenting, on a platter, sectarian and ethnic fissures that it would be foolish to ignore, foolish not to recognize and exploit in furtherance of our goal, which after all should not be lost sight of: to weaken the Camp of Islam and Jihad everywhere in the world. No more invasions of this nature are needed. Rapid attacks on military targets, such as a nuclear project, of course. Rapid seizure of easily-seized territories whose populations are either non-Muslims or non-Arab Muslims, both suffering from genocidal attacks by Arab Muslims — as in the southern Sudan, as in Darfur — of course. That not only can be done, but should be done, simultaneously with a withdrawal from Iraq, to make sure that nobody gets the wrong, and everybody gets the right, idea.
Is McCain up to it?
So far, it doesn’t look good.
Obama and McCain have a great responsibility. They are asking us to trust them, to trust them with the adequate protection of the West, and indeed of the entire Infidel world, against the forces of Jihad, and against the many, and varied, instruments of Jihad — including what Robert Spencer has called “the Stealth Jihad.”
Yet neither has given any signs that he has been studying the texts, the tenets, the attitudes, the true atmospherics of Islam — not what smiling Kenyan relatives, not what childhood companions, making faces and acting up in class, tell you.
We have a right, we voters, to demand that they do. They can start with the texts, and a meeting, or two, or five, with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Ibn Warraq. I’ve met all three. They won’t bite. They’re articulate, intelligent, humorous, wonderful. What more could a candidate ask for, surrounded as he is by the dullards of official politics and fund-raising and all the rest of it?
Good God, come to think of it, what more could anyone ask for, then to spend time with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and Ibn Warraq?