As the stealth jihad becomes more obvious, my 2008 book Stealth Jihad is starting to look prescient to many who dismissed this threat at the time the book came out. And Newsweek, which famously called for surrender to the jihad back in March 2009, can’t have that. “The Misinformants: What ‘stealth jihad’ doesn’t mean,” by Lisa Miller for Newsweek, August 28:
Here is the latest semantic assault from the party that brought you “Islamo-facism” (circa 2005) and “Axis of Evil” (2002). The term “stealth jihad” is suddenly voguish among politically ambitious right wingers who see President Obama’s approach to terrorism as insufficient. If it sounds like a phrase from a military-fantasy summer blockbuster, that’s on purpose: in its cartoonish bad-guy foreignness, “stealth jihad” attempts to make the terrorist threat broader and thus more nefarious than it already is. The only thing scarier than an invisible, homicidal, suicidal enemy with a taste for world domination is one who’s sneaking up on you. In the words of former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at a July speech at the American Enterprise Institute, “stealth jihad” is an effort “to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Sharia.”
The term wasn’t Gingrich’s invention. It’s the title of a two-year-old book by Robert Spencer, whose hyperventilating antiterror blog, Jihad Watch, is cited and circulated widely on the far right.
“Hyperventilating” is good. You see, folks, there isn’t really any threat. There really isn’t any stealth jihad, or jihad at all. Those who think that there is are just hyperventilating. Of course, among the hyperventilators who imagine an aspiration and effort among Muslims in America to subvert Constitutional freedoms and impose elements of Sharia are these:
“We reject the U.N., reject America, reject all law and order. Don’t lobby Congress or protest because we don’t recognize Congress. The only relationship you should have with America is to topple it. . . . Eventually there will be a Muslim in the White House dictating the laws of Shariah.” — Muhammad Faheed, Muslim Students Association meeting, Queensborough Community College, 2003
“Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.” — CAIR cofounder and longtime Board chairman Omar Ahmad, 1998 (denial noted and full story explained at link)
“I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.” — CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, 1993
“If only Muslims were clever politically, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate.” — prominent American Muslim leader Siraj Wahhaj, 2002
But the recent vicious debate over the proposed community center and mosque near Ground Zero gives Gingrich an excuse to use “stealth jihad” and its variants frequently–not just at the AEI but in an interview with this magazine. (In an essay on the conservative Web site Human Events, he referred instead to “creeping sharia.”) Gingrich’s like-minded peers have seized on the language, too. “Muslim Brotherhood operatives, like [Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the center’s founder and leader] are extremely skilled at obscuring … their true agenda,” said Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Security Policy, on FOX’s Glenn Beck show. “It’s part of the stealth jihad.”
Words matter, and if you say them often enough and with enough authority, they start to sound true–even if they’re not. Abdul Rauf, for instance, has no affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood and is an “operative” (another nefarious word) only in the sense that running a small, progressive interfaith nonprofit is an “operation.”
Actually, on the copyright page of Rauf’s book What’s Right with Islam, it declares: “This edition was made possible through a joint effort of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) and the office of Interfaith and Community Alliance of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Funding for this project was provided by IIIT.” Both IIIT and ISNA are known to be Muslim Brotherhood groups. ISNA is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation jihad terror funding case involving Hamas, which describes itself as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. And Rauf also refuses to denounce Hamas. So maybe he has no affiliation with the Brotherhood, but he hasn’t shunned links with it, either.
As for his “stealth jihad,” it’s virtually impossible to imagine how such an event would–logistically–occur. Would the construction of an Islamic prayer site near Ground Zero inevitably lead American women to wake up one morning and find themselves veiled and confined to their homes? “The term is ever-so-slightly goofy,” says Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California, Berkeley. The paranoia conveyed by “stealth jihad” brings to mind the anticommunist campaigns of Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, Nunberg adds. Just as McCarthyites imagined a communist behind every lamppost, the word “stealth” conflates all Muslims with terrorists. In a stealth campaign you never know who your friends are.
Also, simply put, foreign words freak people out. “Jihad” and “Sharia” reinforce the sense among Americans that Muslims in general have an unfathomable world view. During World War II, formerly obscure words like “hara-kiri” and “kamikaze,” which suggested the “warlike ferocity” of the Japanese, became common parlance, Nunberg says. “There was this sense of being confronted with this hostile, alien culture.” The Japanese were “literally demonized,” he says….
Actually, there is nothing unfathomable about Sharia, or about the imperative to introduce elements of Sharia into American life. And unless and until Muslim groups in America renounce all aspects of Sharia that are at variance with Constitutional principles and freedoms, and do so in deed, not just in word, then to be concerned that they might be acting to bring Sharia here — when that’s exactly what they say they’re doing — is not paranoia or demonization. It is a concern for and defense of the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, equality of rights for women, and other things that Newsweek just might miss once they’re gone.