The mass murder in San Bernardino, California—a terrorist attack the most prudent of us expected and saw coming—is proof that, no matter where Islam takes root, no matter how moderate and benign the perpetrators of these mass murders previously projected themselves, there remains for every Muslim a jumping off point: the option of jihad. As Samuel Huntington pointed out, “In Islam, God is Caesar.” So, when the state commands a Muslim to go to war, that is one thing, but when the Muslim perceives that his god has commanded him to go to war, that is quite another. The jihadist Muslim will feel no hesitation about refusing to obey the commands of the state to go to war, especially if that state is a Western democracy. But should his god intimate to the same Muslim that he (or she) should go to war, even against the state to which he has sworn allegiance, and especially if that state is a Western democracy, the compunction he may feel is merely in regards to the time he expends preparing to obey his god and subsequently, at the behest of that god, murdering his neighbour.
Efraim Halevy, former Director of the Mossad, has written in Man in the Shadows: “It should be recognized that the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist threat will not evaporate into thin air under the onslaught of the combined efforts of the Western world. Primarily, the battle is an integral struggle within Islam. The world at large cannot pretend to move in and effect a result. So, what is left for us to do? Should we just sit on the sidelines and await the outcome of the battle royal?” If it is true that the “combined efforts of the Western world” cannot “effect a result” entirely, must we therefore await the outcome of what should be “an internal struggle within Islam”? My problem with Halevy’s prescription is that I perceive no internal struggle happening within Islam, at least not intense enough to eradicate the intolerance the Quran promotes or the fundamentalism that same intolerance can inspire in the mind of even a “Westernized” Muslim.
“All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance,” wrote Edward Gibbon. This rule applies to Islam and the Muslim as much as to all religions and religious. The vile manifestations produced by a contumacious lethargy, which is today stultifying the Islamic world and the reputation of Islam, are proof of this fact. The problem with fundamentalists like those of ISIS and the Taliban is that they deem the journey backward into Islam’s imperial past as glorious and the moderate Muslim’s journey into modernity as shameful. And the danger to all Muslims is that the tenets of their faith can be constructed to justify both paths. The imperialistic and expansionist goals of Islam are just as construable as are the moderate and modernistic goals of the not so distinct reform movement within Islam.
Walid Phares opines in The Coming Revolution: “Western-based religious reformers seem to be in the majority of dissidents at this stage, particularly those focusing on reforming religion or, more precisely, reinterpreting the texts in a manner that would marginalize the jihadists and open the path for democracy and pluralism.” This was back in 2010, and since then, I’m sorry to say, nothing has transpired—not war or peace—in that part of the world where Islam is preponderant that would indicate any coordinated initiative to “marginalize the jihadists and open the path for democracy and pluralism.” We may have religious reformers thicker than thieves at a fair here in the West, but the fact that such reformers remain an essentially silent minority within the sphere of a preponderant Islam should inform the most reasonable among us of why Islam and Western style democracy is, and always will be, a bad mix.
The sheep become inured to the slaughter, as the saying goes. We have become too accustomed to hearing and reading about Islamic terrorism. Mark Steyn remonstrated not so long ago, “I’m Islamed out. I’m tired of Islam 24/7, at Colorado colleges, Marseilles synagogues, Sydney coffee shops, day after day after day. The west cannot win this thing with a schizophrenic strategy of targeting things and people but not targeting the ideology, of intervening ineffectually overseas and not intervening at all when it comes to the remorseless Islamization and self-segregation of large segments of their own countries.” I feel the same way. I do not believe, as does Efraim Halevy, that “…much more creativity and originality must be sought and ultimately put to good use.” You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. And you cannot present Western style democracy as a bountiful gift to those who perceive it as nothing other than a contaminating imposition.
In her novel The Covenant, a book she dedicated to “all victims of terror, and those who loved them,” Naomi Ragan writes, “People didn’t seem outraged or even surprised anymore, just kind of weary and dumbfounded. And even journalists pretended to no longer be able to distinguish right from wrong, bending over backward to see the murderer’s point of view. Homicide seemed almost a lifestyle choice these days. Like being gay or vegetarian, it had earned a certain respect, even glamour, at least among media types who seemed eager to adopt the terrorists’ own incredibly self-serving and immoral self-image as martyrs and heroes.” This is where we are. This is what we have become. And for whose sake are we now “weary and dumbfounded”? For the sake of a perpetually malefic religion, and only because Western journalists feel so compelled by an abstract and sophisticated morality that they must equate the religion of Islam with Judaism and Christianity? For the sake of shamelessly intolerant mullahs, here and abroad, who daily denigrate and excoriate (with the media’s blessings) Judaism and Christianity? Such self-demeaning accommodation is not progress, nor is it prudent. Edward Abbey said it best: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”