The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, November 16, 2015


In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, we've seen a series of predictable events—Facebook lit up the red, white and blue of the French Flag; a variety of hashtags expressing sympathy appeared on Twitter; politicians expressed solidarity and made vague references to the scourge of "violent extremism;" media personalities with somber faces recounted the personal stories of those mostly young people murdered in the name of a warped interpretation of the Koran (although Islam or the Koran was never mentioned); the Obama administration told us it will "redouble its efforts" against "violent extremism;" pundits called Islamism a "cancer" that metasticizes and changes rapidly and is extremely difficult to excise; the MSM developed timelines for the attacks, profiles of the perpetrators, memorials for the victims, and a detailed discussion of ISIS (as if it were the only source of Islamic extremism).  All of this is appropriate and necessary, but somehow, one gets a feeling of deja vu as this information stream rolls over us.

To his credit, French President François Hollande stated that the Islamic terrorist attacks were "an act of war" and responded almost immediately with air attacks on ISIS. In my view these attacks did not exhibit the fury that was warranted, but at least Holland showed resolve and will—something that has been sorely missing in the American response to ISIS.

But no politician has taken the next step—the only step that may actually change the dynamic on the ground. It's long past the time for Western politicians to demand help from Islam. By this I mean that ISIS and the dozens of Islamist organization like it must be identified for what they are—groups of radicalized Muslims who use a violent and extreme interpretation of the Koran and its supporting books to justify mayhem and murder and a global scale. Islamists are part of Islam, and no amount of Western obfuscation or political correctness can negate that simple reality. Therefore, it is up to Islam to rid itself of the "cancer" in its midst, and it is incumbent on the West to demand publicly that Islam act now.

But what does "act now" mean?

First, the West must demand that Islamic clerics (Imams) condemn radical Islamists without equivocation and do this from the pulpit at Mosques world wide. They must do this regularly and with commitment. If necessary, fatwas must be issued.

Second, the West must demand that Islam invite investigators into its mosques in western cities whenever there is any hint of extremist sentiment. After all, if there is nothing to hide, this gracious act by Muslims will demonstrate solidarity with Western populations who are increasingly looking at Islam with suspicion.

Third, each Muslim in the West must be convinced by community leaders that if they see something, they must say something. In almost every case of Islamic terrorism in the West, the perpetrators hide within a Muslim population and sometimes attend Mosques.

Fourth, Muslim nations in the Middle East must themselves declare war on ISIS and commit men and material to defeat them. I understand that the dynamic between Sunnis and Shiites is complex, but there is some truth to the idea that Muslims themselves must aggressively combat groups like ISIS on the ground.

Fifth, Muslim nations—not the West—must provide sanctuary for those Muslims displaced by civil war and strife in other Muslim nations. They must shoulder the economic and geographic burden for their fellow Muslims.

But what if, after providing sufficient time to assess Islam's attempts to help us, nothing happens? What if Islam remains silent and passive in the face of this Islamist "cancer." That will also tell us something about Islam and guide our relationship with it.

Western leaders must enunciate the consequences of Islamic inaction at the same time they demand Islam's help.

If Islam does not act to rid itself of violent Islamists, then leaders of the West will indicate that Islam's relationship with the West will change. Visas for citizens of Muslim countries that have significant Islamist activity will be suspended. In essence, immigration to the West from those countries, regardless of the reason, will cease. Given that we are in a state of war, laws will be modified to target Muslim non-citizens in Western countries who espouse violence, even if they do not commit violence. They will be deported. Economic ties between those countries with significant Islamist populations and the West will be modified and curtailed. Other more aggressive steps might also be implemented,partuclarly if mass terror attacks escalate and grow more severe.

And for those civil libertarians who will protest that this level of profiling is inappropriate and wrong, I would remind them of France's Francois Holland, a politician of the left, who accurately noted that we are in a war.

It's long past time for Western leaders to demand that the "religion of peace" actively and assertively help us in our effort to combat Islamic terrorism.

Will they? We won't really know if we don't explicitly ask.