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

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Time for Clarity, Part 3

In Part 1 of A Time for Clarity, I discussed the scope of Islamic terror, the groups that it has spawned, and some of the questions that might be reasonably posed by those of us who are concerned about it. In Part 2, I presented our nation's response over the past 3 decades, and our seeming inability to stem the tide of Islamic terror. At the end of Part 2, I suggested that our current strategy has not worked, and posed the following question: "What do we change, and how do we change it?"

To be honest, I don't feel we're ready to change anything at the moment. A combination of an entrenched false narrative about the origins of Islamic terror, the people who perpetrate it, and the scope of the threat suggest that we'll continue with the bucket and the pool metaphor I mentioned in Part 2. The strength of the false narrative is augmented by a pervading sense of political correctness—a fear of being labeled "Islamophobic," and our propensity to regard religious freedom as sacrosanct. In addition, our general acceptance of diversity and our tolerance for those who are different than us will all mitigate to encourage the status quo.

But the clock is ticking and things will change. Possibly current narrative will disintegrate when a courageous leader in the West decides that it's time to address the real problem, not a politically correct abstraction that leads us further from anything that might mitigate the problem. Tragically, it might occur after a major mass casualty attack where tens or hundreds of thousands of citizens are killed, and the West is traumatized and angry. Or maybe it will never happen and we'll spend the next century continuing in a futile effort to empty a pool with a small bucket as rain pours in.

So ... when the change happens what will it look like?

To be blunt, the prevailing narrative will fall and our leaders will opt for honesty.

There is a recent precedent for the honest appraisal of a mainstream religion's failings. It has occurred over the last few decades and has been adopted by political leaders, enthusiastically embraced by the mainstream media, and generally accepted as appropriate by the public at large. When evidence of sexual abuse and pedophilia within the Catholic church became irrefutable, the church was roundly and widely criticized. More important, politicians, the media, and the general public demanded that the church fix the problem, show evidence that the fix was working, and make restitution to those harmed. No one suggested that "catholiphobia" was behind these demands. When the Catholic Church moved too slowly or tried to stonewall, it was severely criticized. When some suggested that the church was being victimized by the criticism, there was little sympathy.

So it appears that honest confrontation with a mainstream religion and resultant correction of unacceptable practices by a small minority of adherents is possible and is certainly culturally acceptable in the West.

But what about Islam? It is hard to argue that the atrocities perpetrated by adherents to Islam are any less serious than those perpetrated by Catholic church leaders. It's even harder to argue that an honest confrontation about those atrocities is unwarranted. And yet, we have danced around the problem for more than three decades.

To begin, we have to stop lying about the role of mainstream Islam in he viral growth of Islamic terror. We have to tell Muslims the unvarnished truth about their religion as we see it and about the way in which some of their co-religionists interpret their holy book. We have to do this without rancor but also without apology.

First, we tell Muslims directly what we have seen, what the events of the past three decades and the irrefutable facts on the ground indicate—that they and their co-religionists are complicit in the terror that is committed in the name of Islam. In some cases the complicity is overt; sympathizers around the world travel for thousands of miles to join Jihadists and terrorize the 'infidel.' In other cases the complicity is covert; Muslim sympathizers fund Islamist mosques, Islamist education and the Islamic terror groups themselves. But in the main, the complicity is inadvertent; mainstream Muslims who do not agree with Islamist ideology do little or nothing to rid their religion of the cancer that threatens it.

Second, we tell Muslims directly that our attempts to eliminate Islamists have failed because we have tried too hard not to confront the whole of Islam with the truth. We made the Islamists our problem, when in fact, they are Islam's problem. We tell them that the fight is no longer ours alone—it is theirs as well. And if they refuse to join the fight vigorously and without reservation or equivocation, we will view that as an admission that we are their enemy ... and we will then act accordingly.

Third, we tell Muslims that until they have joined the fight against radical Islam, we must view them not with fear, but with a modicum of suspicion. That means that mosques and Islamic schools in the West that encourage Islamist thought and/or act as funding/recruiting arms for terrorist groups will be investigated without apology, prosecuted without reservation, and summarily closed down. Religious freedom does not support efforts to destroy our culture, our freedoms, and our open society.

Fourth, we tell them that we will no longer be cowed by accusations of "Islamophobia" or cries of "victimization" on their part. In Western countries Muslims have been treated with remarkable respect and restraint even as their co-religionists murder Westerners. We will tell them that respect and restraint are not without limit and will be strained if the whole of Islam does not join the fight.

Fifth, we will give Islam time to rid itself of this cancer, but time is not unlimited. We will watch closely the actions of Islamic countries, Islamic leaders, Islamic media, and main stream Islam to determine whether the fight for their religion has been joined. If no progress is made, we will slowly put into motion a series of actions that will separate the West from Islam.

Despite what some Muslims believe, Islam needs the West much more than the West needs Islam. If we in the West are forced to separate ourselves from Islam, it will be Islam that loses—and it will lose big. Islam will lose access to technology, it will lose medical advances, education, innovation and a road map for a better life.

And if over time Islam fails to curb the violence directed at the West, the benign actions of separation will morph into more active modes. We will invest trillions in energy independence for the West with the explicit intent of crippling the major financial source that funds terrorists. In the process we will cripple the economies of many Islamic countries. We will refuse or severely limit Western visas offered to those from Islamic countries. We will terminate all aid to those countries, all exchange programs, all military assistance, and all governmental interaction.

Everyone speaks of the "long war." Each of the actions noted above will phase in only if Muslims demonstrate that they cannot or will not control their co-religionists who practice terror. There are approimately 1.6 billion Muslims. Surely there are enough moderates in that group to permanently defeat those who have hijacked the religion of peace.

And if there aren't? If violence and brutality, aggression and terror continue to accelerate, there will come a time when an attack by Islamic terror does massive damage. When that happens, Islam will reap a whirlwind in which violence and brutality, aggression and terror are reflected back in its direction. We in the West don't want that, but we cannot and will not be defeated by dark forces that would return the world to another dark age.

Let's hope that the truth jolts Islam out of it stupor, and that Muslims act now to excise the cancer in their religion.

One thing is absolutely certain—the false narrative and lack of candor haven't done a thing to resolve the problem. Let's give truth a chance.