The media are continuing their codependent obsession with Donald Trump by focusing, in this week’s edition of media-fueled Trumpmania, on comments he made regarding Muslims. You can look anywhere for evidence of this, but the first five Google hits for Donald Trump + Muslims are a good indication:
- Donald Trump’s Muslim Database Game – The New Yorker
- Donald Trump’s Views on the “Muslim Problem” – The Political Insider
- Five symbols Donald Trump could use to identify the Muslims – QZ
- First, Donald Trump Came for the Muslims – The Daily Beast
- Donald Trump Sets Off a Furor With Call to Register Muslims – The New York Times
And on and on and on it goes. I get it. Trump is good for traffic. It’s fun to write outraged pieces about him! The media seem to have no limit for their love of covering everything he says. I was trying to find out what exactly, he’d said that had the media in such a tizzy and landed on an article headlined “The 7 Most Ridiculous Things Donald Trump Has Said In The Last 2 Weeks.” It was published in 2011. So forgive me if I opt out of this round of groupthink outrage on The Donald.
Or rather, while what Trump says (now, in 2011, in 1984, I could go on) is in fact, “ridiculous,” what other things are politicians saying that are also ridiculous?
Check out what Hillary Clinton said last week about the role Islam plays in global terrorism.
Let’s be clear, though. Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.
Part of this is fine rhetoric for a politician. And obviously the majority of Muslims, particularly American Muslims, are peaceful and tolerant. But to say that Muslims have “nothing whatsoever” to do with terrorism is simply not true. The world may wish it were so, but it’s not. It’s as clownish and cartoonish and demonstrably false as anything Trump has said in the last week.
Clinton’s statement is extreme rhetoric that has no place in adult conversations in the aftermath of 9/11, which claimed the lives of 2,997. Or the attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates in Beirut, Karachi, Nairobi, Tanzania, Kenya, Sarajevo, Jeddah, Benghazi, Herat, and Erbil. Or the Moscow theater hostage situation, which killed more than 100 and injured more than 700. Or the nine synchronized bomb blasts in Jaipur that killed 80. Or the Ahmedabad bombings a year later that took the lives of 56 and injured 200. Followed two months later by the Delhi bombings that took another few dozen. Or the Islamabad Marriot hotel bombing that killed two U.S. servicemen and 52 others. The Qahtaniya bombings of the Yazidi that killed nearly 800 and wounded 1,600. The 2008 attacks on Christians in Mosul that killed more than 40. The siege of Mumbai, killing 166. The Little Rock recruitment office shooting. Fort Hood. The 2009 Marriott and Ritz-Carlton bombing in Indonesia. The Nag Hamadi massacre of Coptic Christians. The Moscow Metro bombings that killed 40. The London Underground bombings that killed 53 and injured 700. The Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people and wounded 1,800. The Mumbai train bombings that killed 209 injured more than 700. The Beslan school hostage crisis, where some 385 people — including 186 children — were killed. The murder of Theo Van Gogh. The 2005 Delhi bombings. The Amman bombings that killed more than 60 and injured 115. The Westgate shopping mall attack where 67 were killed and 175 wounded. ISIS’ beheadings of Americans, of Christians, of other enemies of the state. Paris.
Each of these attacks — and countless others — were done in the name of Islam. And while it might comfort us to issue platitudes about Islam being peaceful and having “nothing to do” with these attacks, such statements are unbecoming of serious politicians.
Anyone with a brain wave and a pulse knows that Islam and Islamist terrorism have a relationship. What’s more, refusal to acknowledge that Islam contains within it groups of people dedicated to such carnage actually does more damage to peaceful Muslims than otherwise. Would you rather have those people who are cognizant of world events understand that there is a stream of thought within Islam that lends itself to such violence or to believe that all Muslims are so inclined? Because in a world with the reality of Islamist terrorism, that’s the option its prominent deniers are giving people.
Cathy Young made this point when she noted a Daily Beast article about some group of college students saying that remembering 9/11 was offensive to Muslims, “Are you saying that all Muslims are terrorists?” she asked.
Seriously. Check out this ad that was put out by Democrats this past week. It’s mindboggling.
First off, if you told me that this was a Republican ad, I would have believed you. It was produced in a country where fully two-thirds of respondents to a recent poll used the term “radical Islam” to describe the enemy. You will of course note that there is not a drop of conflict between GOP politicians talking about Islamist terrorism or the other problems of radical Islam and George W. Bush’s statements about not being at war with Islam. That’s because both of these statements are true. Islamist terrorism is a problem, and the U.S. is not at war with Islam. It’s Democrats who come off bigoted in this ad by their implicit argument that all Muslims are indistinguishable from one other, no matter their particular political or religious views.
‘Strange New Respect’ For George W. Bush
In the hours after Islamist terrorists carried out their attacks on American soil in 2001, President George W. Bush and his advisors agreed on a strategy for talking about the role Islam. It was difficult because the attacks were perpetrated by Muslim terrorists who based their violence in their understanding of their religion. So the Bush administration was trying to manage what they worried could be a touchy situation both domestically and globally. They wanted to make sure that American Muslims weren’t subject to retaliatory violence. And they wanted to make sure that global Muslims didn’t feel the need to pick a side against the U.S. in the coming days.
So on September 17, 2001, President Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., and said, “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”
This was a political statement, as were other similar statements. Bush was no more qualified to opine on Islamic theology than the vast majority of politicians and talking heads who have done so in the years since. What’s more, it was an emergency political statement, a measure taken to address immediate problems.
It’s been hilarious to watch the media and other progressives pull out the “strange new respect” routine for Bush’s political positioning of Islam. “Strange new respect” is the term for how the media do everything they can to demonize and tear down whichever Republican is in power or in the news. Then, a decade later, they pretend that the Republican they loathed was in fact totally reasonable all along in order to demonize and tear down whichever Republican is in power or in the news.
Many reporters are probably too young to remember, but the media treatment of Bush was so bad by 2004 that non-unhinged observers referred to it as Bush Derangement Syndrome. If there was one Republican I was sure wouldn’t get the “strange new respect” treatment — much less so quickly — it was George W. Bush. In any case, he’s getting it now.
“Islam means peace,” we’re told, but it actually means submission. Not to make a qualitative judgment, but if it did mean peace, it would have never left the Arabian Peninsula, but it did and almost immediately. The battle of Yarmuk, one of the most significant battles in human history, took place in 636, just four years after Muhammad died. In Syria, as it happens. A small band of Muslim soldiers overtook the mighty Byzantines in just six days, ending Byzantine rule there. Military historians say what was needed to defeat the Muslim invaders was a quick deployment of forces. That didn’t happen, so the Muslim army worked quickly to overpower a much larger opponent. It was one of the battles Osama bin Laden mentioned in his inspirational statements about how to overtake Westerners.
Here’s a quick and dirty animated map showing the expansion of Islam via conquest:
According to historian Will Durant:
The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace, can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.
The Cost Of Denialism
Politico published a piece this week headlined, “Molenbeek broke my heart: A former resident reflects on his struggles with Brussels’ most notorious neighborhood.” How did Molenbeek become Europe’s jihadi base? Teun Voeten says:
But the most important factor is Belgium’s culture of denial. The country’s political debate has been dominated by a complacent progressive elite who firmly believes society can be designed and planned. Observers who point to unpleasant truths such as the high incidence of crime among Moroccan youth and violent tendencies in radical Islam are accused of being propagandists of the extreme-right, and are subsequently ignored and ostracized.
The debate is paralyzed by a paternalistic discourse in which radical Muslim youths are seen, above all, as victims of social and economic exclusion. They in turn internalize this frame of reference, of course, because it arouses sympathy and frees them from taking responsibility for their actions. The former Socialist mayor Philippe Moureax, who governed Molenbeek from 1992 to 2012 as his private fiefdom, perfected this culture of denial and is to a large extent responsible for the current state of affairs in the neighborhood.
Two journalists had already reported on the presence of radical Islamists in Molenbeek and the danger they posed — and both became victims of character assassination. In 2006, Hind Fraihi, a young Flemish woman of Morrocan descent published “Undercover in Little Morocco: Behind the Closed Doors of Radical Islam.” Her community called her a traitor; progressive media called her a “spy” and a “girl with personal problems.”
No, Islam isn’t synonymous with peace, and Bush was just doing politics when he claimed otherwise in the stressful aftermath of 9/11. But as much as his apologetics were amateur, they were significantly more excusable than pushing out the same false rhetoric now.
We are not children. We have read the news in the last 14 years. The attack on the Radisson hotel in Mali is simply the latest bloody demonstration that Islamist terrorism is real. We know that the terrorists are truly and genuinely motivated by their religious beliefs, however much the professors writing op-eds assert they are not. And while there may be an earnest debate about what can and should be done to deal with Islamist terrorism, no serious person can deny its existence.
So yes, Trump’s rhetoric is extreme. (Can you believe it? Donald Trump! The man known for his probity and reasonableness.) But the other extreme is also dangerous. That’s the extreme that denies the reality of Islamist terrorism, the threat it poses in Paris, London, New York, Mumbai, Madrid, Karachi, Delhi, Cairo, Jerusalem, Khobar, Washington, D.C., Moscow, Nairobi, Benghazi, and throughout the world.
It’s telling that much of the media find only one of the views extreme.