Quote of the Day

Richard Fernandez:

The Tsarnaev’s were showered with a huge amount of things. And did they like it? No they hated it. Hated the whole idea of the dirty, degenerate, corrupt West. They hated the idea and took the goodies without a thought. Despite this the mainstream culture is set to respond to their attack with more things. More drones, detectors, armored vehicles, barriers, restrictions, weapons, armor …. more items the list of which goes on and on. But omitted from the catalog of responses will be any campaign to mentally engage radical Islam — to debate against it, denounce it or render it uncool — because that would be bigoted.
It is often forgotten that Freedom of Speech means debate. It means patches on software, not paint on the equipment box. It means fixing the insubstantial. It means mental action. This is important because in the case of radical Islam Freedom of Speech has been redefined as the obligation to remain silent. That obligation has even been given a special term: it is called Tolerance. And no one seems to have noticed that Tolerance is essentially the opposite of Freedom of Speech. It means don’t program. Don’t unhack the hack. Do nothing. Pretend it’s all a joke. Watch the whole system melt down. Tolerance is a rejection of the manifest truth that information matters because it can cure or it can kill.

George W. Bush’s biggest mistake was to avoid making a serious effort to confront radical Islam intellectually. He had the right general idea, which was that radical Islam is an existential threat that we must defeat, and that defeating it would require many years and the use of force to punish and destroy the Islamist regimes that attack the West through terrorist proxies and eventually WMD. He got about one-half of the use-of-force part right, which isn’t a bad outcome in the scheme of things. However, he failed almost completely in making a public rhetorical and intellectual case against radical Islam and for his geopolitical strategy. As a result of this failure, ten years later most Americans are ignorant about or misunderstand his strategy and have elected feckless leaders who are reversing his gains, while radical Islam is advancing against only weak intellectual opposition in its areas of operation.

21 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”

  1. If I hear the “radical islam” meme one more time I will absolutely scream. There is no “radical islam”. There is only islam.

  2. you keep saying radical Islam as if there is an actual moderate Islam … outside of America there are no moderate Muslims (yes, some individuals but no large groups in any one country or region) … but after every radical Islamic slaughter their silence is defining …

    Islam was founded with a sword and has not changed …

  3. What they said above.

    The Koran informs Islam. The Koran informs the convieniently-moderate, private, Muslim. The Koran informs the power hungry. The Koran informs idealistic, non-hypocrical youth who become murders. Each of these catagories interpret the Koran correctly.

  4. It’s a failure of imagination and historical perspective to insist that Islam is monolithically hostile to us. The variants of Islam we now think of as radical are a mid-20th Century innovation. They’re big now because they’ve been boosted by thirty years of Saudi and Iranian subsidies and they’ve intimidated their opponents. We should be consistently supporting the opponents and arguing against the radicals. Bush was inconsistent about doing this, and mostly gave up trying during his second term. Obama is much worse, trying to cut deals with the radical thugs while leaving the moderates and religious minorities to twist in the wind.

  5. Bush made the mistake of trying to go from a tribal society to democracy in one generation.

    His worse mistake was to put the left-leaning and PC State Department in charge of it. Kerry is the embodiment of State, even more than Powell was. Hillary is a symbol without substance except a sort of mendacity that is usually hidden. She was feared in the White House when she was First Lady, a unique phenomenon. Only Eleanor Roosevelt could be compared to her.

    There are millions of Muslims who care little for the radical Wahhabi version. They are mostly in Malaysia and Indonesia. Arabs are pretty much militant about everything. Lawrence of Arabia was pretty good in showing that. When I was in college I knew Palestinians who came over here and ran small shops and liquor stores. I didn’t think of it then but they were probably mostly Christian.

  6. I would add that one reason why the comments preceding my previous comment are now conventional among western conservatives is that our public figures have failed to make a reasonable case.

    Bush committed a major error by using the term “religion of peace”. Everyone knew that this was PC nonsense and that Islam has serious problems.

    Bush should have said that our enemy is Islamic extremism originating from the mixture of oil money, minority sects, and fascist politics imported from Europe, and that we will fight these Islamofascists while supporting Muslims who oppose them.

    Let’s say you live in a neighborhood controlled by the Mafia. The mayor and city council of your city are cutting deals with the Mafia but won’t acknowledge or support the people in your neighborhood who oppose the Mafia. You hate the Mafia and want them to be driven out. In such a civic environment, are you likely to take any public positions against the Mafia? Most of the world’s Muslims are in this same situation WRT the Islamists.

  7. Bush jumped on the “religion of peace” meme because he got a large chunk of the Muslim vote in 2000 which supposedly tipped the scales in Florida.

  8. Calling for clear thinking and frank speech in the US is, like, so counter to the zeitgeist.

    And pretty well anywhere else in the West too – remember, the rest of us faithfully copy your bad habits.

  9. Jonathan has nailed the decent Muslims predicament. Privately they’ll tell you we should kill the Takfiri.

    Not so privately this is their solution since 661 [killing of Ali]. It’s their solution today, it was their solution in Iraq. It’s the only solution.

    I mean if we want them to take a stand we have to mean business. We don’t.

  10. **By decent Muslim I don’t mean “Liberal” or “Progressive”. They exist in the numbers Andrew Sullivan exists and are even less relevant.

    All else remaining equal this problem will persist in exactly this form until the Left acknowledges it’s a problem and the solution is to destroy it.

    That’s the only reason this is taking so long, it’s why Shining Path persisted until the Chilean Left realized they were monsters, it’s why Communism got so far. It’s unlikely Reagan could have sold the Establishment that the time had come to stop propping up the USSR with money if it hadn’t been a destabilizing internally nuclear Superpower that was becoming more aggressive as it decayed, because it was decaying.

    The Establishment – which is Left – does not accept the enemy as more than an annoyance as it is not a threat to them. They’re far more worried about Cletus T. Cornpone and his assault rifle for instance. And the Saudis are apparently better clients than John Q. Public.

    As long as we have the Establishment in it’s current form – essentially Leftist – or unless and until it changes it’s mind and regards this as a threat TO THEM we’ll continue to treat this as a Law Enforcement sideshow.

    Make no mistake that terrorism is a sideshow problem for the elites. Yes 9/11 scared even them, but they have more pressing issues. Like bankruptcy for instance.

    In many ways the war on terror is a replay of the Crime Wave 1960s-1990s. Gee that’s terrible. But not their problem.

  11. Jon, I think you are not taking a long view here. The K clearly calls for violence and intolerance of other religions and governmental systems. It systematically calls for their subjegation to Islamic authority.

    Islam is not be “monolithically hostile to us”, I agree, but the K certainly is monolithically hostile to us (western civ., and others, I suppose). Since this is the case, the term “Radical Islamist” is a misnomer; it’s more like “True Islamist”. The “more moderate” folks, as others point out are largely duplicitous (as the K advises) hypocrites or “less-true-Islamists” (apostates and nominal Muslims).

    The K is the bedrock of the religion and because the K isn’t going to change there will be blood periodically. It’s difficult to justify letting Islam take root in the U.S.

  12. Whatever the Koran calls for, there have been more and less tolerant versions of Islam, for example in Saudi Arabia vs. Indonesia, or in Pakistan now vs. Pakistan in 1960. For this reason I don’t think it’s productive to focus on the Koran’s intolerance as many conservatives do. Christianity and Judaism have evolved over time, and the Old Testament condones behavior that most modern Christians and Jews consider unacceptable. Why would Islam and Muslims be different? We should seek alliances with the moderates and fight the Muslims who are hostile to us.

    The all-Muslims-are-hostile meme held by conservatives is the flip side of the leftist-atheist meme that sees moral equivalence between fundamentalist Christianity and violent radical Islam. I would argue that many Muslims are not hostile to the West, just as I would argue that fundamentalist Christianity is mostly benign while radical Islam is not.

  13. Islam was historically a religion of conquest, and its prophet a military leader. The Koran and the words of the prophet are taken to be immutable in its fundamentalist interpretation. Jewish faith revolved around a spirit of argument and discovery in the texts of their faith, and prophets and figures in Jewish history both challenged and discovered the boundaries of their deity’s laws and covenants. Christianity focuses on salvation and grace rather than submission.

    The differences in the inherent properties of these faiths cast doubt on the long term emergence of a dominant strain of Islam that would meet modern standards of being progressive and moderate. Those outcomes are logical given the underlying values and conceptions of Judaism and Christianity, but alien to the underlying assumptions of the inerrant Koran and the example of its prophet.

  14. Christianity, incorporating the old and new testament as it does, allows for a certain flexibility doesn’t it?

  15. Actually, I disagree somewhat with the characterisation about Pres. Bush. He DID make the case several times, but it was always weighted to keep the focus on Liberty and Freedom being the solution. The problem was and continues to be the Lamestream Media and their intelectual and moral dishonesty about Bush. Once it became clear any and everything would be used by the press to “beat down” Bush, there was no longer a reason to expend capital on it. And then the “treasonous” political calculations of the “honest” opposition jumped on the bandwagon and away we went. Same thing w/ the housing bubble. Bush went to congress ~ seventeen times, but the press didn’t/never has reported on it; so why spend the capital if the message doen’t get out?

  16. Christianity has evolved from its violent past. Islam was a religion of conquest when conquest was successful. It’s been retrenching ever since. Why assume that it’s immutable? Even if Islamic doctrine does not change, Muslims respond to incentives in the same way as everyone else. Thus if Islamist aggression against non-Muslims is costly, Muslims will do less of it and will be more inclined to cooperate with non-Muslims. Scripture isn’t destiny.

  17. “Scripture isn’t destiny.” Maybe not, but I suspect “scripture” and discipline is destiny.

  18. Or, at least, a code with discipline applied to enforce it tends to drive personal and social destiny.

  19. Violent Islam is a mid-20th century innovation? For real? Whew, those songs about kicking Muslim tail on the shores of Tripoli must be based on a misunderstanding or sumpin! Thomas Jefferson wrote some letters that you should read, Jonathan. I’m not going to go look for a linky, because my due diligence trumps your cultural and moral relativism.

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