of Peace Demonstration in England.
In Our Own Backyard
The war at home against radical
The passengers and crew on three of the hijacked airliners on 9/11 had no knowledge that their planes would be used to murder other Americans. But the passengers on Flight 93 learned while airborne that our nation's financial and political centers had been attacked by other hijacked planes. David Beamer, father of Todd Beamer, a passenger on Flight 93, says that the crew and passengers had the "blessed opportunity to understand the nature of the attack" and to launch the "first successful counterattack in our homeland in this new global war."
As we approach the 5-year anniversary of 9/11, we too understand the nature of that attack, and the nature of the attackers. We now know that our enemy was seeking to further the interests of radical Islam by destroying Western civilization and extending Muslim rule throughout the world. We know their goals because they proclaim them loudly, clearly and repeatedly in various media outlets throughout the world. We also know that our enemy has neither been defeated nor abandoned the goal of the re-establishment of the caliphate, so we must be vigilant in defending against fresh attacks.
Those attacks, however, may come in a very different form next time. The goal of destroying our way of life does not necessarily require violence. Walid Phares, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Florida Atlantic University, reports discord among Islamists in the aftermath of 9/11, as some factions question whether the blow against America was worth the heightened scrutiny they now face in implementing their agenda. The goal of the Islamists, after all, is not the death of a few thousand Americans, but the downfall of the American government and its replacement with an Islamic theocracy.
If not fresh violence, then how might the next wave of attacks arrive on our shores? The answer is that Islamists already are here, using the Trojan Horse of the moderate Muslim community in America to infiltrate our society and advance their radical agenda. Islamists are masquerading as simply another minority group, entitled to the same courtesies extended to every other group in America. The difficulty for us is that there actually is a group of Muslims in America who want nothing more than to join the American dream; to be a good neighbor who happens to be of the Muslim faith. The challenge for us is to distinguish the "good guys" - moderate Muslims who accept modernity and the rule of law in America - from the "bad guys" - men and women who look and sound just like the good guys, but who have a very different, very dark vision for the future of America.
Legal, non-violent action by our enemies tends go unnoticed, but commentators in the blogosphere are tracking the many ways, large and small, that the West is voluntarily acting subserviently to Islamists. Columnist Mark Steyn reports that a local government office in England, after receiving a complaint from a Muslim employee, ordered the removal of all depictions of pigs. "Among the verboten items is one employee's box of tissues, because it features a representation of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. And, as we know, Muslims regard pigs as "unclean", even an
anthropomorphized cartoon pig wearing a scarf and a bright, colorful
singlet." Steyn's observation, of course, highlights the absurdity of the request by the Muslim employee - a request that would never be made by a moderate Muslim with the goal of joining mainstream society - and the absurdity of the British response in acceding to such a ridiculous demand.
Steyn's example, of course, does not by itself foretell the downfall of Western culture. Giving an inch on Piglet, however, leads to the Islamists becoming more comfortable, more confident, and more willing to take a mile on the next issue, like public funding for separate housing for Muslims. The cultural temperature rises imperceptibly with each accommodation made to the Islamists, but if left unchecked, one day our society will start boiling, and then it will be too late.
One simple but important step in combating the legal but nevertheless dangerous activities of the Islamists is to name our enemy with clarity and consistency. President Bush, seeking not to offend the moderate Muslims, has skirted the issue, saying only that "some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Isalmo-fascism." Any of those descriptions would suffice - and Islamist may be the most accurate - but instead Mr. Bush has chosen euphemistically to call this worldwide conflict a "war on terror." That description is nonsensical, as we wage war against an enemy, not a military/political tactic. Calling an Islamist an Islamist will put him on notice that he cannot hide behind his co-religionists as he seeks to advance his evil agenda.
To that end, we must scrutinize more carefully the statements being made about or on behalf of Muslims in America. Many media outlets, for example, repeat ad nauseam the nostrum that Islam is a "religion of peace." Any detailed examination of the history and theology of Islam, however, will demonstrate that expanding the Muslim realm through war is a legitimate and longstanding practice. As Professor Phares memorably defines it, jihad is not "spiritual yoga." It is certainly true that today in America many Muslims have rejected the call to arms and seek peace, but it is also true that many others have accepted the traditional definition of jihad and seek war, and victory, and our defeat.
In addition to closely examining what is being said about Muslims, we also must scrutinize the people claiming to speak on behalf of Muslims in America. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), for example, claims to be just another civil rights organization, likening itself to a "Muslim NAACP." CAIR has been treated deferentially by the media and politicians working on the incorrect assumption that a civil rights group must have benign intentions toward America. But as documented by Dr. Daniel Pipes, Director of the Middle East Forum think tank, multiple officials at CAIR - including Ghassan Elashi, the founder of CAIR's Texas chapter; Randall "Ismail" Royer, former CAIR communications specialist and civil rights coordinator; and Bassem Khafagi, former CAIR community relations director - have been convicted of terrorist-related crimes. Royer actually has admitted to having fought as a jihadist in the Balkans under a commander acting on orders from Osama bin Laden himself, and Royer has been indicted for conspiring with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban fight American troops in Afghanistan. Thus, we cannot blithely assume that someone claiming to represent Muslims means no harm to America.
Instead, we must continue to educate ourselves about the two groups of Muslims in our country, and then be willing to make a distinction between them. We must recognize that one group seeks to be woven into the American tapestry, and the other group seeks to rip that tapestry to shreds. The vast majority of Americans have no animus towards Muslims who wish to maintain their faith while living in America. Indeed, we must assist those moderate Muslims whenever possible, giving them the same courteous treatment afforded every other group, encouraging them to join the parade of ethnic groups who have successfully integrated into American society.
Radical Muslims, however, must never be accommodated, even to the slightest degree, because each small gain they make brings them closer to achieving the goals of 9/11. We must challenge them at every turn, using the full power of the state, the media, academia and every other part of respectable society to insure that they do not gain a toehold in America. We must recognize that not all Islamists are terrorists, but all Islamists are a threat to America. The pen can be mightier than the sword, and we must be vigilant against pen-wielding Islamists who seek to do us harm.
The passengers and crew on Flight 93 had only a few minutes to process the known information and make the decision to take action to protect their country. We now have had years to evaluate the threat posed by our global enemy, and we properly should make conclusions about how to defend ourselves against the non-violent but nevertheless very real threat posed by Islamists. We honor the ultimate sacrifice made by those on 9/11 only if we continue the battle joined on that day by fighting the legal and political part of this war with the same vigor that the heroes on Flight 93 fought against terror.
Leonard F. Feldman is a trial attorney in Philadelphia, PA.