Written Summer 2002
People remark the war on terrorism is unwinnable because it is not a war against a country but with ideas. But while one cannot destroy an idea, one can discredit it and destroy its manifestations and proponents.
Requisite is honest appraisal. At the start of this academic year, I stated this war is about whether America’s ideals will destroy or be destroyed by radical Islamic fundamentalism and I laid out what I believed America stood for. The next step is to recognize what radical Islamic fundamentalism is.
Clarity is critical: glamorizing suicide bombing by Islamic fundamentalists and fringe leftists perverts freedom struggle’s meaning. Linking suicide-bombing to Patrick Henry is false and disgusting. True heroes of modern times include not just Gandhi, Mandela, and King, who showed the power of virtue. Every region has heroes: Havel (Czechoslovakia), Walesa (Poland), Chammorro (Nicaragua), Aquino (Phillipines), the Dalai Lama (Tibet), Suu Kyi (Burma), Sakharov & Solzhenitsyn (Russia), Ramos-Horta (East Timor), Landsbergis (Lithuania), Alberdi (Argentina), Aylwin (Chile), the anonymous Chinese man who blocked a tank in 1989, and many others show nonviolence’s power against oppression. .
We must end excusing terrorism. Nouveaux chic morality only makes Islamic fundamentalist bloodlust fashionable. Ultimately any cancer will kill you. In the words of Burke and FDR, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Not being radical Islamic fundamentalists, most of us turn away from it, hoping it will go away like a bad dream, or try to ascribe it to psychobabble victimology of “root causes.” This denial is dangerous and dishonest; much as we learned when someone says they want to kill you or “Death to America”, they mean it, it is time we take Islamic fundamentalists at their word regarding their aims.
It is surprising that despite the wide availability of writings of Osama bin Laden, his International Islamic Front, Mohammed Atta, and their comrades, so few familiarize themselves with their objectives and ideas. They believe the world should be modeled after 7th century Arabia, with shar’ia as the code of justice, and everyone converted to their perverse brand of Islam.
Their domestic objectives were exemplified by the Taliban. Slaughter of political opponents, gender apartheid, repression of women and banning of women’s education (let alone basic rights), theocracy, and shar’ia law are their highlights. The last includes stoning of gays and adulterers (including women impregnated by rape), death for those who leave Islam and death for blasphemy, cutting off hands of thieves, women having ½ the legal credibility of women and ½ the right to inheritances, and banning of the practice of other religions. These occurred not just under the Taliban but also to varying degrees in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, and some other Islamic countries. It is a vital to remember that throughout the 1990s many people, not just fundamentalists but numerous sympathizers among “moderate” Muslims held up Iran and the Taliban as role models for regimes best representing Islamic values on earth. The results are visible for all to see – poverty and deep despair for people under the rule of Islamic fundamentalists. Notable results of Islamic fundamentalism include the Taliban’s beating girls for going to school, Saudi police keeping girls from fleeing a burning school because they did not have their head-scarves on (condemning them to incineration), Sudan’s institutionalization of slavery, Nigeria’s stoning sentence for a woman impregnated by rape, Dubai’s jailing a Frenchwoman who was gangraped for adultery under sharia, and Iran’s mullahs considering legalizing prostitution under the rubric of “chastity houses” and “temporary marriage” run by the government (presumably officials would get revenue and other pleasures generated by these). Multiculturalists insisting on equality of cultures turn a blind eye; hypocritical racism of low expectations for other peoples is perhaps too painful to acknowledge.
Rather than look hard in the mirror with a no-holds-barred self-examination of societal rot, many in the Islamic world (including their governments, some of their people, terrorists, and sympathizers among “liberals” and self-proclaimed “moderate” Muslims) blame America and Israel for their problems.
Everyone should realize the threat of Islamic fundamentalist imperialism, and recognize that shariatopia and theocracy are one-way tickets to misery. Separation of church and state, consigning the barbaric and medieval practices of shari’a to history’s unmarked grave of lies, true freedom, democracy, and equality of all people regardless of religion are essential values that must be adopted and embraced for Islamic countries to move forward in the 21st century.