Friday, May 29, 2009

On Jihad

Fantastic interview from PajamasTV, with Walid Shoebat and Kamal Saleem, a pair of reformed terrorists. Please do watch the whole thing.

My first thought is a caveat: I do think these men overstate the immediate threat of terrorist attack. Recognize that they're coming from a very particular background, and even if they've rejected the ideologies of their upbringing, it's clear their default level of paranoia about the world is still set at "Palestinian". So while you take their predictions with a small grain of salt, their observations are pure gold (and you'll see by the end of my thoughts here why terrorist attack in and of itself isn't even the most serious issue).

The issue is at heart a conflict of culture, which is inextricably bound with the issue of religion. Both men blame the comparative decline of Christian chaplaincy in American prisons for the increasing radicalization of Muslim prison proselytes, such as those recently arrested plotting to attack synagogues in the Bronx. Shoebat is perfectly frank: the cure for terrorism is Christ.
"When I heard that, 'offer yourselves as a living sacrifice'... it is easy to die: you blow yourself up, you think you're going to go to Heaven. Now it's more difficult to live for the truth, and to live is to sacrifice... I spoke at the Air Force Academy, and I said that conversion to Christianity is one of the best methods that I've known to change terrorists, the media just went wild with articles that we're proselytizing at the Air Force Academy. We weren't proselytizing at the Air Force Academy, we were saying we need to proselytize to the Muslims."
That of course is an even more distressing proposition, from the mainstream media perspective.

I'm struck by the force of their argument that the "jihad" is about Jew-hatred above all else. It's just not part of the narrative, even though it's blindingly obvious when you look at it. Why did the "Newburgh Four" want to bomb Bronx synagogues, of all targets? Because of "Zionism"? Even if New York Jews did support "Zionism", why on Earth should that motivate American converts? And we should never forget how the butchers of Mumbai devoted a large part of their efforts to tracking down and torturing to death the sole rabbi in a city of 14 million.

All of this fits into the most important point Saleem and Shoebat make, which is to stress the centrality of the "cultural jihad". As the irreplaceable Oriana Fallaci never tired of pointing out, jihadist preachers boast openly that they will use the West's freedoms to destroy it. By claiming every right, demanding every entitlement, and litigating every grievance, they will make for Islam a preeminent position in the culture. And does anyone doubt that they have? As Shoebat points out, could Christopher Hitchens have published A||@h Is Not Great? The film Kingdom of Heaven portrayed the Church as genocidal and the Knights Templar as rapacious beasts, yet the likes of CAIR still claimed offense that the depiction of Salah al-Din was not quite saintly enough. And who could have ever thought that Britain would be mulling the merits of allowing a parallel legal system based on sharia? People have taken positions pro and contra, yet where's the "are you bloody serious?!?" that they're even having the discussion at all?

The cultural jihad is a totally different beast than counterterrorism. Successful terrorist attacks are a mixed blessing in the grand scheme of the jihad, after all, as they risk waking the infidels up to the threat. Many jihadist preachers have earned the coveted label "moderate" by renouncing terrorism not as a great evil, but as counterproductive to the cause. Preaching the cultural jihad, after all, breaks no laws, and if Islamists can breed, bribe, and bully their way to cultural dominance, what need is there for terror? And after sharia is enacted through the success of the cultural jihad, beheading nonbelievers will not be an act of jihad. It will simply be proper rule of law.

In this, as in so many metrics of the decline of the West, the United States is perhaps a generation behind Europe. Perhaps the declaration of the Salafi Emirate of the Netherlands or the Mamlakat al-Wahhabiyyah al-Britaniyyah will wake up the rest of those countries that still stand for Western civilization, but I'm not confident. Terrorism will never be an existential threat to the West. The worst imaginable terrorist scenario -- a mushroom cloud over Manhattan or London or Paris -- would do nothing but strengthen our resolve if we still had any. The success or failure of the cultural jihad will determine the future of the West, and if the jihad wins, we will have only ourselves to blame.

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