Almost immediately after President Trump’s announcement of an executive order restricting immigration from seven Middle East countries, critics began to recite the familiar mantra that this action, targeting states that are incubators for Muslim extremists, will have the counterproductive effect of radicalizing additional Muslims. This argument reflects the widespread misunderstanding of the war radical Islamists are fighting against us and holds America hostage to the people conducting this war.
Let me be clear. The idea of banning all Muslims from entering the United States is offensive. However, the argument that immigrants from nations where radical Muslim organizations are active should not be subject to extensive vetting procedures is dangerous.
The argument that it will be easier for extremists to recruit followers if we screen immigrants ignores the fact that they don’t need excuses to create Jihadis. To restate Bill Clinton’s campaign mantra, “It’s who we are, not what we do, stupid.”
Much of the criticism of the new immigration policy is a fig leaf for opposing any actions designed to minimize the threat of radical Islam. We are already under attack because radical Muslims object to our way of life – our democracy, our treatment of women and gays, our capitalist system and, above all, our basic constitutional rights. We can do nothing to make them love us, or to enrage them further. Our very existence as infidels that reject Allah and Sharia Law are sufficient reason for many Muslims to join the jihad against the West.
Moreover, by allowing the extremists to intimidate us, we demonstrate our weakness compared to their conviction. They don’t fear us; they pity us. The United States has become hostage to Jihadists because they have convinced us that fighting them is futile, that targeting them is a declaration of war on Islam, and that anything we do to defend ourselves will inspire more Muslims to become terrorists.
The war is not just with the West; it is within Islam as factions from different sects consider each other apostates. Consequently, Shiites and Sunnis are slaughtering each other by the thousands in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya in the name of Islam while the world yawns. The majority of Muslims may say those engaged in internecine warfare have perverted the teachings of Islam, but the fighters remain convinced they are fighting for Allah.
Critics of any measures directed at extremists immediately declare that not all Muslims are terrorists as if there were any serious people who think otherwise. Apologists go further, however, and insist that anyone who dares utter the term “radical Islam” is an “Islamaphobe, despite the evidence that many Muslims favor violence as a political tool. Consider if only 1% of the 1.5 billion Muslims were radical, that would be 15 million potential terrorists! It took just 19 to carry out the 9/11 attacks.
If you think this is another effort to tar Muslims with a broad brush, consider the frightening results of the largest global survey of Muslims conducted in 2007 by Gallup. The Washington Institute’s Rob Satloff observed that Gallup found that 13.5% of the sample expressed a “radical” view and another 23.1% said the 9/11 attacks were in some way justified. Put together, the number of Muslims with troubling views exceeds 400 million! Only a tiny fraction of that number will engage in terrorism, but the perpetrators have millions of Muslims who may applaud their actions.
The authors hired to explain the Gallup results echoed the views of many apologists for terror. Satloff concluded the authors defined a “moderate” as a Muslim who hates America, wants to impose Sharia law, supports suicide bombing, and opposes equal rights for women, but does not “completely” justify 9/11.”
Consider materials found in one Saudi school: Students were taught that the “Jews conspired against Islam.” An eleventh-grade textbook said that on the Day of Judgment, the trees will say, “Oh Muslim, Oh servant of God, here is a Jew hiding behind me. Come here and kill him.” Students told a Washington Post reporter that in Islamic studies they were taught that they should shun or dislike Christians, Jews, and Shiite Muslims. One teenager said that some instructors “teach students that whoever is kuffar [non-Muslim], it is okay for you to hurt or steal from that person.” Maps of the Middle East in the classroom were missing one country – Israel. A twelfth-grade Islamic studies textbook quotes this Koranic verse: “The apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews. The swine are the unbelievers of Jesus’ table, the Christians.” A revised textbook called jihad “the pinnacle of Islam” and extolled the virtues of martyrdom.
You might expect these teachings in a madrassa in the Middle East, but they were actually part of the curriculum at a school associated with Saudi Arabia in Fairfax, Virginia. It is bad enough that the president’s executive order did not include Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s leading sponsors of terror (including the perpetrators of 9/11), but his predecessors allowed the Saudis to teach American Muslims intolerance and the righteousness of martyrdom.
The war against the West has been going on for years, but now we have a leader who is not afraid to say America is threatened by “radical Islam.” We are not at war with the religion of Islam; we are fighting the extremists who pervert its teachings.
By casting a broad net affecting millions of innocent immigrants, the president erred; however, that mistake does not change the fact that radical Muslims are at war with us and will not be mollified by anything we say or do. The question is whether President Trump and Congress have the fortitude to engage with the enemy over the next four years or allow fear mongers at home and terrorists abroad to intimidate them.
Dr. Mitchell Bard is the author/editor of 24 books including the 2017 edition of Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict, The Arab Lobby, and the novel After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.