30 May 2010

Mr. Credit Card.

American flag$25.00
Cigarette lighter:$ 1.95
1/2 litre petrol.$ 2.50
Setting yourself on fire when burning the American flag.Priceless!
Some things, money
just can't buy.
For everything else, there's

Mr. Credit Card!
John Brennan is is an Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, On May 26, he addressed the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Conservative commentators, the folks at IBD Editorials, for example, seized on his remarks as evidence of political correctness run amuck. For the complete text of Mr. Bennan's speech, go here. The remarks that caused the fuss are as follows:
"Our enemy is not terrorism because terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not terror because terror is a state of mind and, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear. Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of [or] one’s community.

And there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children."
What does one make of this? The phrase, "religion of peace" is widely viewed as laughable. Yet here is Brennan, nine years after 9/11, and with all that has happened since, making the same claim.

The IBD editorialist believes that Brennan was duped Citing one of the more explicit, "smite the infidels" exhortations in the Koran, he writes,

"It's plain that Brennan has been told by Muslim leaders what jihad does or doesn't mean without finding out for himself."
That "Muslim leaders" could pull the wool over Brennan's eyes is difficult to swallow. Brennan's been around. He's a career CIA officer; has a masters degree in government, with concentration in Middle Eastern Studies. Surely he remembers Palestinians dancing in the streets after 9/11; surely he recalls the American flag being burned in the streets. Surely he's seen pictures memorializing suicide bombers in West Bank homes. Surely he knows the history of Islam, the meaning of the word "dhimmi", the "rights of the Rayah", etc. Surely he knows that there is enormous sympathy for jihad in the Muslim world — not the inner struggle kind of jihad, but the "smite their necks" variety.

So what's going on? The answer is in the words that follow those quoted above. "[C]haracterizing our adversaries this way [as jihadists]," Brennan writes,
"would actually be counterproductive. It would play into the false perception that they [the terrorists] are religious leaders defending a holy cause when in fact, they are nothing more than murderers, including the murder of thousands upon thousands of Muslims. ...

"Moreover, describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by al-Qaida and its affiliates to justify terrorism, that the United States is somehow at war against Islam. The reality, of course, is that we have never been and will never be at war with Islam. After all, Islam, like so many faiths, is part of America." [Emphasis added]
Brennan believes that characterizing Muslim terrorists as jihadists legitimizes their acts in the minds of Muslims disinclined to violence. At best, this is a pious hope. What workaday Muslims think about the people we call "terrorists" depends on many things. But the words non-Muslims use to describe such individuals isn't one of them. In recent years, European governments, France's proscription of the veil notwithstanding, have been nothing if not sensitive to Muslim sensibilities. And the result has been what? "Immigrant" violence on a massive scale; "Asian" youth on the prowl for women to assault; "suburbs" so dangerous that municipal authorities dare not enter; neighborhoods where "weekend entertainment" means "carbeque." This is in addition to the organized violence that periodically erupts in spectacular bombings.

Brennan argues that criminality is distinguishable from the "real" Islam." In effect, he sets himself up as an authority on the Muslim religion. This is presumptuous. Only Muslims can, will and should be the ones to decide what their religion is about. Brennan's conceit is also laughable. Imagine, if you will, an eleventh or twelfth century imam distinguishing Crusaders from the "real Christians" who practice a "religion of love." Imagine him telling the faithful that they should distinguish those who "hijack a religion" from the religion itself. I doubt such a preacher would have had much of following. To be sure, only a fraction of Europe's population set out for the Holy Land. But, at least initially, the Crusades were enormously popular. To have claimed that the Crusaders were anything but agents of Christendom would have been viewed as preposterous — because that's what it would have been.

The comparison is worth pursuing. At the time of the Crusades, Muslims of the Levant, were in no position to take the fight to the infidels' homeland. But they could resist the invaders. Eventually, they drove them out, and, when circumstances changed, Muslim armies swept into Europe itself. The Eastern Roman Empire fell; Constantinople became Istanbul; Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Vienna. Anyone who sees the "War on Terror," a term of admittedly dubious distinction, as anything other than one more battle in the centuries old struggle between Islam and the non-Islamic world is kidding himself.

By and large, the governing class, the academics, the media don't get it. For the most part, they are secular. "For God, for country and for Yale" is still the final verse of the Yale alma mater, but to most graduates of that school and other elite universities, the words mean little. The idea of killing, to say nothing of risking death, for religion is alien to their view of the world. The best they can come up with is that poverty breeds despair; despair, rage and rage, violence.

The American public, as distinct from their leaders, is more inclined to take religion seriously. The public understands commitment to God. They recognize that from such commitment both good things and bad can follow. Whether or not bin Laden's "Letter to Muslims" represents the "true" nature of Islam is beside the point. What's important is what the followers of Islam believe that nature to be. And the available evidence suggests that many subscribe to an "us-them" view of the world. How many? Enough. Enough to prevent a level of revulsion within the Muslim community that would shut the terrorists down. For ultimately, they depend on that community for cover and support. It is a worrisome state of affairs. It is not something that can be fixed from without. It is not something that can be massaged away by aid, collaboration and sensitivity. Nor will acquiescing to small assaults on American values and traditions forestall larger assaults in the future. To the contrary, it will encourage them.

Surely, Brennan must know these things. This site therefore agrees with the IBD editorialist when he wrote that Brennan was told what to say. But we doubt that the instructions came from "Muslim leaders."

Elsewhere in his speech, Brennan speaks of the importance of maintaining a strong economy. "Prosperity," he writes,
"a strong, innovative and growing U.S. economy in an open international economic system that promotes opportunity and prosperity is essential to our future and the future of generations yet to come."
The American economy, of course, is in the toilet, and the man Brennan works for is doing everything he can to see that it stays there. As we run up the bill on Mr. Credit Card, we compromise our ability to meet the dangers against which Brennan is tasked with protecting us. Some things, indeed, are priceless — the survival of America as we know it, among them.

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