Yet to read Bayoumi’s piece, you would think that concerns about Islam in America are utterly unfounded: he kvetches about the persistence of “the idea that American Muslim communities are foul nests of hatred, where dark-skinned men plot Arabic violence while combing one another’s beards” (thus neatly slipping in the obligatory implication that it’s all really just a matter of racism). No, not every Muslim, American or otherwise, is a potential suicide bomber. But that’s not the point. Bayoumi quotes both the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the Rand Corporation as saying that the number of American Muslims involved in domestic terrorism has been “tiny.” The Rand reference is apparently to this article, which states that fewer than a hundred American Muslims had “joined jihad.” But to speak of “joining jihad” is to distort the very idea of jihad. Jihad is a doctrine of cultural triumphalism of which overt terrorism is only the most conspicuous – and, frankly, the least worrisome – manifestation. The countless Muslims throughout the West who jumped for joy on 9/11 are jihadists, too. The members of Muslim student groups who show up at lectures en masse to shout down speakers about Islam are also engaging in jihad. And men who write articles in which they systematically dismiss the very real threat that Islam poses to Western values are also engaged in jihad. It is amusing, in a perverse way, that even as he is engaging in this kind of stealth jihad, Bayoumi mocks the term.
It is, indeed, cultural jihad, and not terrorism, that is by far the more significant problem before us. Yet Bayoumi is at pains to remove the very idea of stealth jihad from the realm of serious discourse. Anger over the Ground Zero mosque? Sheer paranoia. He is not about to address the notion that that building’s construction was, at best, an incredibly insensitive response to a massive act of violence in the name of the Islamic faith, and hence a sign of an alarming lack of shame, humility, and respect – and, at worst, an outrageous act of jihadist triumphalism. He professes to find it “bizarre” that some Americans are unsettled by “Muslims filing for divorce” – entirely obscuring the fact that the source of concern, in these cases, is the well-nigh cartoonish scale of the inequality of men and women under sharia law.
Indeed, he entirely ignores Islam’s treatment of women. And gays. And Jews. And its punishment for apostasy. And so on. He invites us to sympathize with the president of a college Islamic Society who “feels his rights to practice his religion and express his ideas has been compromised” by the NYPD’s surveillance of New York-area Muslim communities – no mention, naturally, of the unsavory background and connections of these campus hotbeds of radicalism. Bayoumi has nothing to say about CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, which continues to be treated as a legitimate Muslim rights organization – a defender of “ordinary” Muslims – despite massive evidence to the contrary. Nor does he mention the innumerable “ordinary” imams who have been paraded before us in the media since 9/11 as model moderates and staunch American patriots only to have been unmasked, one after another, as anything but.
On September 11, 2001, men who were acting in the name of Islam, and who were not misguided at all about the contents of their holy books, murdered thousands of people in New York City. The NYPD, from what I gather, is acting responsibly to prevent other members of the Islamic faith from acting upon the same commandments and bringing about yet another horrific nightmare. Muslims who want to demonstrate that they are indeed “ordinary” Americans who cherish American freedom and security should be applauding this effort and doing everything they can to support it. As for The Nation– well, The Nation is The Nation. What can you do? It will, perhaps, be with us always, like rats in the New York subways. The turning point in Christopher Hitchens’s career came, you may recall, when he finally realized that it was morally incumbent upon him to sever his longstanding ties with The Nation in order to retain his self-respect in the wake of 9/11. If The Nation serves any purpose, perhaps it is to remind us just how twisted the left’s loyalties can be – and to impress upon us the colossal scale of the lies they are capable of perpetrating in the name of their repellent beliefs, and those of their ideological allies.
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