We're in a two-front war, but we're in denial on one front, and almost totally unaware of the other. Consequently, we may be on our way to losing the war and losing America as we know it.
There are two fronts in the war of Islam against the West — the first front is the attack of the terrorists, what might be called the explosive jihad, which we hear about most often; but more importantly, and even more deadly, is the second front, the stealth jihad front, the slow takeover of America and gradual imposition of the Muslim law known as Shariah.
The Obama administration seems to want to take the war against terrorism off the map by renaming it — "global contingency operations" and "man-caused disasters." It doesn't want to use such terms as the "war on terror" and the "global war on terror." It thinks the problem can disappear by giving it more innocuous names. The sheer folly of that approach tells you how weak and ineffective the Obama administration is in facing an existential threat.
The more dangerous front in the war is the stealth jihad — the slow granting of concessions to and accommodation for Muslims and their Shariah and the gradual destruction of our laws and values. This process is well advanced in England, but we are slowly going down the path that takes us to the destruction of our Constitution, our form of government and our way of life. Islam is subverting our way of life without guns and bombs, and we seem to be totally unaware of what is transpiring. We are building our own gallows and putting the noose around our neck, without even knowing it.
Some Historical Background
To understand the stealth jihad, you have to understand some history of what might be called the Muslim war on infidels, including the West. We have to go back to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the source of Sunni Islamic radicalism for nearly a century. Here is its battle cry:
"Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Quran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."
The Brotherhood seems to forswear violence, and claims to be mainstream and moderate. So note that the Brotherhood may have abandoned violence but it has not abandoned jihad. There are those who try to put a peaceful face on jihad, asserting that jihad is about the struggle for virtue. But leading authorities and scholars of Islam agree that jihad has a military overlay — that is its history and its present configuration. The peaceful face of jihad is a modern contrivance, which does not explain its real meaning.
This issue is brilliantly explained in an article by Andrew C. McCarthy titled "Beyond Terrorism: The Islamic Threat Is Worse Than You Think." And here is how Mr. McCarthy explains the seeming contradiction between violent and peaceful jihad:
"So if jihad and violence are joined at the hip, how can the Brotherhood, self-proclaimed jihadists, abandon violence? The same way a fierce army captures territory without firing a single shot, or the Mafia collects usurious loans while busting only the occasional kneecap. The answer, very simply, is extortion, combined with a shrewd appreciation of the ground a timid, multiculti [meaning multicultural] West may be only too willing to cede."
In other words, the purpose of jihad is not violence for its own sake, but it is most fundamentally paving the way for the imposition of Shariah, the Muslim legal code and the conditions for building an Islamic state and society.
We have been slow to recognize this reality. Mr. McCarthy says we may have consciously avoided understanding the jihadists' purposes, as that would mean we have a responsibility to confront the jihadist danger. Mr. McCarthy goes on to say, "That is a danger we simply don't want to deal with: It would require facing up to the brute fact that such a state would be antithetical to American democracy."
Our Primary Mistake On The War On Terror
One of our many mistakes in the war on terror is placing our primary focus on violence, what I've called the explosive jihad, and not enough on the stealth jihad. We had better focus on the stealth jihad for our own security and safety, even if in doing so we violate the rules of political correctness. Mr. McCarthy writes, "Because America is a beacon of religious freedom, we've limited our focus to operatives who plot and execute acts of terror; the ideology fueling this savagery is not our concern — lest we betray our first principles and smear every Muslim as a terrorist."
But we can still affirm that not all Muslims are terrorists and also examine the nature of the ideology and what it portends for the U.S. If we don't do that, it may well be suicidal. Mr. McCarthy states three reasons for a clear look at the ideology behind Islam:
First, Islam is not merely a religion. Mr. McCarthy writes, "It is a comprehensive socioeconomic and political system, which believers take to be ordained by Allah, its elements compulsory and non-negotiable. While those elements include tenets we would regard as a religious creed, these tenets constitute only a fraction of the overarching Islamic project … When we blinker ourselves to Islamic ideology in deference to the principles of rendering unto God what is God's, we ignore a great deal of what, in American society, is to be rendered [unto] Caesar."
Second, Mr. McCarthy says it is a gross oversimplification to speak of Islam as if there was only one Muslim belief system. There are many Islams: "They have a common core, but numerous interpretations are legitimately identifiable as 'Islam.' When we speak of a 'true' or 'false' Islam, we are speaking nonsense. This shortchanges our understanding of the Muslim world and our influence on it."
This spectrum of Islam doesn't mean we can dismiss as "anti-Islamic' the fundamentalist strains that practice violence: "Though we find them unsavory, these strains boast a rich pedigree, lie squarely within the tradition of Muhammad, and are supported by centuries of scholarship rooted in the literal commands of scripture."
This group numbers conservatively in the tens of millions, including those who are willing to take up arms and a larger group who support forcible terrorist acts. Mr. McCarthy writes, "Pretending they represent a bare fringe has left us blind and vulnerable."
Third, we can't separate means from ends without confusing both. Violence may be the means, but we have to recognize the ends — to establish a Muslim state. We're wrong if we think the threat is ended if we can end violence. Mr. McCarthy summarizes: "The purpose of jihad is not to blow up buildings and kill infidels. Its purpose is to institute Shariah."
It is true that the Quran contains an ode to tolerance. But those are in the early verses. That ode was abrogated by later verses written when the Prophet spread Islam by the sword. What's more, the Muslim Brotherhood's chief theoretician, Sayyid Qutb, says forcible jihad goes forward whenever Islam is obstructed by the political system, the socio-economic system or military power. In other words, violence is only necessary if non-violence doesn't work. That's the same approach of a bank robber.
This is all made clear by a Muslim Brotherhood internal memorandum in 1991 made public by the Justice Department during its recent prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation, which was raising money for terrorist groups:
"The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."
Violence is essential but it helps obtain the little concessions and accommodations that can eventually undermine our government and our values. Mr. McCarthy writes, "When droves of Muslims riot over cartoon depictions of the prophet, a schoolteacher's innocuous choice of 'Mohammed' as nickname for the class teddy bear, or false reports of Quran defilement at Guantanamo Bay, conditions are ever more ripe for the grievance-mongers to seize the advantage."
The Road To Surrender
The violence and our belief that the only problem is terrorism (not the stealth jihad) sets us up for a crescendo of little concessions and accommodations that will eventually undermine our basic foundation. Mr. McCarthy catalogs a long list of such concessions and accommodations. Here are some of them:
• The State Departments director of public diplomacy in the Middle East praised the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader "as respected scholar … worthy of the deepest respect." This was so even though this "scholar" then as now had been banned from the U.S. for promoting terrorism.
• In writing new constitutions for Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. wrote constitutions making Islam the state religion and establishing Shariah, Muslim law, as the primary source of law. This was an accommodation to get support for our nation building. This surprised the authors of those constitutions even though it should not have, when in Afghanistan a man who converted from Islam to Christianity was sentenced to death for the crime of "apostasy." In Iraq, Ayatollah Ali Sistani issued a fatwa calling for the murder of all homosexuals.
• Even in Minnesota, we saw what happens when Shariah is accommodated as if it fits with our democratic ideals. Minnesota was the site of the "flying imams," the six Muslim clerics thrown off a flight as they were aping the behavior of the 9/11 hijackers. Our cowardly federal government reacted by subjecting 45,000 airport-security officers to an Islamic sensitivity course.
• And the above reaction is not surprising when you consider who is advising the Department of Homeland Security on Muslim-related matters. It is CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Both the FBI and DHS were partnering with CAIR, even as this Brotherhood-rooted organization was cited as an unindicted coconspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case.
• Then in Minneapolis, Muslim cab drivers refused to carry passengers who had alcohol in their possession. Instead of pulling their licenses, Muslim authorities were consulted. Finally, instead of ruling that the cab drivers were wrong, they were cajoled into carrying the passengers, as merely carrying someone in possession of alcohol that was not consuming it was not a violation of Shariah.
• Again in Minnesota, a graduate student was handicapped and required the assistance of a specially trained dog for his fieldwork. Shariah says a dog is unclean, so Muslim students threatened to kill the specially trained dog. When the student who owned the dog complained, the university capitulated and simply gave the student credit for the course without the fieldwork. It said it was important "to respect different cultures."
• In Inner Grove Heights, Minn., taxpayers are funding a charter school, housed in the headquarters of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, the declared mission of which is "establishing Islam in Minnesota." Mr. McCarthy says the school is a madrassa camouflaged as a charter school. Witness accounts say that the curriculum includes "Islamic studies" courses, a staple of the regular workload.
• The Department of Homeland Security, after consulting with unnamed Muslim authorities, decided to purge from public language the terms "Islamofascism" and "jihad." It issued no convincing explanation for the change … perhaps because there is no convincing explanation.
• This trend is far advanced in Europe compared to the U.S. For example, Geert Wilders, a Dutch legislator, was banned from entering Britain to show a film, "Fitna," about the well-established connection between Quranic teachings and jihadist terror. The same Labor government refused admission to an official of another European Union country due to fear of offending Muslims.
Muslim activists have succeeded in getting laws passed in Canada and many European countries that criminalize and create civil liability for criticism of Islam. British courts provide "libel tourism." This permits suits against American journalists and academics that write about Saudi Arabia's promotion of radical Islam. These suits would be dismissed under American law.
The list goes on and on, but as such concessions and accommodations are made, we are undermining our own society and values. Mr. McCarthy offers this conclusion, which America and its government better take to heart if we are to survive as America: "All of this can be reversed. American law need not embrace Shariah. Our system guarantees only freedom of conscience — to believe what one chooses to believe — not a right to have those beliefs accommodated, adopted or imposed. Regulations codifying Shariah can be undone. It is unlikely, short of another terror attack, that Congress would revisit the 1990 Immigration Act, which, at the behest of leftist Democrats, effectively gutted ideology-based exclusions of aliens committed to the eradication of American constitutional democracy.
"Still, though such reconsideration would be welcome, there is no reason, in the meantime, for U.S. government agencies to be 'partnering' with Islamic groups that take their cues from the Muslim Brotherhood. Those organizations are radical, and mean our society mortal harm, even if they're not blowing up buildings. The main challenge today is not protecting the buildings; it's protecting ourselves from what's going on inside the buildings."
Herb Denenberg is a former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner, and professor at the Wharton School. He is a longtime Philadelphia journalist and consumer advocate. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of the Sciences. His column appears daily in The Bulletin. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.