Lopez: Who most damningly has been Willfully Blind?
McCarthy: Well, it’d be easy to say, “Why, the government, of course.” But government is heavily influenced by the media and the commentariat, and those elites will not abide the notion that there just might be a connection between Islam and Islamic terrorism. I think most people are more sensible than that. The more extensive government gets, though, and the more dependent on it we all become, the less will the public has to demand a governmental course correction. Absent some hair-raising event like 9/11, we go along.
Lopez: What’s the most devastating lesson from 15 years ago we still haven’t learned?
McCarthy: That the primary cause of Islamic terrorism is Muslim doctrine, and that we are not fighting a tiny, rag-tag collection of fringe lunatics who have somehow “hijacked” the “true Islam.”
Mark Steyn reminds us of Toynbee’s observation that civilizations die from suicide rather than murder, and our mulish refusal to look at what we’re up against is case in point. It’s really a frightful commentary on the low regard we have for ourselves: that we don’t think we are capable of soberly assessing the Islamic challenge without smearing all Muslims as terrorists — as if, in the scheme of things, it’s more important to shield the tender sensibilities of Muslims than fulfill our duty to protect American lives.
The stubborn fact is: Islamic doctrine is supremacist, chauvinist, and rife with calls to violence against non-Muslims. That doesn’t mean that these are the only elements of Islam. Nor does it mean that all Muslims, or even most, have any interest in acting on those elements. But moderate Muslims, no matter how great a majority of the faithful they may be, do not make Islam moderate. Islam is the font from which springs what we call fundamentalist Islam, radical Islam, militant Islam, political Islam, Islamo-fascism, or whatever we are calling it this week to avoid any hint that Islam has anything to do with the problem.
There are many different interpretations of Islam, of course. The one that truly threatens us — let’s call it fundamentalist Islam, since I think that’s closest to accurate — is not a fringe ideology. It is a comprehensive social system, with political, legal, and theological prescriptions. It is 14 centuries old; has in its history won the fealty of rich and poor, educated and illiterate, etc.; cuts across divides like Sunni-versus-Shiite; and today boasts hundreds of millions of adherents — not a majority of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims, but an influential, dynamic minority.
In any event, the forcible tendencies of fundamentalist Islam may be exacerbated or rationalized by poverty, resentment, lack of democracy, etc. But they are not caused by such pretexts. The violence is commanded by scripture.
Note here that when Islamic terrorists and their apologists talk about Islam being under siege, this has to be understood in the context of their hegemonic goals. Any regime that is not governing in accordance with sharia, or Islamic law, is implicitly attacking Islam since Allah commands that all the world be called to Islam and the establishment of sharia is deemed a necessary precondition to that divine injunction.
Lopez: How is Islam like fire?
McCarthy: Fire is a useful but very dangerous thing. For those who are careful with it and rigorously harness its explosive potential, it can be very beneficial. That’s why most Muslims lead productive, dignified, honorable lives. But Islam always has that explosive potential, many of its most influential figures, like Sheikh Abdel Rahman, believe that potential is meant to be unleashed to vanquish non-Muslims. There are far too many Muslims who internalize that message.
Lopez: “Militant Islam may actually pose an existential threat to the United States…” you write. What must be done?
McCarthy: The first step is to recognize the threat and its source. If, as I contend, the doctrine is the source, then security policy has to direct itself to the doctrine. We can’t change the doctrine ourselves. But we can protect ourselves, and increase the pressure for reform, by refusing to tolerate terrorist safe-havens; punishing regimes that facilitate jihadist organizations, particularly by giving them safe-haven; imposing restrictions on business with and immigration from Islamic countries unless they reform; punishing regimes that promote the exportation of Wahhabist and Salafist interpretations of Islam; dealing only with authentic Muslim reformers while shunning groups like CAIR; and making clear that, until Islam actually reforms — until Muslims and Islamic regimes systematically reject and crack down on jihadism in a convincing way — we are not going to pretend that a person’s adherence to Islam is irrelevant to whether we should regard him with suspicion. That doesn’t mean we investigate people solely because of their religion. Yet, as long as we are under siege from Islamic terror groups, we can’t take the position that it is irrelevant whether a person who is here, or wants to come here, is an Islamic fundamentalist who believes sharia should be installed and jihad is the legitimate means toward that end.
1) Wartime Malpractice