With mathematically predictable precision, President Barack Hussein Obama declared that last Wednesday’s slaughter of 17 American attendees of a Christmas party by two Muslims in a community center in California, and the wounding of two-dozen others, was a mystery (“We don’t know the motives)—and that the U.S. needed stricter gun laws. It was a jihadist attack by devout Muslims against Americans, as it happens. It was an eminently jihadist act of murderous aggression by self-starting, home-grown Muslim terrorists.
Enough already of Obama and his ilk. The war against sudden jihad self-generated by Muslim immigrants and their offspring, threatening literally every American, is by now both real and present. It can and must be won, in spite of Obama and his ilk. From now on every Muslim is a legitimate suspect and every non-Muslim is a potential victim, with self-defense strategies understood
The first task is to start talking frankly about the identity and character of the enemy, Obama’s devious plaitudes notwithstanding. It is essential to discard the taboos and to discuss Islam, Middle Eastern immigration, and the Muslims in general without fear or guilt, or the shackles of mandated thinking. What I am about to state here is not different from what I have said at countless public platforms in the U.S. over the years, or advocates in these pages of Chronicles. This is a summary of many years of study.
The imperative is dictated by rational integrity no less than by the need for self-preservation. We have a moral and intellectual obligation “not to shirk the difficult issues and subjects that some people would place under a sort of taboo,” Bernard Lewis (age 99)—who knows Islam better than any prominent Westerner alive—warned three decades ago, “not to submit to voluntary censorship, but to deal with these matters fairly, honestly, without apologetics, without polemic, and, of course, competently . . . Because, make no mistake, those who are unwilling to confront the past will be unable to understand the present and unfit to face the future.”
Or, to be more precise, unfit to survive very far into the future. Since Lewis wrote those words it has become blatantly obvious that the main threat to Western security comes from the purveyors of “voluntary censorship,” with those among us who have the power to make policy and shape opinions, and who reject his diagnosis and demonize everyone else who agrees with him. Having absorbed postmodernist assumptions, certain only of uncertainty, devoid of any serious faith except that in their own infallibility but loath to be “judgmental,” members of our own elite class treat the jihadist mindset as a pathology that can and should be treated by treating causes external to Islam itself. The result is a plethora of proposed “strategies” that are as likely to succeed in making us safe from jihadism as pretending that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are America’s “allies” in the fight against ISIS will help defeat the Islamic State.
Abroad, we are told, we need to trust Ankara and Riyadh, we need to spread our “values” in the Muslim world, we need to invest more in public diplomacy. At home we need more tolerance, more draconian legal measures against “Islamophobia,” greater inclusiveness, less profiling, and a more determined outreach to the Muslim communities that feel marginalized and stigmatized. The predictable failure of such cures leads to ever more pathological self-scrutiny and morbid self-doubt. This vicious circle is untenable and must be broken. Evidently it costs too many American (and French, English, Spanish . . . ) lives, and the problem will get worse. The magnitude of the threat demands radical responses that fall outside the cognitive parameters of the elite class.
1. Spying on Muslims is necessary, legal and justified—Let us start with the complex and emotionally charged issue of constitutional rights versus national security. In December 2005 it was disclosed that soon after the September 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency “to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the U.S. to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying.” The unwillingness of the mainstream media to disclose the exact identity of the NSA eavesdropping subjects was reminiscent of its refusal to disclose the religious identity of tens of thousands of rioters who wreaked havoc in dozens of French suburbs a decade ago. Glossing over the surveillance targets’ identity has implied that that a Muslim who has become a naturalized American citizen is so thoroughly and irrevocably “American,” that no hyphenated designation or qualifier is called for. This fits in with the liberal world view that rejects the notion that faith can be a prime motivating factor in human affairs, or that importing Muslim immigrants may be in any way disadvantageous for the host country’s security. Having reduced religion, politics and art to “narratives” and “metaphors” which merely reflect prejudices based on the distribution of power, the elite class did its usual thing, calling—most recently—the attackers in Paris last month “French” or “Belgian.”
Our awareness of the many failures of the Bush II presidency should not make us instinctively disinclined to see the legal justification for its conduct. The threat posed by jihad today is different in degree to that faced during the Cold War, but not in kind: it is an existential threat. 24/7 surveillance—at home and abroad—is the right and proper part of that response. The legal and constitutional dilemma, such as whether the U.S. should spy on jihadist-minded “Americans” at home is both false and unnecessary under the circumstances. Radical solutions are needed for radical challenges, and they do exist.
If and when all persons engaged in Islamic activism are excluded from America, there will be no need for such intrusive domestic surveillance. We don’t need any legislation to protect CAIR’s clients’ privacy, we need the law that will treat any naturalized citizen’s or resident alien’s known or suspected adherence to an Islamic world outlook as excludable – on political, rather than “religious” grounds.
2. Refuse/Rescind Citizenship to Islamic Activists—All Americans—real Americans, that is, and not those who falsely take the oath of citizenship but continue to preach jihad and Sharia—will be spared the worry of state intrusion if Islamic activism is treated as grounds for the loss of acquired U.S. citizenship and deportation. The citizenship of any naturalized American who preaches jihad, inequality of “infidels” and women, the establishment of the Shari’a law etc., should be revoked, and that person promptly deported to the country of origin.
A foreigner who becomes naturalized (myself included) has to declare, on oath, “that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.” (In acknowledgement whereof I have hereunto affixed my signature.)
This is a legally binding document. For a Muslim to declare all of the above in good faith, and especially that he accepts the Constitution of the United States as the source of his highest loyalty, is an act of apostasy par excellence, punishable by death under the Islamic law. The sharia, to a Muslim, is not an addition to the “secular” legal code with which it coexists with “the Constitution and laws of the United States of America”; it is the only true code, the only basis of obligation. To be legitimate, all political power therefore must rest exclusively with those who enjoy Allah’s authority on the basis of his revealed will. America, to a believing Muslim, is inherently illegitimate.
So how can a self-avowedly devout Muslim take the oath, and expect the rest of us to believe that it was done in good faith? Because he is practicing taqiyya, the art of dissimulation that was inaugurated by Muhammad to help destabilize and undermine non-Muslim communities ripe for a touch of Jihad. Or else because he is not devout enough and confused, but in that case there is the ever-present danger that at some point he will rediscover his roots, with predictably unpleasant consequences for the rest of us. This is exactly what happened with the slaughter in California.
3. Reintroduce “Profiling”—In June 2003 the government ordered a ban on “racial and ethnic profiling” at all 70 federal law enforcement agencies. It has been upheld ever since. Guidelines issued by the Justice Department directly impacted some 120,000 law enforcement officers at the FBI, the DEA, Homeland Security Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Coast Guard and other agencies. The guidelines said that authorities may subject certain groups to greater scrutiny if there is “specific information” that such people are preparing to mount a terrorist attack. Specifically, Middle Eastern men might draw greater attention at airports, but only if the government discovered a plot to mount an attack.
These rules place front-line defenders of America in a quandary. They are discretely violated by law enforcement officers, especially at passport and customs checkpoints, who care about doing their jobs well more than doing them “right.” Ahmed Ressam was stopped in December 1999 by a Customs Service agent as he tried to enter the U.S. from Canada, even though the agent had no specific information giving him cause to suspect the traveler—prima facie, a classic case of profiling, of bad and even illegal policing worthy of moral condemnation and bureaucratic censure. It turned out that Ressam was a terrorist with over a hundred pounds of powerful explosives in his car trunk, explosives meant to blow up the Los Angeles International Airport.
The aversion to “profiling” is a symptom, minor but telling, of the contemporary Western pathology. Law-enforcers in other parts of the world pay no heed to the dictates of “sensitivity” and anti-discriminationism. Arabs profile other Arabs, Indians profile Pakistanis, Japanese profile Chinese and Koreans, and everyone profiles Africans (unless they are invading Europe). Israel, democratic and friendly to America, profiles everyone entering and exiting all the time, and makes no qualms about it.
Not all Muslims are terrorists, but for some decades now all terrorists of concern to America’s national security and to the quality of life of its citizens have been Muslims. Two percent of practicing Muslims living in the United States were responsible for over 95 percent of terrorist offenses and serious threats in the country since 9-11. A young Muslim man is literally hundreds of thousands of times more likely to carry out a terrorist attack in the United States than an Episcopalian, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, or a Buddhist. Or for that matter a Lebanese Christian. Membership of a group is a valid pointer in assuming and judging unobserved behavioral characteristics of an individual, especially in the absence of specific information about that individual’s background. To suggest otherwise is neither moral nor sane.
Profiling is not “good” or “bad” policing, it is just policing. It is necessary and it should be perfectly legal: there is nothing in the Constitution to suggest otherwise. It is time to accept that “profiling” based on a person’s appearance, origin, and apparent or suspected beliefs is an essential tool of trade of law enforcement and war on terrorism.
4. No Security Clearances for Muslims—A person’s Islamic faith and outlook is incompatible with the requirements of personal commitment, patriotic loyalty and unquestionable reliability that are essential in the military, law enforcement, intelligence services, and other related branches of government. For as long as practicing Muslims are able to get security clearances, terrorist organizations will continue trying to insinuate their supporters into the hiring pools of American security agencies. Any presence of practicing Muslims in any such institution would present an inherent risk to its integrity and undermine its morale. Examples abounds, such as the Ft. Hood massacre.
Parallel with the removal of Muslims from all positions requiring security clearance, it will be necessary to use religious profiling in recruiting replacements. Lebanese and other Middle Eastern Christians should provide a large pool of qualified candidates with excellent linguistic skills and cultural assets essential to the task. Wherever they went, Lebanese Christians have assimilated and become valuable and respected members of their host communities. Their former neighbors, the ethnically and physically almost indistinguishable Lebanese Muslims, have not.
5. Re-haul Immigration Laws and Procedures—The 9/11 Commission’s Final Report says, “better technology and training to detect terrorist travel documents are the most important immediate steps to reduce America’s vulnerability to clandestine entry,” which is incorrect. Better technology is certainly needed, but “the most important immediate steps” demand controlling the borders. No counter-terrorist strategy is possible without complete physical control of the homeland’s boundaries. Illegal immigration from Islamic nations is a major terrorist threat that can and should be eliminated. Cooperation of state and local law-enforcement agencies at all levels in apprehending illegal immigrants and assisting in their deportation, focusing on those from nations and groups at risk for Islamic terrorism, should be made mandatory. State and local law-enforcement agencies should not be subjected to a single command and control center, but they need to cooperate in enforcing the law and protecting national security.
New immigration legislation is badly needed, and it should include laws to exclude all persons engaged in Islamic activism from America. Such activism should be defined as the political act of propagating, disseminating or otherwise supporting “Jihad” (in its primary sense of divinely sanctioned war against non-Muslims), discrimination against Christians, Jews and other “infidels,” discrimination and violence against women and sexual minorities, anti-Jewish bigotry, sanction of slavery, poll tax, etc. Islam’s violent manifestations and discriminatory message are inseparable, and adequate safeguards against the adherents of that message should be put in place. The proposed definition of Islamic activism would be a major step in the direction of denying actual or potential terrorists a foothold on American shores.
New legislation should treat a resident alien’s or prospective visitor’s known or suspected adherence to an Islamic world outlook or affiliation with the propagators of Jihad, sharia, etc. as excludable—excludable, let us re-emphasize, on political, rather than “religious” grounds. The broad model is provided by the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA, the McCarran-Walter Act). Senator McCarran’s and Congressman Francis Walter’s provisions aimed at curtailing subversion were well devised and they have been unjustly demonized in recent decades. They allowed the exclusion or deportation of any alien who engaged or had the purpose to engage in activities prejudicial to the public interest or subversive to national security.
Islamic activism should be treated as the grounds for the exclusion or deportation of any alien, regardless of his status or ties in the United States, because such activism is inherently prejudicial to the public interest and injurious to national security. Useful precedents exist. Keeping out and facilitating the expulsion of politically undesirable foreigners has been at the heart of this country’s immigration legislation since 1903 when Congress barred the admission of anarchists in response to President McKinley’s assassination. “Ideological” grounds for deportation were on the statute books until 1990, when they were repealed by Congress. After the Russian revolution foreign communists were singled out for deportation. One night alone in January of 1920, more than 2,500 “alien radicals” were seized in thirty-three cities across the country and deported to their countries of origin. Those who preach Jihad and Sharia can and should be treated in exactly the same manner.
It is possible that the “affiliation” in this clause will affect a number of people who do not actively identify with all of the goals and methods of the Jihadist core. That may be unfortunate but it is inevitable. Personal assurances by individuals thus affected cannot be taken at face value: Islam not only allows, but mandates lying to “infidels” in order to gain political or any other advantage (i.e. Taqiyya, the concealment of one’s Islamic beliefs to non-Muslims). The problem is well known to INS officials: attitudes of Muslims who apply for U.S. visas or asylum often change once their status in America is secure. In addition, even “lapsed” Muslims are at permanent risk of going back to their roots, as many Western-born youths are doing.
6. Supervise Mosques and Islamic Centers—All mosques, Islamic centers and their individual members should be obliged to register with the Attorney General. They need to be subjected to legal limitations and security supervision that applies to cults prone to violence and “hate groups.” The acceptance of proposed measures would lead to a swift and irreversible reduction in the number of mosques and Islamic centers in the United States. The remnant would have to be registered with the Attorney General and subjected to legal limitations and security supervision that applies to cults prone to violence and “hate groups.” All over the Western world Islamic centers have provided platforms for exhortations to the faithful to support causes and to engage in acts that are morally reprehensible, illegal, and detrimental to the host country’s national security. Their message is seditious, incompatible with the the U.S. Constitution and with common decency. Subjecting them to the relentless supervision by every government agency needed for the task, and doing it right now, is both necessary and justified.
CONCLUSION: All over the Western world Islamic centers have provided platforms for exhortations to the faithful to support causes and to engage in acts that are morally reprehensible, legally punishable, and detrimental to the host country’s national security. Even those mosques that refrain from preaching jihad are loath to entertain the notion of full equality between a Muslim and a Christian or a Jew, let alone a Hindu, Buddhist or atheist. Islamic law further denies the rights of women, homosexuals, as well as non-Muslims. It is inherently discriminatory. It is incompatible with the the U.S. Constitution, or for that matter with any Western democratic constitution.
The model for the proposed measure exists in the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950. The conditio sine qua non is to accept and declare that the First Amendment does not protect Jihadists. It is in the American tradition that nothing ought to protect those who advocate the overthrow of the United States Government by force and violence, and, at bottom, that is what the Jihadists are up to. Legal regulators need to grasp that Islam itself is a radical, revolutionary ideology, inherently seditious and inimical to American values and institutions.
No court should uphold the constitutionality of any measure targeted at a particular religion qua religion. But if the facts were known about what is going on in mosques, and what the nature of world-wide Jihad is, the necessary legal regulation may be accomplished. In addition, the First Amendment protection to political speech should not extent to Sharia because of its inherently discriminatory nature. The bottom line is, we do not need new legal theories, or a different conception of the First Amendment; we need an educational campaign. Acceptance of these proposals would represent the long overdue beginning of a serious Western defense against Islamic terrorism. It would signify the recognition that we are in a life-or-death struggle of ideas and faiths, whether we want that or not, and however much we hate the fact.
This war is being fought, on the Islamic side, with the deep condition that the West is on its last legs, spiritually, morally, and biologically. That view is reinforced by the evidence from history that a civilization that loses the urge for biological self-perpetuation is indeed in mortal peril. Even at this late stage a recovery is possible, however, and the suggested measures would herald that recovery. My proposals are not only pragmatic, they are morally just. They will elicit the accusation of “discrimination,” even though no such label is applicable. Targeting people for screening, supervision and exclusion on the basis of their genes would be discriminatory indeed, but doing so because of their beliefs, ideas, actions, and intentions is justified and necessary.
Islamic beliefs, ideas and intentions as such, pose a threat to our civilization and our way of life, and not some allegedly aberrant variety of Muhammad’s faith. The elite class rejects this diagnosis, of course, but among reasonable, patriotic, and well-informed citizens the debate on Islam’s nature should be long over. Once upon a time the West and the Muslim world could clearly define themselves vis-à-vis each other in a cultural and political sense. What postmodernity and secularism have done, since replacing Christianity as the guiding light of the West, is to cast aside any idea of “our land,” of a space that is European or American in the ethnic, geographic, and cultural sense, a space that has an external boundary and that should be protected from those who covet it but to whom it does not belong. That same problem faces us even more starkly today, as the West faces two clear alternatives: determined defense or eventual submission and—as V.S. Naipaul eloquently put it—our acceptance of sacred Arab places as our own.
At the root of the domestic malaise is the notion that countries do not belong to the people who have inhabited them for generations, but to whoever happens to be within their boundaries at any given moment—regardless of his culture, attitude, or intentions. Another pernicious notion is that the resulting random melange of mutually disconnected multitudes is actually a blessing that enriches and elevates an otherwise arid and monotonous society. A further evil fallacy is the dictum that we should not feel a special bond for any particular country, nation, race, or culture, but transfer our preferences on the whole world, “Humanity,” equally.
Normal people should not succumb to the myth that the game is up, that Dar al Islam is the end of the road for all of us. We are endowed with feelings and reason, with the awareness of who we are and pride in our patrimony. Being the heirs of the greatest and best civilization the world has known, we know we will not fail it. Our struggle against Jihad is just and natural. It is inevitable even if the outcome is uncertain, just as the knowledge each of us has of his mortality does not stop us from holding on to life, and beauty, and truth.