Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Willful Blindness

Max Fisher has an article in the Atlantic amazingly titled, "Why Home-Grown Islamic Terrorism Isn't A Threat." He points out all the ways Muslim-Americans differ from Muslims elsewhere. They are better educated, better off economically, more satisfied, and far better assimilated into American society, than for example in many European countries. This is all true. But Fisher completely misses the point. Pretending that home-grown Islamic terrorism isn't a threat in the aftermath of the Fort Hood shootings is just willful blindness.

The threat of home-grown Islamic terrorism does not come from the vast majority of Muslim Americans, but from a radical fringe. Denying that this fringe is a real threat is an attempt to deny reality. Fisher also resorts to a typical false analogy used by those who try to minimize the threat of radical Islam.

sometimes deeply disturbed individuals cling to Christian fundamentalist extremism or jihad as a way to justify their unhinged and explosive anger. But the cause they pretend to adopt is incidental to their crime. Critics who point out that Scott Roeder was also called a terrorist are absolutely right to compare him to Hasan -- neither is any more than a lone madman. No one has seriously suggested, say, banning the pro-life evangelicals who protest regularly at the Supreme Court. They certainly haven't suggest the FBI monitor all evangelicals in the military or block them from deployment. Far from it: the U.S. military remains a hotbed of evangelical Christians.

I'm sorry, but this argument is simply idiotic on multiple levels. Even a blind fool like Fisher should be able to see that radical Islamic views appear to have been a prime motivating force in Hasan's actions. And there is no comparison between Christian fundamentalist extremism and radical Islam. Extremist pro-lifers are indeed a terrorist threat. But they are a threat to a very small, specific part of our population: doctors who perform abortions, and people who work at abortion clinics. And yes, we should take precautions to monitor such extremists and try to prevent attacks like the murder of Dr. Tiller.  But we are at war with radical Islamists, who are a threat to the entire country. And obviously,comparing the monitoring of suspected radical Islamists to evangelical Christians within the military is just insane. 

As Hasan's treason demonstrated again, radical Islam is a threat that can produce murderous acts of home-grown terrorism. It is unclear why there are those like Fisher who are so determined to live in denial. 

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