The official side of the terrorist debate remains whether violence committed by self-proclaimed Muslims may be fairly identified as “radical Islam,” “Islamism,” “extremist Islam,” etc. President Obama adamantly refuses to dignify self-proclaimed Muslim terrorists with the epithet of Islam at any level because, he argues, their actions have nothing to do with real Islam, which is peaceful. Perhaps the president knows something we don’t; perhaps the teachings and history of Islam are indeed devoid of violence – but that would require a fairly thorough analysis of Islam and Islamic history, which he and others like him have been so far reluctant to provide.
Those who have looked into the teachings and history of Islam at greater length have tended to come to very different conclusions. These include a growing number of independent scholars, journalists and even a smattering of politicians. But we need not rely only on our contemporaries to form an intelligent opinion; after all, Islam is about to enter its 15th century on the historical landscape. Better men than we have trod this path before, and it is worthwhile taking account of their findings, especially when many have been some of the most distinguished and universally acclaimed men of the age.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, for example, commissioned by the early American government to ascertain why American shipping was being preyed upon by the Muslim Barbary Pirates without provocation (an 18th-century form of terrorism, one might argue), concluded that it “was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Quran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.” Now that seems straightforward enough; Jefferson and Adams felt no compulsion to qualify their analysis with “radical,” “extremist,” or “Islamist.” The violence of the Barbary Pirates apparently resulted from their Islam rather than from having been “radicalized” or anything else.
Another voice worth heeding is that of Nobel Prize winner (and World War II winner) Winston Churchill, who had fought in the Sudan as a cavalry officer and who observed with no small degree of prescience, “Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science … the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.” Sadly, not even the embrace of science is proving strong enough to preserve Europe from the consequences of her own suicidal immigration and social policies, which are rapidly tilting the balance against the native European populations and leaving them at the mercy of Muslim hate-crimes and terrorism.
Lest we worry that the English-speaking world may be biased, we may turn to the great 19th-century French scholar and diplomat Alexis De Tocqueville, who “came away from [his] study [of the Quran] with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. As far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world, and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion infinitely more to be feared.” De Tocqueville’s own France is suffering under the burden of millions of Muslims, confident in their own faith, pressing into an increasingly bemused populace, whose leaders offer little more than live-and-let-live platitudes to counter European Islam’s fiery rhetoric of jihad and cultural conquest. Now the social balance is tilting not merely through immigration and birth rates but through young members of the native population signing up for Islam themselves. For many a young Frenchman who wants more than just a frivolous youth and a bureaucrat’s pension – who wants to commit himself to a larger and transcendent cause – the sort of cause that was once traditional Christianity – the choice is increasingly obvious.
We need not labor the point; Jefferson, Adams, Churchill and de Tocqueville (and a growing list of others) all ring true. But if so many brilliant and acclaimed personages had Islam’s number, why is it so hard for today’s academics, journalists, and statesmen to face facts? What feeds the “convenient fiction” that “real” Islam is peaceful? Certainly, a generation’s worth of indoctrination in multiculturalism has a lot to do with it. But even so, one suspects that deep down is fear, real, gnawing fear, about the implications of what if, in fact, Islam really is fundamentally violent. It sounds so bad, so unpalatable, that it simply mustn’t be true. Yet it is. As Churchill pointed out, individual Muslims may be entirely excellent people by Western standards (many obviously are), but Islam, we must bear in mind, is not and cannot be judged by Western standards. Live-and-let-live is no principle of Islam.
Truth remains the truth however grim. Still, the fact is that the fear can readily be dispelled. When we first confront the inherently violent nature of Islam, it seems that the West cannot avoid an interminable and bloody global struggle with the House of Islam – but this would be a mistake. A quick glance at the balance of forces is all that is necessary: There is no possible coalition of Muslim countries that could take on the Western coalition or even the United States herself. Economically and militarily, the West would win hands down, aided no doubt by the historical divisions among the Islamic countries themselves.
However, the West will continue to lose if it fails to contain Islam from spreading further into Western countries and if it continues to insist that its own mores and systems of government are for universal export. Containment – a policy successfully deployed against Communism – at home and abroad must be the byword of Western and American strategy. Containing Islam would mean curtailing Muslim immigration into non-Islamic countries (chiefly our own) while curtailing our own misguided attempts to bring so-called democracy to the Islamic world. Under containment, we would continue to deal diplomatically with Muslim countries while dramatically reducing points of conflict both at home and abroad. Contrary to misguided multicultural sensibilities, another word for containment would be respect. We should respect Islam for what it is rather than what we think it ought to be.
Containment would safeguard our borders, disengage our military from unnecessary overseas perils and help restore a sense of national and civilizational clarity to what has been decades of globalist disorder. While we must not shrink from the undeniable fact that Islam is a religion not of peace but of violence, we must not fear the implications, either. In this election year, let us hope to hear the word “containment” uttered in earnest. It may be just the word the Republican contender is looking for to bring his position with respect to the Islamic world into focus.