The Edge of Terror
|Erick Stakelbeck||April 18th 2012|
Itâ€™s the first rule of war: know your enemy. Yet the U.S. government refuses to use terms like â€œjihadistsâ€ or â€œradical Islamistsâ€ to describe the terrorists who attack us. According to some in the media, the war against Islamic jihadists doesnâ€™t even exist. When agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Amine El Khalifi recently for plotting to blow up the U.S. Capitol, most media reports identified him as simply a â€œMoroccan man.â€
Entire news reports about El Khalifiâ€™s case made no mention of the fact that he was Muslim. Neither did a top U.S. Justice Department official who labeled the al Qaeda admirer as merely â€œhomegrown violent extremist.â€ Again, no mention of Islam, even though El Khalifi had prayed at a Washington-area mosque just moments before driving a van he thought was packed with explosives to the Capitol.
â€œHe was obviously affiliated with the Islamic jihad,â€ Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said. â€œAnd whatâ€™s very clear is that had he succeeded, the coverage would have been different.â€
â€œBut wouldnâ€™t it be better if we had media coverage that talked about the potential of what could happen so we could prevent it?â€ she asked. Bachmann said that political correctness takes over in mainstream reporting on Islamic terrorism. â€œThe world is being turned upside down because of radical Islam and our media is refusing to tell the story. â€¦ They come from a decidedly leftist world view and a secularâ€”almost anti-secular, in a way, because theyâ€™ve embraced such a radical world viewâ€”and they impose that filter through every subject they touch,â€ she continued. â€œUnfortunately, this subject concerns our very survivability as a people.â€
Depending on who and what you read, the war against Islamic jihadists is already history. The day after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden, CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen declared that the war on terror was over. His CNN colleague, Fareed Zakaria, went further, writing that bin Ladenâ€™s death meant radical Islamâ€™s â€œexistential threat to the Western worldâ€ was now â€œgone.â€
Author Michael Widlanski observed, however, â€œTerror is primarily a battle for the mind, and unfortunately, our best and our brightest have become our worst and dimmest.â€
In his new book, Battle for our Minds, Widlanski argues that the American people are being misled about the Islamic terror threat. â€œIâ€™m talking about our public intellectuals, the people who are the gate keepers to our mind: our media, our academics and our government intelligence people.â€
Widlanski said these groups have created a climate where legitimate criticism of Islamist ideology is branded as â€œbigoted.â€ He explained, â€œOur problem isnâ€™t Islamophobia, itâ€™s not a phobia, itâ€™s not an unreasoning fear.â€ He added, â€œItâ€™s Islamophilia: an unreasoning love of Islam and protection of Islam. And even worse, Islam-myopia: a near-sighted, willful ignorance when it comes to things Islamic.â€
The problem existed through the Clinton and Bush administrations, but has reached new heights under President Obama, Widlanski continued.
The Department of Homeland Security has replaced phrases like â€œradical Islamâ€ and â€œIslamic terrorismâ€ with vague terms like â€œviolent extremismâ€ and â€œman-made disasters.â€ After a Muslim terrorist shouting â€œAllahu Akhbarâ€ gunned down 13 U.S. soldiers at the Texas Fort Hood military base in 2009, a Pentagon report described the massacre as â€œworkplace violence.â€
Then there is the presidentâ€™s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan. Brennan has referred to Jerusalem by its Arabic name, al-Quds, and has called jihad a spiritual struggle and â€œlegitimate tenet of Islam.â€
â€œThe basic meaning of jihad in Arabic, from the Arabic root, is â€˜warâ€™â€”a physical war,â€ Widlanski said.
Roots of Islamic Spin
So how did the politically correct slant on Islamic jihad take root among our leaders and opinion shapers? According to Widlanski, much of it can be traced back to Edward Said, a Palestinian professor whose reach extended far beyond the classroom. Said was an adviser to former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. During a trip to southern Lebanon, Said was photographed throwing stones at Israeli soldiers stationed on the border.
Yet these radical activities didnâ€™t stop him from becoming a celebrity professor at Columbia University, thanks to his book, Orientalism.
â€œIn 1978, Orientalism was produced, and Saidâ€™s basic idea was that the West had raped the Islamic East,â€ Widlanski explained. â€œHe wanted the West to get dumb, and he succeeded. The next two generations of American students, diplomats, and agents with the Central Intelligence Agency know little to no Arabic, and they know little or no Islamic culture.â€
Widlanski said Saidâ€™s portrayal of the West as aggressor and the Muslim world as victim had huge influence on college campuses and the mainstream media. It also became popular at the U.S. State Department and in the intelligence community.
President Obama, who was then a state senator, even shared a table with Said at a 1998 Arab community event in Chicago.
â€œYou can see and feel the Said message in many of the things that Obama says,â€ Widlanski said. He added that the Said view has done great damage to American interests, but that itâ€™s not irreversible.
â€œThe average American understands in his gut, in her gut, whatâ€™s going on. They pick up the hints,â€ Widlanski said. â€œLetâ€™s start educating our law enforcement, our security officials, the next generation of American students, to understand the Middle East, to understand terrorism, to study the languages, to study the cultures,â€ he said. â€œNot with the hand-picked successors of Edward Said.â€
Erick Stakelbeck is the Terrorism Analyst for CBN News, from where this article is adapted.