Move Along, Nothing to See Here

A Kuwaiti-born immigrant named Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez shot and killed four servicemen on Thursday at a recruiting center and another military site in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but don’t jump to any conclusions that it might have anything to with Islam. There’s always a chance it was caused by some Confederate battle flag emblazoned on a passing pick-up, or something that some Republican presidential candidate might have said about immigration, and in any case it couldn’t have had anything to do with what everyone knows is a religion of peace.
By now the ritual is all too familiar. Someone named Muhammad commits mass murder at a military installation or some other obviously symbolic target, has announced to his friends and the internet and anyone who will listen that everything he does is motivated by his understanding of Islam, millions of Muslims with a similar understanding of the faith “tweet” their congratulations or celebrate in the streets or otherwise express their approval of the slaughter, and polite opinion and the official pronouncements insist that it has nothing to do with Islam. By now the far more impolite average American’s instinctive opinion is that it must have something to with Islam, somehow or another, but the official record and the most massive of the mass-media will somehow veer around this increasingly inescapable conclusion.
This particular Muhammad died during his mass-murder spree, which will absolve the authorities of the unpleasant necessity of charging him with terrorism rather than the mere mass-murder charges that might be more conveniently brought against someone motivated by a Confederate battle flag or a Sarah Palin graphic or some other domestic provocation that doesn’t require apologetics, and although the investigation will likely be forced to concede that Islam did have something to do with it ¬†somehow or another the carefully-worded report won’t require widespread news coverage. In the meantime the four Americans who were gunned down while serving their country in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will be easily forgotten as the four Americans who were gunned down while serving their country in Benghazi, Libya, and there will be stories about how America hasn’t suffered 9/11-style attack during the current administration, just the occasional pesky cases of “work place violence” at Fort Hood and shootings at a recruiting center in Arkansas and this one in Tennessee and cars being driven into pedestrians in a couple of towns and a beheading in Oklahoma and unspeakable carnage all across areas of Iraq that had once been pacified and almost civilized by American military might, and much celebration that the Iranian theocracy and its very bellicose understanding of Islam has promised the Great Satan that it won’t get a nuclear weapon for at the least the ten years or so that it will take them to acquire the ballistic missile systems that America’s politely indulgent understanding of Islam has now allowed to buy from their newly-acquired Russian and Chinese friends.
There are no doubt many Muslims who do subscribe to that Religion of Peace of version of Islam that we keep hearing about, every time some some self-proclaimed Muslim commits mass murder, and we wish them well. The best possible outcome would be that they somehow convince their co-religionists to reach a similarly placid understanding of Islam, and persuade them to live in peace with a western world that is anathema to their generations-old understanding of right and wrong, and are able to point to America’s capitulation to a Shiite Iranian nuclear bomb and the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood’s legitimacy in Egypt and elsewhere as proof of its good intention, but barring that unlikely possibility some frankness will be required among the both the officials and their mass-media accomplices. A widely-held understanding of Islam is utterly incompatible with the values that both the left and the right of western civilization, is causing the all-too-frequent deaths of Americans and far more massive bloodshed throughout the rest of the world, and cannot be peacefully be resolved without capitulations to a medieval theology that goes way beyond repealing same-sex marriage and women’s suffrage and is offended even by the more old-fashioned morality of the Christian right, and some resistance must be offered.
We can’t say where to begin the bombings, as the threat is by now far too diffuse and well-armed in the deserts and well-hidden in the suburbs and too politely ignored by official pronouncements and mass-media commentary, but at a frank acknowledgement that this has something to do with Islam, somehow or another, would be a good start.

— Bud Norman

Paying the Ultimate Price

The headlines announced that 21 Egyptians were beheaded in a rebel-controlled portion of Libya this week, but it usually required reading several paragraphs into the stories to learn that the men were so cruelly executed by the Islamic State not because of their nationality but because they refused to renounce their Christian faith.
Much of the media and all of the administration officials they quoted are clearly uncomfortable reporting these rather crucial details, for various reasons. The murderous presence of the Islamic State in Libya does not confirm the administration’s reassuring claims of a “jayvee team” of terrorism being routed by coalition forces, the terror gang’s name and Koranic methods of execution make it harder to convince a skeptical public that none of this unpleasantness has anything to do with Islam, the numbing frequency of such atrocities suggest that there’s something more historically significant to it than those routine murders and car wrecks that the ratings-hungry local stations prefer to cover instead of climate change, and the spectacle of Christians dying for their faith poses all sorts of problems to the modern liberal worldview.
Those of us in the west who still who profess a Christian faith at Sunday worship services and struggle unworthily to live according to its teachings through the rest of the week have been long accustomed to the blessing of doing so without risk to our fortunes or personal safety, but we all still wonder from time to time if we’d be willing to pay the same ultimate price of discipleship as those 21 Egyptians. Anyone outspoken about traditional Biblical views on sexual morality can expect to be stripped of a beauty queen title or denied a high-level position in the high-tech business or have their reality show knocked off a cable network or be denied the right to sell a chicken sandwich in Boston, and even the most quietly and inconspicuously observant Christians will be subject to frequent ridicule on the sit-coms and talk shows, and their kids are going to get an earful of sneering during four years of college, and any presidential aspirants who espouse a Christian faith should expect all sorts of pointed questions about evolution and contraception, but being beheaded or burned alive is not as of yet a concern to the western Christian. Hearing from those parts of the world where Christianity does entail such risks, and of the brave and fervent women there who gladly face that danger for the faith, we cannot help but admire their courage and be humbly thankful we have not yet been called upon to face the same test.
Surely the unchurched are similarly moved to self-examination about the strength of their own convictions, and we suspect that in many cases they find it all the more discomfortingly humbling. Most of our outspokenly atheistic friends are unembarrassed to say they would immediately renounce their non-beliefs to avoid a beheading or some other grisly death, and reasonably argue that this is entirely consistent with their belief in rationalism, but none can be proud that they would be furthering the cause of an extraordinarily evil ideology. That the Islamic State’s evil is murderously misogynistic, anti-homosexual, anti-intellectual, and imperialist, all to an extent that even the most fevered imaginations of the left cannot claim the Republican Party to be, requires some some condemnation that a secular liberal would be embarrassed to recant in any circumstances. The Islamic State might be another Viet Cong or Shining Path or similarly beloved guerrilla movement if they’d only stick to killing Christians and start insisting on unisex bathroom facilities and a low-carbon-footprint economy in the areas they conquered, but the sex slavery and the internecine slaughter and all that God talk make it a hard sell to the sensitive left. No one on the left seems to have anything kind to say about the Islamic State, and one can’t help noticing that they’d therefore rather not say anything at all.
Secular liberals find it hard to comprehend why a Christian would prefer death to apostasy, or why the men and women of our military voluntarily put their lives at risk in defense of the nation, and like John Lennon in his obnoxious secular liberal anthem they try to imagine a world where there’s nothing to live or die for, and this failure of imagination inevitably leads to bad policy. It’s why State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf is on television talking about poverty and discrimination and the other “root causes” of terrorism that can only be combatted with some all-out community-organizing and Keynesian economics, as if thousands of Muslims weren’t fleeing the material comforts and multi-cultural blandishments of the European welfare state to join the Islamic State in its slaughter across a blighted desert, and as if some Peace Corps volunteer could reach into a card file and some private sector opportunity for a jihadi’s head-chopping talents. It’s why the President of the United States is addressing a “summit” on “violent extremism” without specifying any particular ideologies that might be causing such a nasty thing, and warning Christians against “getting on a high horse” about anything the Islamic State might be up to, and ruling out the option of any prolonged combat operations in his request to Congress for ta mere three years’ of the use of military force. The thought that some Great Society programs and soothing words and a few well-placed airstrikes will dissuade the Islamic State and like-minded self-professed Muslims from chopping the heads off Christians and Jews and anyone else standing in the way of their global domination could only occur to someone who does not understand religious motivation.
Nor does the secular liberal understand the crucial distinctions between the various religions, or take notice of the results they motivate. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all the same Abrahamic hooey as far as a modern sensibility is concerned, and Buddhism is accorded a self-congratulatory respect except when it bumps up against Chinese communism and Hinduism is tolerated with certain sense of intellectual superiority except during its frequent conflicts with Islam, but the whole notion of religion and a faith that looks through death and powers greater than one’s self or even the federal government during Democratic administrations is regarded with an eye-rolling suspicion. If only all the world had the same enlightened rationalism as Stalin, Mao, and Hitler, the theory goes, surely the world would be a more peaceful place. Over at CNN they reported on seven days of carnage as “Religion’s week from hell,” noting that “Christians, Muslims and Jews alike fell prey to assaults,” then having an editor of the “Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence” explain that “if you want to rally troops to your side, few tools are more powerful than religion,” and only then obliquely admitted that each of the acts of violence were carried out by people proclaiming to act in the name of one particular religion. They threw in the case of the self-proclaimed secular liberal and “anti-theist” who allegedly killed three Muslim neighbors in North Carolina, apparently over a parking dispute, but it still seems odd to attribute all the mayhem to “religion” generally, as if all those symbols on the “co-exist” bumper stickers were equally prone to beheading or setting afire anyone they regard as infidels.
The failure to make such distinctions will make it impossible to deal effectively with such fiercely religious foes as the Islamic State and like-minded organizations. The people of more peaceable religions will be needed in the fight, and the fight must offer something worth dying for. Like all other faiths secular liberalism prides itself on its martyrs, from Joe Hill to Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney to the Kennedy Brothers and all those Hollywood screenwriters who had to work in television during the blacklist years, but we expect its foot soldiers would rather serve on the safer battlefield of the Republicans’ “war on women” than engage “violent extremism” selling women into sex slavery. The sense of moral superiority that such politics affords the secular liberal has no more appeal to the religious nature than a life of welfare dependency or a Great Society make-work job, and the west will need more if it hopes to win the hearts and minds of those drawn to a theology of slaughter and conquest.
Whether they’re Islamic or not, the Islamic State and like-minded organizations are waging war on the west, its gay bars and health clinics as well as its churches and synagogues, convinced that they’re doing it according to the most careful reading of Islamic scripture, and will not stop until they have been militarily defeated. Even then an evil impulse will lurk in the heart of man, and something better in our nature will be required to defeat it. Perhaps secular liberalism will yet find something it can effect through government, but for now a higher power seems required.

— Bud Norman

A Full Day of Outrageous Presidential Remarks

Even on the slowest news days an opinion writer can almost always count on President Barack Obama to provide some outrageous remark to fulminate about. On Monday, though, the president provided more than the usual fodder.
One hardly knows where to begin, but it might as well be with the official White House statement regarding the latest horrific beheading of an American by the Islamic State, the bloodthirsty terrorist gang that was once dismissed by the president as a “jayvee team” and is now in charge of much of Syria and prematurely-abandoned-by-America Iraq. The statement appropriately offers prayers and condolences to the victim’s family, and accurately describes the murder as “an act of pure evil,” but then veers into the most bizarre apologetics. Referring to the terror gang by its preferred acronym, and to the victim by the name he adopted during his captivity to them, the statement adds that “ISIL’s actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own.” The dubious claim that the Islamic State’s actions have nothing to do with Islam is by now an obligatory ritual that follows every act of Islamist terrorism, but that “least of all” defies any rational explanation. There’s no avoiding an implication that Muslims are far less inclined toward beheading infidels than the adherents of Judaism or Christianity or Buddhism of Hinduism or any other religion, which is clearly contradicted by copious evidence stretching from Iraq to Oklahoma, nor the conclusion that the president regards the victim’s conversion to his captor’s supposedly anti-Islamic creed as sincere. We can well understand a desire not to rile the non-beheading Muslim population, but the president’s remarks smack of a religious favoritism that is inappropriate and downright worrisome from an American leader.
Then there’s the report of the president’s advice to the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, to “stay the course.” The previously little-known St. Louis suburb has endured rioting and looting and arson and assorted acts of mayhem ever since a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, and now that it appears a grand jury which has heard all the physical evidence and eyewitness testimony will conclude that the officer acted in self-defense against a violent behemoth who attacked him and was struggling for his gun there is a legitimate concern that more rioting and looting and arson and assorted mayhem will soon follow. A generous interpretation of the president’s remarks would be that he urges them to “stay on the course” of peaceful protest, rather than the course that has been taken, but even the peaceful protestors he was addressing have stated that “Rioting and looting are the tools of those without a voice.” Better advice would be for the protestors to respect the conclusion of the grand jury, and the facts that led it to its conclusion, but apparently the president who promised a post-racial America would prefer that a majority-black town be utterly destroyed.
Slightly less irksome are the president’s disavowals of Jonathan Gruber, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology economic professor who has been caught on videotape gloating about the deceptions that were used to ensure the passage of Obamacare and the stupidity of the American voters who fell for them. The president’s previous admission that he “stole liberally” from the professor is more convincing, given the $400,000 the president paid for the professor’s advice and the if-you-like-your-plan-you-can-keep-your plan deceptions that were indeed built into the law, so only the most stupid American voters are likely to be fooled once again. Given the bone-chilling weather that has arrived ahead of schedule here in Kansas we are more annoyed by the president’s boast that the Republican majorities that have been installed in both chambers of Congress by a clear majority of voters won’t be able to stop his executive orders to combat global warming, but on a day so full of outrageous remarks even that doesn’t warrant a full column.

— Bud Norman

The Battle Spreads

As we write this the details of the Wednesday morning attack on Canada’s Parliament are still frustratingly few, but enough reliable information has emerged to conclude it was intended as yet another skirmish in the war that’s been waged against the west over the past 1,400 years or so by the more enthusiastic adherents of the Religion of Peace.
The gunman who murdered a guard at a national war monument and then fired off several rounds in the nearby Parliament building before being shot down has been identified as Michael Zehauf-Bibeau, who had been known as Michael Joseph Hall until his recent conversion to Islam, and with an admirable forthrightness that Americans can now only envy the government has declared it an act of terrorism. The attack came the same day that a three-month-old Israeli girl was killed by a Hamas terrorist who crashed a car into a crowded Jerusalem rail station and wounded eight others, two days after another recent convert to Islam crashed a car into two soldiers and killed one in a strip mall near Montreal, less than a month after yet another recent convert to Islam beheaded a former co-worker at a food distribution in plant in Moore, Oklahoma, all while the Islamic State terror gang continues its bloody conquest of more and more of the mideast and its supporters take the fight to the streets of Hamburg, Germany, and other European cities, and by now even the most exceedingly sensitive press are obliged to acknowledge an Islamic angle to these events.
This hasn’t prevented the most hackneyed cultural relativism and moral equivalence and anti-western self-loathing and cries of racism other apologia from being “tweeted” across the internet, and the gun control advocates are making their usual efforts to exploit the tragedy despite having held up Canada as an exemplar of sensible regulation for as long as we can remember, and in disregard of the satisfying fact that further bloodshed was prevented by a very rare armed Canadian, but an attack on the seat of government of a democratic North American nation requires more than the usual exertions. Such a culturally sensitive newspaper as The New York Times conceded that the attack “heightened fears that Canada, a strong ally of the United States in its campaign against the Islamic State militant group convulsing the Middle East, had been targeted in a reprisal, either as part of an organized plot or a lone-wolf assault by a radicalized Canadian,” and that inevitably heightens a fear that they won’t target a United States that lately doesn’t seem so strong. The Islamic State terror gang that has been beheading and other brutalizing those who don’t share their specific religious beliefs in Iraq and Syria are calling on their ideological brethren around the world to commit similar violence against the infidels, people from Hamburg to Ottawa to Moore are acting accordingly, and America its allies are no more immune to Islamist terrorism than they are the Ebola virus.
By this late paragraph we are once again obligated to acknowledge the vast of majority of Muslims who have no intention of running a car into you or shooting up your nation’s capitol or chopping your head off, and to wish them well in whatever efforts they are making to pacify the more enthusiastic of their co-religionists, but that troublesome minority among them will require stern measures. Canada is at a higher level of security, we are hopeful that our own government is acting with a bit more more nervous energy, even the Germans seem properly appalled at the Middle East’s battles being fought on their streets, and throughout much of the western there seems to be a necessary stiffening of the cultural spine. The Canadian Foreign Minister “tweeted” to Secretary of State of John Kerry that his his country’s resolve to fight the Islamic State would not be weakened, one can only hope that Kerry will be shamed into a similar resoluteness. In Israel and Germany public opinion has rallied against the terrorists, Canadians do not seem to be responding to their wounds with any sense of guilt for standing against the most brutal excesses of Islamism, and our sense is that the American electorate will not support a policy of appeasement in the upcoming election.

— Bud Norman

Earning Respect for a Religion

Has the President of the United States sent an emissary to your house of worship to commend it for its good works? Our humble little low church on the near westside hasn’t yet been so honored, despite its many commendable efforts on behalf on the poor and unfortunate, so we’re feeling a bit slighted. The Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City recently got a high-ranking visit and official effusive thanks, after all, and none of our congregation have beheaded anyone.
The mosque wasn’t being thanked for the beheading, we are assured, but rather for its past support of the rescue and recovery efforts in the aftermath of a devastating tornado last year in the nearby town of Moore. We don’t mean to diminish the mosque’s good works, and will freely acknowledge Islam’s longstanding reputation for charity, but there’s no shaking a suspicion that the official effusive thanks from our government has more to do with the more recent beheading committed by one of the mosque’s newest converts against a former co-worker in that very same nearby town. Islam also suffers a longstanding reputation for such brutality, especially lately, and by now it’s an obligatory rite to respond to every Islamist outrage with official pronouncements that Islam is a religion of peace and has contributed greatly to world civilization and most Muslims aren’t going to chop your head off and the rest of the familiar boilerplate. The practice began shortly after Islamist terrorists slammed airliners full of terrified passengers into the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon, when even good old President George W. Bush felt compelled to immediately rush to the nearest mosque and pose for a religiously tolerant photo-op, and after nearly six years of the current administration it has become an act of prostration.
The murderer had been fired from the food distribution plant where he committed his horrific crime, so polite opinion can conclude that it was just another one of those instances of “workplace violence” that happen so often in our capitalist society, like the time that poor fellow shot up the Fort Hood Army Base while shouting “allahu akbar,” but this requires an extraordinary politeness. In this case the murderer had been fired for making his female co-workers uncomfortable with talk of stoning them to death for their wanton western ways, had a Facebook page full of rants about jihad and sharia, and chose an unusual method of murder that had recently been recommended by the Islamic State terror gang currently running amok in the Middle East. Such an obvious Islamic angle to the crime requires an extra amount of distraction, so the murderer’s mosque is not only to be absolved of any suspicion but praised for its past largesse.
The obvious and understandable rationale for such obfuscation is to prevent a violent nativist purge of that vast majority of Muslims who probably won’t chop your head off, but by now that is no longer convincing. Similar outrages by people espousing Islam have been frequent for the peat several decades, but the people attacked for the religion are mostly Jews, and the torchlights and pitchforks never seem to materialize. There are reports that the mosque has received threatening messages, and we don’t doubt it, as Oklahoma City is full of people and we can’t vouch for the friendliness and tolerance of all of them, but our long experience of the city tells us that it’s not likely to embark on any ethnic or religious cleansing. Oklahoma City is a city of peace, has contributed greatly to world civilization, and the vast majority of its citizens will not chop your head off or otherwise molest you, but somehow our government never gets around to making such official pronouncements on its behalf and instead makes high-ranking visits to mosques to imply they’re all a bunch of Islamophobic rednecks ready at a moments ‘s head off to another crusade with shotguns on the racks of their pickup trucks. We’d like to think this notion isn’t all wrong, but it’s wrong enough that the government can please spare us another round of the usual cliches.
As annoying as they are to us, we can only imagine that the next nutcase plotting to chop someone’s head off finds such apologia a siren call. The multi-cultural theory behind all this praise for Islam holds that Muslims crave only respect, and that once it has been properly supplied they will take their rightful place in the glorious tapestry that is the global community, but by now the more criminally inclined among the faith have surely noticed that it is skyjackings and bombings and beheadings that prompt the official pronouncements of respects from the infidels. When an Islamist terror gang killed an ambassador and four other Americans at our country’s consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the president blamed it on an obscure internet video and the country’s lamentable constitutional practice of allowing such free speech, and told the General Assembly of the United Nations that “The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam,” and those who believe that anyone who harbors doubt about the Prophet of Islam are slandering him were no doubt encouraged.
Thinking back to the culture wars of past decades, when crucifixes were being dunked in urine and pictures of the Virgin Mary were being covered in elephant dung on the taxpayers’ dime, and polite opinion regarded it as the height of religious fanaticism to object to such free expression, we find it hard to imagine President Barack Obama or any of his acolytes scolding that the future must not belong those who slander the Christian faith. Nor can we imagine the administration taking a stand on behalf of the rights of Jews to defend themselves against Islamist terror or to rent an apartment in Jerusalem, and for that matter we can’t even see it siding with the homosexuals or women who are routinely targeted for the most horrible abuse in an enlightened Europe that already routinely turns a blind eye to such offenses.
In the absence of anything more governmental or official, let us give our thanks to Oklahoma City and its well-above-average number of churches, and we’ll assume there are at least two synagogues down there and offer them our thanks as well. We trust that you’ve also chipped in generously on a variety of worthy community causes, that none of your congregants have chopped anybody’s head office, and we believe that it’s important what we celebrate in our culture.

— Bud Norman