by Mark Steyn
Steyn on America
February 20, 2015
The US media have had a fit of the vapors over Rudy Giuliani’s suggestion that Barack Obama does not love America. As the Instapundit says, their reaction suggests that Giuliani hit a nerve.
For my own part, I am way beyond that. By the way, I’m growing rather weary of the cheap comparisons of Obama with Neville Chamberlain. The British Prime Minister got the biggest issue of the day wrong. But no one ever doubted that he loved his country. That’s why, after his eviction from Downing Street, Churchill kept him on in his ministry as Lord President of the Council, and indeed made Chamberlain part of the five-man war cabinet and had him chair it during his frequent absences. When he died of cancer in October 1940, Churchill wept over his coffin.
So please don’t insult Neville Chamberlain by comparing him to Obama. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, because conspiracies are generally a comforting illusion: the real problem with Obama is that the citizens of the global superpower twice elected him to office. Yet one way to look at the current “leader of the free world” is this: If he were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?
For example, he has spent most of this week hosting an international conference on something called “violent extremism”. Whatever may be said of Munich, Chamberlain never hosted a three-day summit on “rearmament” in general whose entire purpose was to deny that “rearmament” and “Germany” were in any way connected. Yet that is exactly the message the United States government has just offered to the world – in between such eccentric side spectacles as Marie Harf, star of the hilarious new comedy Geopolitically Blonde, explaining her jobs-for-jihadis program, and the new hombre in charge of the planet’s mightiest military machine having his woman felt up on camera by Joe Biden. Now there’s a message to send to the misogynists of Burqastan about what happens when you let the missuses out of their body bags.
Here’s John Kerry in The Wall Street Journal:
The rise of violent extremism represents the pre-eminent challenge of the young 21st century…
A safer and more prosperous future requires us to recognize that violent extremism can’t be justified by resorting to religion…
Violent extremism has claimed lives in every corner of the globe, and Muslim lives most of all…
This summit at the White House and State Department will expand the global conversation and, more important, adopt an action agenda that identifies, shares and utilizes best practices in preventing and countering violent extremism…
Put simply, we are building a global partnership against violent extremism.
Success requires showing the world the power of peaceful communities instead of extremist violence.
Wait a minute, “extremist violence”? How come the spell-check didn’t catch that? Don’t worry. The very next sentence is back on track:
Success requires offering a vision that is positive and proactive: a world with more concrete alternatives to the nihilistic worldview of violent extremists…
We have to devote ourselves not just to combating violent extremism, but to preventing it…
We’ve combated violent extremism before…
The 20th century was defined by the struggle to overcome depression, slavery, fascism and totalitarianism. Now it’s our turn. The rise of violent extremism challenges every one of us…
By now you may be saying, “Oh, ‘violent extremism’, I get it. You mean…” Whoa, don’t go there, girlfriend. “This is not true Islam,” insists President Obama.
Roger Kimball observes:
“ISIL is not ‘Islamic.'” Really? Was the Ayatollah Khomeini “Islamic?” How about Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan: is he “Islamic”? A few years ago, Erdogan told the world that the phrase “moderate Islam” is “ugly”because “Islam is Islam.” Democracy, he said, is just an express stop on the train whose destination is Islam…
The Saudis, the biggest and richest Sunni nation? They torture bloggers for “insulting Islam,” stone adulteresses, maim thieves, and treat women like chattel. Do they represent Islam?
But Obama has ambitions way beyond the Turks and Saudis. If the Islamic State isn’t “true Islam”, is the Taliban, our “partners for peace” in Aghanistan? Is “true Islam” the Iranian mullahs, our “partners for peace” in the Persian Gulf and beyond? How about the Houthi? They’re our Iranian partners for peace’s partners for peace in Yemen, and they were awfully sporting to let our diplomats flee without beheading them.
“Violent extremism” may have nothing to do with Islam, yet Obama’s summit on “violent extremism” was oddly preoccupied with Islam, to the extent of according it a special deference:
A Muslim prayer was recited at the start of the second day of the White House summit on “Countering Violent Extremism,” but no other religious text was presented during the portion of the event that was open to the press.
Imam Sheikh Sa’ad Musse Roble, president of the World Peace Organization in Minneapolis, Minn., recited a “verse from the Quran” following remarks by Obama administration officials and Democratic members of Congress.
But hey, what’s so odd about that? “Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding,” says the President. You might think that Islam has been entirely irrelevant to “the fabric of our country” for its first two centuries, and you might further think that Islam, being self-segregating, tends not to weave itself into anybody’s fabric but instead tends to unravel it – as it’s doing in, say, Copenhagen, where 500 mourners turned up for the funeral of an ISIS-supporting Jew-hating anti-free-speech murderer.
But President Obama knows better than you. So he organized a summit dedicated to creating and promoting a self-invented phantom enemy. Conveniently enough, the main problem with “violent extremists” is that its principal victims are Muslims. No, no, I don’t mean the thousands of Muslims being slaughtered, beheaded, burned alive, raped, sold into sex slavery, etc, etc, in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, and so on. The Muslims most at risk are right here in America. Just ask Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson:
We in the administration and the government should give voice to the plight of Muslims living in this countryand the discrimination that they face. And so I personally have committed to speak out about the situation that very often people in the Muslim community in this country face. The fact that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and the Islamic faith is one about peace and brotherhood.
I opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security on the basic Thatcherite principle that if you create a government bureaucracy in order to deal with a problem you’ll never be rid of the problem. But I underestimated the creativity of our rulers: The DHS was set up because 19 Muslims flew planes into skyscrapers and killed thousands of people. Thirteen years later, the head of the DHS thinks his department’s priority should be to “give voice to the plight of Muslims” who have the misfortune to live in America.
How about “the plight of Muslims” who live in Muslim countries? As I wrote in 2006 in the very prologue of the highly prescientAmerica Alone:
In the 2005 rankings of Freedom House’s survey of personal liberty and democracy around the world, five of the eight countries with the lowest “freedom” score were Muslim. Of the 46 Muslim majority nations in the world, only three were free. Of the 16 nations in which Muslims form between 20 and 50 per cent of the population, only another three were ranked as free: Benin, Serbia and Montenegro, and Suriname. It will be interesting to follow France’s fortunes as a fourth member of that group.
The “plight” of Muslim communities in America and the west is that they enjoy freedoms they could never dream of back in Somalia or Syria or anywhere else – but that they value those freedoms less than they value the pre-eminence of Islam. Canadian reader Sam Williamson wrote to me with what I thought was an interesting insight into the millions of “moderate Muslims”:
Suppose the moderate shoe was in the other foot:
You are a moderate Christian and there is a radical bunch at the far end of the spectrum of the faith that causing violence, even in your new country. Your faith is growing worldwide in numbers. You see other faiths abandoning their beliefs, and even making laws about where they may practice. But your religion is more welcomed. They say it strengthens the country. It’s in their constitution. Other countries are asking you to come.
So you can’t help but see your faith gaining influence. In some places no shopping on the Holy Day laws are being re-introduced. In some public schools they are allowing Mass to be said in the cafeteria during the day. Offensive comments about our Church, Saviour, and Saints are being condemned. And items from other religions are being hidden or removed so we don’t have to see them. Many people, including their wise teachers, professors, and prominent people in the papers and television are helping getting rid of many customs that we do not support as Catholics. Why even the other day a leader in government told the Prime Minister that it was wrong not to allow us to say the rosary during the Citizenship Ceremony.
Sure, we will condemn that bombing and those extremists if asked. They don’t represent my beliefs. But looking at the future I’m thinking my family, my children and grandchildren are going to do better in this country when it’s all Christians, and those wrong beliefs have left, and the atheists driven out, even if it is accomplished with some fear and violence. After all, ours is the one true religion and our people will once again be great.
If you were a “moderate Muslim”, what would you make of an extraordinary week in which the global superpower has piled up a mountain of preposterous, mutually contradictory official lies all designed to flatter you: Islam has been part of the fabric of America since the 18th century, and yet the plight of Muslims in this country and the discrimination they face has never been worse. We are at war with the mysterious shadowy Empire of Violentia-Extremistan, which is nothing to do with Islam, yet necessitates the saying of Muslim prayers – and Muslim prayers only – at official US government events.
On The Hugh Hewitt Show yesterday, I pointed out that the French Government estimates that some nine thousand “Frenchmen” have volunteered to fight for ISIS. That is approximately half the total western deployment in Afghanistan of around 18,000 troops from some four dozen countries. It is larger than any French military deployment in the last half-century. That 500-strong congregation of mourners for the Copenhagen killer may not be the largest funeral turnout in Denmark’s history, but it’s similarly impressive.
And yet none of that could be discussed in Washington, at a summit arising directly out of the Charlie Hebdo slaughter.
I have quoted before my old friend Theodore Dalrymple on the purposes of lies in totalitarian societies:
In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.
We are at war with a depraved enemy, but we cannot be allowed to assert our moral superiority even to head-choppers, rapists, slavers and immolators. Thus the priority of Barack (“Hey, how ’bout those Crusades?”) Obama has been to undermine our sense of probity, and make us not merely equivalent to but worse than our enemies. That was the purpose of this last week of Official Lies.