The battle against radical Islam isn’t an ‘over there’ fight confined to the wastebin landscape of some forgotten town. It’s a ubiquitous problem that takes place on American soil in two forms. The first is through direct jihadi attacks as we most recently saw in Orlando; the second takes the form of political warfare.
Yesterday, the battle of ideas took place on the floor of a Senate hearing spearheaded by Senator Ted Cruz. The “Willful Blindness” hearing, attended by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, Philip Haney, and Andrew McCarthy among others, offered testimony to better understandbarriers to combating radical Islam.
Other witnesses included soft-Islamist Farhana Khera, President and Executive Director ofMuslim Advocates, who refused to admit that jihad or radicalization had absolutelyanything to do with radical Islam. In fact, Senator Cruz’s attempt to engage Khera in dialogue yielded a minimum of 6 instances of denial within five minutes, with Khera defaulting to a regressive left narrative that the conversation is somehow empowering ISIS.
National security consultant Chris Gaubatz debunks the myth of an all-powerful and seeing ISIS:
“The global Islamic movement is made of terrorist groups and nation states; all seeking to impose sharia.”
ISIS is a footnote at best, not the bogeyman that Islamists try to threaten free speech with. The real threat is sharia and a mindset of Islamic supremacism.
Testimony was also provided by Michael German, a fellow of the Brennan Center for Justice and a former FBI Special Agent. German sees radical Islam as a problem but not in the context we would assume is logical based on the facts and common sense. In the same line of thinking as Khera, German denounces a theological association with violent acts of terror under a political doctrine.
German’s reasoning fails. He is neither expert in nor a student of Islamic theology. Had he an objective mind and trained scholar in both academic and traditional Islam, he would see that Islam has become a highly political system that forms and orchestrates national movement. The version of radical Islam adopted by terror groups is not that different than the version of Islam adopted by Islamic states – and to go further – the version of Islam that Islamists identify with. All versions ultimately hold Islam as supreme, paving the way for what is an undeniable theological supremacy. In other words, Islamic supremacy. And that understanding of Islam is adopted by billions of adherents.
In the same vein of thought as Islamists, German believes “radical Islam” is used to smear a faith group. He further argues “collective national security [is not achieved] by undermining security of others.” For German, “Ideas cannot be killed and ideologies cannot be destroyed.” He points to Nazi ideology that while defeated, was not destroyed.
However, radical Islamic ideology can be challenged and destroyed…from within. A growing movement in partnership with allies is already underway by Muslim reformers. Reformers are the new wave of Muslim scholars appearing nearly a millennia after the original Muslim free thinkers, the Mu’tazilites. The waves of movement in Islamic critical thought from the time of the Prophet, through his passing, and till today, shows that Islam is not the monolith German and Khera try to depict.
Andrew McCarthy, a former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney, understands Islam has seen a struggle to define itself from its earliest days. As McCarthy points out, Muslims “have not settled the question what is an authentic Islam.”
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a top North American Muslim Reformer, sees Muslim reformers “as the most essential head of spear in the battle against Islamic theocracy.” The largest collective of Muslim Reformers are presently in the United States.
“Ideas of freedom can happen in the laboratory of America,” adds Dr. Jasser. The West offers Muslim voices for humanity a level of freedom that is unmatched in any other part of the world, making Western Muslim reformers critical in this battle against radical Islam — particularly because truthful conversations on faith are painted as persecution, courtesy of the regressive left.
For McCarthy, the focus needs to shift to the supremacist interpretation of Islam that is fundamentally at odds with Western values. A clash of civilizations between Islam and the West is not a case of multiculturalism where room can be made for both. Islamic supremacism in its nature allows for only one ideology: its own.
So while German underscores that radical Islam is not a problem – that it is a misnomer – McCarthy points to history which shows us something entirely different. He summarizes that a struggle in Islam has been “ongoing for fourteen centuries supported by centuries of scholarship,” adding that “Islam is less a religion than a political radicalization with a religious veneer.”
McCarthy doesn’t see this as something the U.S. can fix, but it is something that we need to understand and not obscure – particularly because as Chris Gaubatz added, “We can kill every member of Al-Qaeda tomorrow, but it won’t end.”
Zuhdi Jasser added that America has “a sophisticated whack-a-mole system” of combatting terrorism. These are key assessment recognizing that ultimately we need to target the ideology and develop a system that moves beyond a fear of might trigger ISIS – a running theme for both Khera and German.
Khera along with German were both supported by Senator Dick Durbin who brought up a failed ongoing argument that needs to die: Westboro and the KKK are no more Christian than ISIS is Islamic. A cheap, tired trick, it shows a fundamental lack of knowledge about both Islam and Christianity.
Westboro and KKK are not acting in the footsteps of Jesus. However, ISIS is in many ways following the post-Medina violent warring behavior of its prophet, Muhammad. If we’re to see whether something is Islamic or Christian, we need to look at the verses and the leadership. Christianity did not have a violent Jesus and the teachings of Christ himself do not advocate violence. On the other hand, Islam has a violent version of Muhamad, which however justified in whatever context, is still violent and includes violent rhetoric that justified jihadi and supremacist agendas.
Germans builds on the back and forth highlighting Nazi Germany was defeated in part by criminalizing the ideology, something he feels can’t be done with Islam because the ideology can’t be scrubbed. I would argue we’ve already scrubbed so much: over 900 instances of references to jihad and Islam from official documents in what is a systematic purge of intelligence in a critical war.
Let’s go further still and get to the actual problem: the ideology. We need to do the same to political and violent doctrines in Islam, while supporting alternate voices found in reformers who are well on their way by outrightly challenging the theology or through grassroots efforts calling for modernized adaptations.
- Willful Blindness and Radical Islam: My Testimony by Andrew McCarthy