Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 16, 2002
WAR: Not CAIRing About Us Infidels
Yet again, the folks at CAIR have managed to provide such a dishonest response to provocation that left-wing magazine The American Prospect winds up defending Jerry Falwell against CAIR's charges. This is rhetorical stupidity on a par with bin Laden's tactical stupidity, and shows that the ideological fellow-travelers of our enemies, like those enemies themselves, don't understand the West and don't care to. The Communists would never have made this mistake; even the Nazis wouldn't have.
If there's a lesson to be learned by America's adversaries from Vietnam and subsequent smaller debacles like Somalia, it's that the only way to defeat the United States is through a strategy of divide and conquer in which you gradually isolate American conservatives - first from the Third World and the UN, then from Continental Europe, then Canada, then the Democrats and the American newsmedia, then the American military brass, the British and other harder-core allies (Israel, Australia, etc.) and finally from the American public. Bin Laden has totally failed to learn this: he hasn't foresworn attacks on America's Continental European allies; he hasn't made proclamations about how all he wants is to use Islamic self-determination to right the wrongs of colonialism; he hasn't stuck to the small-bore, steady-drip terror tactics that evade world hostility, allowing it to fall only on those who respond to it. Instead, both his actions and his rhetoric have been explicit in calling for wanton and arbitrary death and destruction on a grand scale for anyone not a member of his hard-core Muslim extremist faction.
CAIR has (to my knowledge) never been accused of participating in violence, which is of course an important distinction in comparing it to terrorists. But its rhetoric has the same problem, and one that opponents of the Vietnam war, for example, would not have made. CAIR is so often so unfair and disingenuous in its public presentation that outside the Chomskyite Left it has no hope of ever convincing the mass of Americans that it is a trustworthy voice. The "nuke Mecca" thing at NRO back in March was a prime example. Rich Lowry raised a question on The Corner: what would be the proper response to a nuclear attack on an American city? His response to the suggestions of various readers of a nuclear counterattack on Mecca (you can see some of the give and take between Lowry and Rod Dreher here and a follow-up comment from Andrew Stuttaford here) was ill-considered, in the sense of being phrased in a way that did not befit the seriousness of the question and the public nature of the forum. But what was disgraceful about CAIR's response, contained in an email blitz to its supporters and posted on its website, was that it omitted the fact that the discussion was premised upon the destruction of a major American city by Islamic radicals. CAIR instead tried to make it sound as if Lowry and Dreher were proposing doing this out of the clear blue sky, rather than agonizing over the truly unthinkable. That approach - never conceding that your opponent could possibly even have a legitimate point of view or any legitimate concerns about his own security - may work in parts of the Muslim world. So does bin Laden's rhetoric. It's preaching to the choir. But it has no hope of ever persuading anyone in the West, and indeed betrays a contempt for the idea that the West is even worth persuading. And that is the most frightening thing of all.
UPDATE: OxBlog makes the same point.