The juxtaposition of two headlines on the front page of a recent New York Times suggested ideology supersedes facts.
The first: “Arms Stockpile is Found in Home of Two Suspects.” The second: “A Couple Who Lived Quietly, Motives Unknown.” Both headlines, it need hardly be said, dealt with the recent Islamist terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California.
It has been a failure to connect the dots that characterizes not only the liberal press, but more importantly the administration. Most egregious was the failure of both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to detect the couple who had been radicalized since at least 2013 — before they met — and who left overt traces of their jihad-extremist sympathies on social media.
While Donald Trump’s remarks about temporarily banning Muslims immigrants from entering the country were reprehensible, they were understandable given the willfulness of the administration as to the enemy we face.
A week ago, Mr. Obama spoke to the nation from the Oval Office. While he mentioned terrorism, he did not use the modifier Islamist. Mr. Trump’s reaction is a negation of Mr. Obama’s thesis — that his policies are working.
When the pendulum swings to the left, it is propelled back an equal distance to the right. It has been the failure of the Obama administration’s policies regarding immigration and Islamic terrorism that has given rise to the demagoguery of Mr. Trump.
We are in a war against Islamist extremism. It has manifested itself in dozens of incidents over more than three decades, most notably in the U.S. on 9/11, and most recently in San Bernardino. But the war began earlier.
To mention just a few incidents: In 1983, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was bombed, killing 63. The explosion on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 killed 270. The bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 killed six and wounded 1000. The 2000 bombing of the USS Cole killed six and wounded 39. The Fort Hood (2009) and Boston Marathon (2013) massacres happened on Mr. Obama’s watch. In all cases, the perpetrators were Islamist militants.
We — by which I mean all civilized people, including moderate Muslims — are not only in a war against ISIS and al Qaeda. We are at war with dozens of Islamist terrorist organizations whose goal is to kill infidels — those whose religious views do not conform to the terrorist’s interpretation of the Quran.
It is not Mr. Trump who is xenophobic; it is Islamists who hate those of other faiths, especially Israel and the Jewish people. That is where bigotry truly lies.
And this is not an “overseas contingency operation” or a “conflict.” It is war. Wars are brutal and should not be entered into lightly.
This war should require an Act of Congress. It should require a no-fly zone and increased bombings, but more importantly “boots on the ground.” It will demand a far greater use of intelligence. The object is to win.
Admiral Jacky Fisher, the man credited with reforming and modernizing the British navy prior to World War I, once said: “The essence of war is violence, and moderation in war is imbecility.”
Political correctness, sensitivity training and trigger warnings have no place in this war. It is the ideology of our enemy we must combat. To defeat them, we must first acknowledge who they are and then take the fight to them, otherwise we risk the gradual but certain loss of our values and freedoms.
Too often moderate Muslims have failed to exorcise the evil of jihadism and have not condemned the radicalism inherent in shariah law. When Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR — Council on Islamic-American Relations — said Donald Trump sounds “more like the leader of a lynch mob than a leader of a nation,” his words would have carried more weight if he had been equally hyperbolic in condemning the atrocities of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. While there are exceptions, the silence regarding jihadism from most moderate Muslims has been deafening.
The Left’s claim that terrorism is a consequence of lax gun laws is a nonsequitur. Paris has been hit twice this year, yet France has stricter gun laws than the U.S. Israel gets attacked regularly. California has some of the strictest gun laws in the U.S., yet Mr. Farook and Ms. Malik had no trouble getting weapons.
One of the sillier responses to the attack in San Bernardino was from Dan Malloy, governor of Connecticut: “We must be the most violent society at this point, at least with respect to our own citizenry.”
Perhaps he would prefer life in Africa, the Middle East, North Korea, China, Haiti, Venezuela, Colombia or Honduras?
As readers of my essays know, I am not a fan of guns. The last time I fired a weapon was 53 years ago in Army basic training. I would be happy if no guns existed. But they do. They are not going away. There are 300 million guns in the U.S. and 100 million gun owners. Bad guys, including terrorists, know how to get them. Will they voluntarily register or turn in their weapons? Of course not.
Chicago, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, has among the most murders by shooting. The most successful means of confiscating weapons in New York City was “stop and frisk.” Liberals killed the program because they claimed it targeted African-Americans.
Keep in mind, two terrorists were stopped in May of this year when an off-duty policeman shot and killed them in Garland, Texas. They were wearing body armor and carrying assault rifles. Had the armed off-duty cop not been there, who knows how many people would have been killed.
I favor gun registration, checking names against lists provided by the FBI, Homeland Security and other agencies. I see no reason for civilians to own assault weapons.
Mental health histories should be shared, as today’s anniversary of the Newtown school shooting reminds us. But I have no illusions that such laws will prevent criminals and terrorists from obtaining weapons.
Metadata, profiling and stop and frisk are the best means we have to prevent terrorists and criminals, yet they are an anathema to the Left.
The day after the killings in San Bernardino, the New York Times did something it rarely does. It ran a front page editorial calling for stricter gun control.
They did not condemn Islamist terrorists for the massacre in San Bernardino. There was no mention of jihadism. They did not write of the bigotry endemic to shariah law. They did not mention the Muslim targeting and killing of Christians and Jews in the Middle East. They did not mention that of the top 20 cities in terms of crime in the U.S., 16 are run by Democrats.
Apart from the NRA, the Koch brothers and certain Republicans, the Left has difficulty recognizing the existence of evil. In March 1981, when President Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as the “evil empire,” he was chastised for harsh language. The fact is, there are evil people, and they should be called out.
It is evil we face and it is a war we are in. Islamist jihadism bears a hatred similar to Nazis in Germany, Japanese under Hirohito and Communists in Russia, China, Cuba and North Korea. They want to wipe Israel off the map. They practice genocide against Christians.
These people have no interest in assimilation, cooperation or collegiality. If we fail to recognize this enemy, if we won’t stand up to and defeat them, we will be transformed into Eloi, those fragile, passive creatures that emerged from the imaginative mind of H.G. Welles.
Sydney Williams, a retired stock broker, writes about politics, the economy, global affairs, education and climate, among other topics. He describes his political leanings as being based in the rapidly disappearing ideology of common sense.