Crucial issues facing America

Al Qaeda in Europe: The New Battleground of International Jihad by Lorenzo Vidino. Prometheus Books, 2005. 403 pages.

The Democrats now own the Congress.


A recent magazine article quoted Nancy Pelosi, our new Speaker of the House, as saying that Democrats intended to address the pressing issues of our time: a new system of health care benefits, a revision of the social security system, our educational system, help for the hungry and the poor.

Democrats who make such an agenda a priority deserve the same thumping they delivered to their Republican opponents. Don’t misunderstand me: these are important issues. I happen to know firsthand, for example, the cost of health care in this country. I pay my own health insurance and so give Blue Cross/Blue Shield a little more than 10 percent of my income per year. My son’s pregnant wife is now so ill that their own meager savings will doubtless disappear.

Nevertheless, health insurance is not the most important issue this year.

The crucial issues faced by the American people have to do with the survival of their nation and their way of life. Both are threatened by illegal immigration and by radical Islam.

Some Democrats ran their campaigns against illegal immigration. Remember the television ad in which Heath Schuler accused Charles Taylor of being soft on illegal immigrants? Mr. Shuler promised to be much tougher in this area than his opponent. Should we now count on Mr. Shuler to help lead a Democratic charge? Is the Pope Buddhist? Other Dems, like some Republicans (George Bush isn’t one of them), have finally roused themselves to the fact that a country without borders will soon cease to be a country. Many Mexicans already claim California and parts the Southwest as belonging to them, a part of their reconquista (I say we give them California, provided they’ll take Hollywood and Governor Arnold).

The other big issue is Islam. Few commentators enjoy facing the facts about Islam. We like to pretend that the bus hijackings and killings these last few weeks in France — you’ve heard of them, of course, I‘m sure the news appeared in all the major papers — were the result of economics rather than religion. If only those poor French Arab boys had regular jobs, by golly they’d settle down, smoke Gallouises, and drink red wine (better make that coffee) with the other Frenchies. Perhaps they could lift their glasses to the murders done world-wide in the name of Muhammad, the beatings, the bombings, the persecutions of Christians, Jews, animists, women, homosexuals, and anybody else who doesn’t accept this religion of peace.

Whether you voted Democrat or Republican in this election, or whether you simply decided the whole thing has become a charade, let me point you to three books worth reading in the coming months. Lorenzo Vidino’s Al Qaeda in Europe: The New Battleground of International Jihad (Prometheus Books, 2005) is filled with facts and analyses of the place of radical Islam in today’s Europe. Vidino, a widely recognized expert on terrorism, repeatedly demonstrates that Europe has become a base of operations for Islamic terrorist organizations. In chapters titled “The Strasbourg Plot,” “From Afghanistan to Iraq Through Europe,” and “The Van Gogh Assassination,” Vidino shows us how deeply embedded radical Islam is in every major European country. He demonstrates that tens of thousands of Europeans have themselves become Muslims. He names the terrorist leaders in each major European country and reveals their motives and plans. Here he cites Anjem Choudray, leader of the London-based radical organization al Muhajiroun in 2003:

One day the black flag of Islam will be flying over Downing Street. Lands will not be liberated by individuals, but by an army. Eventually there’ll have to be a Muslim army. It’s just a matter of time before it happens.

Those who regard Islam as a special European problem should read Daniel Pipes’ Militant Islam Reaches America (W.W. Norton & Co., 2002). Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, shows us that militant Islam has maintained operatives in this country for the last 30 years. He shows us that the battle being waged today is less a war against the West, and more a civil war within Islam, a war that will fix the purpose and focus of this ancient faith. He reveals the deep inroads Islam has made in America’s Black community, citing numerous examples of radicalism among certain extremist groups.

Pipes, who has an extensive personal history in foreign affairs, concludes his book by wisely reminding policy-makers that a non-Muslim country like the United States cannot fix the problems of the Muslim world. He suggests many ways we can help weaken militant Islam — demanding that Pakistan, for instance, dismantle the madrasas, the religious schools advocating violence, or pressuring Saudi Arabia to modify tenth-grade textbooks which state “It is compulsory for Muslims to be loyal to each other and to consider infidels their enemies.”

These areas are, of course, secondary to the elimination of militant Muslim groups themselves. One enormous problem here is that each time the United States or any other Western country attacks militant Islam, we run the risk of driving more young Muslims, mostly male, into the depleted ranks of the enemy. By Pipes’ accounting, which most would surely consider conservative, 100 million Muslims, or 10 percent of Muslims worldwide, regard the United States and the West as enemies of Islam. That number will continue to grow as we react to radical militancy.

Finally, let me recommend reading The Koran. Though I read this holy scripture of Islam many years ago in college — I remember being confused most of the time; the writing was poetic and beautiful, but chaotic — rereading it now, in light of the last twenty years, has brought me new and different insights. The Koran remains beautiful (though far more beautiful in Arabic, I’ve heard), but beneath the beauty lies a chilling warning regarding the fate of unbelievers and infidels. Such references to non-Muslims number in the hundreds. Allah may be the Compassionate, the Merciful, as each sutra in the Koran calls him, but many of his followers don‘t seem inclined that way.

Richard Weaver, a wise philosopher of the last century with local ties, once wrote a book titled Ideas Have Consequences. It would behoove us to keep that title in mind — and to understand the ideas of our enemies — as we face a future filled with strife and uncertainty.


Go to top