Jonah Goldberg

This is nonsense. Everything we've learned about the jihadis in recent years points to the fact that they are more like killer bees than conventional ones. They spread. They're aggressive. And the seek to replace the traditional population wherever they appear.

Regardless, the real danger isn't from a tiny rabble of jihadi useful idiots, but from the great mass of the British public. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, The Independent ran a splashy front page story on the "backlash" against Muslims. The worst assaults on London since the Blitz, and the "backlash" amounted to little more than a broken window and a man getting roughed up in a pub. One has to wonder how many more pub beatings took place that same weekend because some idiot said something unkind about Manchester United.

The scandal wasn't that there was a "backlash" against the Muslim community. It is that there wasn't more of a backlash within the Muslim community. We now know that the attackers were British born and raised Muslims. Yet there's precious little evidence that the Muslim community is eager to turn on the enemy within with any admirable enthusiasm. And there are even fewer signs that the British media has any interest in contributing to a "climate" that would encourage such a development.

This is a recipe for unmitigated disaster. Obviously, it makes terrorism more likely. And it also makes precisely the sort of climate the press and moderate Muslims fear most. If normal Muslims can't be counted on to turn on terrorists in their midst, how can a nation avoid taking measures that will seem unfair to normal Muslims? Already nine out of 10 Brits support sweeping new powers for the police. If jihadis can hide among the larger Muslim population, it's obvious that the larger Muslim population will come under greater scrutiny. The logic of the cancer cell kicks in, and even more young Muslims feel "oppressed" and the number of jihadis will grow.

But even if the number doesn't grow, the danger is already enormous. The official number of British Muslims is 1.6 million, though most observers say it's closer to 2 million or so. The "official" guess at how many of these Muslims are jihadis is 16,000, based on the assumption that no more than 1 percent could be extremists.

This, of course, could be wishful thinking. And wishful thinking is the enemy's greatest asset.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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