Just the facts please

Posted: Aug 08, 2005 12:00 AM

Question: What's the best thing that has happened recently in the so-called war on terror?
Hint No. 1: It wasn't the White House's decision to re-brand the "war on terror" as the "struggle against violent extremism."

"War" makes "you think of people in uniform as being the solution," said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who, as the head man in uniform, has just opted himself into obsolescence. True or not, I don't get why a uniformed solution is necessarily a bad thing -- if, that is, the goal is to beat whatever you're fighting. OK, so the administration says it wants to emphasize the ideological aspect of our efforts. But is "extremism" a bona fide ideology? Or is "extremism" another woolly term that PC-afflicted leaders and pundits pull over everyone's eyes to hide the uniquely Islamic sources of the violent extremism the general says we struggle against?

 Hint No. 2: It wasn't the so-called fatwa against terrorism issued by the Fiqh Council of North America and ballyhooed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Despite the PC cheers, this fatwa failed to define "terrorism" and "civilian" -- two key terms that other Islamic rulings have interpreted to sanction the killing of Americans and Israelis. Given the two sponsoring groups' links to terrorist organizations (see Steven Emerson's summary online at The Counterterrorism Blog), it's worth wondering whether their fatwa applied, for example, to "terrorism" against "civilians" fomented by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

But getting back to the best thing that's happened of late: Maybe all the sidestepping euphemisms, from "struggle" to "fatwa," don't matter as much any more. Elites on the left and on the right, in the government and in the media, can persist in their PC babble, all of which seems to translate to "Better Dead Than Rude" (a slogan attributed to John Derbyshire). But maybe some people -- the ones Ronald Reagan always trusted and Abraham Lincoln said you couldn't always fool -- are starting to figure things out, and without the help of elites. There is intriguing anecdotal evidence that non-pol, non-pundit citizens are looking for the kind of debate that is beyond the ken of the most prominent officials and journalists.

I say this in light of two very separate incidents -- and, more specifically, the reaction to them.

First, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) " (Regnery Publishing, 2005) by Robert Spencer went on sale at Amazon.com. In advance of a publicity campaign, advertising, interviews or reviews, the book climbed as high as No. 14 this week on Amazon's sales list. This is significant, and not just as a publishing story of a book that made an initial splash before anyone could give it a push. As an entry in Regnery's PIG (Politically Incorrect Guides) series, Mr. Spencer's book arrives in the marketplace with an identity, if not an attitude: The reader knows he is going to get the story as it is never told in the mainstream culture. Mr. Spencer, on whose expert analysis at www.jihadwatch.org I have come to rely, seems to have provided a book people are hungry for -- a book that explains, as the president and all his men (and Condi) cannot, why it is that the sharia-spreaders and the murder-bombers and, as Oriana Fallaci vividly labels them, "the head-choppers" do it all for "the religion of peace."

The second incident involves not the appearance of a book, but rather the disappearance of a voice. Last week, radio-station WMAL's Michael Graham got his microphone yanked for daring to notice, mention and ponder the links between Islam and terrorism on the air. In an outrage against the First Amendment, the ABC affiliate, directed by its parent company, Disney, suspended Mr. Graham without pay for exercising not only his freedom of speech, but also his faculties of logic. Why did WMAL do this? Because CAIR -- a Hamas-linked organization with, as Daniel Pipes recently pointed out, "five current or former ... affiliates arrested, convicted or deported on terrorism-related charges" (see "CAIR Founded by 'Islamic Terrorists'?" at www.DanielPipes.org) -- put pressure on the station to do so.

The reaction? As of the Saturday morning after the Thursday night Mr. Graham was suspended, he took to his blog to thank listeners for the 10,000 e-mails or so that he estimated had been sent to the station on his behalf. By Tuesday, he was begging people to stop: "The volume of calls and e-mails is hurting the ability of some very good people to do their jobs, and trust me -- your message has been received."

That message was sent because people want facts -- hard, non-PC and vital to their understanding of what we're really up against.