"Do you believe in 'radical Islam'?" the famous Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders once asked me.
The occasion was a banquet last summer at the Reagan Library outside of Los Angeles where later that evening Wilders would receive a Hero of Conscience award from the American Freedom Alliance. I would have the honor of introducing him. "What did you say?" I could barely hear him over the speaker at the podium elaborating on the perils of, yes, "radical Islam."
"'Radical Islam,'" he repeated. "Do you think there is 'radical Islam,' or only 'Islam'"?
Me, I'm an "only Islam" kind of gal, as I told him. Who am I to argue with Muslims ranging from terror-cleric Abu Qatada to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan? Erdogan is particularly interesting as a democratically elected Islamic leader who eschews all word-modifiers of Islam including "moderate," the adjective the media often applies to his AKP political party. "These descriptions are very ugly," Erdogan said in 2007. "It is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam, and that's it." Erdogan has also bluntly rejected descriptions of Turkey itself as an example of "moderate Islam," saying last April: "It is unacceptable for us to agree with such a definition. Turkey has never been a country to represent such a concept. Moreover, Islam cannot be classified as moderate or not."
I mention this now because after the fireworks over Scott Brown's U.S. Senate victory in Massachusetts have died down, we will have to return to the same, old, equal parts humdrum and deadly wrangle over how to think, talk about and grapple with Islam in what remains a post-9/11 world.
Two related events took place just as the Massachusetts miracle sucked the oxygen from non-election news excepting Haiti coverage. First, the Pentagon report on the Fort Hood massacre came out. It is 86 pages long and doesn't mention the words "Muslim," "Islam," "jihad," "Sharia" (Islamic law), "Koran" -- despite the fact that we know, among other things, that the killer, who initiated his massacre with a cry of "Allahu Akbar," was a Muslim inspired by Islam to perform an act of jihad as sanctioned by Sharia derived from the Koran.These facts, however, rate official silence. So what else is new? From the Bush years to the present, see-no-Islam denial has turned U.S. government attempts to assess and discuss national security issues into Kabuki gibberish, a perpetual exercise in make-believe that the core doctrines and traditional institutions of Islam -- not "radical Islam," not "Islamism," not other aliases -- pose no threat to the core doctrines and traditional institutions of the non-Islamic Free World. Naturally, mum's the Pentagon word over jihad at Fort Hood. Or, rather, "self-radicalization" is the word. It is mentioned more than a dozen times in the report.
I can't imagine a greater dereliction of duty than this failure of U.S. government leaders to recognize, articulate and defend against what in military parlance is known as the "enemy threat doctrine." But this dereliction, this failure will trigger no investigations or court proceedings on how and why our leaders consistently mask, soft-soap and otherwise fail to assess and repel the existential threat posed by the imposition or accommodation of these same Islamic doctrines.
I refer again to Geert Wilders, now enmeshed in a Kafkaesque court trial in which the Dutch government is subverting its own democratic institutions -- namely, freedom of speech and the will of the people -- in an effort to shut down Wilders and his political opposition to the Islamization of the Netherlands. The government's case rests on Wilders' increasingly successful efforts to win support for his anti-Islamization program from the Dutch people through speeches, writings and the short film "Fitna" (easily viewable online) -- a body of work that only a tyrannical, Islamically correct government could designate as "evidence" of a crime.
How Dutch government officials must envy America's Sharia-compliant public servants who willingly generate see-no-Islam blather such as the Fort Hood report.
They can have it.