A Trifecta of Persuasive Punditry

I call myself a blogger, but I’m more like an essayist who uses blogging software.

Many of my posts start out as a simple idea and end up as 600-800 words.  (Except when they end up as 2,000 words.)  I think it’s a self-esteem issue — I’m concerned that someone will mock me, and have the facts on their side.  So I research and try to substantiate every nuance, and the word count grows. (I’m up to 77 so far!)  Then I run out of time or energy, resulting in no posts at all for a week at a time.

So let’s try a classic quickie blog post — little or no analysis from me, just recent quotes from three of my favorite pundits.  Krauthammer:

Leave it to Mickey Kaus, a principled liberal who supports health-care reform, to debunk these structural excuses: “Lots of intellectual effort now seems to be going into explaining Obama’s (possible/likely/impending) health care failure as the inevitable product of larger historic and constitutional forces. . . . But in this case there’s a simpler explanation: Barack Obama’s job was to sell a health care reform plan to American voters. He failed.”

He failed because the utter implausibility of its central promise — expanded coverage at lower cost — led voters to conclude that it would lead ultimately to more government, more taxes, and more debt. More broadly, the Democrats failed because, thinking the economic emergency would give them a political mandate and a legislative window, they tried to impose a left-wing agenda on a center-right country. The people said no, expressing themselves first in spontaneous demonstrations, then in public-opinion polls, then in elections — Virginia, New Jersey, and, most emphatically, Massachusetts.

That’s not a structural defect. That’s a textbook demonstration of popular will expressing itself — despite the special interests — through the existing structures. In other words, the system worked.

Victor Davis Hanson:

Those who accuse former Bush administration officials of criminality for having supported enhanced interrogation techniques are nearly silent about the ongoing and vastly increased targeted assassinations ordered by the Obama administration, and I for one am confused by this standard of attack.

If a suspected jihadist on the Afghan Pakistan border were to be asked his choice, he might very well prefer to be apprehended, transported to Guantanamo, and harshly interrogated rather than blown to bits along with any family and friends who happen to be in his vicinity.

To make things simpler, water-boarding the confessed architect of the murder of 3,000 innocents, on a moral scale, seems less atrocious than executing suspected terrorists, as we are now doing. Since the easy denunciations of criminality are moral rather than legal — no one has actually convicted a John Yoo or a Dick Cheney of anything — surely we should hear something about these capital sentences handed down from the sky on those who, quite unlike KSM, are suspected, rather than confessed, killers.

And Andrew McCarthy (profiled in the New York Times):

“A war is a war,” Mr. McCarthy declared. “A war is not a crime, and you don’t bring your enemies to a courthouse.”

In the debate over how and where to prosecute Mr. Mohammed and other Sept. 11 cases, few critics of the Obama administration have been more fervent in their opposition than Mr. McCarthy, a 50-year-old lawyer from the Bronx who had built a reputation as one of the country’s formidable terrorism prosecutors.

Now he has a different reputation: harsh critic of the system in which he had his greatest legal triumph.

Mr. McCarthy has relentlessly attacked the administration for supporting civilian justice for terrorism suspects. He has criticized the military commissions system and called for creation of a national security court. After the arrest of the suspect in the Christmas bomb plot, he wrote, “Will Americans finally grasp how insane it is to regard counterterrorism as a law-enforcement project rather than a matter of national security?”

Argghh… 659 words.  But I only had to write about 150 of them!

Obama: “Our Nation is at War Against a Far-Reaching Network of Violence and Hatred”

Perhaps all of the criticism from Dick Cheney and others about a law-enforcement approach to terrorism has had a positive effect.  In his weekly address today, President Obama reprises one of the better lines from his Inaugural Address:

It’s been nearly a year since I stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and took the oath of office as your President.  And with that oath came the solemn responsibility that I carry with me every moment of every day-the responsibility to protect the safety and security of the American people. On that day I also made it very clear — our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred, and that we will do whatever it takes to defeat them and defend our country, even as we uphold the values that have always distinguished America among nations.

I give the weekly address about a B+, with points deducted for a gratuitous and misleading swipe at his predecessor:

I refocused the fight — bringing to a responsible end the war in Iraq, which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, and dramatically increasing our resources in the region where al Qaeda is actually based, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

By continuing to talk like a candidate,  President Obama diminishes himself and diminishes America — a country that went to war in Iraq with strong bipartisan support.  And of course it’s both premature and ludicrous for him to claim credit for “bringing to a responsible end the war in Iraq.”  Obama deserves some credit for staying the course, but when that war does come to a responsible end, it will be because Mr. Bush found a path to victory.

But I’m glad to hear the Commander-in-Chief talking like a warrior.  Actions speak louder than words, of course, but words are important. Presidential words are particularly important.  By acknowledging that we are at war, Obama may help stiffen the spines of elements within his administration that are serious about national security.  With enough such spine-stiffening, we may see a transition away from the law-enforcement approach to asymmetric warfare, an approach that led to the indefensible decision to bring the mastermind of 9/11 to the media capital of the world and provide him a platform for inspiring jihadists everywhere.

Update: Once again, as in the post I link to just above, Andy McCarthy has posted his own similar take in The Corner at around the same time (emphasis added):

Finally, behold, yet again, the folly of President Obama’s law-enforcement approach to terrorism. Not only has the assignment of counsel in the criminal case denied us whatever intelligence Mutallab could be giving us about Yemen. The criminal case is complicating the President’s ability to do his jobs as president and commander-in-chief.  This morning, Obama declared flatly that Mutallab conspired with al Qaeda in a heinous attempted terrorist attack. It was refreshing to hear the president not hedge with “alleged” this and “alleged” that. FDR never suggested that the “fear itself” we needed to fear was “alleged.” But, of course, defense counsel will now claim the president is hopelessly prejudicing Mutallab’s ability to get a fair trial — in Detroit or anyplace else — by smearing him in the press and eviscerating the presumption of innocence.

No, I don’t suffer from any delusion that McCarthy is aware of my existence — let alone that he is following my lead.  In fact, the intellectual debt flows in the opposite direction, so much so that I’ve finally created a McCarthy tag for my blog.  I just think the timing is cool.  And here I’ll belatedly tip my hat to one of McCarthy’s fellow Cornerites, Daniel Foster, whose post informed me of the President’s remarks this morning (although my take is more generous to Obama).


Senator Graham vs. Senator Clueless, on Trials for Jihadists

This clip of Senator Lindsey Graham questioning Attorney General Eric Holder on the decision to try KSM in civilian court is well worth 4:40 of your time.  The South Carolina Republican eloquently and passionately illustrates the folly of treating jihadists like common criminals.

“If you’re going to prosecute anybody in civilian court, our law is clear that the moment custodial interrorgation occurs, the defendant — the criminal defendant — is entitled to a lawyer, and to be informed of their right to remain silent.  The big problem I have is that you’re criminalizing the war. That if we caught bin Laden tomorrow, we have mixed theories and we couldn’t turn him over to the CIA, the FBI or military intelligence for an interrogation on the battlefield, because now we’re saying that he is subject to criminal court in the United States, and you’re confusing the people fighting this war.

What would you tell the military commander who captured him?  Would you tell him that he must read him his rights and give him a lawyer? And if you didn’t tell him that, would you jeopardize the prosecution in a criminal court?”

Graham’s masterful performance struck me when I first saw it last night, but I was moved to post about it today after another senator, Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont, took issue with his colleague and said no interrogation would be necessary.  “For one thing, capturing Osama bin Laden — we’ve had enough on him, we don’t need to interrogate him,” Leahy said.

Yes, we doubtless could convict Osama bin Laden based on evidence already in our hands.  But Senator Leahy, don’t you think there are a few questions we might want to ask a captured bin Laden? Such as: “Dude, where you been hanging out all these years?”  Or: “Hey, any of your peeps have any plans we might wanna know about?”

I don’t want to make too much out of a statement that Leahy must already regret.  I sure wouldn’t want to be held accountable for the dumbest things I ever said.  But it’s hard to imagine a starker demonstration of the difference between a war mentality and a crime-fighting mentality.

Update: Andy McCarthy, who has been all over the the civilian trial debacle since the news first broke last Friday, made very similar points about Senator Leahy in The Corner — posting at almost exactly the same time.

“If you’re going to prosecute anybody in civilian

court, our law is clear that the moment custodial

interrorgation occurs, the defendant — the criminal

defendant — is entitled to a lawyer, and to be

informed of their right to remain silent.  The big

problem I have is that you’re criminalizing the war.

That if we caught bin Ladin tomorrow, we have mixed

theories and we couldn’t turn him over to the CIA, the

FBI or military intelligence for an interrogation on

the battlefield, because now we’re saying that he is

subject to criminal court in the United States, and

you’re confusing the people fighting this war.  What

would you tell the military commander who captured

him?  Would you tell him that he must read him his

rights and give him a lawyer? And if you didn’t tell

him that, would you jeopardize the prosecution in a

criminal court??

Politics Outweighs Principle in Ordering a Civilian Trial for KSM

Wanted: Impartial Jurors

Wanted: Impartial Jurors

The Obama administration’s announcement that it would transfer the 9/11 mastermind and four of his accomplices to New York City for a criminal trial can only be understood as yet another cynical ploy to mollify the Left by focusing on the alleged misdeeds of the Bush administration.

It certainly can’t be understood as a principled decision.  The administration intends to continue on the path of holding military commissions for other captured jihadists.  I know of no way to articulate a principled reason for bringing some but not all terrorists into the criminal justice system.

Much has been written about the folly of giving all of the rights of an accused American citizen to a captured enemy combatant.  Andrew C. McCarthy, who prosecuted the first World Trade Center bombers, sums it up as well as anyone today in an article posted on National Review.  Excerpts:

As experienced defense lawyers well know, when there is no mystery about whether the defendants have committed the charged offenses, and when there is controversy attendant to the government’s investigative tactics, the standard defense strategy is to put the government on trial.

That is, Pres. Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, experienced litigators, fully realize that in civilian court, the Qaeda quintet can and will demand discovery of mountains of government intelligence. They will demand disclosures about investigative tactics; the methods and sources by which intelligence has been obtained; the witnesses from the intelligence community, the military, and law enforcement who interrogated witnesses, conducted searches, secretly intercepted enemy communications, and employed other investigative techniques. They will attempt to compel testimony from officials who formulated U.S. counterterrorism strategy, in addition to U.S. and foreign intelligence officers. As civilian “defendants,” these war criminals will put Bush-era counterterrorism tactics under the brightest public spotlight in American legal history.

This is exactly what President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder know will happen. And because it is unnecessary to have this civilian trial at all, one must conclude that this is exactly what Obama and Holder want to see happen.

From indictment to trial, the civilian case against the 9/11 terrorists will be a years-long seminar, enabling al-Qaeda and its jihadist allies to learn much of what we know and, more important, the methods and sources by which we come to know it. But that is not the half of it. By moving the case to civilian court, the president and his attorney general have laid the groundwork for an unprecedented surrender of our national-defense secrets directly to our most committed enemies.

Waging war is not like fighting crime.  If you are a civilian police officer and you see an unidentified person lurking where nobody should be, you ask to see ID.  If you are a soldier in a battle zone, you shoot.  The rules are different because they have to be different.

Several months ago, author Robert Wright declared that if we cannot convict terrorists in court — for example, if evidence is tainted because of the way it was gathered — we should set them free.  He specifically included Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  Wright is a principled liberal whom I met as an undergraduate, and whose intellect I respect.  But this is folly.

What is the government going to do if the case against KSM is thrown out of court?  Tell him, “here’s 100 bucks for cab fare out of the city — good luck”?

87 More Days Until Obama Breaks His Guantanamo Pledge

gitmo_delta-resizedIt’s been evident for some time that January 23, 2010, will arrive without the fulfillment of President Obama’s first executive order, to close the Guantanamo detention center within one year of the (January 22, 2009) signing.  This week brings further reminders of why breaking that pledge will be the better part of valor.  Many of the Gitmo detainees are Very Bad People, and there’s no good option for relocating them.

FDD Update, the indispensable newsletter of the indispensable Foundation for Defense of Democracies, each week offers a breadcrumb trail to the best writing on the misnamed Global War on Terror.  This week, FDD President Cliff May points to these Gitmo highlights:

In the ruling Joscelyn describes, a judge applied a “beyond-a-reasonable-doubt” standard in finding that Khaled al Mutairi could not be held as an enemy combatant.  Unfortunately, it was not a jury trial — because a jury might well have found that the government proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Let us connect the dots on al Mutairi: (1) He left for Afghanistan shortly after September 11 without making any plans for a return trip; (2) He used a known al Qaeda/al Wafa smuggling route to get into Afghanistan; (3) He carried $15,000 in cash with him and admittedly gave at least some of this money to al Wafa–which, again, is a known al Qaeda front–to an al Wafa representative in Kabul; (4) He spent well more than a month in the Taliban’s Afghanistan and could not offer any valid explanation for what he was doing during that time; (5) He fled towards the Tora Bora Mountains in a manner that is entirely consistent with al Qaeda and Taliban members, according to the court; (6) His “non-possession” of his passport is consistent with “al Qaeda’s standard operating procedures”; (7) His contact information appeared on multiple rosters of “captured fighters,” including one that was kept by a senior al Qaeda terrorist; (8) His passport information appeared on multiple “passport lists” maintained by al Qaeda; and (9) Kuwaiti security claims that al Mutairi was a “hardcore extremist” affiliated with al Qaeda before he ever went to Afghanistan in the first place.

Now, if you think that the above indicates that al Mutairi “more likely than not became part of Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan” (a phrase used by Judge Kollar-Kotelly in a previous habeas ruling), then you share the opinion held by the U.S. military and intelligence officials who detained him.

But the judge did not see it that way.

The Miami Herald reported that al Mutairi will not immediately be released, but rather will be placed in “a Kuwaiti rehabilitation center at the emirate designed to help men jailed for years as jihadists reenter society in the oil-rich emirate.”  Good luck with that — al Shihri went through a similar program in Saudi Arabia.

At least al Mutairi will be released on the other side of the world from America, because Kuwait was willing to repatriate him.  But think about this: most Gitmo detainees will have to be held within the United States if Gitmo is closed, because other countries want nothing to do with them.  In a post-Gitmo era, enemy combatants released by misguided judges will have to be released on our own soil if their homelands will not take them.

A Religion of Peace? Only With Careful Editing

I’m a fan of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies — an organization I was predisposed to love as soon as I heard their name. Their weekly FDD Update newsletter provides an extremely comprehensive review of  each week’s developments in the defining struggle of our age — the war against Islamic fascism.

fdd-logoThere’s a large overlap in commentators between FDD and National Review Online, my favorite website, so I often have already seen some of the items that FDD President Clifford May highlights in the newsletter.  But when this week’s edition arrived today, I saw that I had missed a forceful critique of Obama’s Cairo speech by former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy.  Some of McCarthy’s NRO colleagues had offered muted praise for the speech, as did I, but McCarthy was having none of it, and made some strong points.  For example:

The president, moreover, insisted on pulling from the Muslim apologists’ playbook the expurgation of Islamic scripture in order to render it congenial to Western sensibilities. We were treated to the hidebound claim that terrorist violence is anti-Islamic because what Obama takes pains to call “the Holy Koran” teaches that “whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.” This conveniently decoupled Sura 5:32 from the next verse (5:33), which, though unmentioned by Obama, is well known by Muslims to read: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land, is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: That is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the hereafter.”

There are, of course, offensive passages in the Bible as well.  But while Christians and Jews have largely evolved beyond the barbarities of their early scriptures, too many Muslims show little sign of doing so.  It would not have been appropriate for Obama to launch a verbal crusade in a speech on Arab soil, but he also should not enable pathology by pretending it does not exist.  As McCarthy says:

[T]here is an enormous amount of reform to be done — work that can only be done by Muslims. We cannot rouse them to the task by telling them we think Islam, as it currently exists, is promoting peace.

Conservatives Should Support Obama When He Gets Something Right

Limbaugh offers snark and bile

Limbaugh offers snark and bile

Parts of the right-o-sphere are all aflutter, debating whether President Obama deserves any credit for the rescue of a maritime hero held by pirates.

It’s a reminder that Obama Derangement Syndrome is no more appropriate than its more wide-spread predecessor, Bush Derangement Syndrome.

In The Corner, Jonah Goldberg piped up promptly and congratulated the President for authorizing the mission.  Later he took incoming fire from his right, as it turned out the President may not have specifically authorized the mission, he may just have refrained from interfering.  Jonah stood firm:

But you know what? Congratulations anyway. It’s good news the captain was rescued; Obama is the commander-in-chief and this happened on his watch; if he were thoroughly Carteresque he would have ordered that the pirates not be harmed, and you can be sure some of the snark-and-bilers would be blaming Obama if this ended badly (and I might have been one of them).

Look, I think my credentials as a critic of Obama are pretty solid. But I find the idea that I have to be critical no matter what Obama does to be exhaustingly unappealing.

Hear, hear.  But Rush Limbaugh weighed in on the side of snark-and-bile, saying sarcastically, “I would like to not only jump on the bandwagon of praising President Obama for a brilliant rescue, not only a plan but its execution, I don’t think the Navy had that much to do with it.”  He went on to fantasize at great length about who would play Obama in the movie, settling on Will Smith as both the President AND the Navy SEALs commander who took the crucial shot.  He later speculated  that if this had happened in the previous administration, the headlines would have been along the lines of Bush Assassinates Three Black Teenagers.  Exhaustively unappealing, indeed.

Just before the inauguration, Limbaugh famously said “I hope Obama fails.”  He clarified:

I’ve been listening to Barack Obama for a year-and-a-half.  I know what his politics are.  I know what his plans are, as he has stated them.  I don’t want them to succeed.

But of course he knew what the sound bite would be.  I often tell my liberal friends, don’t blame me for Rush Limbaugh and I won’t blame you for Michael Moore.

Most conservative commentators I saw came down closer to Goldberg’s opinion.  Abe Greenwald at Commentary didn’t single out the President by name, but said:

Fantastic news all around. The U.S. did not dither with negotiations or treat this as a criminal matter. It acted unilaterally and with force to free a brave man.

National Review’s Andy McCarthy notes that conservatives might well have expected a different outcome, based on the President’s past rhetoric:

Obama’s posturing put the pieces in place for a disaster. When an American-flagged ship was besieged, the president might have been paralyzed by his solicitude for the Islamic world and his commitment against unilateral action. He might have subordinated the safety of Americans to the bridge-building he has dubiously claimed to be central to our security. As commander-in-chief, he could have handcuffed the Navy. But he didn’t. Whatever his predilections, Obama unleashed John Wayne when that’s what was needed. For that we should be pleased and acknowledge a job well done.

Even Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs offered unambiguous approval (some of his lizardoid commenters were predictably less gracious):

The US Navy did us proud today. And yes, I know we’re supposed to detest and mock everything President Obama does, on pain of excommunication, but as Commander in Chief he deserves congratulations for handling this one just right.

I cast my vote in the comments of my previous post on the topic — ” I don’t think he did anything heroic, but I think he handled it fine.”  I’ll stand by that, although I might phrase it a little more graciously.  It wasn’t on the scale of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but the Commander in Chief did well in his first live-action military test.

It’s not over, of course.  Somali pirates hijacked more ships today — it’s a business model that works for them.  It will be interesting to see if they try to grab any more American ships.

Oliphant’s Cartoon Is Not Just Despicable, It’s Dangerous

20090326oliphantantisemite1At Israel Insider, Barry Rubin does the best job I’ve seen of describing precisely why Pat Oliphant’s recent cartoon — featuring a goose-stepping, headless swordsman pushing a Jew-shark-on-a-unicycle — is so powerful, and so powerfully offensive. Hat tip: Andy McCarthy.

Is the cartoon truly anti-Semitic, or is it “merely” anti-Israel? I say both, but whatever. The point is that the cartoon is a dangerous lie. It’s dangerous not just to Israel, but to America, to the West, and to any society that faces asymmetric attacks from Islamic fascists.

Like McCarthy, I think this excerpt from Rubin’s commentary spells out the danger (emphasis added):

Oliphant like many or most Western intellectuals, academics, and policymakers, still doesn’t understand the concept of asymmetric warfare. In this, a weaker side wages war on a stronger side using techniques it thinks can make it win. What are these techniques? Terrorism, indifference to the sacrifice of its people, indifference to material losses, refusal to compromise, extending the war for ever. This is precisely the technique of Hamas: let’s continue attacking Israel in order to provoke it to hit us, let’s target Israeli civilians, let’s seek a total victory based on genocide, let’s use our own civilians as human shields, and with such methods we will win. One way we will win is to demonize those who defend themselves, to put them in positions where they have a choice between surrender and looking bad. This cartoon is a victory for Hamas. But it is also a victory for all those who would fight the West and other democracies (India, for example) using these methods. Remember September 11?

In World War II — the “good war” — we faced enemies that commanded military infrastructure comparable to our own. The enemy was both willing and able to meet us on the battlefield, and was capable of inflicting severe damage. To my mind, that parity helps justify actions we took that otherwise would be morally ambiguous at best: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden.

Today’s enemies are financed by immense oil wealth, but have virtually no industrial base of their own. Hamas buys missiles that it could not possibly produce and shoots them from Gaza into Israel. For the September 11 attacks, al-Qaeda took flying lessons at American flight schools, hijacked American jetliners and crashed them into buildings born of America’s industrial and architectural prowess.

Because today’s good guys are immensely more powerful than today’s bad guys, the bad guys have to change the context. They have to use our strength and our values against us. They count on the fact that we — America, Israel — will strive, at great risk to our own troops, to limit civilian casualties on their side. Israel could have killed every human being in the Gaza Strip with zero or close to zero Israeli casualties. Instead, Israel makes a practice of warning the human shields who live in houses that are targeted because they hold arms caches.

Meanwhile, Islamic fascists are more than willing to cause the deaths not just of our civilians, but of their own as well, because the PR exploitation of their own civilian casualties is a key weapon in their arsenal. The only thing Hamas values more than dead Israelis is dead Palestinians. Preferably Palestinian children. We face enemies who are willing to breed their own children for martyrdom.

Enemies practicing asymmetric warfare will always be able to inflict casualties, but the only way they can win is if they can persuade enough of us that it is somehow immoral to fight back. That’s why Rubin concludes that Oliphant — who in a different context would qualify as a classic example of a useful idiot — has scored a victory for Hamas.

Britain Bows to Terrorism by Banning Geert Wilders

Basmallah, 3 1/2, shares what she has been taught about Jews,
in the short film

Last week, Great Britain shamefully denied entry to Geert Wilders, an elected member of the Dutch parliament, who had been invited to a screening of his film Fitna in front of the British House of Lords. It reportedly was the first time that Britain had denied entry to a duly elected legislator from a fellow European Union country.

Why did Britain take this drastic action?

The meeting of Mr. Wilders and members of the British Parliament had originally been planned for 29 January, but was postponed. Lord Nazir Ahmed, a Muslim member of the House of Lords (Labour), had threatened to mobilize 10,000 Muslims to prevent Mr. Wilders from entering the British Parliament. Lord Ahmed boasted in the Pakistani press that the cancellation of Mr. Wilders’ visit was “a victory for the Muslim community.”

More precisely, it was a victory for Islamic extremism, which once again successfully uses the threat of violence to push around a major Western power.

I highly recommend watching Fitna, which is available online in English translation — although be warned that it contains gruesome images, many of which you have seen before. As described by National Review contributor (and former federal prosecutor) Andrew C. McCarthy:

Fitna runs about 15 minutes long. It depicts a phenomenon familiar to Britons who witnessed July 7 and Americans who lived through September 11: The faithful rendition of verses from the Koran, often recited by influential Islamic clerics, followed by acts of terrorism committed by Muslim militants who profess that they are simply putting those scriptures into action. To be sure, this is not the dominant interpretation among the world’s billion-plus Muslims, most of whom do not so much interpret their creed as ignore those parts that would otherwise trouble them. But to deny that Fitna reflects an intellectually consistent construction of Islam, adhered to by an energetic minority, is to deny reality.

Wilders leaves no doubt that he believes Islam itself is the problem, not just a small band of fanatics who have tried, as a recent president was known to say, to “hijack one of the world’s great religions.” Wilders ends the film with these words crawling up the screen:

For it is not up to me, but to Muslims themselves to tear out the hateful verses from the Quran.

Muslims want you to make way for Islam, but Islam does not make way for you.

The Government insists that you respect Islam, but Islam has no respect for you.

Islam wants to rule, submit, and seeks to destroy our western civilization.

In 1945, Nazism was defeated in Europe. In 1989, communism was defeated in Europe.

Now, the Islamic ideology has to be defeated.

Strong stuff, but as John O’Sullivan writes in the New York Post:

You may object that “Fitna” is one-sided or the Koranic quotations are wrenched from their context. If such criticisms have merit, surely the correct response is to debate with Wilders, not ban him.

Wilders is by no means above reproach, and he does the cause of free expression a disservice by calling for the Quran to be banned in the Netherlands. But his pending prosecution, under a hate-crimes law in the Netherlands that could send him to prison for up to two years, is an abomination in a nation that nominally values civil liberties.

Fitna is, in fact, filled with hate speech, and you’ll have no trouble spotting it in the film. It comes from the pages of the Quran and from the mouths of the Muslim extremists. There is plenty of room to argue that Wilders’ message is distasteful or overwrought, and Muslims and non-Muslims alike deserve every opportunity to make those arguments — peacefully. By prosecuting Wilders and declaring him persona non grata, the Netherlands and Britain are proving once again what Western nations have been demonstrating for years: terrorism works.