In Any Language, the Ground Zero Mosque is a Bad Idea

Yasser Arafat, the Father of Modern Terrorism, whose 1994 receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize tarnished that award for all time, pioneered the art of condemning violence in English while encouraging it in Arabic.  He largely got away with it, because of a shortage of Arabic-language speakers in America and Europe.

Enter MEMRI, the indispensable Middle East Media Research Institute, founded in 1998.  MEMRI has played a role in virtually every news article you’ve ever seen about radical Muslims preaching death and destruction in Arabic, not to mention Farsi, Urdu, Pashtu, Dari, Hindi, and Turkish.

(Hm… the premise of this post was that it’s refreshing to see MEMRI with a translation of a Muslim with a moderate message.  So I get a couple of nice setup paragraphs written… and I realize the article in question was actually written in English.  Whatever.  Onward!)

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim is a former Commodore in the Saudi Arabian Navy, who spent several years in the U.S. as a liaison officer at the Pensacola Naval Air Station (where my favorite sailor did his A School training last year), after spending several years in the late 1970s studying at the State University of New York’s Maritime College.  While in New York he visited the “breathtaking” World Trade Center more times than he could count.

During his years in the U.S. … well, let him tell it:

I drove on every highway and used every airport you can think of. During all that time I never had any problem praying and practicing Islam. As a matter of fact, the American people are the most admired for their respect of the Islamic religion. We prayed everywhere – in the classroom, the office, airports and in any highway exit. So Islam can be practiced anywhere without any fanfare or prestigious mosque. The U.S. is the most tolerant country regarding building an Islamic center. But why [did] Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf choose Ground Zero?”…

When I watched the collapse of the World Trade Center and the rescue efforts done by the people of New York, I knew for sure that someone I know was a victim or a rescue member. Two weeks later I received an e-mail from the Maritime College Alumni Association announcing the death of two of the school graduates. One is from the class of 1963 and the other from the class of 1986 (I will not mention their names). Another very close friend of mine and from the same class (1979) left one of the burning towers 15 minutes before it collapsed. Now I am emotionally more hurt than before. …

This is why I think that we Muslims have to carefully consider the place where the mosque will be built. There are a lot of mosques in Manhattan and having the mosque near Ground Zero may bring more harm to the Muslims than good. There is freedom of religion, but there is a common sense too.

Well said, Commodore Al-Mulhim.

A Symposium on Moderate Islam — and Why the Ground Zero Imam Doesn’t Qualify

Feisal Abdul Rauf

Two useful features today in the Wall Street Journal.  First, a symposium titled “What is Moderate Islam?“, in which six scholars and thought leaders explore the topic that represents the world’s best hope for peaceful coexistence between Islam and the West.

Second, “Letters from the Imam,” in which the man behind a controversial proposed Islamic center in Lower Manhattan pointedly refuses an opportunity to portray himself as a moderate in the nation’s largest newspaper.

You really should read the whole thing, but I know you won’t (I can tell from my traffic software when someone clicks a link in one of my posts), so here are highlights from the symposium.

Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s opposition leader:

Yet Muslims must do more than just talk about their great intellectual and cultural heritage. We must be at the forefront of those who reject violence and terrorism. And our activism must not end there. The tyrants and oppressive regimes that have been the real impediment to peace and progress in the Muslim world must hear our unanimous condemnation. The ball is in our court.

Former Princeton Professor Bernard Lewis:

For the moment, there does not seem to be much prospect of a moderate Islam in the Muslim world. This is partly because in the prevailing atmosphere the expression of moderate ideas can be dangerous—even life-threatening. Radical groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban, the likes of which in earlier times were at most minor and marginal, have acquired a powerful and even a dominant position.

But for Muslims who seek it, the roots are there, both in the theory and practice of their faith and in their early sacred history.

The Islamist author Ed Husain:

The Prophet Muhammad warned us against ghuluw, or extremism, in religion. The Quran reinforces the need for qist, or balance. For me, Islam at its essence is the middle way in all matters. This is normative Islam, adhered to by a billion normal Muslims across the globe.

Normative Islam is inherently pluralist. It is supported by 1,000 years of Muslim history in which religious freedom was cherished. The claim, made today by the governments of Iran and Saudi Arabia, that they represent God’s will expressed through their version of oppressive Shariah law is a modern innovation.

Reuel Marc Gerecht, senior fellow at the indispensable Foundation for Defense of Democracies:

That is the essence of moderation in any faith: the willingness to exist peacefully, if not exuberantly, alongside nonbelievers who hold repellent views on many sacred subjects.

It is a dispensation that comes fairly easily to ordinary Muslims who have left their homelands to live among nonbelievers in Western democracies. It is harder for Muslims surrounded by their own kind, unaccustomed by politics and culture to giving up too much ground.

Tawfik Hamid, former member of the Islamic radical group Jamma Islamiya:

Moderate Islam must not be passive. It needs to actively reinterpret the violent parts of the religious text rather than simply cherry-picking the peaceful ones. Ignoring, rather than confronting or contextualizing, the violent texts leaves young Muslims vulnerable to such teachings at a later stage in their lives. …

Moderate Islam must be honest enough to admit that Islam has been used in a violent manner at several stages in history to seek domination over others. Insisting that all acts in Islamic history and all current Shariah teachings are peaceful is a form of deception that makes things worse by failing to acknowledge the existence of the problem.

And Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic Studies at American University:

Clearly, the use of the term moderate here is meant as a compliment. But the application of the term creates more problems than it solves. The term is heavy with value judgment, smacking of “good guy” versus “bad guy” categories. And it implies that while a minority of Muslims are moderate, the rest are not. …

[He proposes other categories.] The modernist is proud of Islam and yet able to live comfortably in, and contribute to, Western society. … The literalists believe that Muslim behavior must approximate that of the Prophet in seventh-century Arabia. Their belief that Islam is under attack forces many of them to adopt a defensive posture. And while not all literalists advocate violence, many do. Movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Taliban belong to this category.

I must say I have mixed feelings about the first paragraph I quoted from Professor Ahmed, immediately above.  (I am, however, confident he and I could discuss it without anybody’s throat getting cut.)  I’m OK with the fact that the term moderate “is heavy with value judgment, smacking of ‘good guy’ versus ‘bad guy’ categories.”  There are good guys and bad guys, and differentiating between them is an essential first step toward achieving peaceful coexistence between Islam and the West.

I accept the professor’s point, however, that the term can imply that moderate Muslims are a minority — which they most certainly are not (or else we’re all hosed).  But here the laws of large numbers come into play.  There are more than a billion Muslims on the planet.  Let’s say Ahmed’s “literalists” are confined to .01% (one hundredth of one percent) of all Muslims.  That implies more than 100,000 dangerous jihadis around the world.

Which brings us to Feisel Abdul Rauf, the man behind the “Ground Zero mosque.” (Yes, I know it’s not just a mosque, and I know it’s not “at” Ground Zero.  It’s at a site chosen for its proximity to Ground Zero.)  The Journal found a couple of letters to the editor from Rauf in the New York Times from the late 1970s, in which:

Imam Rauf seems to be saying that Muslims should understand Sadat’s olive branch … as a short-term respite leading to ultimate conquest.  To drive that point home, he added in the same letter that “In a true peace it is impossible that a purely Jewish state of Palestine can endure. . . . In a true peace, Israel will, in our lifetimes, become one more Arab country, with a Jewish minority.”

Two years later, the imam weighed in on the Iranian revolution. In a February 27, 1979 letter, in which he scores Americans for failing to apologize to Iran for past misdeeds, he wrote, “The revolution in Iran was inspired by the very principles of individual rights and freedom that Americans ardently believe in.”

At the time, Iran’s revolution hadn’t revealed all of its violent, messianic character. Thirty years later it has, yet Mr. Rauf’s views seem little changed. Following Iran’s sham presidential election last year and the crackdown that followed, the imam urged President Obama to “say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I certainly said lots of stupid things in the late 1970s. (I was in college.)  But the Journal offered the imam a golden opportunity to clarify his views and paint himself as a moderate:

We asked Imam Rauf if his views had changed since the 1970s. His complete response: “It is amusing that journalists are combing through letters-to-the-editor that I wrote more than 30 years ago, when I was a young man, for clues to my evolution. As I re-read those letters now, I see that they express the same concerns—a desire for peaceful solutions in Israel, and for a humane understanding of Iran—that I have maintained, and worked hard on, in the years since those letters were published.”

Contrast this dismissive brushoff with the thoughtful, conciliatory comments of Messrs. Ibrahim, Husain, Hamid and Ahmed above.  For a man who claims to want to build bridges between the faiths, Imam Rauf sure does seem contemptuous of the misgivings shared by 70 percent of Americans.  He also sounds like an apologist for Iran, the world’s foremost state instigator of terrorism.

Muslims Against the Ground Zero Mosque

When I first started hearing about it, the controversy over a proposed mosque near the gaping hole where the twin towers once stood seemed like an annoying distraction.  I wished the whole discussion would just go away.   I sympathized with the visceral opposition to a monument to Islam near where fanatical Muslims killed so many Americans.  But it’s too easy to caricature that opposition as religious intolerance.

Fortunately, moderate Muslims have come to the rescue, and have branded the plan as the provocation it is. Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah, writing in the Ottowa Citizen (hat tip to Andy McCarthy):

So what gives Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the “Cordoba Initiative” and his cohorts the misplaced idea that they will increase tolerance for Muslims by brazenly displaying their own intolerance in this case?

Do they not understand that building a mosque at Ground Zero is equivalent to permitting a Serbian Orthodox church near the killing fields of Srebrenica where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered? …

As Muslims we are dismayed that our co-religionists have such little consideration for their fellow citizens and wish to rub salt in their wounds and pretend they are applying a balm to sooth the pain.

Neda Bolourchi, a secular Muslim whose mother was on the plane that hit the North Tower, writing in the Washington Post (hat tip for my headline and the following item to John McCormack) :

Though I have nothing but contempt for the fanaticism that propelled the terrorists to carry out their murderous attacks on Sept. 11, I still have great respect for the faith. Yet, I worry that the construction of the Cordoba House Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site would not promote tolerance or understanding; I fear it would become a symbol of victory for militant Muslims around the world.

And my go-to guy for Muslim moderation, M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, who way back in May had a column in the New York Post that I missed at the time (hat tip to my research assistant, Mr. Google):

My first concern is whether the financing truly represents the local American Muslim community or comes with strings from foreign Islamists. But that is far from my last concern.

I am an American Muslim dedicated to defeating the ideology that fuels global Islamist terror — political Islam. And I don’t see such a “center” actually fighting terrorism or being a very “positive” addition near Ground Zero, no matter how well intentioned.

To put it bluntly, Ground Zero is the one place in America where Muslims should think less about teaching Islam and “our good side” and more about being American and fulfilling our responsibilities to confront the ideology of our enemies.

On reflection, I think it’s a good thing that this controversy is taking place.  It provides a forum for discussion of the delicate but essential task of distinguishing Islam from Islamic fascism.  Three cheers for all of the brave Muslims and former Muslims who are willing to risk participating in that discussion.

A Tireless Muslim Advocate for Islamic Reform

M. Zuhdi Jasser

It’s a shame that conservative arsonist Andrew Breitbart has torched his own credibility so thoroughly at the time one of his websites was preparing to publish an important message from my favorite Muslim-American patriot.

As a public service to anyone who doesn’t want to give Breitbart’s site any traffic, I’m posting an extensive excerpt here from M. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim and former officer in the United States Navy.  Jasser says of failed Time Square bomber Faisal Shahzad (emphasis added):

The Shahzads of the world do not go to sleep one night a normal citizen in corporate America working for the Affinion Group and wake up the next morning a traitorous jihadist adhering to a radical ideology. There is a process of indoctrination and the pathway is political Islam. …

The core of our American citizenship pledge and my officer’s pledge I took when I was in the U.S. Navy is to defend the U.S. against enemies foreign and domestic. Muslim leadership need to reform the ideas which feed into the development of traitors like Hasan and Shahzad and others who slide down the slippery slope of political Islam to become agents of the “Islamic state” over their allegiance to the U.S., the nation that gave them freedom. Simply placing road blocks along that slope as many who prefer political correctness over debate would do is not enough. The whole slope of political Islam needs to be ideologically defeated in real debate within the House of Islam.

The obligations of jihad in the 7th century Arabian Peninsula under the Prophet Muhammad’s leadership are gone for all Muslims I know. We now only have a national obligation of citizenship to our nation – the United States– and there is and can be no other competing obligations. Muslim teachers need to make that repeatedly clear, with no qualifications about Muslims being in a majority or minority, or future Shahzads of the world will keep returning.

If Muslims apply the true meaning of jihad today that I know and learned from my family, they would start a ‘jihad against jihad’ and work to end the concept with regards to armed conflict, nation states, and the ummah. The real jihad in 2010 is within the House of Islam against the Islamists and those advocates of political Islam and its radical manifestations that have hijacked the spiritual path of Islam.

I was not aware of Jasser and his organization, the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, in late 2008 when I posted the following words:

There are some reprehensible passages in the Bible, but over the centuries most Christians have come to reject them. Christians stopped sanctioning the killing of non-believers because Christianity as a culture came to know that it was wrong, despite whatever Biblical support might be found. Christians in America cited Biblical support for slavery, and other Christians led the way in renouncing it, first through the abolition movement and later through the civil rights movement.

In the same way, Muslims bear the primary responsibility (not “blame”) for purging Islam of the evil done in its name. Perhaps Islam has been hijacked, as President Bush would have it. But if there is any broad-based, organized effort by moderate Muslims to overpower the “hijackers,” it has escaped my notice.

Shame on me — AIFD has been fighting the good fight since 2003, as I would have known if I had looked a little harder.  In my defense I’ll cite the unfortunate fact that Jasser and AIFD are not nearly as well known as they deserve to be — Wikipedia has a self-described “stub” of an entry for AIFD, and no entry for Jasser himself.

But Jasser is a Muslim Hero, and I’ll continue to look for opportunities to highlight his views.

Islam Needs a Reformation, Not Technological Help

M. Zuhdi Jasser

Leave it to a devout and patriotic Muslim-American to smack down the Obama Administration’s latest example of unseriousness in the struggle against Islamic fascism.

You may have read that Charles Bolden told al-Jazeera last week that when Obama appointed him to lead NASA, the president gave him three charges:  “One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”

Set aside the fact that if you’re the head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, maybe one of your top three priorities ought to have something to do with, you know, space.  Focus instead on the notion that we should make nice with Islam by helping Muslims “feel good” about the fact that centuries ago, as the President said in his Cairo speech, Muslims contributed to the development of algebra and the use of magnetic compasses for navigation.

Of all the areas for potential interaction between America and Muslim nations, science has to be just about the least appropriate.  Muslim nations already have produced killers who hijacked technology they could not have developed to fly it into buildings they could not have built.  As M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy puts it, “Handing them our technology and funds could end up strengthening theocrats and monarchs, further preventing real reform.”

Jasser, a devout Muslim and former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, is an important voice with more credibility on the nature of Islam than a cranky white guy from New Jersey could ever develop.  As Jasser writes, focusing on technology

… ignores the fact that many militant Islamist leaders, from bin Laden to Zawahiri to most of the heads of the Muslim Brotherhood, are very scientifically educated. In fact, the Brotherhood (Ikhwan) is sometimes pejoratively referred to as the “Brotherhood of Engineers.”

Zewail [another Obama Administration advisor] goes on to write: “Most Westerners today are unaware of the extent to which Nasser’s regime promoted education as the vital engine of progress.” How insulting: Gamal Abdel Nasser’s legendary fascism, pan-Arabism, and socialism have become “engines of progress.” Nasser infected the Middle East with a deeply corrupt ideology, yet Obama’s science envoy is apologizing for the Egyptian despot.

The challenge is not science and technology. Real Muslim reform will only come from modernization of thought in the political sciences, liberal arts, free markets, theology, and philosophy. Theocratic Islamist movements are the primary obstacles to Muslim enlightenment – not the absence of space technology.

And real Muslim reform, if it happens, will be driven by Muslim heros like Jasser — not by impotent efforts to paper over current threats by making Muslims “feel good” about long-ago events.

Islam May Not Be the Enemy, But the Enemy Is Islamic

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has earned the right to be critical of Islam.

She was raised as a devout Muslim in Somalia and Kenya.  At the age of five, her genitals were cut in a barbaric Somali ritual at the insistence of her Islamic grandmother.  In her twenties, her Islamic father gave her in marriage to a distant cousin she barely knew.  After she fled to Holland and built a life for herself as a politician and filmmaker, a Muslim killed her filmmaking partner, Theo Van Gogh, and left a note stabbed into his chest indicating she would be next.  All this and more is recounted in her 2007 memoir, Infidel.

This remarkable woman, who now self-identifies as an atheist, has published a second memoir, Nomad: From Islam to America, which I’ve just finished reading.  She’s well aware that Islamic scripture prescribes death for apostasy, and she is accompanied by armed guards wherever she goes.  But the constant threat has not blunted her views or the clarity with which she declares them.  She’s not a fan of multiculturalism:

Here is something I have learned the hard way, but which a lot of well-meaning people in the West have a hard time accepting:  All human beings are equal, but all cultures and religions are not.  A culture that celebrates femininity and considers women to be the masters of their own lives is better than a culture that mutilates girls’ genitals and confines them behind walls and veils or flogs or stones them for falling in love.  A culture that protects women’s rights by law is better than a culture in which a man can lawfully have four wives at once and women are denied alimony and half their inheritance.  A culture that appoints women to its supreme court is better than a culture that declares that the testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man.  It is part of Muslim culture to oppress women and part of all tribal cultures to institutionalized patronage,  nepotism and corruption.  The culture of the Western Enlightenment is better.

She calls for an Islamic Enlightenment:

The Muslim mind needs to be opened.  Above all, the uncritical Muslim attitude toward the Quran urgently needs to change, for it is a direct threat to world peace… The Muslim mind today seems to be in the grip of jihad.  A nebula of movements with al Qaeda-like approaches to Islamic precepts has enmeshed itself in small and large ways into many parts of Muslim community life, including in the West.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a brave voice in a fight for the soul of Islam.  Another such voice is M. Zuhdi Jasser,  head of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.  Unlike Ali, Jasser continues to be a devout Muslim — but like her, he understands the threat posed by some of his co-religionists.

As devout Muslims who are anti-Islamist we feel that Muslims have to lead the war of ideas against political Islam (Islamism) from within devotional Islam. Islamists have a well-established transnational global network of entities hatched from Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots. Whether we care to admit it or not, Islamists are at war intellectually and kinetically with western liberal democracies.

Today comes the news that: “Two New Jersey men arrested at a New York airport planned to travel to Somalia to ‘wage violent jihad,’ and also had expressed a willingness to commit violent acts in the United States.”  The two had been under surveillance for more than three years.

The scary reality is that our enemy lives among us. Thank God for Muslims (and ex-Muslims) like Jasser and Ali who are brave enough to help us understand what we face.

Devout Muslim Says Shahzad Should Be Tried for Treason

One of my all-time favorite Muslims, Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, pulls no punches in condemning his co-religionist:

“The actions of Faisal Shahzad a naturalized US citizen on May 1, 2010 were a calculated and deliberate act of treason. Shahzad’s cowardly attempt to kill innocent Americans in Times Square clearly demonstrates his loyalty lies with the Islamist radicals and not his chosen countrymen in the United States. His actions were a result of his faith in the supremacy of an Islamic State over the United States. His citizenship oath was given falsely in 2009 and was in the direct service of powers at war with the United States. His prosecution should encompass the gravity of those actions. No different from Hassan Abujihad convicted in 2008, Nidal Hasan and other Islamist traitors Shahzad if guilty is an enemy of the state and should be immediately legally treated as one.”

You should really read the whole thing, but I know you won’t, so here’s my favorite line from the rest of Jasser’s statement: ” America in fact provides the best atmosphere for Muslims to practice our faith and it is time for us to empower honest reformist Muslims to declare the ‘Islamic state’ dead.”

Fun fact: “Treason” is the only crime defined in the United States Constitution, and it’s defined so narrowly that there have been fewer than three dozen prosecutions in the history of the Republic. It’s a shame — I’m fond of calling things by their name, but the deck is rigged on this.

More from Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Mohammed’s Image

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls for a campaign of solidarity with the makers of South Park, who were the targets of veiled death threats after daring to invoke the name of Mohammed on their cartoon show.

The entertainment business, especially Hollywood, is one of the wealthiest and most powerful industries in the world. Following the example of Jon Stewart, who used the first segment of his April 22 show to defend “South Park,” producers, actors, writers, musicians and other entertainers could lead such an effort. Another idea is to do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.

Another important advantage of such a campaign is to accustom Muslims to the kind of treatment that the followers of other religions have long been used to. After the “South Park” episode in question there was no threatening response from Buddhists, Christians and Jews—to say nothing of Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand fans—all of whom had far more reason to be offended than Muslims.

It will be interesting to see if any groundswell arises in support of the “May 20 Is Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” movement.  I still haven’t seen any explanation as to why May 20 was chosen — I’m a little disappointed that Ali didn’t use her WSJ megaphone to support that effort.

But I was delighted to see in the tagline to the WSJ article that Ali has a new book coming out in May: Nomad: From Islam to America—A Personal Journey through the Clash of Civilizations. I’ve added it to the recommended books in my Amazon widget at right, and I’m looking forward to reading it. (Hmm… I wonder if I get a cut if I buy a book from my own widget?)

May 20 is “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”

The suits at Comedy Central have aided and abetted terrorism by censoring an episode of South Park to remove all references to Mohammed. They followed in the courageous footsteps of the Yale University Press, which, before publishing a book about the Danish cartoon controversy last year, deleted the actual cartoons from the manuscript.

South Park is just a cartoon show, right?  What’s the big deal?  My hero, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, appeared on CNN to explain why it’s a big deal. An excerpt:

“The South Park episode wasn’t just funny… it also addressed an essential piece in the times that we are living.  There is one group of people, one religion that is claiming to be above criticism. … This is an assault on freedom of expression. And we have to defend it tooth and nail.”

She’s walked the walk, having lived under threat of death since she and Theo Van Gogh made the movie Submission, which got Van Gogh killed in 2004.  Now, in an effort to “water down the pool of targets,” blogger Dan Savage has published a declaration of May 20 as “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.”  (Hat tip:, via Mark Steyn.)

My drawing skills are nonexistent, but I figure the least I can do is republish the Mohammed turban-bomb drawing, above — the most iconic of the cartoons that touched off riots that killed more than 100 people in 2005.

I’m sensitive to the argument that nobody’s religion should be mocked.  But radical Muslims have made Islam a target by substituting violence for evangelism.  Ridicule is a non-violent way of fighting back.

Let’s let Ayaan have the last word:

“If the entertainment business were to take this on and just show how ridiculous this is, there’ll be too many people to threaten, and then I won’t need protection, and the gentlemen who made South Park also will not need protection.”

Christmas Attack Was an Act of War, But It’s Being Treated Like a Crime

Just Do ItAfter allegedly telling investigators “there are more just like me who will strike soon,” Captain Underpants apparently has been allowed to lawyer up and stop talking. In the Wall Street Journal, former Justice Department official Victoria Toensing explains why this is madness:

Abdulmutallab is in effect in possession of a ticking bomb, but we cannot interrogate him. His right to remain silent, as required by the Miranda rule, thwarts Mr. Obama’s hollow attempt on Tuesday to “assure” us he is “doing everything in [his] power” to keep us safe. Questions need to be answered. Where was Abdulmutallab trained? Who trained him? Where is the training facility located? Where is the stash of PETN, the explosive used in the bomb? What are the techniques he was told to use for getting through airport security? Was there a well-dressed man who helped him board the plane without a passport as claimed by another passenger? And, most important, are future attacks planned?

Cliff May, head of the indispensable Foundation for Defense of Democracies, expands on the theme:

Terrorism is not a criminal justice matter; it is a weapon of asymmetric warfare. … We know there will be murders, robberies, rapes, and muggings; we understand that the FBI will never eliminate organized crime; we realize that some criminals will escape punishment because their guilt cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Viewing terrorism through this same prism, however, means accepting that planes will be blown up and that other forms of mass-casualty violence — bioterrorism, Fort Hood–style massacres, dirty-bomb attacks — also will occur; that terrorists can never be aggressively interrogated even if hundreds of lives depend on the information they might reveal; and that some terrorists will be allowed to walk, to rejoin the jihad, to thumb their noses at the families of their victims; and that we will never even make a serious attempt to defeat those waging war against us.

May also points out that “real security means looking for terrorists — not for weapons”:

Finally, while most Muslims are not terrorists, most terrorists in recent years have been young, male Muslims who have embraced an extremist reading of Islam. To deny this is not just to indulge in self-delusion. It is to sacrifice innocent lives on the altar of political correctness. Apologists for extremism will complain. Moderate Muslims will direct their anger where it belongs: against those within their community who preach and practice mass murder — not those doing what they can to prevent the next slaughter.

One of those moderate Muslims, M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, chimes in with an open letter to President Obama:

Our nation is clearly becoming more and more anxious and concerned over the rash of radicalized Muslims. Is it not time for you to acknowledge that terror is a simply a symptom of a more profound deeper underlying disease? That disease is political Islam.

Hopefully you will realize that we can only defeat an enemy we can name, describe, and understand. As Thomas Friedman and others have recently reminded us, the only answer to jihadists, Salafists, and Islamists is a narrative from within America, and most important from within Islam, that counters the global supremacism of political Islam. Until you say exactly that, we will continue to flail in this conflict.

I hope after Nidal Hasan, after the American jihadis in Pakistan, and now after the Christmas bomber radicalized in London, that you see our need for clear leadership against political Islam and its ubiquitous permeating militant manifestations. We need a leader who recognizes that this conflict is most significantly within Muslim communities as we Muslims struggle with the conflict between theocracy and democracy, sharia and liberty, Islamism and freedom, and salafism and modernity. The longer you squander your leadership and stay silent on this, the more vulnerable we will be.

Darth Cheney is back in the news, accusing the Obama administration of “trying to pretend we are not at war.”  Seems to me like he has a point.