Friday, July 15, 2005

Some on the Right are Right

I'm not in the habit of agreeing with either The Wall Street Journal's editiorial page nor conservative columnist Cal Thomas regularly, but during this week both have written things the left should be arguing.

In an editorial on Wednesday, the WSJ criticized the predominately liberal view, echoed in the words of UN Secretary General Kofi Anan, that the root causes of terrorism that are leading young Muslim men to martyr themselves for Islam are "conflict, ignorance, poverty and disease." The Journal's riposte:
In fact, neither poverty nor ignorance nor disease drove Mohammed Atta into the North Tower of the World Trade Center; hatred did, as did belief. Those who are serious about fighting terrorism at "the source" should ask themselves where those beliefs come from. As the British government is finding out, the problem isn't about economics but about ideology. And the answer lies in fighting evil ideas, such as jihad, with good ones, such as democracy.
Cal Thomas takes it much further, arguing like I have, that the problem isn't a mutated strand of Islam, but Islam itself. Much like the WSJ editorial, Thomas knocks down the connection between poverty and terror:
In the U.K., The Sunday Times carried a front-page story exploding the myth of a causal relationship between terrorism and poverty among Muslims. The newspaper reported on leaked Whitehall documents that show "Al-Qaeda is secretly recruiting affluent, middle-class Muslims in British universities and colleges to carry out terrorist attacks" in Britain. The targets of the "extremist recruiters" are students with "technical and professional qualifications."

These are not Muslims without a future. These are bright and educated students who, if they wished, could be productive and prosperous members of British society. But many are embracing a false theology and a god who requires them to kill "infidels."

No amount of G8 aid to the "Palestinians," nor a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, will pacify these current and potential killers. Even if Israel were obliterated (the goal of much of the Muslim world), the terror would continue until the entire non-Islamic world is under their control.

This is not the belief of an "Islamophobic" bigot. This is what they say in their sermons and media, teach in their schools, and believe in their hearts. It matters little that "the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists," to quote a familiar Western mantra. It matters a great deal that most terrorists are Muslims. The sooner Western leaders and Western media begin stating what is obvious to most people; the quicker the real root cause can be dealt with.
It's hard to disagree with this. The Koran, the uber text of Islam, teaches jihad as one of its central tenets. The God of Muhammed, given voice in the Koran, is the root cause of modern Islamic terrorism.

POSTSCRIPT: You'll notice if you read the whole Thomas op-ed that he resorts to his natural inclination as a rather fundamentalist Christian to write: "This is a religious war." It's not -- at least from the perspective of an atheist and a secularist. The virtues of Western society enshrined most dramatically in the U.S. Constituion, make this a war pitting reason versus irrationality, freedom versus fanaticism, and the pragmaticism of self-government versus the arrogance that you know the divine will. As long as the right holds on to this belief that this is a "religious war" the harder it will be to convince moderate Muslims that the war on terror is not a "crusade," and that modernity and democracy are the answer to Middle-Eastern stagnation.