I’ve read through the National Security Strategy for 2006 released last Friday by the White House, and overall it’s a hardheaded and realistic approach to dealing with current and future enemies. However, I think they missed something: aggressively conducting cyber warfare against jihadi web sites and bulletin boards.
For years now it’s been common knowledge (even in the mainstream media) that the Islamists use web sites and online bulletin boards to coordinate their efforts and recruit new adherents to their cause. They also use encrypted e-mail to transmit commands, coordinate their finances and handle logistics. The jihadis expertly manipulate the media into broadcasting their calls to jihad, their videotaped bombings, and worst of all the beheading of hostages.
Encouraging words, but where’s the follow-up?
Continuing a theme he’s advanced since 2002, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld noted last month:
We are fighting a battle where the survival of our free way of life is at stake. And the center of gravity of that struggle is not just on the battlefield. It is a test of wills and it will be won or lost with our public and the publics of free nations across the globe. We will need to do all we can to attract supporters to our efforts, to correct the lies being told which so damage our country, and shatter the appeal of the enemy. [emphasis added]
My first reaction to the speech was, “Great! Let’s start taking down their websites and bulletin boards and e-mail servers.” Based on Secretary Rumsfeld’s comments, I figured that there’d be something along those lines in today’s new National Security Strategy … but I don’t see it in there.
4/4/2007 Update: Is the behemoth finally waking up? Maybe.
In a survey published on Friday, Cornell University called 715 Americans on the phone and asked them their attitudes toward Muslims. Some of the respondents indicated a willingness to impose certain restrictions on Muslims in America, but even more respondents opposed any restrictions on civil rights at all.
In all, about 44 percent said they believe that some curtailment of civil liberties is necessary for Muslim Americans.
Conversely, 48 percent of respondents nationally said they do not believe that civil liberties for Muslim Americans should be restricted.
When you see headlines in the next few days bemoaning the news that “nearly half” of Americans favor “curtailing the civil rights of Muslims”, try to remember that even more Americans do not favor any restrictions at all. By a 4% margin. In a poll with a margin of error of 3.6%. Got that?
The survey also examined the relation of religiosity to perceptions of Islam and Islamic countries among Christian respondents. Sixty-five percent of self-described highly religious people queried said they view Islam as encouraging violence more than other religions do; in comparison, 42 percent of the respondents who said they were not highly religious saw Islam as encouraging violence. In addition, highly religious respondents also were more likely to describe Islamic countries as violent (64 percent), fanatical (61 percent) and dangerous (64 percent). Fewer of the respondents who said they were not highly religious described Islamic countries as violent (49 percent), fanatical (46 percent) and dangerous (44 percent). But 80 percent of all respondents said they see Islamic countries as being oppressive toward women.
This isn’t surprising. I’d bet a pile of cash that if you do a survey of people who seriously practice Religion A, and ask them about their perceptions of serious believers in Religion B, there’s going to be a marked difference in perception as compared to the general non-religious population. By definition, serious believers think that they’ve found the truth. It’s no shock that they’d have misgivings about serious believers in a different religion, especially if the two groups make mutually exclusive claims about topics essential to one or both belief systems.
[James Shanahan, Cornell associate professor of communication and a principal investigator in the study] notes: “Most Americans understand that balancing political freedoms with security can sometimes be difficult. Nevertheless, while a majority of Americans support civil liberties even in these difficult times, and while more discussion about civil liberties is always warranted, our findings highlight that personal religiosity as well as exposure to news media are two important correlates of support for restrictions. We need to explore why these two very important channels of discourse may nurture fear rather than understanding.”
If you’re convinced that Jesus is the unique Son of God, if you think Muhammad was no prophet, and if you pay attention to news reports of beheadings and suicide bombings carried out by self-professed followers of Muhammad, you’re probably going to feel some trepidation about Islam. Plus there’s that whole 9/11 thing, which probably matters to an American or two.
Next week, Cornell will report on the inexplicable correlation between committed belief in Judaism, knowledge of 20th Century history, and fear of fascism.
Little Green Footballs
The Netherlands are very friendly and quite liberal. Multiculturalism’s got a lot of fans among the Dutch, who are a polite and patient people. But when you repeatedly stomp on their toes and their collective fuse finally burns down … step back. They are not passive.
Theo van Gogh was a distant relative of the famous painter. He made movies, and his newest film, Submission, criticizes muslim attitudes toward (and abuse of) women. An Islamist recently demonstrated his disapproval of Van Gogh’s movie after spotting him on the street.
His attacker was a Dutch Moroccan who wore traditional Islamic clothing. After shooting van Gogh, he stabbed him repeatedly, slit his throat with a butcher knife, and left a note containing verses from the Qur’an on the body.
By “left a note”, Spencer means “pinned a note to the victim’s chest with two knives.”
Note to Islamists: don’t screw with the Dutch. See here and here and here and here and here and here and here … get the point?
UPDATE: Pieter Dorsman of Peaktalk is an American of Dutch extraction who’s covering the van Gogh murder and its fallout, and he’s doing it quite well (thanks for pointing this blog out, Arthur). Give Zacht Ei a look, too.
UPDATE 2: Professor Goose gets it.
Again with the beheadings.
Today the Islamists have sawn off the head of Jack Hensley of Marietta, Georgia. Yesterday they sawed off the head of Eugene Armstrong of Hillsdale, Michigan.
I’m not surprised. Hopefully we’ll preserve our collective outrage over this, but I suspect this kind of thing’s already becoming blasé in our jaded and media-saturated culture. Amid all the outrage expressed in the blogosphere, I’ve noticed a theme that needs correcting if we’re going to keep the right perspective. My blogging brethren often express their fury with epithets like “animals” and “subhuman scum” when they refer to the evil men who saw off captives’ heads in the name of a “merciful Allah.” It’s understandable to use those labels, but it’s not right because it lets these evil muslims off the hook for their actions.
We feel anger when we find out about these slaughters precisely because these evil men are more than just animals. They’re people, and that means they know better. When a cougar mauls a child, we hunt it down and kill it without much passion because it’s a dumb animal with no sense of morality. When men shoot fleeing children in the back or saw off the heads of helpless civilians, they earn our undying enmity because they know they’re committing evil.
For you left-leaning readers who feel uncomfortable with arguments based on right and wrong, think of this from a legal perspective. The Model Penal Code (which forms the basis for many states’ criminal codes) breaks down most crimes into four categories, asking whether the perpetrator committed the crime negligently, recklessly, knowingly, or purposefully. If a man fires a gun through a flimsy backstop in his backyard and the bullet accidentally kills his neighbor’s child, we’ll likely prosecute him for negligent homicide. But we hold him less culpable than the man who recklessly fires his gun into the air and kills the child playing in her yard two streets over. Worse still is the man who fires his rifle over a crowd of children, knowing he’ll probably kill someone. Worst of all is the man who fires a bullet into a fleeing child’s back for the purpose of killing her. Even our legal system emphasizes degrees of culpability and the importance of the perpetrator’s state of mind. It’s about as close to moral condemnation as our relativistic legal system ever gets.
I think the moral argument and our inherent sense of right and wrong provides the strongest foundation for holding these evil muslims responsible as people who consciously choose to do evil. You might find the legal approach more comfortable. Either way, intentions count for a lot.
From now on, I’m going to try extra hard not to understate the depths that these men have sunk to. I’m not going to call them animals or subhuman scum; these muslim death cultists are evil, and that’s why I’ll smile when they die violent and painful deaths.
I hope my fellow bloggers will do the same.
Michelle Malkin has quietly written a book that re-examines the WWII internment of everyone of Japanese ancestry in certain West Coast areas, and looks at the implications for dealing with the Islamist threat today. She wrote “In Defense Of Internment” to ask the un-askable, and she will undoubtedly ignite a firestorm of controversy:
My aim is to kick off a vigorous national debate on what has been one of the most undebatable subjects in Amerian history and law: President Franklin Roosevelt’s homeland security policies that led to the evacuation and relocation of 112,000 ethnic Japanese on the West Coast, as well as the internment of tens of thousands of enemy aliens from Japan, Germany, Italy, and other Axis nations. I think it’s vitally important to get the history right because the WWII experience is often invoked by opponents of common-sense national security profiling and other necessary homeland security measures today.
I’m buying this book right now, because I’m still against internment but I’m willing to hear an argument for it.
You might not know this, but the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case on the internment camps in 1944. The Court refused to overturn the conviction of Toyosaburo Korematsu for violating the military’s exclusion order. What’s the point? Temporary non-race-based wartime internment has never been ruled unconstitutional. Here’s an excerpt:
To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders — as inevitably it must — determined that they should have the power to do just this. There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for action was great, and time was short. We cannot — by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight — now say that at that time these actions were unjustified.
It could happen again, especially if another big terror attack kills thousands of us. We interned people after Pearl Harbor, where 2,117 died. 9/11 cost us close to 3,000 … and we showed remarkable forebearance toward muslims. We’re more tolerant than we were in the 1940s, but our patience is not infinite. One more slaughter might be all it takes to trigger a new internment.
And before you accuse me of overstating the threat from muslims, consider the fact that there are potentially 270 million suicide bombers out there gunning for us.