Significantly, he is also right in saying that the extremists’ ideology induces them to believe “Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West.” But then comes two plus two equals five: According to Obama, that ideology must “of course” be a “lie” because “the United States is not at war with Islam.”
If I am an aggressor and I punch you in the nose, we are in a fight, even if you weren’t looking for a fight. The fight does not end just because you insist you’re not in a fight. The fight ends because you lose. Your ostentatious display of not having a quarrel with me does not convince me to stop hitting you — although it may convince me to keep hitting you.
Islamic supremacism is not based on a lie. It is based on a truth. That truth has nothing to do with the United States — although it has grave consequences for us.
This is elucidated by the jihadist atrocity in Britain just the day before Obama’s speech. Even after all the mass murders we’ve seen over the last two decades, this one was shocking in its barbarity.
After killing and mutilating a British soldier, one of the jihadists, blood still soaking his hands, proudly looked into a camera and proclaimed, “We are forced by the Koran, in Sura al-Tawba, through many ayah in the Koran, we must fight them as they fight us.”
Sura al-Tawba is the Koran’s ninth chapter, home to what are known as the verses of the sword. Time after time, Muslims are instructed to slaughter their enemies. “Kill the polytheists wherever you find them.” “Fight those who do not believe in Allah” until they submit to the law of Islam. “Fight . . . the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness.” On it goes.
Naturally, most Western media reports omitted any mention of the jihadists’ explanation of their doctrine and its easily verifiable scriptural underpinnings — just as Obama, in his speech, eschewed any mention of the Koran in describing the “larger cause” for which “extremists” fight. But though the supremacist’s construction is not the only viable interpretation of Islam, it is a genuine, literal one.
What’s more, Chapter Nine is one of the last chapters of the Koran (which is not organized chronologically). To the extent it seems in contradiction with more benign earlier verses, reputable scholars logically teach that what comes last abrogates what came before — i.e., the aggressor Islam controls. It is not for nothing that authentically moderate Muslims have a hard time discrediting the extremists.
Islamic supremacism teaches that Muslims are under a divine injunction to fight non-Muslims, including by violent jihad, until all the world submits to sharia (the path), Allah’s blueprint for the perfect human society. It is true that of the world’s hundreds of millions of Islamic supremacists, only a small percentage (though still a high number in absolute terms) are “extreme” enough to engage in violence. Yet all of them share the violent jihadists’ goals, and they endorse the violence itself in many, if not most, instances.
As we should have understood long before 9/11, the enemy is at war with us regardless of whether we deem ourselves at war with them. They don’t care whether we consider ourselves “at war with Islam”; what makes it a war is that they construe Islam to dictate jihad against us.
That is not a “lie.” It is a belief that Islam means what its scriptures say. That belief is not refuted by pretending that the scriptures do not exist. No more than the war ends by pretending it is not happening. Two plus two is not five. War ends in victory or defeat. Failing to defend oneself is not peace; it is surrender.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.