The Corner

Addressing Islam

My column from today’s Dallas Morning News argues that we in the West have pushed God so far to the edge of our common life that we literally cannot understand the motivation behind Islamist terrorism — and thus aren’t fighting the war we’re actually in. I drew heavily on a new book called “Imperial Hubris,” written by a senior CIA analyst (“Anonymous”), who makes the same point. I don’t agree with everything Anonymous says. He believes that changing a series of US policies (e.g., abandoning Israel, getting troops out of the Muslim world) would defuse a lot of the anger in the Muslim world, and in turn deprive the Islamists of a cause. It seems clear to me, however, that though bin Laden lodges specific policy grievances against the US, capitulating to him on those points wouldn’t help us much at all. Read this terrific Paul Berman piece from the NYTimes Magazine from last March to understand the religious and philosophical critique of the West launched by the Islamists, and why the West has not yet begun to fight at the level of ideas. Again, I believe we are crippled by our contemporary view of religion — both taking it not seriously enough, and seriously for the wrong reason (that is, we don’t dare to criticize Islam because we don’t want to offend the religious sensibilities of others).

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