The Corner

On-the-Job Training

It is sad that President Obama and his team are still going through on-the-job training a year into their administration. Despite the fact that Janet Napolitano, our homeland-security secretary, bizarrely tried to nix the use of the term terrorism and despite the fact that his own White House dubiously dubbed this global conflict “an overseas contingency operation,” the president has finally learned to use the most obvious term — terror – this week. Mr. President, if you are listening, here are a few more thoughts from a concerned Muslim.

You cannot just stay hunkered down at your “beachhead” in Hawaii after another virulent byproduct of global political Islam attacked on our homeland. While no one was really hurt, you don’t exactly look like you are taking the issue seriously when your photo of the day captures a romp on the beach. It was not a coincidence that this was attempted on Christmas day, yet you ignore the religious struggles in this conflict. It is time that our commander-in-chief and the leader of the free world come to terms with the reality that this is the greatest conflict of the century and a battle of ideas between western liberal secular democracies and political Islam.

While you and your colleagues are stymied by the question of whether to even use the term “terror,” the ideology of al-Qaeda (violent political Islam) is spreading exponentially. Your systematic failure to advance American security against ideologies that threaten us may turn catastrophic. In fact the Christmas bomber said so himself, telling an investigator that “there are more just like me who will strike soon.” By all means, Mr. President, fix the holes in our security that we know are there — but terrorists who are suicidal religious zealots and very creative will sadly very likely strike again soon. This year certainly proves that.

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.

– M. Zuhdi Jasser is president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, which is based in Phoenix, Ariz. He is a former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander and a physician in private practice.

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