The pattern is very familiar: Islamist terrorists commit an atrocity somewhere, and our Left leaps to warn of one thing: “Islamophobia,” or a “backlash” against our Muslim neighbors. That is a fine thing to be concerned about (amid other things). But a fixation on it is odd. And the prioritization of it is odd.
What’s more, I think we’ve learned over the years that Americans are very tolerant people, sometimes to a fault.
Into my inbox yesterday arrived a note headed “Combatting Anti-Muslim Sentiment Through Fashion.” It began,
In the midst of the Islamaphobia and anti-muslim sentiment that is dominating the news these days, there are two American women, both former corporate lawyers, that are telling a different story. They are working on the ground in Pakistan with women entrepreneurs to improve and scale their design and production capabilities of to compete in today’s modern fashion world. They are creating global connections through design and telling a different story of the Islamic world.
Okay. But let me concentrate on that first sentence: “In the midst of the Islamaphobia and anti-muslim sentiment that is dominating the news these days …” Shouldn’t it be Islamist atrocities that dominate the news, if anything does?
I’m reminded of a joke, one that is not perfectly apropos but close enough. I learned the joke, many years ago, from an unlikely source: Mark Shields. He told it on television. Goes something like this:
Two “progressives” are walking down the road. They come upon a man in a ditch, who has been beaten to a pulp. He is bleeding, broken, and moaning. One progressive says to the other, “Quick, we have to find the people who did this. They need help.”
You will hear from the Right — and now from the Left — that George W. Bush went to a mosque and said, “Islam is peace.” Yes, he did. In the course of his remarks that day, he said,
The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran itself: “In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.”
The face of terror is not the true face of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.
Oh, did the Left hate it when he said “evil.” I remember it well. Anyway, Bush made those remarks on September 17, 2001, six days after the terrorist attacks. I think he was right to go to that place — the Islamic Center in Washington — and to say what he said that day. You did not hear much “Islam is peace” from him in later months and years, as the War on Terror was fought.
In those initial days, he also said “axis of evil” and “for us or against us” and “dead or alive.” The Left hated those remarks. To them, Bush was the blinkered Texas cowboy, delighting in unnecessary war. To the Right, he is the Establishment squish who says “Islam is peace.”
The Right also loves to quote “I looked the man in the eye. … I was able to get a sense of his soul.” Futilely, no doubt, I explained the context of those remarks in a column last year. It is also true that Bush had a very realistic, tough-minded policy toward Russia — the policy that Obama & Co. wanted to “reset” from, believing it too harsh. Do you recall?
And do you recall who announced withdrawal from the ABM Treaty six months after “sense of his soul,” thus enabling the advance of SDI? No matter: You’ll hear “a sense of his soul” from the Right till the end of time. (Actually, Bush knew Putin’s soul damn well.)
But back to the Left: Their first thought, ever and always, is Islamophobia. The great danger, they say or imply, is Islamophobia, not Islamist terror. Frankly, I believe that many of them wish it were so. Because, for them, it’s a lot easier to oppose Jerry Falwell (to use the late preacher as a symbol) than it is to oppose the Jihad. They are in search of what Tom Wolfe called, unforgettably, the Great White Defendant. And Ahmed the Terrorist ain’t it.