In explaining his opposition to the Ground Zero mosque, Newt Gingrich today dramatically refocuses our understanding of the threat to the West posed by Islamism. It is not just about terrorism — that’s just a small part of the offensive. As he explains in Human Events, we are confronted by a mainstream movement that seeks gradually to infuse sharia, Islam’s legal and political framework, into our legal, political, financial, economic, and educational systems — and throughout our culture. He says from the start:
One of our biggest mistakes in the aftermath of 9/11 was naming our response to the attacks “the war on terror” instead of accurately identifying radical Islamists (and the underlying ideology of radical Islamism) as the target of our campaign. This mistake has led to endless confusion about the nature of the ideological and material threat facing the civilized world and the scale of the response that is appropriate.
Radical Islamism is more than simply a religious belief. It is a comprehensive political, economic, and religious movement that seeks to impose sharia—Islamic law—upon all aspects of global society.
Many Muslims see sharia as simply a reference point for their personal code of conduct. They recognize the distinction between their personal beliefs and the laws that govern all people of all faiths.
For the radical Islamist, however, this distinction does not exist. Radical Islamists see politics and religion as inseparable in a way it is difficult for Americans to understand. Radical Islamists assert sharia’s supremacy over the freely legislated laws and values of the countries they live in and see it as their sacred duty to achieve this totalitarian supremacy in practice.
Some radical Islamists use terrorism as a tactic to impose sharia but others use non-violent methods—a cultural, political, and legal jihad that seeks the same totalitarian goal even while claiming to repudiate violence. Thus, the term “war on terrorism” is far too narrow a framework in which to think about the war in which we are engaged against the radical Islamists.
The essay goes on to describe the authoritarian, anti-American, and often barbaric nature of sharia; the alarming advance of the sharia agenda in the United States; and how these matters ought to shape the understanding of, and opposition to, the proposed Ground Zero mosque project. Even if Newt hadn’t graciously tipped his hat to The Grand Jihad, I would say this is required reading. It is, moreover, a prelude to a major national security speech the former Speaker will be delivering at AEI on Thursday at 2pm (it can be watched here).