Michael, in the April 20 edition of NR, I wrote an essay called “Beyond Terrorism.” The point was to argue that — as President Obama said in that interview reported on (as Jonah says, without much examination) by the Times — “the United States and other parts of the Western world ‘have to educate ourselves more effectively on Islam.’”
The difference is that I mean it and he doesn’t.
Anyway, the president and Islam’s apologists in the West do not speak about the core American values you mention because, if they did, it would become painfully clear that major aspects of sharia (the Islamic legal code) are antithetical to Western democracy. The “Islam” that the president wants to “better educate” about is not the one that actually exists. In the essay, I put it this way
The Koran contains many an ode to tolerance, most of which are from Mohammed’s early Meccan period, when he was seeking to recruit converts to the new religion. Many such benign injunctions were abrogated by the contrary, brutalizing verses of the later Medinan period, when the warrior prophet spread Islam principally by the sword. That inconvenient fact is ignored by the “religion of peace” crowd, whose unparalleled favorite scripture is Sura 2:256, the instruction that there shall be “no compulsion in religion.” On the basis of this directive, they argue, à la Jacqui Smith [the British Home Secretary — or at least she was until she got sacked about five minutes ago], that jihadist violence must be anti-Islamic.
Au contraire. While militants would surely be delighted if, say, the destruction of the Twin Towers induced everyone to convert, that is not the direct goal of jihadist activity — violent or not. The goal is to induce each targeted jurisdiction to adopt sharia. The Muslim Brotherhood’s chief theoretician, Sayyid Qutb, explained that forcible jihad proceeds whenever Islam is obstructed by “the political system of the state, the socio-economic system based on races and classes, and behind all these, the military power of the government.” This system is then supplanted by Islamic law. At that point, Islam can be “addressed to peoples’ hearts and minds,” purportedly without compulsion, “and they are free to accept or reject it with an open mind.”
Jihad is not trying to convert you; it is seeking the imposition of Allah’s law. That law happens to be antithetical to bedrock American principles: It establishes a state religion, rejects the freedom of citizens to govern themselves irrespective of a religious code, proscribes freedom of conscience, proscribes economic freedom, destroys the principle of equality under the law, subjugates non-Muslims in the humiliation of dhimmitude, and calls for the execution of homosexuals and apostates. Nevertheless, its adoption produces what Islamists portray as the non-coercive environment in which people then “freely” embrace Islam. . . .