The “war” part of the war on terror is pretty much over, and we’re now fighting it culturally, rhetorically. Which is not something we do well. Take the British prime minister and his traditional nothing-to-do-with-Islam statement, issued in the wake of the Kenyan shopping-mall carnage:
These appalling terrorist attacks that take place where the perpetrators claim they do it in the name of a religion: They don’t. They do it in the name of terror, violence and extremism and their warped view of the world. They don’t represent Islam, or Muslims in Britain or anywhere else in the world.
Same with the Muslims who beheaded a British soldier, Drummer Rigby, on a London street in broad daylight. On that occasion, David Cameron assured us that the unfortunate incident was “a betrayal of Islam. . . . There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”
How does he know? Mr. Cameron is not (yet) a practicing Muslim. A self-described “vaguely practicing” Anglican, he becomes rather less vague and unusually forceful and emphatic when the subject turns to Islam. At the Westgate mall in Nairobi, the terrorists separated non-Muslim hostages from Muslims and permitted the latter to leave if they could recite a Muslim prayer—a test I doubt Mr. Cameron could have passed, for all his claims to authority on what is and isn’t Islamic. So the perpetrators seem to think it’s something to do with Islam—and, indeed, something to do with Muslims in the United Kingdom, given that the terrorists included British subjects (as well as U.S. citizens).