Of course, for the secular materialists and pundits of the left, whose minds are furnished with tired received wisdom and banal clichés, such as statement is Islamophobic hate speech. Only Christianity and Judaism lead to violence, from the Crusades to Zionism. Islam is the tolerant “religion of peace” that created the Renaissance and treated Jews and Christians kindly. If Muslims act violently––over 20,000 violent attacks since 9/11––then they must have been provoked by Western bad behavior: colonialism, imperialism, greed for oil, support for Israel, disrespect of Islam and Mohammed, the War on Terror that has demonized Muslims. Or the terrorists are created by the inequities and costs of global capitalism, which give young Muslim men few educational or economic opportunities, creating frustration and despair that make them turn to a distorting heresy of Islam for relief. Or they are the products of oppressive political regimes that limit their freedom, violate their human rights, and stifle their aspirations.
We’ve heard all these explanations for over a decade now from both the left and the right. What we haven’t seen is very much evidence that they are remotely true. History provides no evidence that America’s alleged foreign policy sins outweigh the demonstrable concrete benefits to Muslims of our actions. America never had colonies in Muslim lands, and indeed after World War II resisted French and British attempts to reassert their authority over their one-time colonies, most obviously in the Suez Crisis of 1956. Since then, the U.S. armed the Afghans and helped them drive out the Soviets, rescued Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from the psychopathic sadist Saddam Hussein, bombed Christian Serbs to rescue Muslim Kosovars and Bosnians, liberated Shiite Iraqis from Hussein, liberated Afghans from the brutal Taliban, poured billions of dollars of aid to terrorist Palestinian regimes, used our jets to help the Muslims in Libya free themselves from the psychotic Gaddafi, and supported in word and coin the jihadist, America-hating, anti-Semitic Muslim Brothers in Egypt so that Muslims can enjoy “freedom and democracy.”
And that’s not all. We have incessantly protested our respect for the wonderful Islamic faith, censored our official communications and training programs to remove any references to jihadism or the Islamic theology that justifies holy war, euphemized jihadist attacks like the Fort Hood murders as “workplace violence,” invited sketchy imams to pray in the White House, filled our schools with curricula praising Islam and its contributions to civilization, scolded and prosecuted writers or cartoonists who exercise their First Amendment right to criticize Islam, abandoned “profiling” as a technique for identifying possible terrorists trying to board a plane or enter the country, hired as advisors to the FBI, the Pentagon, and the CIA Muslim apologists who recycle blatant lies and distortions––we have done all this liberating of Muslims and flattering of them and their faith, and they still don’t like us, and they still want to kill us.
This disconnect between our alleged bad behavior and the motives of the jihadists is starkly obvious in the case of the Boston terrorists. If Chechen Muslims have a beef with anyone, it’s the Russians. When jihadist terrorism became a problem in Chechnya, there were no “hearts and minds” campaigns, no solicitous outreach, no infusions of foreign aid, no apologies for past sins, no careful adherence to the laws of war, the Geneva conventions, or human rights, no courting of imams to provide insights into the wonderfulness of Islam. The Russians employed torture, assassination, group reprisals, and in the end ringed Grozny with artillery and left it in ruins. In the two Chechen wars the Russians killed around 150,000 people. In fact, Russia has been killing Muslims since the 18th century, and occupied Muslims lands in Central Asia for 80 years under the Soviet Union. So tell me, Senator Rand Paul or Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, if our foreign policy misbehavior explains jihadist hatred, how is that two centuries of Russian violence against Muslims is ignored, and all our blood and treasure spent to liberate and help Muslims count for nothing?
No more convincing are the other rationalizations for Muslim violence. Lack of education and economic opportunity exist all over the world, but African Christians and animists, or Indian Hindus and Buddhists don’t commit acts of terrorism with anywhere near the same frequency as Muslims. Plenty of people across the globe live under oppressive dictators who routinely violate human rights, and they don’t turn to terrorism against distant strangers in response. Tibetans aren’t donning suicide vests or bombing marathons. Millions and millions of impoverished everywhere don’t kill innocent people in random attacks in countries far from their homes. Every excuse for Muslim violence collapses beneath the weight of such facts. Meanwhile, the one factor all these killers––rich or poor, educated or not, politically oppressed or otherwise––have in common, Islam, is preemptively rejected as the explanation for the violence.
This “willful blindness,” as Andy McCarthy calls, has become dangerous. It reflects the arrogance of secular materialism, which has discounted religion as a mere life-style choice, usually benign––unless you’re talking about gun-toting, racist, misogynist, homophobic evangelical Christians, or racist, land-grabbing Zionist Jews. No, it’s about psychological trauma caused by globalization, or Islamophobia, or insensitive insults to Mohammed, or Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, or anything and everything other than the numerous passages in the Koran, hadiths, and 14 centuries of Islamic jurisprudence and theology, which clearly and consistently set out the doctrine of violent jihad against infidels.
So expect in the coming weeks the same old commentary about foreign-policy blowback, or two-bit psychological analyses of personal trauma, or Israel’s sins and Bush’s wars, or American intolerance and xenophobia, or our need to “reach out” and “engage” and “respect” and “understand” the fanatics who don’t want our outreach, tolerance, or respect, but our deaths. In short, expect more public reasons for the jihadists to believe we are weak and corrupt and thus deserving to die.
Author Bio: Bruce Thornton is a Research Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization.