Robert Spencer, Willful ignorance is never likely to bear good fruit.
The United Kingdom’s former Home Secretary Sajid Javid has just published an op-ed The Sun in which he appears to be calling for a new realism in response to the Islamic jihad threat, but a closer look reveals that he is just indulging in the same old wishful thinking and willful ignorance that we have heard thousands of times from politicians all over Europe and North America.
To be sure, Javid does go much farther than most politicians in Britain and anywhere else in discussing the reality of the situation, and gets much closer to the truth. “This is not a battle of borders, bombs or bullets,” he declares. “Nor even one primarily of counter-terrorism powers and resources. It’s fundamentally a battle of ideas.”
That is true, and it is a point that most counterterror “experts” ignore or obfuscate. Javid is also much more forthright and honest than most when he adds: “The virus, in this case, is Islamist ideology. An ideology that is antithetical to our way of life in a Western liberal democracy, and that has inspired countless attacks against innocent people.”
That also is true, and it needs to be said. But Javid gets himself entangled in illogic and inaccuracy when he continues: “It claims to speak for the Muslim community yet is a twisted version of the great religion of Islam that billions follow around the world.” He states: “Islamist extremism is a grotesque mutation of the Islam I grew up with, know and love, and Muslims are its biggest victims. As experienced former diplomat Sir John Jenkins explains in a persuasive paper to mark the launch of the Policy Exchange project, Islamism ‘clothes itself in the language of religion’ but is really ‘an activist, socially divisive and supremacist ideology, which seeks to reorder individual lives, societies and states.’”
Javid would have been helpful if he had explained how this “an activist, socially divisive and supremacist ideology, which seeks to reorder individual lives, societies and states” is not rooted in Islamic texts and teachings, texts and teachings that Islamic jihadis use to justify violence and make recruits among peaceful Muslims, but he doesn’t.
Javid also notes that “there are well-meaning officials who worry that Islamism, a term with credible and established meaning, could be seen as implicating the entire religion of Islam and all its diverse and peaceful adherents.”
Yet it is largely due to a phenomenon that Javid also points out, the fact that “there are woke activists who are quick to victim-blame the West and cry Islamophobia at all attempts to deal with the issue,” that Javid is worried about “implicating the entire religion of Islam and all its diverse and peaceful adherents” by speaking about the motivating ideology behind jihad terrorism. No one disputes that there are peaceful Muslims, but that doesn’t change the fact that the ideological wellsprings of what Javid calls “Islamism” are found in Islam itself. It is a shame that some people will call that “Islamophobia,” but their doing so doesn’t change the ideological wellsprings of “Islamism.” Can Sajid Javid explain exactly how “Islamist ideology” twists the religion of Islam? This point is asserted thousands of times by all the learned analysts and politicians in the West, yet it is never substantiated or explained.
Javid also indulges in Britain’s fashionable moral equivalence when he claims that “Islamist extremists have an almost symbiotic relationship with extreme right-wing groups, both feeding off each other’s grievances.” In reality, there is a minuscule “right-wing” threat, at best, and the British government tends to classify those who speak honestly about the motivating ideology behind jihad terror as “right-wing extremists,” trying to portray them as a threat equivalent to that of jihadis.
In that vein, former British Prime Minister Theresa May likened me, who have never called for, approved of, or justified any violence, to Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada, who are jihad terrorists who exhorted Muslims to commit acts of violence and engaged in jihad plots. While May’s slander has been damaging to me, what is far more important is that it illustrates the willful ignorance and moral blindness of the British government, and its abject fear of offending its Muslim population, which fear leads to its supine response to jihad terror, as well as to Muslim rape gangs.
Javid talks tough about confronting “Islamist ideology,” but as long as he remains in denial about its connections to traditional Islam, it will keep popping up and blindsiding him despite his best efforts to eradicate it. The fact that violence against unbelievers is among the teachings of normative Islam has never been adequately confronted in the West. While it is true that the vast majority of Muslims will never commit atrocities in the name of their faith, most of these peaceful Muslims are reluctant to come out openly and denounce the jihadis. This is because they recognize that warfare against disbelievers is a tenet of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and that consequently they themselves could be targeted for standing against the jihadis.
When Javid breezily asserts that “Islamist ideology” is a “twisted” version of Islam, he is claiming something that all too many Muslims in Britain don’t believe to be true. And that will doom his efforts to failure.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster.