John Hindraker at Powerline has an astonishing tale to tell: Eric Holder before the House Judiciary Committee, answers some blunt questions from Rep. Lamar Smith (R. Texas). What you see is a man incapable of even thinking about, much less discussing intelligently a problem that should be at the top of his priority list.
In so responding Holder reveals himself a firm believer in a kind of “dogma” that states that Jihadi Islam is inconsistent with Islam. If Smith were less confrontational, we’d have even better documentation on what Holder – and, I’d guess, most members of this administration – consider “true Islam.”
But, not to worry. Daniel Pipes’ well-researched survey of the role of this euphemistic discourse among Western authorities fills in the interrupted gaps: “Not Calling Islamism the Enemy.”
Could radical Islam be responsible for recent terrorist attacks inside the U.S.? That question doesn’t seem like too much of a poser, but it was too much for Attorney General Eric Holder when he testified before the House Judiciary Committee today. Rep. Lamar Smith tries to get Holder to acknowledge that radical Islam could have played a role in one or more of the recent attacks, but Holder apparently views it as a trick question…
SMITH: Let me go to my next question, which is — in — in the case of all three attempts in the last year, the terrorist attempts, one of which was successful, those individuals have had ties to radical Islam. Do you feel that these individuals might have been incited to take the actions that they did because of radical Islam?
HOLDER: Because of?
SMITH: Radical Islam.
HOLDER: There are a variety of reasons why I think people have taken these actions. It’s — one, I think you have to look at each individual case. I mean, we are in the process now of talking to Mr. Shahzad to try to understand what it is that drove him to take the action.
Jack Hexter wrote an interesting essay on the difference between lumpers and splitters (see also, Berlin’s foxes and hedgehogs). Splitting – every case has to be considered on its own – is a tendency of those who wish to avoid making connections. Here, Smith is lumping, driving Holder to split.
SMITH: Yes, but radical Islam could have been one of the reasons?
HOLDER: There are a variety of reasons why people…
This is the second time Holder’s used the same answer to an unanswered question. Is this a talking point?
SMITH: But was radical Islam one of them?
I wish Representative Smith had had the patience to let Holder go on. I’d like to hear what variant on the opening talking point he was planning on saying.
HOLDER: There are a variety of reasons why people do things. Some of them are potentially religious…
Wow. That’s three times in a row. Definitely a talking point. Note the splitters resistance to strong statements: “Okay, I’ll grant you ‘potentially religious,’ but it’s still to early to say. Let us splitters do some research for a while…”
SMITH: OK. But all I’m asking is if you think among those variety of reasons radical Islam might have been one of the reasons that the individuals took the steps that they did.
HOLDER: You see, you say radical Islam. I mean, I think those people who espouse a — a version of Islam that is not…
This is the key point where Smith should have let Holder go on. But it’s a talking point, so we’ll hear it again.
SMITH: Are you uncomfortable attributing any other actions to radical Islam? It sounds like it.
HOLDER: No, I don’t want to say anything negative about a religion that is not…
Here it is. They key revelation of this text. What anyone paying attention knows, but is so rarely openly displayed before the nation: Holder will not say anything negative about Islam, a religion that “is not…” what? Not a belligerent religion, but a religion of peace?
Clear implications here. We don’t discuss “radical Islam” because in so doing we might cast aspersions on the larger religion. And since that cannot be done, we cannot follow up on “radical Islam.” Indeed, we shouldn’t be talking about it.
(Tom Bevin pointed out the contrast between Holder’s reluctance to deal with radical Islam and his taunt that Americans are too cowardly to talk about race. Classic pattern: criticize those who will feel shame, avoid criticizing those who will feel rage. Another illustration of the principle that the true Islamophobes are those who are afraid to say anything negative about the religion.)
We have seen the product of such an approach in the stunning Department of Defense [!] report on Major Hassan and his attack on Fort Hood, which did not use the word “Jihad,” “Muslim,” or “Islam” throughout the text. (One footnote refers to a [short] article with “Islamic” in the title [no link in the Report]).
So rather than, have radical Islam lead us to turning to Muslims in the USA and saying – “Where do your loyalties lie, with radical Islam or with a civic polity that asks you to renounce the doctrine of dar al Islam and dar al Harb?” – Holder would have us assume that there is no conflict in Islam over these problems, and that “extremist Islam” is not “true Islam.”
The presumption involved in such a formulation, from someone whose awareness of Islam is probably superficial and second hand, seems astonishing from a US Attorney General. Alarmingly so…
SMITH: No, no. I’m not talking about religion. I’m talking about radical Islam. I’m not talking about the general religion.
HOLDER: Right. And I’m saying that a person, like Anwar Awlaki, for instance, who has a version of Islam that is not consistent with the teachings of it…
Its founders? Its “legitimate” spokesmen? Its “teachings of moderation”? Again, alas, Smith cuts Holder off before he can hang himself fully, but to fill in the interrupted silences, isn’t Holder saying, “Look, someone like Awlaki may be an inspiration to someone like Major Hassan, but that’s not a legitimate form of Islam, so calling it radical Islam is inappropriate.”
“And (might I add in parenthesis), calling it radical Islam is unduly provocative.”
HOLDER: … and who espouses a radical version…
Even Holder, once on the subject of Awlaki, can’t avoid talking about radical Islam – which is why he’d rather not discuss the subject. “There are a variety of reasons why someone would…”
SMITH: But then is — could radical Islam had motivated these individuals to take the steps that they did?
This is what my daughters, in their teenage years, would call a “No duh.” Can’t get more obvious.
HOLDER: I certainly think that it’s possible that people who espouse a radical version of Islam have had an ability to have an impact on people like Mr. Shahzad.
SMITH: OK. And could it have been the case in one of these three instances?
HOLDER: Could that have been the case?
Stalling for time…
SMITH: Yes, could — again, could one of these three individuals have been incited by radical Islam? Apparently, you feel that that they could’ve been.
HOLDER: Well, I think potentially incited by people who have a view of Islam that is inconsistent with the teachings…
Three times for the second talking point “… a version of Islam inconsistent with the teachings…” We don’t want to say radical Islam. The most we’ll concede on this subject is that, if it claims inspiration from Islam, any extremist version is a perversion, inconsistent with the teachings….”
For further evidence that this is not only a talking point, but a firm position of the administration, see the remarks of John Brennan, top White House counterterrorism adviser in an interview of CNN:
BRENNAN: Well, we’re still looking at all of the information that is now becoming available to us. But Mr. al-Awlaki has been able to, through his sermons on the Internet, and his rhetoric, to have this appeal to this group of individuals who have unfortunately been attracted to this very distorted and perverse Islamic message that is anything but Islamic. It is just a murderous agenda.
This is a classic false dichotomy like “Dawn: end of the night or beginning of the day?” What’s to say it’s not an Islamic agenda that’s murderous?
Nor is this just Holder, Brennan and Napolitano. It’s the POTUS:
OBAMA: You know, what I want to do is make sure that I’m constantly talking about al Qaeda and other affiliated organizations because we, I believe, can win over moderate Muslims to recognize that that kind of destruction and nihilism ultimately leads to a dead end, and that we should be working together to make sure that everybody has got a better life.
This is vintage Liberal Cognitive Egocentrism. We can win them over by not alienating them by attacking their religion. In the meantime, we give the radicals a free and open field in which to operate because we dare not question. Obama wants to use just carrots, no sticks. Not even hard questions.
This is a frightening exchange. Political correctness has become so dominant within this administration that it is literally impossible to discuss the problem. No one seems to want to walk the path from a discussion of radical Islam’s relationship on the one hand to global, violent Jihad (what Holder denies in the face of overwhelming evidence), and, on the other, to mainstream Islam.
Maybe that’s why Smith interrupts Holder before he gets his definition of the “teachings of Islam” with which these violent varieties are sufficiently “inconsistent” as to not deserve mention as Islamic. No one wants to walk through this minefield in public.
Nothing speaks so eloquently to how stupid we have become in the 21st century.
Available in Polish, translated by Malgorzata Koraszewska here. The recent stunning performance of Marcia Freedman at the J-Street conference, calling for a one-state solution (almost surely Read More »
#GenerationCaliphate: Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad May 3-4, 2015, Boston University Sponsored by the Center for Millennial Studies, Boston University History Department and Scholars Read More »