September 12, 2006

Appeasement in the Name of Secularism

On Sunday, September 10, The New York Times editorial page offered a special section: “10 Ways to Avoid the Next 9/11.” Its point, as the Gray Lady tells us, was the following:

The Op-Ed page asked 10 people with experience in security and counterterrorism to answer the following question: What is one major reason the United States has not suffered a major attack since 2001, and what is the one thing you would recommend the nation do in order to avoid attacks in the future?

Of course, this two-pronged question offered numerous experts the opportunity to engage in a little Bush-bashing. But we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” were particularly intrigued by the answer offered by one Jessica Stern, a lecturer at Harvard and the author of a tome called Terror in the Name of God.

A few of us here at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly” had read this book some time ago and found it interesting yet mildly dissatisfying. In it Stern offered a journalistic tour through the worlds of many religious terrorists: Islamist extremists; anti-abortion murderers; &c. By virtue of this approach, Stern seemed to stress the commonalities among these fanatics.

Which is why, dear reader, we found her short op-ed in the Paper of Record so curious. Its title says it all: “Keep American Muslims on Our Side.” In essence, Stern argues that America must hue to a foreign policy that won’t disturb this country’s Muslims; if it does not, we should expect more terrorism. With an obvious allusion to Iraq, she explains:

Every foreign-policy decision entails tradeoffs in regard to terrorism, especially with respect to the spread of the jihadist idea. Attacking the wrong people at the wrong time can backfire, just as Al Qaeda’s strategists say. Let’s not make that mistake again.

Thus does counter-terrorism expert Jessica Stern forfeit America’s foreign policy to potentially disgruntled Muslims.

And here’s our point: Since Stern appeared to be intrigued by the commonalities between religious terrorists, why do we have the sneaking suspicion that she’s willing to treat Muslim terrorists much differently from others? Do you suppose, for instance, that Ms. Stern would suggest that America outlaw abortion in order to stop pro-life maniacs from murdering abortion doctors and bombing health clinics?

Of course not! After all, why should America change its domestic policies to appease a bunch of violent lunatics? This would be capitulation of the most sordid variety. Then why does Ms. Stern tell us to tout appeasement as a foreign policy?

We can suggest a potential reason. We’re pretty sure that Ms. Stern doesn’t support the liberation of Iraq. Thus what she’s asking of the country in this case conforms perfectly to her own foreign policy views. And, we’d imagine, she’s not pro-life, and thus she doesn’t want to capitulate to anti-abortion fanatics.

It’s all a bit depressing. And, quite frankly, at least mildly paternalistic: Stern’s view appears to boil down to the idea that sundry Muslims simply can’t help themselves; when provoked, they don’t think, but react with violence. Why is this supposed to be a more progressive approach to Islamic fascism than the hope to bring democracy to the Middle East?

Posted at September 12, 2006 12:01 AM | TrackBack