When I first heard of the recent shooting at the War Memorial and then the Canadian Parliament building located in Montreal, I had a nagging suspicion, one about which I didn’t want to be right. But I had to know, so I read past the headline.
Sure enough: “U.S. law enforcement official said the gunman, a convert to Islam, had changed his name from Michael Zehaf-Bibeau to Michael Joseph Hall. He was also known as Abdullah Zehaf-Bibeau, the official said.”
The Islam-doesn’t-have-a-violence-problem narrative is a farce, with the jokes based on predictability and repetition. Except they aren’t jokes and the play isn’t fiction. Real lives are being taken and destroyed, enabled by rampant political correctness.
Of course the vast majority of Muslims are not violent. Of course their rights should not be violated in the name of the War on Terror. Of course the assumption should not be made that a Muslim is associated with terrorism. But anyone who believes that the odds of the Parliament shooter turning out to be Christian, Jewish, Hindu, etc, are as good as his being a recent Muslim convert is not living in reality.
Then there is the man who recently attacked law enforcement with a hatchet. Reportedly, he was a “self-radicalized” Muslim, meaning he was not actively recruited by nor did he work in concert with an actual Islamic terrorist organization. Before you google the terms “self-radicalize Christian” and “self-radicalized Hindu,” allow me to save you the trouble: no news stories about terrorist acts appear in the search results.
We are beginning to develop a phobia of Islamophobia. Almost no one wants his statement to be generalized by the Thought Police to imply that he hates Muslims. As well, decent people don’t want to believe that a statistically significant portion of any group of people is capable of that kind of violence.
The politically-correct media only adds to the trouble. Even after 9/11 we have read deep into an article to find the common denominator of the vast majority of the terrorist attacks undertaken in the West. We need to be able to recognize the violent faction of people within Islam in order to deal properly with the threat they pose, knowing that they hurt peaceful Muslims even more than they do us.
Conservatives applauded Bill Maher recently – words I never thought I’d type – for taking Ben Affleck to task over the Islamic violence question. Maher joined Ayaan Hirsi Ali in being visited by the wrath of know-it-all academia when Berkeley students began to protest his speaking at the school because of his position on Islam.
Sam Harris took a similar position to Maher on the subject and wondered if liberalism could be saved from its own lack of intellectual honesty. (It can’t, Sam!)
I would caution against too much excitement over Maher’s and Harris’ opinions on this issue. They are nothing more than broken clocks that happen to be stopped on extreme Islam’s time of day. Even there, as Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out, Maher overplayed his hand by not distinguishing between the violent and extreme elements of Islam and most Muslims.
Nonetheless, a problem exists that we can not ignore. Canada, which boosts very low levels of violence compared with other industrialized nations, is noting a growing problem of extremism. Not general extremism – you-guessed-it extremism.
Even when attacks are not tied to specific jihadi campaigns, it’s déjà vu all over again with regards to the Islam detail. Radicalization – “self” or otherwise – plays over and over again like a bad pop song on Top-40 radio. By now, we ought to recognize that it’s coming.
They may be lone wolves, but they are not alone in their thinking.
And again, it does the vast majority of Muslims around the world no favors to ignore the obvious. They are the ones most in danger of having their children recruited for suicide attacks or become collateral damage from a car bomb. Political correctness run amok only hurts both us and them – they who should be our close allies based on our mutual interest in safety.
Islam as a civilization has much too proud a history of progress and prosperity to be brought down or eaten from within by the radicalism of the terrorists who claim adherence to it.
But dealing with the problem of Islamic terrorism includes preparation and prevention, which mean recognition of patterns and facts. Most terrorist organizations and lone wolves are branches from the same tree. By this time, it’s aggravatingly predictable.