Saturday, February 20, 2016

In His New Book, "The United States of Jihad," Peter Bergen Purveys the Fiction of the "Paranoid Right"

What a muddled book this is! On the one hand, it tries to get inside the heads of the likes of cleric Anwar al-Awlaki (who, interestingly, had a penchant for shtupping prostitutes) and Fort Hood shooter Dr, Nidal Hassan. On the other hand, it strives to minimize the threats posed by jihadis and to utterly trash the handful of Americans who are in the forefront of speaking the truth about the jihad imperative and its roots in classic Islamic doctrine. Hence this--Bergen's disgusting misrepresentation of the anti-jihad fighters (on pp. 269-270):
[Pamela] Geller updated the paranoid right for the post-9/11 era. Instead of a Communist plot to take over America, the 1950s conspiracy du jour, the threat was now Muslims. Geller was only the most visible of a number of such commentators. Former Reagan administration official Frank Gafney published a pamphlet titled The Muslim Brotherhood in the Obama Administration; former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy offered How Obama Embraces Islam's Sharia Agenda; frequent Geller collaborator Robert Spencer wrote the book Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam Is Subverting America Without Guns or Bombs; and journalist Paul Sperry added Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.
These assertions defied common sense. To claim that nationwide sharia law is imminent is to ignore simple facts: Muslims make up around 2 percent of the U.S. population; there isn't a jurisdiction in the States where sharia is the law; not is anyone demanding its imposition...
Bergen, though an acknowledged expert on the subject of terrorism, unpacks reality through a leftist lens, the reasons, I contend, why he views that above-named anti-jihadis as paranoics who have hyped what, at most, is a limited, non-existential threat. Having read most of the authors listed, however, I feel confident in saying that they do not say that the implementation of sharia law is "imminent." Rather, they see incremental moves away from the things that make America exceptional--including a commitment to the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech--and toward a belief that "hurt feelings" (about, say, critical things being said about the more problematic aspects of Islam and jihad) should become paramount. That sort of thinking is not going to impose sharia rules re free speech imminently. However, it is easing us down the long and winding road at the end of which we may find that "our" ideas about free expression and sharia rules on that subject are more or less in synch.

It is not "paranoid" to see what's unfolding right before our eyes. It is a clear-sightedness that amounts to heroism; a willingness to subject oneself to the slings and arrows of those like Bergen who are likely to dismiss you as being an "Islamophobe" with a mental disease.

Bergen hews to the Obama derangement which views the "right-wing" threat as being the far stronger and scarier threat. Toeing the Obama line, he writes:
Americans have also long tended to overestimate the threats posed by jihadist while underestimatint the sources of other forms of terrorism, generally defined as any act against civilians motivated by ideology. Since 9/11, extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right-wing credos, including white supremacists, antiabortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed around the same number of people in the United States as have extremists motivated by al-Qaeda's ideology. As we have seen, by the end of 2015, forty-five people have been killed in jihadist terrorist attack in the United States, while right-wing racists and antigovernment militants have killed forty-eight.
I'm not sure from whence Bergen accessed these stats, but have a sense that some fudging may have been involved because Obama, too, is obsessed with the narrative that the right is more dangerous than jihadis. (You could say that that's his story and he's sticking to it).

I have no desire to chase down the sources of these stats--they are not listed in the books' notes. By coincidence, however, there's a comment piece in the Toronto Sun which poses some crucial questions about our responses to radical Muslims in our midst (Canadian Senator David Lang who wrote the piece is raising issues that have a Canadian locus, but they are no doubt equally applicable to the American context (my bolds):
I have just returned from a NATO meeting in Brussels where our delegation heard that Europe’s security concerns mirror many of ours: an unpredictable and belligerent Russia continues to challenge the transatlantic alliance; mass migration is destabilizing Europe; and Islamic radicalization is on the rise. 
During the past three years that I have chaired the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, we have studied and reported on the threats to national security. 
Our report, Countering the Terrorist Threat in Canada, was clear about the terrorist threat we face. After 9 months of hearings and testimony from over 100 witnesses, we learned that:
  • By late 2014, authorities identified 318 radical Canadian jihadists, 93 of them seeking to travel abroad, 145 overseas and 80 returnees. These numbers have since increased
  • There were 683 identified cases of terrorist financing in the last five years, to our knowledge, there have not been any specific charges or prosecutions were initiated
  • Foreign funds had entered Canada for religious-oriented programming despite their donors’ and recipients’ being linked to radicalization
  • Eight Canadian charities had their charitable status revoked because of indirect or direct connections to terrorism – yet none of their executive or staff faced criminal prosecution;
  • Terrorist promotion and radicalization remain a concern in many areas of society, including at schools, colleges, and in religious facilities
  • Government agencies and political leaders conduct outreach to some disturbing individuals and organizations linked to terrorism and radicalization
  • The government was failing to communicate clearly with Canadians about the scope of the terrorist threat
  • Emergency preparedness at the municipal, provincial and federal levels required enhancing in view of the threat we face.
We are concerned that despite extensive evidence received about radicalization and terrorism in Canada and the fact that so many Canadians appeared to be involved, only 52 individuals were charged with terrorism-related crimes, since 2001. This invites the question – why are we not proceeding with more charges? 
The failure to lay charges and have those accused appear in open court, undermines our agencies’ counterterrorism work, staff morale and public confidence in government.
Why aren't we proceeding with more charges? Isn't it obvious? It's because we don't want open ourselves to charges of being "Islamophobes" with an unhinging mental illness--the same sticky mud that Bergen has flung at Geller, Spencer, McCarthy et al.

Also, you would think that were the potential for "right-wing" terrorism really on par with jihadi terrorism, it would take up at least half of this Countering Terrorism Report and, clearly, they do not.

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