Last week, Representative Peter King (R-NY) held congressional hearings to determine whether there has been an increase in American Muslim radicalization. Given our ongoing War on Terror it’s not surprising that recent headlines have revealed that some have indeed become radicalized. It’s also not unreasonable to assume that more will follow.
But why is this relatively new phenomenon happening? Recognizing this problem is simply a first step. Solving it necessarily requires determining and addressing a cause. Imagine if hearings were held to examine America’s illegal immigration problem without discussing the obvious economic factors that foster it? Imagine if Congress held hearings to figure out why air travelers are frustrated with airport security without considering the recent TSA policies that have been the primary cause of the frustration? Imagine Congress trying to determine why so many Americans are now fed up with their government without considering the massive spending and debt that animates today’s Tea Party?
Terrorism of any sort is typically a tactic of the weak, where individuals or a collection of individuals target innocent civilians as an act of revenge or to advance a cause. In the United States Islamic terrorism is often portrayed as the work of illogical fanatics who seek to advance their religious cause, even when the terrorists themselves explain, as they often do, that their actions are in fact retaliation for US military aggression in the Muslim world. Yet, such explanations are typically dismissed by most Americans as the ramblings of madmen, as if considering the motive for terrorists’ murderous actions—as we would in any conventional murder case—is somehow unconscionable.
While the intentional killing of innocent civilians is never justified, understanding why it happens is important. Simply dismissing the very concept of motive when it comes to terrorism is similar to the manner in which the Left dismisses the Tea Party, constantly criticizing the movement as kooky or illogical, always discounting grassroots conservatives’ fiscal concerns as irrelevant at best. For the Left to concede that the Tea Party has any valid points gives the movement and its worldview a degree of legitimacy—so liberals simply don’t go there. To obscure and thus avoid confronting such troublesome details, the Left instead goofily insists that the Tea Party simply “hates the President” because he’s black, or uses some other absurd illogic based on nothing other than their own stereotypes of the movement.
This is not unlike when we are told that terrorists simply “hate our freedom,” as President Bush and his Republican supporters like Rep. King have always considered a satisfactory explanation for our problems with radical Islam. Yet using two of the very examples cited at King’s hearings—Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan and the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad—what can we deduce about what actually causes domestic Islamic terrorism? If virtually every would-be domestic Islamic terrorist cites the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as their primary motivation—which virtually all of them do including Hasan and Shahzad—and yet we are still fighting wars in both countries allegedly in the name of fighting terrorists… might it be time to reexamine and perhaps reassess our foreign policy? Are we attacking the problem of radical Islam or helping to create it? Has the War on Terror actually become a war for it?
Yet few dare raise these most pertinent questions. When longtime DC-based tax activist Grover Norquist suggested in January that conservatives should begin to have a conversation about the wisdom of our war in Afghanistan, he was swiftly denounced by many on the Right for even daring to discuss the matter. Norquist defended his suggestion: “I’m confident about where that conversation would go. And I think the people who are against that conversation know where it would go, too.” Addressing some of his harsher critics, Norquist shot back: “Shut up is not an argument… Many of the people who want us to stay in Afghanistan are smart people. There are good arguments for their position. So let’s hear them.”
But hearing any serious cost/benefit analysis about our current foreign policy is about as likely to happen as Washington leaders addressing and correcting our reckless domestic policy of trillion dollar deficits and debt. It is simply assumed that the status quo, whatever it may be, is somehow beneficial and necessary by its own volition. Or perhaps worse, politicians fear that the many special interests involved could potentially be jeopardized by any substantive examination of the way Washington conducts its business.
This characteristic intellectual laziness among the political class is particularly troubling when it comes to the threat of terrorism, domestic or otherwise. We continue to fret over the Islamic terror effect while steadfastly refusing to even consider the cause of Islamic terrorism, making King’s hearings last week little more than another example of Washington’s typical grandstanding buffoonery. Yes, King and his allies on this issue are indeed right that the problem of domestic Islamic terrorism is a concern—but their ongoing blindness toward the primary cause of their concern prevents them from even attempting to examine this issue comprehensively. Peter King might as well have called for congressional hearings on the problem of teenage sex while leaving raging hormones completely out of the equation. And let us hear no more from Washington leaders who want to “keep us safe” until they are first willing to look at the policies of their own making that continue to endanger us the most.