After Two Attacks in England in Two Months, the Religion Question
It's high time the terror-driven ideology is identified and named — in order to defeat it
Another month, another murderous attack in Europe by violent Islamist extremism.
Targeting teenagers, mainly young girls, at a “teeny-bopper” concert in Manchester, England, the Islamists, and the ideology underpinning their violence, may seem to have reached the very depths of evil.
“Drive them out … drive them out of this earth,” said President Trump.
It would be a mistake to imagine that the people killed were “crusaders and followers of the cross” — clearly the eight-year-old girl going for a treat to an Ariana Grande concert, or any of the other children, are not the “crusaders” the Islamic State believes they are.
Just two months ago, Khalid Masood drove his car over Westminster Bridge in London, mowing down innocent tourists and then stabbing to death a London “bobby” who was guarding the Mother of Parliaments, with only his wooden truncheon to protect him.
Two months, two attacks — and there will be many more of them, especially as Britain “welcomes” home the hundreds of native British men and women returning from fighting for ISIS in Iraq and Syria. There remains, however, one constant after all these attacks, which is the deliberate policy of euphemism and disingenuousness.
Following the Westminster attack, police and government officials spoke of how the attacker was “linked to international terrorism.” What does that mean? Was he Carlos the Jackal, the terrorist mastermind of the early ’70s, let loose from his prison cell? Perhaps Masood was linked with a reunion of elderly members of the Baader-Meinhof gang, or the Italian Red Brigade on a day trip from the rest home for retired terrorists?
The euphemisms, obfuscation, and disingenuousness uttered by politicians, those in the media, and those who should know better are now effective weapons in the terrorists’ arsenal. It is all the more serious because refusing to name and identify the enemy aids and abets the enemy.
Instead of secular vigils and candle-lighting, instead of hashtags or declaring “we are one” — it is time to speak the truth and fight the fight.
No clearer evidence of this can be seen than when contrasting the response of British Prime Minister Theresa May to the Manchester attack and President Donald Trump’s powerful speech to the Islamic world in Saudi Arabia last weekend. May promised to “defeat the ideology that fuels this violence,” but seemed unable, or unwilling, to actually name that ideology.
This is a familiar tune not only in Britain; it was the common doctrine of the past eight years in the United States under the Obama administration, during which obfuscation and disingenuousness became an art form.
Trump, in Saudi Arabia, initially spoke only of “defeating terrorism and the ideology that feeds it,” but then spoke of “confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism.” Trump went on to give the strongest challenge of any U.S. leader to the “religious leaders” of Islam to confront the ideology and those who promote it and “drive them out … drive them out of this earth.”
There are no “lone wolves” but merely wolves on an individual mission for the pack.
The response, however, to those who refuse to aid the enemy with euphemism and instead actually identify Mrs. May’s curious unnamed ideology (which is, as everyone knows but dare not say, radical Islamic ideology) is to be condemned as either racist or Islamophobic. It’s either the last resort of scoundrels who have lost the argument — or the terrified whimpering of the already defeated.
Identifying the ideology and naming it as an authentic albeit 7th-century interpretation of the Koran is not Islamophobic. It is merely stating a verifiable fact. It is not Islamophobic to point out that the Islamic State, as part of its strategy, called on individuals throughout the world to carry out attacks — so there are no “lone wolves” but merely wolves on an individual mission for the pack.
As President Trump said, “Starving terrorists of their territory, their funding, and the false allure of their craven ideology, will be the basis for defeating them” — and if the ideology cannot be named, it will never be defeated.
Fr. Benedict Kiely is a Catholic priest and founder of Nasarean.org, which is helping the persecuted Christians of the Middle East.