Naming the Enemy

George Weigel names the enemy, and asks why so many are so unwilling to do the same:

That is what we are fighting: jihadism, the religiously inspired ideology which teaches that it is every Muslim’s duty to use any means necessary to compel the world’s submission to Islam. That most of the world’s Muslims do not accept this definition of the demands of their faith is true—and beside the point. The jihadists believe this. That is why they are the enemy of their fellow Muslims and the rest of the world. For decades, an internal Islamic civil war, born of Islam’s difficult encounter with modernity, has been fought over such key modern political ideas as religious toleration and the separation of religious and political authority in a just state. That intra-Islamic struggle now engages the rest of humanity. To ignore this, to imagine it’s all George W. Bush’s fault, or to misrepresent it because of a prudish reluctance to discuss religion in public, is to repeat the mistakes the advocates of appeasement made in the 1930s.

He has a suggestion: we must fight philosophically as well as militarily:

This is a war of ideas, pitting two different notions of the good society against each other. The jihadist vision claims the sanction of God. The western vision of the free society, in which civility involves engaging differences with respect, has both religious and philosophical roots. Some Americans have lost touch with the deepest cultural sources of the nation’s commitments to religious freedom, tolerance and democratic persuasion, thinking of these good things as mere pragmatic arrangements. But if the United States can’t explain to the world why religious freedom, civility, tolerance and democratic persuasion are morally superior to coercion in religious and political matters, then America stands disarmed before those who believe it their duty to impose a starkly different view of the good society on us.

3 thoughts on “Naming the Enemy

  1. Please don’t be angry with me, but it’s kind of interesting that we could look at the same set of facts and reach polar-opposite conclusions.
    Yes, most Muslims are peace-loving people (or so I’m told).
    Yes, America should be the “light of the world” when it comes to freedom, tolerance, etcetera.
    But how can you exclude Bush from the equation? As President, he is the face of America to the rest of the world. For seven-plus years, most of the planet sees America as “Your either with us or against us”.

  2. Amy, I don’t mean to exclude George Bush from the equation; he’s just not the whole equation. Terrorism was directed at the US before he became President, and September 11 happened just a few months after he took office, before he had a chance to do much of anything.

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