Why have terrorist acts become such shocking news items, and even one of the central topics of, political speeches? There were just 14 people killed and 22 seriously wounded at the San Bernardino shooting in December, but according to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2015 in America the number of deaths caused by firearms violence was 13,049, and the number of injured reached 26,350. Perhaps the problem of terrorism is exaggerated?
But we cannot wipe from our memory a long history of international terrorism—the recent shooting in San Bernardino, the 9/11 tragedy, and the fact that since 2001 the FBI has responded to and prevented 25,000 terrorist attacks. Terror has changed the way we live and think. No public mode of transportation is safe; neither are public places or gatherings. For the media, I think what is much more surprising should have been the relatively small number of deaths from terror during these years, but a small number is never taken as great news.
Then, Donald Trump called for banning Muslim immigration and even the entry of Muslims into the United States. Although Donald Trump does not intend to kill anybody, his declaration blew the minds of many politicians across the ideological spectrum to no lesser extent than a terror act itself. They all used vocabulary expressing outrage and indignation to demonstrate their allegiance to the basic principles of civility and governance. The almost unanimous consensus among them is that Donald Trump is dead wrong and not even qualified to run for president. As a result, Trump’s poll numbers rose to new heights.
It is a paradox, of course, and it needs to be explained by an objective mind, but none happen to be around. On the contrary, emotionally and ideologically charged articles and speeches are plentiful. I found the most typical representation of popular views in the opinion piece “Terror, Trump and Canada’s Future” by Bob Rae, the former NDP leader (The Globe and Mail, December 15, 2015). His core point is that segregating a group on the basis of religious or national (or similar) identity is wrong in principle and contradicts all the moral norms of Western civilization. There is no doubt that he is right. But…
There is not a single word in his article suggesting security measures that would ensure the safety of his country’s people. What happened? Is there no danger from Muslim immigration? Or is there another reason not to discuss it? Is it just taboo? It shouldn’t be; after all, we are a democratic world first, and a politically correct one second.
If you asked Bob Rae this question in a small gathering, he would say—as all like-minded speakers would, I guess—that there are merely individual radicals among a mass of peaceful Muslims who have run away from war zones to safety and in search of a better life. We all have heard this argument from the left and the right, from Obama to Hollande to Merkel. But none of them—none, I repeat—support this statement with statistics. They’re peaceful, that’s all.
Barack Obama, the president of the United States, in one of his speeches claimed that 99.9 percent of Muslims are peaceful. If that were literally accurate, 0.1 percent of Muslims would be violent terrorists. Of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, 1,600,000 would be violent terrorists. Impressive.
If a meaningful count of peaceful Muslims is not available, then perhaps there are other pieces of evidence that can give us a clue. For instance, to prove the point, peaceful followers of Islam could stage massive—as there are so many of them—demonstrations against acts of terror committed by people of their faith. There are thousands of imams around the globe who could condemn radical interpretations of Islam and the atrocities committed for its sake. But no such mass demonstrations have taken place.
We may hear our politicians argue that many Muslims are poorly educated and therefore not politically active. To understand the value of this argument it is sufficient to recall how the whole Muslim world erupted when a small newspaper published a few cartoons. All of a sudden it became the cause of violence, outrage, and terror in all—all!—Muslim countries and communities. There were hundreds of thousands of people participating in violent protests and crimes. There were deaths, destruction, and hate speeches. “Death to Charlie Hebdo” was the most popular slogan. Does Bob Rae know it? Of course he does.
It is quite obvious that politicians like Rae do not connect two factors that are closely related: humanity toward Muslim victims of ethnic and sectarian wars, and the hostility of Islam, radical or not, toward Western civilization. The number of Muslims hostile to the West is staggering. This is demonstrated by polls and also by open declarations of hatred from their political and spiritual leaders.
There is also no proof that Muslims in the Western world assimilate well and accommodate the values of countries that offer them refuge. For good measure, each act of terror makes the assimilation of Muslim communities more difficult, thereby exacerbating the problem. Does Bob Rae know it? Yes, he does. He writes: “From Pakistan west to northern Nigeria, the forces of hate and extremism have captured many hearts and minds and intimidated and bullied many more.”
There’s no doubt that people with such convictions cannot assimilate into even the most egalitarian society unless they abandon the original principles of their religion. So, what is Rae’s solution? Here it is: “Let us continue to reinforce the values and institutions, at home and abroad, that ensure we live in safety and freedom.” So touching.
Bob Rae is not concerned so much with security as with Donald Trump’s popularity, which he explains as “a blaze of brutal self-promotion.” He completely ignores the fact that Donald Trump’s poll numbers rose because he suggested a solution. Whether it is right or wrong is open for debate. But no one else did that. People are weary of political correctness, which prevents honest discussion and a businesslike approach.
Rae says, in his quest for rightness: “Mr. Trump’s ideas are not simply ‘outrageous,’ or ‘ridiculous,’ or ‘unacceptable.’ He is a purveyor of hate, racism, and deep prejudice. This goes beyond ignorance…”
There is no need to list all the epithets. It is supposed to show that Bob Rae is not ignorant and that he has sufficient knowledge and moral stature to say so. But judging by his article, this is a big question. For instance, he uses battered rhetoric to compare Trump’s ideas with events of the 1930s, obviously alluding to the Nazi ascent to power in Germany.
This is an interesting phenomenon of modern political-speak. As soon as someone expresses ideas more radical than allowed by political correctness, they are quickly labelled as Nazis, in the hopes that the label alone is convincing enough. But in our time, the only regimes whose ideology resembles that spirit of the 1930s are in Muslim countries, most notably Iran. I will repeat just its very well-known rhetoric: first, exterminate all Jews, and then fight other infidels until the total victory of Islam. Actually, the ayatollahs went further than Hitler. Hitler intended to exterminate only Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals, but let others live, albeit subservient to Germans. He did not care about religion and beliefs. Muslim radicals go much further.
Does Bob Rae know it? He surely does, but he saved the comparison with the Nazis just for Donald Trump. For Bob Rae his breed of politicians, Trump, who does not intend to kill anybody, is much worse than those who intend to kill most of humanity!
I write this not because I intend to defend Donald Trump or share his views. My point is that there are so many politicians who, in their delusion of ultimate rightness, become so ignorant and dishonest that they become a greater danger to society than the radical politicians. To illustrate the point, I’d like to get back to the history of 1930s, as Bob Rae did, but compare the contemporary situation not with what happened inside Germany, but rather outside it.
At that time, the Western world was obsessed with pacifism and leftist ideology. Almost all politicians—except for a few like Churchill—had been doing things beyond admissible to give Hitler what he wanted in the belief that yielding to his demands would pacify him and prevent war. Churchill was desperate in his appeal to political common sense and in his attempts to convince European governments that Hitler could and should be stopped, that the Versailles treaty had to be adhered to. To no avail. Only when the war started did the pacifistic madness end in blood and the power came to sober politicians like Churchill.
The war turned out to be a tragedy for Germany no less than for the other European countries. The scale of destruction and losses inflicted by the victorious countries is beyond comprehension. There are still debates about whether such atrocities were justified. Rightly so. But there is no difference of opinion about the actions of the left-wing politicians and pacifists: it was their delusions and good intentions that brought us to the most destructive war in history.
But Bob Rae did not mention that. He resorted to a totally false comparison. It is obvious that no mass killing, genocide, or preparation for technological extermination of humans of any faith are in the mind of Donald Trump, regardless how “brutal” his self-promotion is. Does Bob Rae know it? I assure you, he does. Why then does he ignore reality and adopt his no less “brutal” self-promotion? Because his devotion to ideology and political correctness makes reality irrelevant. Facts simply do not exist if they do not reinforce his values.
There is another very interesting phenomenon of our time: Muslims do not participate in this discussion, nor do they react to Donald Trump’s proposal. It seems that even the most Muslim-friendly politicians do not consider themselves partners in solving the threat of radical Islam. But without Muslim leaders and Muslim communities’ participation, no solution will be effective. Perhaps they are not interested in the discussion? Surprisingly, our politicians are willing to talk for them, but they are not interested in talking with them. This tells us something about their wisdom and ability to solve important problems.
Doubtless, the Western world’s politicians face a severe dilemma. Segregating a group of people on the basis of their faith is morally wrong, whether they are Muslim or not. Donald Trump, it seems, stepped over the boundary of this principle. I expect his critics to say that Donald Trump was wrong because there is either no danger in mass Muslim immigration to the United States, or because there is a solution, and here it is. But they know too well that the danger is there, and they don’t know the solution. Yet we all need a solution, whether we are Muslims or not. If no one else offers one, then Donald Trump will remain the only one who has.