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Who's On First -- In Wearable Explosives?
Alberto Gonzales plays verbal tag with the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal:

Gonzales said that the Justice Department was concerned with the problem of "radicalization" in American prisons, and a colleague of ours asked if he was referring to Islamic radicalization. Gonzales declined to characterize it in this way, noting that we are not at war with Islam. Our colleague persisted, and the attorney general allowed that "some" of the radicals are Muslim.

We asked if he could give us percentages, and he demurred. Then another colleague asked, "The ones who aren't Muslims--what are they?" Again, he didn't have an answer.

Are there non-Muslim radical groups active in U.S. prisons whose ideology the attorney general cannot remember? We suppose anything's possible, but it seems more likely that he was evading the obvious.

There is, of course, a good reason for such evasion. We aren't at war with Islam, and declaring war on a religion whose adherents number about one-fifth of the world's population would be boneheaded in the extreme. (Ralph Peters eloquently answers anti-Muslim bigots in today's New York Post.)

At the same time, there is a reason that the illegal combatants at Guantanamo are provided with Korans and arrows pointing to Mecca rather than with Bibles or tzitzit. Islam is not our enemy, but our enemies are Muslim; and Islam as they understand it is the ideology that drives them to make war on us.

Indulge us in a little experiment: Try not to think of a giraffe. Didn't work, did it? Likewise, strained efforts to avoid characterizing the enemy as Muslim only reinforce the misconception that our war is against Islam.

Before the Gonzales meeting, we attended a Hudson Institute lunch for former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (the New York Sun was there as well), who put the matter very clearly. The enemy, he said, is "militant Islam," which is at war not only with Christians and Jews but with other Muslims whom the militants deem insufficiently pious.

Posted by aalkon at September 9, 2006 10:07 AM

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Comments

This dodging is not in any way new. Law enforcement is prohibited from naming names, so to to speak, regarding ethnic gangs, because that would be "stereotyping" - despite the gang requirement to have the ethnicity in the first place. So gangs get to gun each other down, as enforcement is diverted by "diversity" fans busy lying to each other.

Posted by: Radwaste at September 9, 2006 1:37 AM

...if he named an enemy, the war would have a specific enemy to be defeated, and thus a specific beginning and ending...

Posted by: kittie at September 9, 2006 5:53 AM

> "militant Islam," which is at war not only
> with Christians and Jews but with other
> Muslims whom the militants deem
> insufficiently pious.

We need all the allies we can get.

And we need clear thinking from our non-muslim members. Feminism and homosexuality aren't thought of as 'communities' anymore, but wouldn't it be great if they spoke directly against militant islam? Always remember, Osama's pet name for black Americans is "slaves." It's not that women, gays and blacks have more to lose than others in this war. It's that their freedom and comfort are the greatest affront to the infantile foot soldiers who oppose us.

It's more than ironic when the antiwar left argues that these populations (Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East generally) can't be forced into peaceful modernity, as if they can be maintained as quaint terraria of primitivism. I think that's the Kissinger approach. We've seen that little lizards will always sneak out of the cage eventually.

As for Gonzalez and the Bush administration, like, whatever. No sane person should expect rhetorical leadership or clarity from those people. It's probably useful to make fun of them though, to remind ourselves how lame they are.

Posted by: Crid at September 9, 2006 9:30 AM

Aren't there still a lot of radical white supremacist groups in US prisons? I don't imagine they're reading the Koran.

"efforts to avoid characterizing the enemy as Muslim only reinforce the misconception that our war is against Islam."

This is a great point. I have no problem with characterizing the enemy as Muslim in everyday conversation, but I'm unclear about what it'll buy us strategically. There are a lot more variables involved. As Crid implied, the enemy can also be characterized as heterosexual men. Where are we supposed to go with this information?

"Feminism and homosexuality aren't thought of as 'communities' anymore, but wouldn't it be great if they spoke directly against militant islam?"

Aren't individuals within those "communities" already doing that, to some extent? What are you asking for... Marches on Washington? Pink t-shirts that say "get your Islam off my body"? How dreary.

As a fag, I can't think clearly about the problem of prison gangs, because my mind gets flooded with really hot rape fantasies.

Posted by: Lena at September 9, 2006 11:58 AM

> to some extent?

To the same extent that moderate muslims in the west resist having their faith besmirched and derailed by extremists. As Amy often says, that's not nearly enough.

I think social nature works against gratitude. Women, gays and blacks have it better in the west (especially the States) than anywhere in the world. But they can't say so out loud, because The Man might be listening, y'know? So when truly people like Osama and Ahmadinejad start doing true evil, the left is afraid to say so out loud, because they want to pretend Jerry Falwell's making the same threat.

The stakes are higher nowadays.

Posted by: Crid at September 9, 2006 12:31 PM

Many of us don't want to be part of a movement, Crid. That doesn't mean we're not grateful for our freedoms.

Posted by: Lena at September 9, 2006 12:42 PM

OK, but no more complaining about silence from moderate islam... They don't want to be part of a movement, either.

I want to be part of a movement! Equal opportunity for women, democracy, freedom of religion, end to racist institutions, literacy, sexual liberty, free markets, all that stuff. Sign me up!

Also Zappa albums. And sushi. And lots and lots of sake.

Posted by: Crid at September 9, 2006 1:01 PM

Right on, brotha.

Posted by: Lena at September 9, 2006 4:54 PM

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