Enabling Jihadism

Fouad Ajami is on form today:

"Hitherto, we had granted the Arab world absolution from the laws of historical improvement. We had ceded it a crippling 'exceptionalism.' We explained away our complicity in its historical decay as the price paid for access to its oil, and as the indulgence owed some immutable "Islamic" tradition. To be fair, we could not find our way to its politically literate classes, for they were given to a defective political tradition. American power now ventures into uncharted territory; we have shaken up that world, and broken the pact with tyranny. In the shadow of American power, ordinary men and women who had known nothing but the caprice of rulers and the charlatanism of intellectual classes have gone out to proclaim that tyranny is neither fated, nor 'written.'"

Fouad is right, as he often is. And that's why the cartoon controversy, pace Hugh Hewitt, is good for the war on terror. One massive supporting pillar of Jihadism has been the West's refusal to treat the Islamic world as it would any other part of the world. If Chinese radicals were ransacking Western embassies because of a cartoon, and were backed by the Chinese government, we would be outraged, demanding apologies, severing relations, and so on. But when Muslims do it, backed by Islamist governments, we are supposed to take it on the chin, to "respect" their religious traditions, issue mealy-mouthed statements, etc. In many ways, this is the real offense: treating Muslims as if their violation of global norms, and thralldom to medieval conceptions of politics and religion, were somehow acceptable. They are not acceptable. Islam must reform itself if it is to have a proud and noble place again among the great religions of the world. Muslim countries must allow freedom of religion for other faiths - and allow their citizens free votes in free elections. Dabbling in Holocaust denial by a current government should be treated as a form of insanity or fascism, rather than as some kind of thing to be "understood". Those who are addicted to the narcotic of religious fanaticism do not need enabling or excuses. They need an intervention. Especially when they are on the verge of wielding nuclear weapons.