Some of my favorite conservative writers, including some of my past & present colleagues, absolutely cannot stand Jonah Goldberg. Lawrence Auster calls him the "animal house conservative." Amongst the good folks at Taki's Magazine, he may very well be the only being in the known universe who might conceivably lose a popularity contest with David Frum. And I've sometimes had the impression that Daniel Larison would issue a thousand-word rebuttal if Goldberg suggested that the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West.
I've never felt that way, myself. I find his stuff consistently (even compulsively) readable and sometimes quite insightful.
So it's with some regret that I must admit that I find his reflections on the Nidal Hasan case about as clear as mud.
Or should that be: as weak as water?
I can't quite decide which cliché to go with, here.
On the one hand, he admits that "there is a powerful case to be made that Islamic extremism is not some fringe phenomenon but part of the mainstream of Islamic life around the world." On the other hand, he worries that "if we act as if 'Islam is the problem,' as some say, we will guarantee that Islam will become the problem..."
But, look, Jonah: if that "powerful case" is right, then it simply isn't up to us to decide, or even influence, whether or not Islam is the problem. All that's up to us is whether or not to recognize the reality that is staring us in the face.
And (here's the real crux) what would it mean to "act as if 'Islam is the problem,' anyway?" Or, as Goldberg asks, "what are the policy implications of this view? That we should take a posture of enmity with over a billion Muslims, including millions of law abiding US citizens?"
Well, in the immortal words of Margaret Thatcher: "No! No! No!"
The policy implications of this view, which have been pointed out a thousand times in certain quarters of the paleo-con sector of the blogosphere, entail precisely the opposite of yet more "enmity with over a billion Muslims."
To wit (for the thousand and first time):
(1) No more wars to make Afghanistan, or Iraq, or anywhere else in the Islamic world, safe for democracy and diversity and feminism and gay rights and so on and so forth.
(2) No more involvement in Israel's struggle to survive in a hostile environment. Sympathy? Sure. But official, taxpayer funded, support? No.
(3) At the very least, a "when in doubt, don't" approach to immigration from the Islamic world.
(4) Treating believing Muslims in our armed forces with at least the same degree of caution as "white nationalists."
Are there arguments to be made against each of these four "policy implications?" Of course there are. But it's simply absurd to suggest that they involve more, rather than less, of "a posture of enmity with over a billion Muslims" than what we're already stuck with.