With the American bullets that felled Osama bin Laden, we might perhaps conjecture that a Jihadist age has come to its end. It was an age of discovery for the West — the brutal discovery that Islam was not dead by only quiescent through the late decades of modernity. The instability of profound spiritual energy coupled with extreme material privation could not last. The insult of the infidel West’s prosperity and the Dar el-Islam’s backwardness bred a resentment that burst forth with the terror of September 11. But that terrible razzia could never be followed or even imitated. It remains, nearly ten years later, singular.
Hard men like those who brought down this legendary Captain of Jihad have made the large-scale, spectacular razzia nearly impossible for the Jihad. Long may they succeed at the same.
Really closing this chapter of this ancient struggle, however, will demand careful thinking and above all historical thinking. It will demand a recognition about the extraordinary historical duration of the Jihad’s threat against free nations and free peoples. It will demand a realization, as I have said many times, that when dedicated, enterprising and resourceful men are making war against you in the name of their religion, you are embroiled in a religious war.
This realization has eluded many Americans for a decade. As I wrote seven years ago:
We have spent nearly three years trying to develop a suitable euphemism for religious war — and it has not gone very well. We have declared war on a method of warfare. We have declared war on a tendency within a religion, or . . . a tendency within all religions. I suppose next we shall declare war on a tendency within a method of warfare, or a method within a tendency. Some have even argued that we ought to declare war on a moment in time, namely the “premodern.”
September 11, in a word, exposed the modern West’s extreme confusion about history and religion, and extreme forgetfulness about the old antagonist of Islam’s holy warriors.
The Jihadist pressure has morphed in the last ten years. The big, spectacular razzia is not much open to them anymore; only the smaller-scale outrage like Ft. Hood. But more importantly, in various places in the West, Islam is poised to be the de facto source of legislation and enforcement and justice in the community. From the Parisian suburbs that are said to be “no-go” for the police, to neighborhoods in Scandinavia where sexual assaults on local women by Muslims go unreported and uninvestigated, to Dearborn, MI, where several Christians have been jailed for public activities obviously protected by the Constitution: the ancient dhimmi compromises are strongly in evidence all over the West.
Success in this next age will require clarity about the nature of the Islamic doctrines with which we can have no fellowship, as a people, a nation, a structure of law and mores, as a country, under God, indivisible. The doctrine of holy war, which pronounces all unbelievers the legitimate targets of treacherous violence, and all infidel political forms deserving of treason and sabotage designed at overthrow; the doctrine of holy subjugation, Jim Crow for infidels, which so arranges the social state as to inflict upon the subject unbeliever humiliation and oppression: these are wicked and intolerable doctrines that have no place in America, or in any free land. It is high time our law reflected this.
Before that, of course, our public mind must reflect it. We Americans have got to come to grips with this being a permanent and protean threat.
And above all a moral and religious one.