Last week 14 residents of San Bernardino, California were killed by Islamist assassins, jihadist murderers who were thought to be friends and coworkers. There are critical lessons to be learned from that attack if we will heed them.
Until that moment on December 2, most Americans and the nation’s entire political class could pretend the fight against Islamist terrorism was a matter of keeping the terrorists “over there” – in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Syria and so forth. No rational person can believe that today. And yet, our political class is acting as if nothing has changed. The power of Political Correctness is demonstrated by the entire political establishment coming to the defense of open immigration from Muslim-majority nations.
We now live in a polarized political universe: there is the world of reality where ordinary folks live, and then there is world of political fantasy where Political Correctness is king.
The reality is that we can no longer sleep soundly at night thinking that if we keep the terrorists “out there,” we are safe inside our homes and offices: That illusion is gone. It is suicidal to continue to believe that if we secure the borders, bomb ISIS in Syria, and properly “vet” the 85,000 refugees and 1.2 million immigrants we are admitting this year, we will be safe from terrorist attack.
While Americans are seeing that new reality– that we are NOT safe– Congress is choosing to double down on willful ignorance. The public’s understanding of the threat from Islamist jihad changed with San Bernardino, and the public is learning many lessons from that horrific event, lessons that ought to change the way we defend ourselves against Radical Islam.
First, on that day we learned with certainty that ISIS is already here. Not only that: those jihadists were here legally and there are very likely hundreds and maybe thousands more just like them. To deny that is delusional.
Second, unlike the 9-11 terrorists, those two jihadists were not visa overstays, mere visitors with ulterior motives. There was no expiration date on the wife’s K-1 visa: after she married a US Citizen, she received a green card and legal permanent residence. This means they were free to plot and wait and strike anytime, anywhere, at any target of their choosing.
Third, assimilation failed for this middle class second-generation son of a Muslim immigrant. Farook was an American-born citizen, not a refugee. He was educated in our schools, earned a college degree, and had a good, middle-class job. But he chose the path to radical Islam; he chose to be a martyr. He made that choice not because he experienced religious discrimination in employment, in his suburban community, or among his coworkers. Syed Farook was not struggling against poverty or oppression. He made his choice out of religious conviction — and a rejection of American values.
Fourth, the K-1 visa given to Farook’s fiancée, Tashfeen Malik, involved extensive “vetting” of the kind supposedly applied to refugees, vetting done with the complete cooperation of two governments who are considered allies in the war against terrorism—Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
- If that very thorough vetting failed to uncover her true character and intentions, how good is the vetting for nationals from nations in turmoil?
Fifth, the threat from “home-grown” terrorists like US-born Syed Farook is a national security problem we have never confronted before and are ill-prepared to handle. If second-generation children of successful Muslim immigrants can pledge loyalty to ISIS and wreck mayhem on peaceful communities far from Middle East battlefields, should we be facilitating immigration from Muslin nations that will double the Muslim population of our country by 2050?
- The FBI has said it has 48 Islamist radicals “under 24-hour surveillance” and “over 900” investigations underway in all 50 states. How alarmed should we be that Malik and Syed were not on those FBI lists?
Americans, unlike their elected politicians, are not stupid. Millions of Americans are asking new questions after San Bernardino. For example, what percentage of the fifteen-plus million Muslims now residing in the United States, Canada and Europe are openly sympathetic to ISIS and Radical Islam?
- If that number is only one percent, that is 150,000 potential Islamist terrorists free to travel to and within the United States. Reliable recent polls by Pew and others suggest the number is much higher, ranging from 5% to 17% depending on how the question is phrased.
Yet, the more fundamental problem is not those frightening numbers, it is our response to them. We can accept them and deal with the security issue they represent, or we can stick our head in the sand and chant “Islam is a religion of peace” while simultaneously buying more guns.
This past week a committee of the US Senate chose to send a signal that Congress is outraged not by the percentage of Muslims sympathetic to ISIS but by Donald Trump’s suggestion for a moratorium on Muslim immigration. The Senate committee passed a bill to bar any denial of “immigrant rights” on the basis of religion. This is pure idiocy wrapped in the mantle of “Immigrant civil rights.” No migrant of any religion has a constitutional right to come to the United States. What we ought to do about Muslim immigration is a matter of public policy, not constitutional rights.
San Bernardino was a warning of the true dimensions of the danger posed by Radical Islam. Instead of a sober appraisal of the unsettling and inconvenient lessons from that event, we are treated to a temper tantrum aimed at a candidate who is trying to sound the alarm.
Political leaders who choose to turn a blind eye to the lessons of that horrific massacre are not leaders, they are cowards. Yet, in the final sense of things, in a democracy don’t we get the politicians we deserve? Shakespeare’s admonition in Julius Caesar remains all too true today. “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.”