On Friday night, Bill Maher hosted atheist author Sam Harris, actor Ben Affleck, former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to discuss Maher’s rant last week in which he discussed the violence of radical Islam and the prevalence of belief in radical Islam. Harris sided with Maher; Maher defended his comments.
Affleck, Kristof, and Steele, however, all suggested that Maher’s criticism of Islam went too far. Steele said that moderate Muslims just don’t receive media coverage. Affleck actually suggested that Maher’s criticisms of Islam were akin to calling someone a “shifty Jew.” Kristof said that because Maher and Harris had the temerity to quote polls about acceptance of anti-Muslim violence by Muslims all over the world, he was talking “a little bit of the way white racists talk about African-Americans.”
Maher, correctly, stated, “What you’re saying is, ‘because they’re a minority, we shouldn’t criticize.'” He added that Islam is the “only religion that acts like the Mafia that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book. There’s a reason why Ayaan Hirsi Ali needs bodyguards 24/7.”
After 9/11, Americans wondered why the Bush and Clinton administrations had failed to connect the dots. Perhaps it’s because the culture of political correctness means that we must see every dot as disconnected, rather than as part of a broader intellectual and philosophical framework. If you stand too close to a Seurat painting, you’re likely to miss the fact that you’re looking at a Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte, rather than a random series of colored dots.
By acting as though terrorists and their supporters are outliers, occasional needles hidden within massive haystacks, we fail to make policy based upon reality. The politically correct mob insists we look at terrorist incidents as occasional blips, rather than outgrowths of a dangerous ideology that must be uprooted completely. And so we miss signals. We miss red flags.
Now, it is possible that our politicians lie to us. It is possible that they see the patterns and monitor those patterns. It’s possible they understand the radical Islamic funding of mosques all over the world, the recruitment of Muslims across the planet to support jihad.
But those lies – if they are lies – have consequences. They are parroted by fools, both left and right, who cite Bush and Clinton and Obama and all the rest for the proposition that Islam means peace and that Islamic terror groups are not Islamic. Instead, they claim, Islamic terrorists are merely crazy folks. Which means we don’t have to take their ideology seriously, their appeal seriously, or their outreach seriously.
And so we don’t. That’s why the State Department released an ad in early September showing crucifixions, Muslims being shot in the head, a blown-up mosque, and a beheaded body. Apparently, the State Department believed their own press: they believed that by castigating ISIS as an un-Islamic outlier, they could convince potential allies to stay away. That’s idiocy. ISIS releases precisely the same sort of videos as recruitment efforts – the Islamic terrorists understand that they are, in fact, Islamic. So do those they target.
In order to defend an ideology or a religion, one should know something about the ideology or religion. Ben Affleck, Nicholas Kristof, and Michael Steele are not Islamic scholars. Neither are George W. Bush, Barack Obama, or Bill Clinton. In fact, when it comes to points of Islamic law, any average member of ISIS likely knows more than any of the aforementioned defenders of Islam.
The West cannot be the great defender of Islam, because we have no capacity to slice radical Islam out of broader Islam. We are radically unqualified to do so. We can only fight those who share an ideology dedicated to our destruction. And defending that broader ideology by downplaying a so-called “fringe minority” only emboldens those of the radical minority.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.