Editor Note: Historian Diana West delivered these remarks at National Security Action Summit II on Monday, September 29. The event was hosted by EMPact America, in partnership with Breitbart News Network and the Center for Security Policy.
For anyone still puzzled as how it could be that our leaders and pundits keep hammering home the big lie that Islam has nothing to do with jihad, that the religion of conquest is a “religion of peace,” it’s important to know that such widespread brainwashing is nothing new.
Just as today’s opinion-makers seek to divorce Islam from its impact — brutal conquest, forced conversion, religiously sanctioned sex slavery, beheadings — past opinion-makers worked equally hard to divorce Communism from its impact — brutal conquest, forced collectivization, concentration camps (Gulags), mass murder.
It worked. Unlike Nazism, Communism has never been judged guilty or even held responsible for the carnage and suffering it has caused. On the contrary, it remains a source of “liberal” statist ideas such as Obamacare. My recent book American Betrayal delves deeply into this dangerous double standard. In short, this double standard not only enables collectivist policies to strangle our remnant republic, but also explains why American students can find a drink called Leninade, emblazoned with a hammer and sickle, for sale up the road at University of Maryland. It’s also why silkscreens of Warhol’s Chairman Mao, history’s top mass murderer, are sought-after items for the homes of the wealthy.
There are no such trendy portraits of Hitler, and who would want them? Who would want to swig a bottle of Hitlerpop, decorated with a swastika? So, why Leninade? Not only does the stench of death not follow the Communist murder-cult, the brand lives.
Barring a tsunami of common sense, I predict that Islam, the brand, will remain separate in the public mind from the violence and repression it causes and has caused for more than a millennium. That’s certainly the direction leaders from both political parties have been relentlessly herding us in for over a decade, insisting against all reason — against all sacred Islamic texts — that “Islam is peace.”
Thus, while contending with this cycle of expansionist jihad — a recurrence that should be familiar from Islamic history were it, too, not subject to whitewash — we must simultaneously withstand a campaign of lies designed to subvert our understanding of how Islam, in fact, has everything to do with beheadings and other violence both in the Islamic world and now in the West — and, why more than a decade of “nation-building” “counterinsurgencies” in Afghanistan and Iraq were domed from the start.
And yes, such whitewashing has happened before. Seventy years ago, Americans and British and other allies fought against a cruel Nazi totalitarian dictatorship in alliance with an equally cruel Communist totalitarian dictatorship. As far as body counts go, our great Soviet ally had already piled up more bodies than Hitler would. To sell this to We, the people, Americans were introduced to “Uncle Joe” Stalin. We were told that Communism had changed; that Moscow wanted only secure borders. We were told, you might say, “Communism is peace.” Anti-communist books went of style; investigations into Communist penetration went into mothballs. At the end of WWII, yes, Hitler’s 12-year Reich was destroyed, but Stalin’s evil empire had engorged fully half of Europe. Communism-is-peace-brainwashed people were stunned. But Americans were told they had won the “good war” for liberty over tyranny, and we have celebrated ever since.
Whitewashing follows whitewashing, so, also obscured was the transformation Communism wrought here at home, where agents of influence, fellow travelers, and dupes worked to advance Moscow’s will just as Soviet tanks (and agents, too) imposed it abroad. The conventional wisdom, however, remains suspended in the amber of the “Red Scare,” the 1950s period during which anti-Communist “witch-hunters” searched for “Reds under the bed” — all allegedly in vain. Never mind that many hundreds of confirmed American traitors, loyal to the Kremlin, had infiltrated the federal government and other institutions in previous decades. The important thing, says the conventional wisdom to this day, is not to connect the dots and examine whether these proxies for Stalin influenced the “American Century.”
But the facts indicate they did. Just to mention examples rarely taught in school, agents of Stalin’s influence inside the Roosevelt administration helped subvert and topple such anti-Communist leaders in Europe as Draza Mihailovic in the Balkans, and the free Polish government in exile, clearing the way for Communist regimes. They helped destroy the anti-Communist leader Chiang Kai-shek in China, thus aiding the rise of Mao – who, a la “Uncle Joe,” was presented to the American public as an “agrarian reformer.” Mao would kill at least 60 million people and set in motion events that would draw Americans into two disastrous wars in Korea and Vietnam, killings tens of thousands of young American men.
I could go on, about how at the end of World War II, Soviet plans for Germany and slave labor reparations were put over, how the UN was fostered by a Soviet agent named Alger Hiss, how the IMF was fostered by another Soviet agent name Harry Dexter White. Much of this still-hidden history at least makes it clear why our traditions are today a shambles, where cultural relativism comes from, why it’s unlikely Congress will ever repeal Obamacare, why our college campuses are outposts of Marx.
Society, however, seems to prefer silence. It prefers to burnish the gilded reputation of Franklin Roosevelt, for example, rather than reckon with the fact he presided over the biggest national security disaster in U.S. history — the massive infiltration of the U.S. government by agents of a foreign power.
And today? Islam’s prophet Mohammed is exempt from criticism — a key point of Islamic law — just as Joseph Stalin used to be — a rule of the Communist police state. Islam’s history of repression, too, is off limits to strategic planners just as Communism’s once was as well. “Mustn’t offend the Russians,” went the WWII-era mantra against “red-baiting.” “Mustn’t offend Muslims” is the mantra against “Islamophobia” today. In this way, these belief systems, both hostile to our constitutional liberties, remain protected by silence.
This silence has already cost thousands of American lives in our time.
It started right after 9/11, as soon as President Bush declared Islam was a religion of peace, officially delinking Islam from specifically Islamic jihad. Official policy to this day absolves Islam of jihad, and, most recently, absolves Islam of the jihadists known as the Islamic State.
This see-no-Islam policy has also been deeply flawed basis of 13 years of nation-building failure in Iraq and Afghanistan under the sorry banner of couninteriinsugency, or COIN, doctrine. Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor sums the problem up this way: “The entire COIN strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people. The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense.”
I maintain It would have been widely seen as utter nonsense had Islam and its law, Islam and jihad, Islam and dhimmitude, been under open consideration rather than tightly under wraps. Instead, the last two presidents sent Americans to die for nations whose constitutions, written with American support, enshrine sharia — Islamic law.
And what does that mean? Quite simply, sharia outlaws the liberties we in the West hold sacred: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, equal rights before the law, and more. Such prohibitions themselves are sacred to Islam. Indeed, Islamic “liberty,” or “hurriyya,” couldn’t be more different from our own. It is defined by a slavish devotion to sharia. This tells us — or should have — that infidel armies, infidel governments, were never going to win “hearts and minds,” or “trust,” of Islamic peoples — the linchpin of the COIN theory — no matter how much our people bribed, bled or died.
This deduction is confirmed by the most recent polling data compiled by Pew. These data tell us that 91 percent of Iraqis believe sharia should be “the law of the land.” That percentage is exceeded by only one country: Afghanistan, where fully 99 percent agree sharia should be “the law of the land.”
What does a US lawmaker, a COIN strategist, do with data like this? If that lawmaker, that strategist wants to be a mover and shaker in Washington, DC, he forgets about them. Whatever he does, he doesn’t connect any dots. History shows our leaders rarely do. And somehow, they still end up on pedestals.