Let me ask you a question.
Let’s say you are an authentically moderate Muslim. Perhaps you were born into Islam but have become secularist. Or perhaps you consider yourself a devout Muslim but interpret Islam in a way that rejects violent jihad, rejects the concept that religious and civic life are indivisible, and rejects the principle that sharia’s totalitarian societal framework and legal code must be imposed on the state. Let’s just take that as a given: You are no more inclined toward terrorism than any truly peaceful, moderate, pro-democratic non-Muslim.
So let me pop the question: Is there any insulting thing I could say, no matter how provocative, or any demeaning video I could show you, no matter how lurid, that could convince you to join ISIS?
Mind you, I am not asking whether, upon my insulting and provoking you, you would ever want to have anything to do with me again. I am asking whether there is anything that could be said or done by me, or, say, Donald Trump, or Nakoula Basseley Nakoula — the video producer (Innocence of Muslims) whom Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tried to blame for the Benghazi massacre — that could persuade you to throw up your hands and join the jihad? Is there anything so profoundly offensive to Islam that we could conjure up that would make a truly moderate, peaceful Muslim sign up for mass murder? Torching and beheading? Killing children? Participating in systematic rape as a weapon of war?
I didn’t think so.
Yet, understand, that is what Washington would have you believe. Whether it is Barack Obama sputtering on about how Guantanamo Bay drives jihadist recruitment, or Hillary Clinton obsessing over videos (the real one by Nakoula that she pretended caused terrorism in Libya, and the pretend ones about Donald Trump that she claims have Muslims lined up from Raqqa to Ramadi to join ISIS), you are to believe violent jihad is not something that Muslims do but that Americans incite.
And it’s not just Democrats who’d have you buy this bunkum. Think of the Arab Spring fairy tale — about Libya, Egypt, and, most recently, Syria — that Republicans have been telling for years, critiqued by yours truly in Spring Fever. It is still GOP gospel, glibly peddled by Marco Rubio just a couple of weeks ago at the 2016 presidential candidates’ debate. (Disclosure: I support Ted Cruz.)
The fairy tale goes something like this. There is a terrible dictator who so tormented his people that they rose up against him. These were noble people, overwhelmingly moderate, secular Muslims — adherents of a “religion of peace” (or, as Bush secretary of state Condi Rice put it, “a religion of peace and love”), who craved democracy. (Caution: You can call them “rebels,” but words like “Muslim Brotherhood” and “sharia” are not to…