Here are two salient facts. Once you grasp them, you’ll know everything you need to know to understand the rest of the dispute:
(a) Not all Islamic supremacists (or “Islamists”) are violent, but the goal of all Islamic supremacists is the same: to coerce the acceptance of sharia. The methods of pursuing that goal vary: sometimes terrorism is used, sometimes non-violent avenues are exploited — meaning, Islamic supremacists co-opt legal processes, the media, educational institutions, and/or government agencies. But regardless of what methods an Islamic supremacist uses, his goal never changes: He aims to implement sharia. In Islamic supremacist ideology, sharia is regarded as the mandatory, non-negotiable foundation that must be laid before a society can be Islamized. Sharia is not “moderate”; therefore, you are not a “moderate” if you want it, no matter what method you use to implement it. For example, if you are an Islamic supremacist and you want to repeal the First Amendment in order to prohibit speech that casts Islam in a negative light, you are not a “moderate” — even if you wouldn’t blow up buildings to press your point.
(b) Islamic supremacism is not a fringe interpretation of Islam. It is probably still the minority interpretation in North America. Nevertheless, it is the predominant interpretation of Islam in the Middle East. Poll after poll shows us that upwards of two-thirds of Muslims in countries like Egypt and Pakistan want their governments to adopt and strictly enforce sharia. This is why the Islamic supremacist parties in the “Arab Spring” countries are currently enjoying such success in elections
With that as background, understand that in the aforementioned 1995 trial, we proved that the reason the Blind Sheikh was able to run a terrorist organization — despite the fact that his physical infirmities rendered him incapable of performing any physical acts that would be useful to terrorists — was his globally renowned mastery of Islamic law. Omar Abdel Rahman is not a nut suffering from a psychological disorder. He has a doctorate in Islamic jurisprudence, earned by graduating with distinction from al-Azhar University in Cairo, the legendary seat of sharia scholarship since the Tenth Century. When he preached that Muslims were obligated to force non-sharia governments to adopt sharia, by terrorism if necessary, he drew these instructions directly from Islamic scripture, and his instructions had extraordinary persuasive force precisely because he was, undeniably, an internationally recognized authority on Islamic jurisprudence. The government would have you to believe Barack Obama or George Bush or Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Condi Rice or Janet Reno knows more about Islam and its sharia than Omar Abdel Rahman does. That is ludicrous.
We seemed to get that 20 years ago, but observe the measure of how far off-course we’ve drifted:
(a) In 1995, we demonstrated that (i) the Blind Sheikh was attempting to impose sharia, (ii) that he drew directly and accurately from Islamic scripture his instructions that Muslims must impose sharia, by violence if necessary, and (iii) his Muslim followers were animated by these instructions to push for the imposition of sharia standards, using terrorist attacks, among other methods. That was the crux our our case. For proving this in federal court, the Clinton Justice Department honored my colleagues and me with the attorney general’s highest award.
(b) Today, by contrast, for doing exactly the same thing — namely, for arguing that an authoritative interpretation of Islam directs adherents to impose sharia, by violence if necessary, in order to lay the groundwork for changing a non-Islamic society into an Islamic society — I am routinely accused of promoting hatred and “Islamophobia.” Such accusations, applied to assertions of what used to be seen as fact, do not come only from the Obama Left (including its Clinton administration veterans — the State Department, run by Hillary Clinton, and the Justice Department run by Eric Holder, Clinton’s deputy attorney general). The smears are echoed, and in many cases led, by prominent members of the Republican establishment.
I haven’t changed. The threat against us hasn’t changed. The government has changed.
The Obama administration and the Republican establishment would have us live a lie — a lie that endangers our liberties and our security. The lie is this: There is a difference between mainstream Islamic ideology and what they call “violent extremism.”
The vogue term “violent extremism” is chosen very deliberately. To be sure, we’ve always bent over backwards to be politically correct. Until Obama came to power, we used to use terms like “violent jihadism” or “Islamic extremism” in order to make sure everyone knew that we were not condemning all of Islam, that we were distinguishing Muslim terrorists from other Muslims. (In a more sensible time, we did not say “German Nazis” — we said “Germans” or “Nazis” and put the burden on non-Nazi Germans, rather than on ourselves, to separate themselves from the aggressors.) But now, the Obama administration and the Republican establishment prefer to say “violent extremism” because this term has no hint of Islam.
According to the Obama Left and the Republican establishment (personified today by the likes of Sen. John McCain and many, but by no means all, former high-ranking officials from the Bush 43 administration), the only Muslims we need to be concerned about are terrorists, and there is nothing relevant in the fact that they happen to be Muslims. “Violent extremists” are not motivated by a coherent ideology, much less by scriptures from “one of the world’s great religions.” Instead, they are seized by a psychological disorder that inexplicably makes them prone to mass-murder attacks.