James Lileks looks at Tom Tancredo, the Republican congressman from Colorado, who put his Slim Pickens-sized shoe in his mouth last week:
One step forward: A group of British imams issued an honest-to-Allah fatwa against suicide bombers. According to the clerics, terrorists are not acting in the name of true Islam and will ride a hot, slick razor blade straight to hell. Good; more, please.
Alas, there’s also one step back: In the same news cycle Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., mused on a radio show about his preferred response to a nuclear attack on America: bombing Mecca.
No doubt Osama bin Laden did a jig after hearing that. As a recruitment tool, it’s better than learning that George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon are running to Canada to get married.
Tancredo’s supporters could say we need a few fellows who sling the loose talk, the better to concentrate the mind of the enemy on the swinging noose. After all, the foreign press is one of those places where the term “American congressman” actually commands some respect. What’s the harm?
Plenty. Bombing Mecca to revenge the acts of maniacs is like nuking the Vatican to protest the pedophilia scandal in Boston. The idea appeals to those whose nuanced study of Islam makes them conclude it’s better to alienate 1 billion people than defeat a fraction of the same group. It appeals to those who believe that Islam is a metal shard that cannot be absorbed and must be removed, preferably by blowing up the body. And burying the remains in pig skins! That’ll learn ’em!
It’s the mirror image of the politically correct conceit that holds Islam blameless for the terrorists who act in its name, as if there’s nothing in the Quran but sweetness and light toward the infidel. Both groups are wrong; both groups’ misapprehension of the situation will get the rest of us killed.
Tancredo gets points for facing the grim question: How does one respond to a nuclear event on American soil? The horrible imperatives of war demand that you respond, lest anyone get the idea that the United States is just a dead carcass propped in the corner, food for any jackal.
You could hit the nations that have concluded it’s still safe to kill Americans. Iran comes to mind. Syria still seems gripped with a nagging case of the Stupids. Our dear bosom friends the Saudis still spread that old Wahhabi lovin’ all across the globe and here at home. But do we really want to incinerate Tehran? You’ll probably find more people in Tehran who dearly love America than you’ll find in San Francisco.
It’s come to this: Some say we have to destroy Islam in order to save it. Or us. Whatever.
But just imagine nuking Tehran 10 months after an attack, after the CIA concludes Iran helped with the bomb that was dropped on us. (“Sorry about the WMD thing, but this time you can trust us. If we’re wrong, well, we’ll all take early retirement. Seriously.”) The world would see it as coldblooded murder. The world, for once, would be right.
Either way, as Lileks writes in his conclusion:
Tancredo is a popular fellow on the right for his immigration stance, appealing to those who find Bush deaf and clueless on the issue. Providing he apologizes, this incident shouldn’t discredit his concerns over border security. After all, if that nuke doesn’t come in by cargo container, it’ll be hauled over the southern border.
But if he wants to be president? Roll the anti-Goldwater daisy-picking holocaust ads, and goodbye to all that.
Or simply cue appropriate footage from Dr. Strangelove.
On his newly remodeled blog, Hugh Hewitt looks at the damage control–or lack thereof–that Tancredo’s been doing since his initial remarks.