Sooner or later, we’re going to have to get serious about the war against terrorists.
That means, as painful as it may be for this president or whoever follows after, to take an unflinching look at the enemy, and recognize him for who he is. We should show our own troops the respect we pay to those, such as our Saudi “allies,” who only pretend to be our friends.
The problem that so many in the chattering and leadership classes have is that they do not understand the might and power of belief and faith. The church, the synagogue and the mosque are merely places to marry off the young and bury the old. The chattering class, and much of the leadership class, cannot understand how anyone could really believe “all that stuff.”
George W. Bush may or may not actually understand the Islamic radicals, but he often sounds as if he does not. Perhaps he doesn’t want us to take everything he says at face value. How else could his administration prepare to cashier a decorated combat officer for saying almost exactly what he said of these radical Islamists who insist that their aim is to destroy America as we have known it.
Here is what George W. Bush said of the radical Islamist creed, as represented by the Taliban and by Osama bin Laden, in January 2002:
“We’re taking action against evil people. … Our war is against evil. This is clearly a case of good versus evil, and make no mistake about it: Good will prevail.” He added this 10 months later, in October:
“Millions of our fellow citizens are Muslim. We respect the faith. We honor its traditions. Our enemy does not. Our enemy doesn’t follow the great traditions of Islam. They’ve hijacked a great religion.”
And here’s the “inflammatory” sentence in the remarks of Lt. Gen. William Boykin, for whom the kindling is being assembled around the stake where he is about to be set afire to appease the secular gods who reign over the op-ed pages and the network-television studios:
“I knew that my God was bigger than his,” the general said of the Somali warlord, a hijacker of the Islamic faith who had boasted that he could not be defeated by American soldiers. “I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”
There are, of course, differences in George W.’s eloquent denunciation of those who have hijacked “a great religion” and Gen. Boykin’s denunciation of a Somali warlord who boasted that he had done evil in the name of Islam. The president was tougher on the hijackers; he called them “evil.” Not only that, he denounced the hijackers to dozens of assembled reporters and photographers taking notes and getting it down on videotape. Gen. Boykin denounced the hijackers to congregations of his fellow evangelical Christians in small towns in Oklahoma and Florida. The president fired at the bad guys for effect; the general testified to his own faith.
The president, no doubt innocently, strengthens the hands of the secularists among us who are determined to erase all evidence of the Judeo-Christian ethos from American life. In a particularly vile commentary in the Boston Globe, columnist James Carroll writes that “claims made for Jesus Christ by most Christians, from Vatican corridors to evangelical revival tents, implicitly insult the religion of others. … The general’s offense was to speak aloud the implication of a still broadly held theology. But that theology is dangerous now. A respectful religious pluralism is no longer a liberal hope but an urgent precondition of justice and peace.”
The message here is plain enough: The enlightened elites must stamp out the Christian faith, lest it anger the hijackers of Islam. The Boykin incident has all the makings of a modern Dreyfus case, the cashiering of a decorated military officer to appease bigots who are offended by his religious faith. The message will be loud and clear to the men in the ranks, many of whom share Gen. Boykin’s faith and who bear a burden the chickenhawks in Washington, who dodged America’s earlier wars, cannot begin to understand. Those who wish the commander in chief well must pray that he understands, and does his duty.
Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.