Excusing Jihad In Boston
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev woke up and told investigators that he and his brother Tamerlan were waging a lone jihad when they set off two bombs packed with nails and ball bearings at the Boston Marathon. He said his brother came up with the whole plot out of a desire to “defend Islam.” And as if on cue, the mainstream media began an all-out effort to obscure and downplay the significance of the now indisputable fact that this was a jihad terror attack – an effort as energetic and inventive as their previous attempt to convince the American people that the bombings had to be, just had to be, the work of “right-wing extremists.”
Imagine for a moment if the attackers had indeed turned out to be “right-wing extremists.” Imagine that they were even that mother lode of Leftist media fantasy, Christian “extremists” – think Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear, his body tattooed all over with Biblical quotes, muttering about the wrath of God and determined to terrorize not just a single family, but an entire city, an entire nation. Just to make it really interesting, imagine that the people these Christian terrorists happened to kill with their bombs were Muslim.
If the attackers had been people like that, the Atlantic Wire would have run a piece entitled “The Boston Bombers Were Christian – So?” It would have complained that “we confuse categories – ‘male,’ ‘Christian’ — with cause,” and cautioned against stereotyping all Christians and painting Christians with a broad brush.
Meanwhile, Chris Matthews would have had on an FBI agent who would have asked about the bombers, “Where was their inspiration? Where did they get the guidance?,” leading Matthews to respond: “Why is that important? Why is that important to — is that important to prosecuting? I mean, what difference does it make why they did it if they did it? I’m being tough here.”
Also on MSNBC, Martin Bashir would lament about how these Christian bombers were “burying the ‘peace, compassion and kindness of the Bible.’” A local Muslim leader at a prayer service would have cautioned: “We must be a people of reconciliation, not revenge….The crimes of the two young men must not be the justification for prejudice against Christians….It is very difficult to understand what was going on in the young men’s minds, what demons were operative, what ideologies or politics or the perversion of their religion.”
If the Boston bombers really had been Bible-quoting Christian fanatics, none of that would actually have happened at all. Instead, the media feeding frenzy would have been intense. The air waves would have been full of earnest examinations of how the Bible is full of material that constitutes incitement to violence, recommendations of what the churches and Christian leaders must do to make sure that this kind of attack never happens again, and story after story about bright, attractive young people who got mixed up with church groups and ended up with their lives and the lives of everyone around them in ruins.
But of course, the bombers weren’t Christians; they were Muslims, acting explicitly in the name of Islam. Media analysts, when they have deigned to take notice of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s statement at all, have scratched their heads in puzzlement over how he and his brother could have gotten the idea that murdering innocent people at a sporting event could possibly constitute any kind of defense of Islam. However, they wouldn’t be so puzzled if they knew that the Qur’an exhorts Muslims to use the “steeds of war” to “strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah” (8:60) – and that al-Qaeda has recently recommended bombing sporting events as a nicely effective way to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah.
The mainstream media has no interest in how the Qur’an may incite those who believe it is the word of Allah to commit acts of violence against those who do not so believe. And so it was that the Atlantic Wire’s story was actually about why it scarcely mattered that the bombers were Muslim, and Chris Matthews was declaring that the bombers’ inspirations and motivations made no difference, and Martin Bashir was praising the virtues of the Qur’an, and it was Sean O’Malley, the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, who cautioned against taking revenge and decried the “perversion” of Islam that led to the bombings.
It is hard to say why Cardinal O’Malley was so confident that the bombers were perverting Islam, despite the Qur’an’s many commands to Muslims to commit acts of violence against unbelievers (2:190-193; 4:89; 9:5; 9:29; 47:4; etc.). It is likely, however, that he simply believes what he has been told about this question: that Islam is a religion of peace, and that those who commit acts of violence in its name are twisting and hijacking the beautiful, peaceful teachings of the religion.
And that’s the problem with this pervasive media denial. The Atlantic Wire asked why it mattered that the bombers were Muslim. It’s a fair question. It matters because the fact that they were Muslims is not incidental to what they did. There’s this thing called “jihad,” you see. It’s an Islamic doctrine involving warfare against unbelievers. The likelihood is that some others might want to wage jihad against Americans as well. And so the more we know about it, the better prepared we can be to defend ourselves.
But the more we lie to ourselves and each other about what this jihad is really all about, the more we enable people like Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. We cannot possibly defeat an enemy whom we refuse to understand, refuse to study, refuse to listen to because he explains why he is our enemy in terms that we can’t bear hearing. That’s why this media obfuscation is nothing short of criminal. And it will bear much more fruit of the kind it bore on the sunny day of the Boston Marathon.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Did Muhammad Exist?, is now available.