The unreality began right after 9/11, when President George W. Bush went to a mosque and proclaimed that Islam was a religion of peace. The Left was already beginning to articulate the line that any resistance to jihad and Islamic supremacism constituted “hatred,” “bigotry” and “Islamophobia,” and instead of pushing back and pointing out that the 9/11 hijackers and other jihadists used the texts and teachings of Islam to justify their actions and make recruits among peaceful Muslims, and challenging Muslim groups in the U.S. and elsewhere to deal honestly on that point, Bush capitulated. When he stood in a Washington mosque on September 17, 2001 in the company of Nihad Awad of Hamas-linked CAIR and other Islamic supremacists, he was signaling that his administration would not scrutinize Islamic supremacist groups in the U.S. in light of 9/11, no matter how unsavory their ties, or call on them to do anything genuine or effective to reform Islam. He would pursue the “war on terror” – our first-ever war against a tactic – without dealing with the motives and goals of the enemy.
And the Republican Party, avid to defend an increasingly unpopular president, fell into line. Leading media conservatives and almost-conservatives such as Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Mark Levin refused to deal with Islamic issues, no matter how germane they were to understanding what the foes of the United States were up to and how they could be fought most effectively. When they did deal with “terrorism”-related topics, they generally opted to feature Christian Arabs such as Brigitte Gabriel or “moderate Muslims” such as Zuhdi Jasser, thereby implicitly accepting the Left’s claim that there was something “racist” about most post-9/11 criticism of Islam and jihad, and that only those of the same ethnicity as Muslims could legitimately speak about jihad.
Thus when some on the Right, notably David Horowitz, challenged the numerous and manifest Muslim Brotherhood ties of anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, Party regulars declined to join the fray: Norquist was too powerful, too well-connected, and too valuable for his anti-tax work. Most probably did not understand the implications of Norquist’s Muslim ties in any case, having been assured by Bush and so many others for so long that Islam was peaceful, Muslims were moderate (except for a tiny minority of extremists), and that alliance with those moderates was essential. If Norquist was working with Muslims, they must be moderate – right?
And so the media, the Democrat Party, and the Republican Party all agreed: Islam was a Religion of Peace, moderates must be cultivated, and Muslim individuals and groups with Muslim Brotherhood ties and ties to other Islamic supremacist groups counted as “moderate” as long as they weren’t blowing anything up. The truth about the roots of jihad violence and Islamic supremacism in Islamic texts, and the implications of that, were only rarely discussed on Fox News or in other “conservative” news outlets, and when they were, it was usually by accident: when a guest on Hannity or O’Reilly or some other show would venture into territory that the host hadn’t anticipated.
All this soon enough bore fruit. Michelle Malkin, after delving for a time into questions of how Islamic doctrine influenced contemporary jihadists at her popular Hot Air site, jettisoned all such discussions in the summer of 2008 – probably not coincidentally, just at the time that she was angling for more air time, and even a show of her own, on Fox. Later, Ann Coulter enthusiastically praised Chris Christie, without hesitating for a moment over the many signs of how deeply compromised he is to Brotherhood entities, or even giving any indication that she need do so for any reason. Party establishment and media figures didn’t even know to look askance. Likewise Romney raised no eyebrows when he insisted that “jihadism” had nothing to do with Islam – after all, no other Republican presidential candidate was saying anything significantly stronger.
And so what of the defeats of West, Walsh, and Hasner? The reason why the Republican establishment embraced none of them wholeheartedly and instead held them at arm’s length was precisely because they spoke the truth about jihad and Islam – or more of it than anyone in the Republican establishment was comfortable with. Meanwhile, Islamic supremacist groups targeted them specifically for defeat, and those on their own side were not willing or able to defend them from charges of “Islamophobia” and “hate.”
For eleven years now, the Republican Party has failed to offer a clear or coherent response to the jihad threat, or a clear or coherent alternative to the Democrat policy of appeasement and accommodation. It is just one more reason why the Stupid Party richly deserves the place on the scrap heap of history toward which it is racing so rapidly.
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 is Did Muhammad Exist?.