Muslims, Politicians, and Original Sin

If you believe man is naturally good, you can't understand Islam

Our leaders and would-be leaders have mad heart-felt comments on the recent Islamic State bombings in Brussels - at least, when not otherwise occupied dancing the tango.

How politicians respond to the unexpected is usually much more revealing than their prepared boilerplate speeches, and this was no exception: their words reveal profound differences in their approach to the ongoing problem of Islam-driven jihad.  This has led us to understand why our leaders have such different views of jihad and such different approaches to containing its threat to our way of life.

What Republicans Said

The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump said we have a "big problem" with Muslims:

"They're protecting each other, but they're really doing very bad damage - they have to open up to society and report the bad ones," Mr. Trump said. "When they see trouble, they have to report it. They are absolutely not reporting it, and that's a big problem."

Mr. Trump illustrated his concern for the "reporting problem" by observing that Salah Abdeslam, who planned the Paris attacks last year, was able to hide in his home neighborhood for months:

"He was there and everybody from that area knew he was there - nobody turned him in," Mr. Trump said. "There's something going on, and there's something wrong."

The BBC quoted Mr. Trump

"They have areas in Brussels where the police can't even go," he said. "The police are afraid to go there. The police don't even go there. It's a mess. And if you look at Paris, believe me it's the same thing."

and also Mr. Cruz:

"We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."

Mr. Cruz is not the first to think of preemptive law enforcement.  After 9/11, the New York police department had agents infiltrate mosques and other Muslim gatherings to identify individuals who were likely to commit jihad-related crimes.  Mayor Bloomberg credited this policy with stopping a number of plots aimed at various targets in the New York area.  Mayor DeBlasio stopped doing this because "profiling" offended Muslims.

That probably wouldn't work in Europe even if they tried it, if there are places the police can't even go.  Europe's politicians insist that there are no such places but the police know better.

What The Left Said

Hillary has a very contrasting view.  The Washington Times published the Associated Press report:

"Now I think it's time to turn our attention to comprehensive immigration reform," Hillary Clinton said, using the term immigrant-rights advocates use for legislation to legalize the 11 million illegal immigrants now in the country.

The Boston Globe quoted her:

"We have to be absolutely strong and smart and steady in how we respond," Clinton said. "We've got to work this through consistent with our values."

She also claims to be the "most experienced" of all the candidates and has said that our Mexican border is secure.  Clearly, she's not one whit concerned about murderous felons, be they jihadis or Mexicans, predating on Americans. 

President Obama was a bit more circumspect though hardly firmer, as USA Today quoted him:

"We will do whatever is necessary to support our friends in Belgium," Obama said.

"We stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people," he said. "This is yet another reminder that the world must unite, we must be together."

The Associated Press quoted Angela Merkel, who's been the strongest voice for admitting millions of Muslims into Europe:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged Belgium's prime minister her country's "full solidarity" following the Brussels attacks and says her Cabinet will discuss the bombings on Wednesday.

If "solidarity," "whatever is necessary," and "outrageous" followed by talking about the problem at some point in the future sound familiar, it's because they are.  Our leaders trot out the same old pablum whenever jihadis show their true colors - without actually doign anything that might stop them for real.

The Two Approaches

Islamic terrorism has been a problem for years.  These quotes outline two different competing approaches to jihad:

  1. Mr. Obama's "very cool" approach.  He called ISIS the JV and he says over and over that ISIS doesn't present a serious threat to the US.  He believes that we peasants should ignore this non-threat which takes our attention away from the numinous magnificence of his legacy.  Hillary holds the same view, offering "steady hands" as her major qualification for the Presidency.  You could characterize this approach as "Ignore it and it will go away."
  2. "Nuke 'em 'til they glow, then shoot 'em in the dark."  The Republicans regard ISIS as an existential threat, if not to immediate national security, then certainly to our cultural tradition of tolerating opposing views.  An increasing number of Europeans are also deciding that these are desperate times which call for desperate and far more firm measures, well targeted against the Religion of Pieces.

In keeping with their "see no evil" worldview, neither Mr. Obama nor Hillary see anything wrong with settling more Muslims in general and more Syrians in particular in America.  Why are the Democrats so tolerant of groups whose behavior is at such variance with American values?  Why does Mrs. Merkel continue her unwavering support for admitting millions more Muslims into Germany despite mounting crime rates that suggest that this is not a good idea?  Why don't they get it?

None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See

We've been wrestling to understand the liberals' inability to see jihad as anything other than a minor distraction which the police can handle.  They laugh at the thought that jihad might be at war with us - after all, Islam is a "religion of peace."  Anyone who believes that utter rot should immediately read "Islam-Facts or Dreams?"  by Andrew C. McCarthy, who became far more familiar with the tenets of Islam than he ever wanted to in the course of his prosecution of the terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman, infamously known as the Blind Sheikh.  Alas, many Americans and Europeans strongly prefer dreams about Islam to facts.

We thought we had found a clue when we published "Hearts of Darkness" which quoted a WaPo editorial by a Georgetown professor which said that our ruling elites do not understand religion.  Mr. Obama dismissed religious people as "clinging to their Bibles."  We understood that Mr. Obama had no idea of the motivating power of faith, so he would be unable to understand why Muslims do what they do.

Eight years on, that explanation doesn't satisfy.  Islamic thought was responsible for at least one deadly terrorist attack every week last year.  There have been enough violent incidents that one needn't understand the power of faith to realize that something intolerable and seriously Islam-related is going on.  Despite all this evidence, Mr. Obama, Hillary, and a host of European leaders can't seem to take jihad seriously no matter how many of their citizens are blown to scraps by exploding Mohammeds.

Our liberal commentariat share that utterly blinded view.  They accuse anyone who hints that Islam might play a part in the motivation of some of these terrorists of either racism or of intolerance.  They ridicule Mr. Trump as "divisive," as if they expect that all Muslims everywhere would join us in a chorus of "kumbaya" if it weren't for Mr. Trump's provocations, his unjustified rants against the Religion of Peace, and our holding terrorists in Guantanamo as opposed to releasing them with a kiss on the cheek.

Why can't they see the obvious?

We finally found the reason in "This Lady KNOWS the Face of Evil" from our archives.  That article told the story of Mrs Betancourt who had been rescued after having been chained to a tree for six years in the Colombian jungles by the FARC drug dealers.

It took six years of continuous torture for a modern, liberal European to understand that evil people do evil for the sake of doing evil.

Mrs. Betancourt said that she had not been able to understand what the Nazis did until she experienced evil treatment, up close and personal.  Having been mistreated for six years, however, she came - finally! - to believe that evil men and evil women actually do exist.

This seems strange because Mrs. Betancourt is Catholic.  Ever since the days of St. Augustine, one of the early church fathers, Catholics have taught the doctrine of Original Sin which holds that all men and women are inclined to do evil from birth.  This is based on the words of ancient Hebrew prophets:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

  - Jeremiah 17:9-10

The idea that deep down in their hearts, people are by nature wicked liars and murderers goes back at least 3,000 years.  The concept of original sin was amplified and clarified by the Apostle Paul around 50 AD:

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

  - Romans 3:10-12

Given this teaching, why didn't Mrs. Betancourt believe in evil?  Why did she have to learn the hard way?

Inherent Perfection

Leaders who insist against all evidence that Islam is a "Religion of Peace" evidently don't believe in original sin.  They're secular humanists instead.  Humanists believe that men are inherently good, and that only corrupt institutions lead men and women, who're born completely virtuous, to commit crimes.

That's why liberals spend so much time talking about the "root causes of crime."  They sincerely believe that if they perfect neighborhoods, crime in the 'hood will disappear.  Trillions of dollars worth of failure in places like Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore haven't persuaded them otherwise; their mantra is that we simply haven't spent enough.

Mrs. Merkel is convinced that if the German people accept the admittedly imperfect Muslims, living in perfect German neighborhoods as opposed to violent Middle Eastern neighborhoods will restore their inherent perfection as German citizens.  She hasn't said anything about the teeming "no-go" areas in Brussels, the multi-generation unassimilated Muslim slums around Paris, or the increasing rapes all over Europe; we suspect she thinks they simply haven't spent enough money yet.

It's Religion, Stupid!

What of the Republicans?  Mr. Trump is Presbyterian.  According to official Presbyterian doctrine, also known as Calvinism, traditional Presbyterians believe so strongly in original sin that they don't believe anyone can turn away from sin without God taking the initiative.  Muslims doing evil is expected given the basic evil that's inherent in everyone.

Sen. Cruz is Baptist.  Baptists believe in original sin, but hold that any human, no mater how evil, can choose to turn away from sin by sincerely asking for God's help and forgiveness.  From the Baptist perspective, Muslims will do evil until they're persuaded to ask God (the real one, not Allah) for help in turning away from it, which is why Baptists send missionaries to the Middle East.  The fact that Islam commands that Muslims who convert to other faiths be killed out of hand makes Christianity a difficult sell, though, and the history of the past 1400 years is mostly one of Christianity being pushed back by the ever-growing world of Islam not the other way 'round.

Perhaps Sen. Cruz and Mr. Trump are able to recognize and proclaim the evil done by jihadis because their religious beliefs teach that evil is to be expected of men who haven't turned away from evil.  Even though Mr. Trump isn't particularly religious, he does at least appear to have a sort of "lowest common denominator" Protestantism which gives him something of an intellectual foundation; and if that weren't enough, a lifetime of success in construction in Manhattan would certainly convince the most ardent humanist of the inherent imperfectibility of man.

Liberals call Mr. Trump and Sen. Cruz intolerant racists because they're convinced that the inherently-virtuous jihadis will knock off violence if only we fix climate change and spend enough money prettifying the Middle East - all without putting boots on the ground, of course.

If enough Americans are worried about jihad-based terrorism, the election will turn on whether voters believe that "steady hands" or "Nuke 'em 'til they glow" is the best approach to jihad.  It took Mrs. Betancourt six years of daily torture to learn the reality of evil.  We hope it doesn't take the rest of Europe and America that long.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

Steady hands or nuke 'em til they glow... Can it be both? I've given up on the notion that religious terrorists can be reasoned with. Nuke them but be surgical about it. Our Defense Department spends billions perfecting laser guided weapons, bunker busters, ground penetration, audio blasting, etc. No need for collateral damage except for the very close proximity and those folks probably should go too. Nuke em but by steady about it.

March 25, 2016 6:22 PM

How many drones hit ISIS territory daily? How many people not targeted are killed by these drone attacks? I have seen in print 200,000. If this is true, people are mad enough to blow themselves up with as many westerners as they can. There must be another solution.

March 25, 2016 6:42 PM

Well put. Until you acknowledge evil, you must rely on secular solutions and spending money (albeit blindly) is always the only answer. The only question you didn't answer is whey lefties will spend money on everything but arms and soldiers.

The Muslim world is coming alive after an 800-year slump into decadence. None of their "moderates" are willing to combat the extremists, so only the extremists count. Rooting our the extremists, root and branch, means many, many non-combatants are going to die -- as is already happening in Syria (Shiite extremists vs. Sunni extremists there). The failure or non-existence of the Muslim middle leaves only implacable alternatives: a Crusade.

March 25, 2016 11:06 PM

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

March 27, 2016 5:05 AM

Having lived in the Muslim world for three years, I really can't understand the idea of conflating all Muslims as one entity. Or as one religion. Or Muslims as one people. How many terrorists did I meet? None. How many potential terrorists? Who knows, but I'm also not omniscient. When I walk down an American road and see Americans. Do I think that this one or that one not only has a gun, but will eventually shoot to kill someone or many people? No. None of us has that all-knowing certitude. Funny, there are 300 million Americans and over a billion Muslims. The odds of an American having a gun and using it is probably greater than a Muslim being a killer. The difference is in how the radical Muslim terrorists kill: By self-annihilation. That terrifies us, but to think that over a billion people are potential suicide bombers is absolutely bonkers mad and simple minded.

March 29, 2016 5:38 AM

Mr. Gapic is absolutely correct but he doesn't deal with the extremists. Since they are active -- and the "billion Muslims" aren't, they are the ones who count. The extremists are embedded in the population which supports them. Thus, the population is caught up in the extremists' battle, to their misfortune -- and our grief -- but there it is.

March 29, 2016 1:38 PM

Found on a blog:

Quite simply, many Leftists can't call jihad evil because they're doing it too.
Look at how many similarities there are between worst of Islam & the worst of the West:
1) Islamic jihadis openly seek to infiltrate "enemy" institutions & countries, then undermine them from within. Communists & other Leftists have also been doing this to Western institutions for 100 years.
2) A big goal of Islamic jihadis is to outlaw criticism of their core ideology ("blasphemy" laws). "Social Justice" Leftists are seeking the same thing- to outlaw their ! critics. In fact, in much of supposedly liberal Europe it's illegal to effectively criticize EITHER group.
3) Muslim agitators threaten mob violence & riots if authorities don't give in to their demands. Leftists do this too, often in the same cities & other environments.
4) Islamic supremacists openly seek to overthrow the current social order & impose their ideology on everybody else by force. Many Leftists do too,
5) Both groups actively & openly hate European & European-derived civilization- its religion (Christianity), its people (various "whites"), its economics (capitalism), and its culture.
The big difference is that Left-wing agitators rarely go on murder sprees compared to the "religion of peace" crowd. And that IS a big difference. But when it comes to waging war against the core of Western Civ, much of the Left & Islam are frankly on the same side. We shouldn't expect allies to call each other evil.

June 17, 2016 9:46 PM

Let's see, a billion people share a fragmented superstition called Islam . Some of them are hell bent on destroying western culture, by whatever force is necessary. Your option: declare war on a sixth or so of humanity. Obama's option: kill the violent ones where you find them and try to persuade the rest that jihad is a bad idea.

October 12, 2017 6:07 PM

+Solomon Grundy

Actually, Mr. Obama never would ever admit that Islam had anything to do with violence. Whenever there was an incident of Islamic terrorism, he would scurry around and try to tell everyone that it had nothing to do with Muslims. He never said jihad was a bad idea because he could not admit that it existed.

October 12, 2017 9:32 PM
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