Not long after the Ayatollah Khomeini announced his fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the British novelist suddenly turned up on a Muslim radio station in West London late one night and told his interviewer he'd converted to Islam. Marvelous religion, couldn't be happier, Allahu Akbar and all that.
And the Ayatollah said hey, that's terrific news, glad to hear it. But we're still gonna kill you.
Well, even a leftie novelist wises up under those circumstances.
Evidently, the president of the United States takes a little longer.
Barack Obama has spent the past year doing big-time Islamoschmoozing, from his announcement of Gitmo's closure and his investigation of Bush officials, to his bow before the Saudi king and a speech in Cairo to "the Muslim world" with far too many rhetorical concessions and equivocations. And at the end of it the jihad sent America a thank-you note by way of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's underwear: Hey, thanks for all the outreach! But we're still gonna kill you.
According to one poll, 58 percent of Americans are in favor of waterboarding young Umar Farouk. Well, you should have thought about that before you made a community organizer president of the world's superpower. The election of Barack Obama was a fundamentally unserious act by the U.S. electorate, and you can't blame the world's mischief-makers, from Putin to Ahmadinejad to the many Gitmo recidivists now running around Yemen, from drawing the correct conclusion.
To be fair, George Bush had a problem defining the enemy rhetorically. He called it the "War on terror." Terrorism is a strategy, not an enemy. He backed off on identifying the enemy after his use of the term "Crusade" (a much more accurate term) was denounced by the punditry as unjust, criminal, stupid and counterproductive. So we were left with the "war on terror" rhetoric. However, despite his rhetorical retreat, George Bush fought the war gallantly and successfully.
On Thursday, having renounced over the preceding days "the system worked," the "isolated extremist," the more obviously risible TSA responses, the Gitmo-Yemen express checkout and various other follies, the president finally spoke the words: "We are at war." As National Review's Rich Lowry noted, they were more or less dragged from the presidential gullet by Dick Cheney, who'd accused the commander in chief of failing to grasp this basic point. Again, to be fair, it isn't just Obama. Last November, the electorate voted, in effect, to repudiate the previous eight years and seemed genuinely under the delusion that wars end when one side decides it's all a bit of a bore, and they'd rather the government spend the next eight years doing to health care and the economy what they were previously doing to jihadist camps in Waziristan.
On the other hand, if we are now at war, as Obama belatedly concedes, against whom are we warring? "We are at war against al-Qaida," says the president.
Really? But what does that mean? Was the previous month's "isolated extremist," the Fort Hood killer, part of al-Qaida? When it came to spiritual advice, he turned to the same Yemeni-based American-born imam as the Pantybomber, but he didn't have a fully paid-up membership card.
Nor did young Umar Farouk, come to that. Granted the general overcredentialization of American life, the notion that it doesn't count as terrorism unless you're a member of Local 437 of the Amalgamated Union of Isolated Extremists seems perverse and reductive.
What did the Pantybomber have a membership card in? Well, he was president of the Islamic Society of University College, London. Kafeel Ahmed, who died after driving a burning jeep into the concourse of Glasgow Airport, had been president of the Islamic Society of Queen's University, Belfast. Yassin Nassari, serving three years in jail for terrorism, was president of the Islamic Society of the University of Westminster. Waheed Arafat Khan, arrested in the 2006 Heathrow terror plots that led to Americans having to put their liquids and gels in those little plastic bags, was president of the Islamic Society of London Metropolitan University.
Doesn't this sound like a bigger problem than "al-Qaida," whatever that is?
This country has a problem in that we know in our hearts who we are at war with, but political correctness has stopped our mouths. It is the brave few iconoclasts like Steyn who have the moral courage to state the obvious.