Mark Steyn on calling an ideology by its true name *UPDATED*

It’s no surprise that I’m not the only one thinking about the nature of the war waging around us.  Mark Steyn is thinking about it too, but he’s added the other layer to the problem, which is the West’s willful refusal to acknowledge the enemy.  Thus, after briefly discussing the way the press, imitating the medieval scholars with their spirited debates about angels and pins, reports endlessly about how many terrorists there were, and how many rafts they took, and how many bullets they fired, and how many victims they left in their wake, Steyn turns to the problem with this obsession with resolving the details:

[W]e’re in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The forest is the ideology. It’s the ideology that determines whether you can find enough young hotshot guys in the neighborhood willing to strap on a suicide belt or (rather more promising as a long-term career) at least grab an AK-47 and shoot up a hotel lobby. Or, if active terrorists are a bit thin on the ground, whether you can count at least on some degree of broader support on the ground. You’re sitting in some distant foreign capital but you’re of a mind to pull off a Mumbai-style operation in, say, Amsterdam or Manchester or Toronto. Where would you start? Easy. You know the radical mosques, and the other ideological front organizations. You’ve already made landfall.


Many of us, including the incoming Obama administration, look at this as a law-enforcement matter. Mumbai is a crime scene, so let’s surround the perimeter with yellow police tape, send in the forensics squad, and then wait for the D.A. to file charges.

There was a photograph that appeared in many of the British papers, taken by a Reuters man and captioned by the news agency as follows: “A suspected gunman walks outside the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus railway station.” The photo of the “suspected gunman” showed a man holding a gun. We don’t know much about him – he might be Muslim or Episcopalian, he might be an impoverished uneducated victim of Western colonialist economic oppression or a former vice-president of Lehman Brothers embarking on an exciting midlife career change – but one thing we ought to be able to say for certain is that a man pointing a gun is not a “suspected gunman” but a gunman. “This kind of silly political correctness infects reporters and news services worldwide,” wrote John Hinderaker of Powerline. “They think they’re being scrupulous – the man hasn’t been convicted of being a gunman yet! – when, in fact, they’re just being foolish. But the irrational conviction that nothing can be known unless it has been determined by a court and jury isn’t just silly, it’s dangerous.”

Put these same reporters and administration officials in the enclosed fantasy world that is Harry Potter, and they’ll readily admit that the Ministry of Magic has been making a mistake in pretending that Voldemort doesn’t exist, right down to its insistence that his name be silenced forever (“He who must not be named.”)  Somehow, though, in an excess of PC-empathy, they seem to feel that precisely that failed fictional strategy ought to be applied in the real world, since Death Eaters have feelings too.

UPDATEMelanie Phillips makes the same point.

And I’d like to add here a reminder of the way in which the Islamist Death Eaters do battle:  they tortured their Jewish victims so horribly that even doctors inured to death could not bear to contemplate what had been done to those people.  Our American/European press, again in deference to Death Eater feelings, is not reporting that information to the American people, but it needs to be known.

In all past wars, normative behavior was for ones own side exaggerated the bad qualities of the enemy in an effort to stir up popular feelings.  For example, the famous story in WWI England was about German soldiers bayoneting babies, something that likely never happened.  (Of course, by WWII, when Germany soldiers were bayoneting everybody and everything, the cynicism that grew out of WWI propaganda meant that, as the Germans were warming up to big-time genocide, the public often refused to belief accurate stories about their conduct.)

This must be the only war in the history of the war in which the government and, especially, the media arm assiduously work to assure us that we are bad and they, the torturers, the killers, are good.  With every one of these Islamist Death Eater atrocities, it’s Bizarro World all over again.

UPDATE IIRobert Avrech has the best post about the Islamist Death Eaters’ focus on Jews which, in its essence, boils down to this:  they went Jew hunting, not because of Israel, but because Jewish genocide is a core tenet of the Islamist’s religious doctrine.  It’s not a by-product.  It’s not a deviation.  It’s not a misinterpretation.  It’s the breath of their religion.

By the way, I’m repeatedly using the phrase Death Eaters in the hope that liberals who fully accept the Harry Potter world might be convinced that those same principles actually apply here.  I’ve long held that, no matter J.K. Rowling’s politics (and I’ve since learned she’s a Labor supporter), in the purity of her imagined world, she fully understands that nature of terrorism and the way in which one needs to win.