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08 May 2010

E' che siamo marci

Steyn: the reactions of Bloomberg & Co. are a useful glimpse into the decayed and corroded heart of a civilization.

Un excerpt:

Last year, not one but two "terrorism task forces" discovered that U.S. Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan was in regular e-mail contact with the American-born, Yemeni-based cleric Ayman al-Awlaki, but concluded that this was consistent with the major's "research interests," so there was nothing to worry about it. A few months later, Maj. Hasan gunned down dozens of his comrades while standing on a table shouting "Allahu Akbar!" That was also consistent with his "research interests," by the way. A policy of relying on stupid jihadists to screw it up every time will inevitably let one or two wiggle through. Hopefully not on a nuclear scale.

Faisal Shahzad's curriculum vitae rang a vague bell with me. A couple of years back, I read a best-selling novel by Mohsin Hamid called "The Reluctant Fundamentalist." His protagonist, Changez, is not so very different from young Faisal: They're both young, educated, westernized Muslims from prominent Pakistani families. Changez goes to Princeton, Faisal to the non-Ivy University of Bridgeport, but he nevertheless emerges with an MBA. Both men graduate to the highflying sector of Wall Street analysts. On returning to New York from overseas, both men get singled out and questioned by immigration officials. Both men sour on America and grow beards. Previously "moderate," they are now "radicalized." The difference is that Faisal tries to blow up midtown Manhattan while Changez becomes the amused detached narrator of a critically acclaimed novel genially mocking America's parochialism and paranoia.

Mohsin Hamed's book was hailed as "elegant" (the Observer), "charming" (the Village Voice), "playful" (the Financial Times), "rich in irony" (the Sydney Morning Herald) and "finely tuned to the ironies of mutual — but especially American — prejudice" (the Guardian), and "finely tuned to the ironies of mutual — but especially American — prejudice" (the Guardian). If only life were like an elegantly playful novel rich in irony. Instead, the real-life counterpart to the elegant charmer holes up in a jihadist training camp for months, flies back "home" and parks a fully loaded SUV in Times Square.

He's not an exception. He's the rule. The Pantybomber is a wealthy Nigerian who lived in a London flat worth 2 million pounds. Kafeel Ahmed, who died driving a flaming SUV into the concourse of Glasgow Airport, was president of the Islamic Society of Queen's University, Belfast. Omar Sheikh, the man who beheaded Daniel Pearl, was a graduate of the London School of Economics. Mohammed Atta was a Hamburg University engineering student. Osama bin Laden went to summer school at Oxford. Educated men. Westernized men. Men who could be pulling down big six-figure salaries anywhere on the planet — were it not that their Islamic identity trumps everything else: elite education, high-paying job, Western passport.

As for the idea that America has become fanatically "Islamophobic" since 9/11, au contraire: Were America even mildly "Islamophobic," it would have curtailed Muslim immigration, or at least subjected immigrants from Pakistan, Yemen and a handful of other hotbeds to an additional level of screening. Instead, Muslim immigration to the West has accelerated in the past nine years, and, as the case of Faisal Shahzad demonstrates, being investigated by terrorism task forces is no obstacle to breezing through your U.S. citizenship application. An "Islamophobic" America might have pondered whether the more extreme elements of self-segregation were compatible with participation in a pluralist society. Instead, President Obama makes fawning speeches boasting that he supports the rights of women to be "covered" — rather than the rights of the lengthening number of European and North American Muslim women beaten, brutalized and murdered for not wanting to be covered.

America is so un-Islamophobic that at ground zero they're building a 13-story mosque — on the site of an old Burlington Coat Factory damaged by airplane debris that Tuesday morning. So in the ruins of a building reduced to rubble in the name of Islam, a temple to Islam will arise. And whenever the marshmallow illusions are momentarily discombobulated, the entire political-media class rushes forward to tell us that the thwarted killer was a "lone wolf," an "isolated extremist." According to Mayor Bloomberg a day or two before Shahzad's arrest, the likeliest culprit was "someone who doesn't like the health care bill" (that would be me, if your SWAT team's at a loose end this weekend). Even after Shahzad's arrest, the Associated Press, CNN and the Washington Post attached huge significance to the problems the young jihadist had had keeping up his mortgage payments.

Just as, after Maj. Hasan, the "experts" effortlessly redefined "post-traumatic stress disorder" to apply to a psychiatrist who'd never been anywhere near a war zone, so now the housing market is the root cause of terrorism: Subprime terrorism is a far greater threat to America than anything to do with certain words beginning with I — and ending in slam.

Incidentally, one way of falling behind with your house payments is to take half a year off to go to Pakistan and train in a terrorist camp. Perhaps Congress could pass some sort of jihadist housing credit?

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